Monday, October 8, 2012

Medical Mondays: Chain of Factoids


Oh, the human body. So fragile and yet so tough.

Let's review some factoids about the amazing human body and exercise a little tangential thinking.

You make about one liter of spit a day. Over a lifetime, that's about one Olympic sized swimming pool. Don't think Michael Phelps would want to swim in that.

Most humans height is equal to the length from their fingertip to fingertip. Except Michael Phelps, whose wingspan is four inches longer than his height.

Speaking of length, the total length of all your blood vessels lines up is around 60,000 miles (though I've read up to 100,000 miles). That's a few trips around the equator!

But let's get two dimensional. The total surface area of your lungs, if laid out flat, would be about the size of half a tennis court. (I'm having visions of lung smeared courts, so let's move on.)

You only need one lung to survive. Actually, you can also live without one kidney, most of your liver, your spleen, your stomach, and many feet of intestine, and of course, your limbs. Talk about traveling light. Sure, you might feel pretty awful, but...

What if you want them back, cyborg style? You can have a cochlear implant (for hearing); an artificial heart; dialysis to replace the kidneys; digital interface placed on your retina (or just a non-functioning replacement eyeball); a deep brain stimulator for depression, epilepsy, or Parkinson's disease; penile implants; and artificial limbs, not to mention the metal plates and bars used to fix broken bones. Using stem cells or tissues, there are also possibilities for replacement pancreas, trachea, bladders, liver, skin and of course, donated organs...the list goes on!

For more factoids to stun your friends, here's a fun list:
100 Very Cool Facts About the Human Body. I can't vouch for the validity of all of these, as there are no references. But they're certainly entertaining!

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at
  All I ask is that you become a follower and post a link on your blog when I post your answer. This is for fictional scenarios, only. Please check out the boring but necessary disclaimer on my sidebar --> Also, don't forget to stop by Laura Diamond's Mental Health Mondays and Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation for great psychiatric and psychological viewpoints on all things literary. :)

Also, there are a few days left for my GIVE ONE/DONATE ONE book giveaway, so comment if you'd like to win!  

And one last thing: Sarah Fine is being interviewed on her favorite sci-fi books and *gulp* CONTROL is on the list! 

37 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for all the interesting facts. For a minute, I thought you were going to share something weird about swimming pools. And I wasn't sure I'd want to know since my daughter is swimming on the high school swim team and is in the pool all the time.

Shelly said...

Wow- these are pretty amazing. I had no idea the lungs were that extensive~

Sarah said...

These are very interesting, if a little ewwwwww in some cases. And it is pretty amazing how tough AND fragile we are.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Certain things I'm not implanting, thanks!

Connie Keller said...

I didn't know about the surface area of lungs--really cool! I'll have to mention that to my kids today.

Karen Lange said...

I feel very informed, especially for a Monday morning. Thank you! Somehow though, I may not look at a pool the same way again...

Anne Gallagher said...

Never knew that about fingertips. Just for fun I'm going to check later to see if it's true.

Old Kitty said...

A pool full of human spit. Now that's an image I won't forget in a hurry! LOL!!

Take care
x

Janet Johnson said...

The human body is just amazing. And I'm with Old Kitty about the pool of spit. :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Imagine if that pool was filled with the spit of someone who chewed tobacco! Arrrgh! Loved your "traveling light" comment. :-)

Barbara Watson said...

The human body is such an amazing thing. And...one liter of spit a day? Wow!

Em-Musing said...

yes, the human body IS amazing and I got up close and personal with an appendix, a gall bladder and part of a liver today. A worker at my house was hospitalized over the weekend and had emergency surgery. Today I went to visit him and was asked if I could take what was removed from him to a lab. I agreed, thinking it would be in some NOT see thru container. It was in a glass jar. (guess this is why medical costs are lower in Mexico). I was scared to death I'd fall or trip and this glass jar with his guts in it would break and I wouldn't know if I should scoop up the contents, or run away screaming. After a safe delivery, I've been washing my hands non-stop.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Haha! Love these! (Except for the swimming pool of spit. Don't love that. ;))

Linda Gray said...

Love the list, all of it. Just wondering, Lydia, is there a reference site you'd recommend to learn about the deep brain stimulator for epilepsy? I've read a line here or there about that existing, but never anything that actually explains it. (Have deep brain interest!) Ok, headed over to Sarah's to see what great things she has to say.

mooderino said...

I always suspected Phelps isn't human. Explains everything.

mood
Moody Writing

Carrie Butler said...

Oo, I love facts like this! Thank you for sharing, Lydia. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Now I know why I had no interest in becoming a doctor :)

Medeia Sharif said...

These are fascinating. I'm glad I stopped by. I haven't read your Medical Monday posts in a while.

Krispy said...

Fascinating tidbits! I totally thought about lung courts after that factoid though too. Blech!

The Golden Eagle said...

Interesting. If the lungs have that much surface area, I wonder what the surface area of the villi are.

Thanks for the links!

Catherine Stine said...

Very cool post! Except, yeah, the lung image was creeptastic. Have you seen the human body app for iPad? I don't know what the proper name for it is, but it is the COOLEST! You can see a totally detailed view of every system in the human body.

Deb Salisbury said...

Fascinating post!

My grandmother had only one lung. It slowed her down, but she managed to have and raise five children, and she lived into her 80s.

Leslie S. Rose said...

I've had two hip replacements that must put me in the running for cyborg. I'm totally using the blood vessel fact for my 5th graders. It's right up there with your small intestine being the length of a school bus. Super cool.

Angela Brown said...

Wow...an Olympic-sized pool of saliva? So is it possible that could double if a person constantly puts themselves in the position to drool All. The. Time. ie, older woman staring at the pool boy or older man staring at his hot newly divorced neighbor? Just wondering lol!!

Katy Anders said...

Nifty facts!

Of course, I had to go out and verify the tennis court/lungs thing for myself, but sure enough...

Now, how do I get a pair of lungs back into my neighbor?

Do I have to wait until Monday for this?

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for this post. Its awesome. Practically every part in the human body can be replaced ;)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

So, my body is amazing, even when I kick it for having cellulite?

LTM said...

Oh, Lydia! LOL! You just made me gag at the thought of a spit-filled pool... :p bleak! :D

I did know that about the length of your arms outstretched, but I didn't know that about Phelps. Why is his longer???

These are really cool facts--esp the part about the cyborg stuff. I was trapped in the car for 12 hours yesterday, so I got to hear all about the human cells being made... polyplur... OK. I can't remember the word. The non stem-cells that got turned into stem cells? Very cool. <3

bethchristopher.com said...

Wowsers... our bodies are pretty darn amazing. I still can't get my head around the one about our lungs covering half a tennis court. Yipes!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I almost stopped at one liter of spit a day. Oh, the ewww.
But it is fascinating how we evolved into the creatures we are. Thank you for always being a fount of cool info (and not spit!)

lbdiamond said...

The spit one is just...gross. ;)

Nice factoids!

Romance Book Haven said...

This is the first I heard of deep brain stimulator for depression.

Interesting post and facts. And fun too!

Nas

Jai Joshi said...

The human body is an incredible thing. But thanks for the gruesome image, Lydia! Now I'm going to be thinking of lung-smeared tennis courts all day. *grin*

Maybe I'll come up with a good horror story out of it.

Jai

Jennifer Hillier said...

A litre of spit! OH GROSSSSS. I read somewhere that swimmers absorb up to 8 ounces of other people's urine after one hour of swimming in a pool? Is that true too?

Wait. Maybe I don't want to know.

Southpaw said...

Ewwwww! That's a lot of spit!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

An olympic size swimming pool of spit and half a tennis court of lung. . . I'm not sure why I find this interesting, and yet I do. ; )

Heather said...

Wow, I'll never look at a tennis court the same again. ;)

 
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