Source; Wikimedia Commons

What cool things could all 7 billion of us make together?

Short answer: A rope that reaches to the moon, a sheet that covers Hawaii, a ball-pit bigger than the Pyramids, and more.

Long answer: Get all 7.4 billion people together [1]. Now take them apart. What cool things can you make with the combined pieces of 7.4 billion people? Let’s sort the parts into piles and see how big each one is.

Let’s start by skinning the bodies. The average human has about 1.5 m2 (16 ft2) of skin, so if we took all 7.4 billion of us we could make a skin-quilt that covers the Big Island of Hawaii. With all the different colors I think this project would make a pretty artistic statement about diversity. You know, “we’re all gross and red on the inside once we’re flayed?”

Without the skin the bodies start to leak. The average human contains 5 liters (1.3 gallons) of blood. We could put it behind the Hoover Dam – the 37 billion Liters of blood (1.3 billion cubic ft) is almost exactly the volume of Lake Mead.

With the skin and blood out of the way we’re left with the good stuff – muscle, bone, and organs.

The average human weighs about 65 kg (143 lbs), and about 40% is skeletal muscle. Men have a little more than women, and this totals out to nearly 200 billion kg (420 billion lbs). This meat would provide enough to feed the world for about a month, if everyone wasn’t already dead.

With the muscle out of the way, I thought about using the bone to build some sort of skyscraper. Unfortunately, bone is about 10x weaker than steel, so this superstructure would crumble before it could even compare to something like the Empire State Building. Instead, we could build a city.

The Sedlec Ossuary is a chapel in the Czech Republic made of human bones (shown above). It’s estimated that as many as 70,000 peoples’ remains were used in construction. With the bones of every living person, we could build more than 100,000 Sedlec Ossuaries! For perspective, New York City is estimated to contain several hundred thousand buildings, so our bones could build a Necropolis comparable to Manhattan or Brooklyn. If only there was anyone alive to live in it.

What do we do with the organs?

The intestines would make a nice rope. At 8.5 meters (28 ft) per person, we could make a rope that reaches to the moon and back one hundred times.  Of course we’d want to clean those bowels out first. There’s probably about 250 mL (0.53 pints) of flatulence in each of these, and of this gas about 35% is H2 and 5% is Methane. Both of these are flammable. In fact, burning these gasses releases as much energy as 2.5 kilotons of TNT – about 20% of the “Little Boy” atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima! [2,3]

Early balls were made from inflated pig bladders, so we could use our bladders to make the biggest, grossest ball pit of all time! A human bladder has a volume of about 500 mL (0.13 gallons), so together we could make a ball pit bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza. In fact, it’s no coincidence that we collectively urinate a comparable volume every day!

The rest of the organs strike me as kinda boring. Eyes? I guess we can use their lenses to make little magnifying glasses for all the squirrels. Hearts, livers, lungs? Inflate the lungs and add them to the ball-pit. Brains? I suppose since brains are densely loaded with fats they might make good candles (after all, that’s why whaling used to be a thing – whale brain-wax burns great!)

Happy Halloween.



image credit: Wikimedia Commons




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