June 29th, 2006

Professor Membrane

We all round down to zero

Here's a little something to bake your noodle! How much of the volume of your body is actually made up of matter? As it turns out, almost none of it.

Since I know that most of you are as lazy as I am and don't click links often, I'll give you the lowdown. A hydrogen atom consists of one electron orbiting one proton. You've almost certainly seen diagrams of atoms, but they utterly fail to give the proper scale. They have to. If you zoomed in on a hydrogen atom to the point where the proton in the middle was about the size of a soccer ball, the electron orbiting it would be the size of one pixel on the display on which you're reading this.

The punchline? It would be orbiting the proton at a distance of 11 miles. That makes the hydrogen atom a sphere 22 miles across, with a soccer ball in the middle and a pixel on the edge, and nothing else. As the link states, we are all phantoms, and could barely be said to exist at all.

Another way of looking at it is like this: if we were crushed down to the density of a neutron star, you could cram the entire human race into the volume of a sugar cube.

Does this boggle anyone else's mind, or am I just easily impressed?
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