## Wednesday, October 27, 2010

### Not so fast, or so far, or so often!

"I spoke in error. Apparently there aren't as many miles of blood vessels in the body as I said yesterday. "

Have you ever had to make a statement like this? Or are you in the kind of business that keeps a stiff upper lip and ignores any misstatement, mistakes or misses?

There's no way to know which is really the best policy. In my case, I hate to make mistakes but I'm in a job where we produce a product used by millions of kids, and unlike most books, ours are read from cover to cover and each problem is solved and re-solved many times over. The mistakes pop up like helium balloons escaping from a birthday party.

As far as the blood vessels go, the number is an estimate. More research which I initiated by myself, has shown me that the textbook authors disagree - and why not, they're just people like me. Some say 100,000 miles; others 100,000 km (62,000 miles).  They're all guesses. That's my guess, and I'm sticking with it until I find someone with a blood-vessel-odometer.

And since I am not a doctor or an anatomist, I have nothing to lose by admitting I did not do enough research to be confident of my claims.

However, I have exhaustively researched the following fact: my wife takes about 14 breaths a minute. She's a PE teacher; has been teaching for 30 years, and she knows her body statistics.

My Math expertise tells me that 14 bpm x 60 x 24 hours is roughly 20,160 breaths a day. That's more than 7.4 million a year!

My wife is now 56 1/2. If she has taken 14 breaths per minute all her life (on average), how many times has she breathed?

Here's the calculation  56.5 x 365 + (56 ÷ 4 = 14 leap year extra days) x  20,160

Restated, that's ((56.5 x 365) + 14) x 20,160 = 20636 x 20,160 = 416,021,760 or roughly 400 million breaths!

Whew. I know we can control how fast we breathe, and how slowly we breathe (within limits). We just can't control how infrequently we breathe (hold our breath) because eventually our bodies take over if they need more air. Gasp!

Since I'm 3 years older, I've breathed at least 20 million more times than my wife has. I think I'll go lie down now, I'm exhausted. And to keep from snoring, I'll breathe only through my nose!