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Total length of blood vessels in human body- thousands of miles?


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I remember decades ago when reading schoolbooks a "fact" often given- if all the blood vessels in a person were laid end to end they would be thousands of miles long- it was usually "to the moon and back" or circle the equator 4 times. In other words about 60,000 miles at the least. I read this again recently  and it got me wondering.

This has always seemed incredible to me. Not only incredible as in amazing, but literally "in-credible" as in not believable. There is literally 4 times around the equator lying within my 6 foot body?

Is it true, or just another myth that gets perpetuated through the years? I i know some supposed science facts are just not true- sinks don't drain in opposite directions in the northern and southern  Hemispheres, and celery does not have negative calories. Even in music there is a myth that gets perpetuated even by music teachers, that the "tritone" was banned in medieval times. It's just not true yet even highly regarded music scholars are guilty of spreading this myth.

Science can be amazing, and I'm prepared to be amazed and apologize for my scepticism, but....60,000 miles of blood vessels?

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40 minutes ago, ridcully70 said:

I remember decades ago when reading schoolbooks a "fact" often given- if all the blood vessels in a person were laid end to end they would be thousands of miles long- it was usually "to the moon and back" or circle the equator 4 times. In other words about 60,000 miles at the least. I read this again recently  and it got me wondering.

This has always seemed incredible to me. Not only incredible as in amazing, but literally "in-credible" as in not believable. There is literally 4 times around the equator lying within my 6 foot body?

Is it true, or just another myth that gets perpetuated through the years? I i know some supposed science facts are just not true- sinks don't drain in opposite directions in the northern and southern  Hemispheres, and celery does not have negative calories. Even in music there is a myth that gets perpetuated even by music teachers, that the "tritone" was banned in medieval times. It's just not true yet even highly regarded music scholars are guilty of spreading this myth.

Science can be amazing, and I'm prepared to be amazed and apologize for my scepticism, but....60,000 miles of blood vessels?

An internet search for this returns a large number of sources quoting such numbers, many of which look fairly authoritative to me. It would not surprise me, given how tiny capillaries can be. But in the end such numbers are pretty meaningless: it's just a matter of scale. I mean, you can be amazed, if you are that sort of person, to be told there are 6 x 10²³ molecules in  18 gms of water.  But, frankly, so what? Ditto @dimreepr's contribution. Gosh wow, er, or not.  

Edited by exchemist
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5 hours ago, ridcully70 said:

Science can be amazing, and I'm prepared to be amazed and apologize for my scepticism, but....60,000 miles of blood vessels?

Iirc, half of that is the capillaries, which are incredibly thin-walled (normally a single cell in width). Hair is roughly five times thicker, but you only have about 100,000 of them, so if they were a foot long you'd have about 19 miles of hair. Remember that blood goes to every cell in your body, so the circulatory system is incredibly elaborate and dense. 

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1 hour ago, StringJunky said:

60,000, it seems so with 80% of that capillaries.

Here's one relevant paper, Spatial and temporal dynamics of the endothelium, from the Journal of Thrombosis and Hemostasis. There's a breakdown of their findings that includes the measurements. The paper itself is more about how the phases of hemostasis are far more integrated than previously thought, but the research quotes the relevant studies they're based on. There's 154 references, and I'll bet one of them is the actual measurement parameters.

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