Cumberland Times-News

Bob Doyle - Astronomy

May 11, 2014

Here are numbers that apply in our lives

One of the best exercises is walking. Cardiologists suggest that each of us walk 10,000 steps per day. Assume each step is 0.5 meters or 19.7 inches. Then 10,000 steps would cover 5,000 meters or 3.11 miles. But studies find that the average American (from age 4 and up) takes only 2,000 steps/day or 1 kilometer.



So over the course of a year, on the average we would cover 365 kilometers or 227 miles by foot. This compares to the average car mileage per American licensed driver of 13,900 miles. But young people and some elderly don’t drive.



There are 680 licensed drivers per 1,000 people in America. This would bring our driving mileage per American to 9,450. So Americans on the average cover about 42 times the distance in cars compared to walking.



After air, the most essential substance for life is water. Water is in short supply in many areas in the developing world. (America and Canada, Western Europe, Japan, some countries in South America and the Middle East are the developed countries.) For a human to survive, the minimum water intake is 2.5 liters per day or 2/3 of a gallon of water per day. Some foods we eat, especially fruits are mostly water, which contributes to your water intake. Drinking coffee, tea and even sodas also count.



To allow for sanitation, cooking and bathing the minimum amount of water is 50 liters per day per person. The American way of life involves an average water consumption of 1,500 liters of water per person per day.



How do these figures compare with alcoholic beverages? Beer consumption in the U.S. averages 88 quarts or 83 liters per year/(person of drinking age).



An average American of drinking age drinks a little less than three gallons of wine per year. This would be the consumption
of 15 standard bottles of wine. So beer intake per person of drinking age is about 7 times as much as the wine intake. So alcoholic beverage intake in America is about 10 per cent of our minimum water intake.



One thing that some of us lack is coverage of our heads with hair. Hair is good, it can protect your head from the sun (when sunlight is most intense). I have an area on top where my hair is very thin. In a recent visit to my dermatologist, I had a precancerous spot there sprayed with liquid nitrogen.



Now there are places where male hair loves to grow, no matter how scarce it is on top. Beard hair can grow an average of 5.5 inches per year. In the Middle East, some faiths require a beard of at least 3.5 inches in length. That will take nearly eight months to grow on the average. How long would you need to grow a beard whose length equals your height? If we take an average male height to be 68 inches, then it would take over 12 years to grow such a beard. Think of the risk of tripping over your beard!



Smoking tobacco is a difficult habit to cease. The annual global consumption of cigarettes is about 5 trillion! If each cigarette were lined up end to end, it would cover a distance of 281 million miles. This is about twice the distance of the planet Mars from the sun.



Book References: “Number Freaking” by Gary Rimmer, “World Almanac 2014” and “Earth: A Tenant’s Guide” by Frank Rhodes.

Text Only
Bob Doyle - Astronomy
  • It’s hotter here than in D.C. or Baltimore

    At this time of the year, the weather is a frequent subject of conversation, particularly the temperatures. We are now in the “Dog Days,” usually the hottest days of the year. The term comes from our sun appearing to be near the “Dog Star” (Sirius) and the “Little Dog Star” (Procyon). In reality, the sun is now about 94.5 million miles away while Sirius is 8.6 light years away with Procyon at 11 light years distance. Sunlight takes only 507 seconds to reach us, while the two dog stars’ light takes about a decade to travel to our eyes. So our sun is in the same direction (but not distance) as these two bright winter evening stars.

    July 20, 2014

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    July 6, 2014

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    June 28, 2014

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    Long before the first writing (scratches on clay tablets) appeared, our early ancestors noticed that the moon went through a regular cycle of shapes in about 30 days.

    June 21, 2014

  • Here’s how you can tell the stars, planets

    How can one tell one star from another at night? It’s a matter of knowing the sky areas (constellations).

    June 15, 2014

  • Smithsonian guide to stars is a good one

    At a local book store, I yielded to temptation and bought “Stars and Planets,” a Smithsonian Nature Guide written by four authors. Dinwoodie, Gater, Sparrow and Stott. It’s another Dorling Kindersley product with ISBN 978-0-7566-9040-3 and a 2012 copyright. “Stars and Planets” is a trade size paperback that is beautifully illustrated with appealing diagrams. “Stars and Planets” begins with the biggest topic, the Universe. There is a striking visual showing the known universe on the hugest scale, a delicate lacework of superclusters of galaxies with large voids. It resembles a bubble bath!

    June 8, 2014

  • Think a little more and be less frazzled

    Last Sunday’s column dealt with using technology carefully in education. What about technology in everyday life? There is a marvelous book “The Thinking Life,” by P.M. Forni, of The Johns Hopkins University which addresses this issue as well as timeless suggestions for living by Greek and Roman thinkers. “The Thinking Life: How To Thrive in the Age of Distraction” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2011 with ISBN 978-0-312-62571-9. Dr. Forni also wrote “Choosing Civility” and “The Civility Solution”.

    May 25, 2014

  • Technology helps with learning, but take care

    Since I have been involved in teaching, two different technologies have been applied to learning at the secondary and collegiate level. The first was video (from videocassettes to DVDs) where a student or class might watch a presentation of some historical event, or a set of scientific principles or even a simulated exploration of the human body.

    May 18, 2014

  • Here are numbers that apply in our lives

    One of the best exercises is walking. Cardiologists suggest that each of us walk 10,000 steps per day. Assume each step is 0.5 meters or 19.7 inches. Then 10,000 steps would cover 5,000 meters or 3.11 miles. But studies find that the average American (from age 4 and up) takes only 2,000 steps/day or 1 kilometer.

    May 11, 2014

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