Cumberland Times-News

Columns

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.

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