within each that us room our organs, cells, molecules, and also atoms. Top top the the smallest scales that all, there... <+> are an ext than 10^28 subatomic corpuscle in our bodies, an massive number. If we ask the questions of how countless of them have actually been inside another person"s human body at some point, we acquire an alarmingly large answer.

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When you eat food, drink liquids, or even breathe in the air, plenty of of those atoms wind up gaining incorporated to your body. Once you sweat, exhale, and either secrete or excrete matter from your body, those atoms go earlier into Earth"s biosphere, whereby they can eventually wind up gaining incorporated right into other people"s bodies. Below on Earth, every little thing is connected.


But how linked are we? In particular, how plenty of of the atoms in our bodies to be in an additional human"s body at some point? perform we share atoms in typical with everyone lively today? v everyone who"s ever before lived? v King Tut, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, George Washington, etc.? The answer is fascinating: not just do we each have actually hundreds that billions of atoms the were as soon as in anyone else"s bodies, yet we have about 1 atom in our body from every breath that every person has ever taken. Here"s exactly how we know.


The person body, as we conventionally think of it, is created of offal that room made of cells. But... <+> at an even smaller level, whatever within united state is composed of atoms: an enormous variety of them as result of their overwhelmingly tiny size.

Pixabay user PublicDomainPictures

Let"s start by acquisition a look at what the human body actually is. You might think that yourself together a repertoire of your macroscopic organs and the cells that make them up. The you"re nothing but bones, muscles, skin, and the various other organs within of you. However from a to move standpoint, that only makes increase 4% the the cell in your body. The various other 96% are split, roughly evenly, between your blood cells and bacterial cells the live on and also in her body.

The blood cells (mostly red cells) live only for around 4 months apiece, at which point they"re damaged down, their materials are excreted, and replaced by new cells that were created in your bone marrow. Bacteria live all over that castle can: over there are about a million bacterial cell on every square inch of her skin, and tens of trillions of bacter cells thriving in her digestive tract.


The facets in the human being body. While, through mass, us are mostly Oxygen, Carbon, Nitrogen and also Hydrogen,... <+> there are dozens of elements essential to life processes in the person body. There are much more than 10^28 protons composing a typical adult person body.

Openstax college, Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions net site

In regards to atoms, these cells space overwhelmingly make of just a few elements. Through weight, the human being body is:

65% oxygen, 18.5% carbon, 9.5% hydrogen, 3.2% nitrogen,

and around 4% whatever else combined. That consists of the calcium in her bones, the phosphorous crucial to those ATP molecules, the sodium and potassium that are vital to regulating your body"s neurons, and the sulfur, chlorine, and also magnesium that play crucial roles in your body.

But also if we talk around only the 4 most typical elements, we"re talking about remarkably huge numbers the atoms. A human being being, when you counting up whatever inside us, is in reality an amazingly big collection of atoms: there are much more atoms in her body 보다 there space stars in the whole Universe.


miscellaneous long-exposure campaigns, favor the Hubble excessive Deep field (XDF) displayed here, have actually revealed... <+> countless galaxies in a volume of the world that represents a portion of a millionth the the sky. All told, we calculation that there are about 2 sunshine galaxies in the observable Universe, yet even if they had actually a sunshine stars each (a high estimate), there would be much more atoms in our bodies 보다 stars in the Universe.

NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and also M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and also Z. Levay (STScI)

With yearly that walk by, in fact, you can be surprised to find out that an ext than 90% the the atoms the were in her body room no much longer there. Cells get damaged down, taken right into your bloodstream, filtered by your liver and also kidneys, and large components that their components are excreted. Meanwhile, you ingest and breathe in brand-new atoms every the time, wherein your body assembles castle into brand-new molecules and cells. At any given minute in time, her body contains roughly (for an average-sized human):

4× 1027 hydrogen atoms, 2× 1027 oxygen atoms, 3× 1026 carbon atoms, and 8× 1025 nitrogen atoms.

These are massive numbers, even by huge standards. And also yet, we need to ask where they come from.


The aspects that comprise the human being body and are most necessary to life take up a range of... <+> areas on the periodic table, but all can be created by the procedures of a couple of different types of stars in the Universe.

Ed Uthman, M.D., via http://web2.airmail.net/uthman/ (L); Wikimedia Commons user Zhaocarol (R), under c.c.a.-s.a.-3.0.

Almost all the oxygen and also hydrogen in our body come from drink water and breathing air. Meanwhile, most of the carbon and nitrogen in our bodies comes from the food we eat. This makes a difference: it"s much easier for water and air to circulate everywhere the planet and mix well and thoroughly. Assuming the atoms room neither created nor destroyed— a really great approximation the reality— some fraction of the atoms of waiting you"re breath in were once in someone else"s lungs throughout history, even if it is that"s Hitler, Caesar, Ramses, or Otzi the Iceman.

Given that hydrogen and oxygen make up the best numbers of atoms in your body, and also that the atmosphere and also Earth"s watery bodies room where those atom reside, this gives us a technique of pull close the problem: through considering the variety of atoms in the atmosphere and in every one of Earth"s water.


The dried Earth, compared to all of Earth"s oceans (large blue dot), every the freshwater ~ above Earth... <+> (medium blue dot), and also all the rivers and lakes on planet (small blue dot), the last of which is the same family member mass/size of Earth"s atmosphere.

Howard Perlman, USGS/illustraion by Jack Cook, WHOI

The planet is a massive place through an enormous variety of atoms, but most of those atoms room in the interior of ours planet. The outer part of it— our planet"s biosphere— is the just component that we care about when it involves the atoms us regularly connect with. Overall, the whole sum of every the watery body on Earth, including lakes, oceans, rivers, seas, icecaps, glaciers, etc., equates into around 0.02% that the planet"s mass: 1.35 × 1021kg. The entire atmosphere, meanwhile, is around 1-part-in-a-million that the entire planet: 5.15× 1018kg.

When we do the math to convert these into atoms, here"s what we get:

4.1× 1040oxygen atom (atmosphere), 4.5× 1043oxygen atoms (water), and also 9.0× 1043hydrogen atoms (water).

These are substantial numbers, especially contrasted to the variety of atoms in a person body. However they aren"t big enough.


Whether us wear a mask or not, we"re tho inhaling the same variety of atoms into our body with... <+> every breath we take, and also those atoms have the same probability they constantly did of having actually once been inside someone else. (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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If you were to take all of the atom in your body and also let them go back to the natural atmosphere of the Earth, and also you then thoroughly mixed all the air and also water on the Earth, you"d realize a couple of spectacular facts.

One the end of every 21 quadrillion hydrogen atoms (2.1× 1016atoms) come from her body. One the end of every 26 quadrillion oxygen atom (2.6× 1016atoms) come from your body.

And this is true because that everyone"s body, top top average, as soon as you take into consideration the atoms that made them up a year ago.

But remember: the typical human body has 4 × 1027hydrogen atoms and also 2× 1027oxygen atom in it! If each of us accumulates atoms randomly, that still method that every of us, ~ above average, have hundreds the billions of atoms that were, a year ago, within each and every other human on Earth. Numerous billions the atoms space in your body not only from me and also everyone else on Earth, but additionally from dinosaurs the lived numerous years ago.


This picture shows the remnant skeleton of Sue the T-Rex, on screen at the field Museum in Chicago.... <+> there are about a couple of trillion atoms the were once inside Sue the now consist of your body today.

Dallas Krentzel / Flickr

It"s only because atoms are so small, and there are so numerous of them within each that us, the this is possible. If atom were bigger and more massive, and also we to be made of under of them, this would certainly be a lot more complicated proposition. Yet the truth is the we room made of very tiny structure blocks, and also there are much more of them in every of us than there are kilograms in the Earth, stars in the observable Universe, or grains of sand in the whole Solar System.

In fact, right now, if you take a deep breath and then exhale, by the time a year goes by, approximately one atom from that breath will certainly wind increase in every other human being on Earth"s lungs at any moment in time. In other words, you probably have about one atom from Caesar"s critical breath in your lungs appropriate now.


Each person breath contains around 10^19 atoms, which way that also in ours well-mixed... <+> atmosphere, you more than likely have approximately 1 atom the was in ~ one allude a part of any type of breath ever breathed in human history.

Sasha Kargaltsev / flickr

Our bodies might show up to remain about the same on a year-to-year basis, yet the reality is that we"re actually expelling the atoms inside of united state all the time:

the carbon us exhale in carbon dioxide is the carbon that composes our bodies, the water that us excrete once we urinate is the hydrogen and also oxygen from our bodies, and also the various other elements, in a mix of sweat, urine, and also solid waste, also leave our bodies on a constant basis.

Meanwhile, we"re breathing air, drinking water, and also eating plants and also animals, and that brings brand-new atoms right into our body to replace the persons we"re continually losing. Planet planet is a about closed system as far as the atom in our biosphere go, which method that, given enough time for points to sufficiently mix, these tiny, microscopic components of our civilization will inevitably spread out wherever water and also air are permitted to go.


indigenous macroscopic scales down to subatomic ones, the sizes of the basic particles play only a... <+> small role in identify the sizes of composite structures. Even if it is the structure blocks are truly an essential and/or point-like corpuscle is still not known, however we do know the cosmos from large, cosmic scales down to tiny, subatomic ones. Over there are almost 10^28 atoms consisting of each person body, in total.

Magdalena Kowalska / CERN / ISOLDE team

Every time you breath in, you"re breathing atoms of air the were as soon as inside an additional human being. Every time you take a drink that water, you"re drinking water that was when inside one more human being. And also every bite that food friend take consists of atoms that were inside an additional person. We all re-publishing the exact same planet, the same biosphere, and— at a an essential level— also the very same atoms.

At an atomic level, we"re all very deeply connected. Inside your body, right now, are numerous billions the atoms that were as soon as inside every other person being on Earth. Throughout the generations and also the aeons, those exact same atoms continue to make up everything: the atoms of the dinosaurs, the plants, the trilobites, and even the single-celled organisms that once dominated our earth are now inside you.

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I am a Ph.D. Astrophysicist, author, and also science communicator, who professes physics and astronomy at various colleges. I have actually won plenty of awards for scientific research writing due to the fact that 2008 for my blog, Starts v A Bang, including the compensation for best science blog through the institute of Physics. My two books, Treknology: The science of Star Trek native Tricorders come Warp Drive, beyond the Galaxy: just how humanity looked past our Milky way and uncovered the whole Universe, are accessible for purchase at Amazon. Monitor me on Twitter