Exploding Egg

Musings: Share a Little Air With History

You might have heard the myth that we’ve all shared the same molecules of air with each other and with prominent figures in history — like Gandhi, Lincoln, Genghis Khan or Richard Simmons.

Well, as luck would have it, the myth is true.

It's highly likely that you have about 227 air molecules from this guy in your lungs right now.

Going with my trend of using the Internet to follow up on every idiotic thought that comes to mind, I just came across an uber-nerdy explanation of why the breath theory is true — so I thought I’d pass it on.

It’s here on Newsvine.com:

The Odds That You’ll Breathe a Single Molecule of Air That Once Traveled Through the Lungs of Jesus.

The author calculates how many air molecules we have in our lungs, compares them with the number of air molecules out there in the atmosphere and takes into account atmospheric mixing — bringing us to the reason why we’re all breathing the same air as Richard Simmons.

Let’s try to simplify it even more:

Each breath we take is about 6 liters of air, which contains about 16,100,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of gas (that’s 161 sextillion for those of you playing at home).

The story looks at Jesus, who was about 32 when he died. And in that period of time, it estimates that he inhaled about 32,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of air (or 325 decillion)

Overall, there are about 112,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of gas in our atmosphere (or 11.2 quattuordecillion particles).

Those molecules get mixed up every year, through wind, chemical interactions, the frequency of airplane flights, etc.

So what are the odds that you’re sharing the air molecules of Richard Simmons — or somebody hunkier like Thomas Gibson or Jeremy Northam — right now?

Chances are good that you're sharing air with this guy

You're also probably sharing air with these two

Doing the math, the writer of the story found that if you divide the total number of air particles inhaled by Jesus in his lifetime by the total number of particles in the atmosphere, you get a 1 in 3,450,000,000,000 chance of any one of those particle entering your lungs at any given time.

But if that sounds like a long shot, remember that those are the odds for just one air molecule — and you have 16,100,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules in your lungs right now.

So if you run the odds for all of the molecules in your lungs right now — it turns out that you just inhaled 4,685,100,000,000 molecules (or about 4.685 trillion) that were once within Jesus’ lungs over his lifetime.

And even if you trap 99 percent of the air molecules that Jesus or Richard Simmons has inhaled in their lifetimes — doing the math it still turns out there are at least four of those molecules in our lungs at any given time.

If you shrink it down further, it appears we each have about 227 air molecules from a single breath by Jesus or whoever.

As the author of the story says:

“The reality is that the odds of breathing a single molecule of air that once passed through the lungs of Jesus, even in a single one of your breaths, is near certainty. The odds of encountering even one of those molecules within your entire lifetime is even more certain.”

So be happy, my friends. Because in some really weird cosmic way you just made out with Rudolph Valentino, Jeremy Northam, that guy you had a crush on in high school, and well, unfortunately, with Richard Simmons.

And don’t worry, you straight guys out there — for you that means sharing air with Farrah Fawcett, or some other sexy women you like to drool over.

All you guys (well all of us, actually) are also sharing air with Farrah Fawcett

What does this mean? Nothing really. But hey, you’re the one that just made out with me — I hope you enjoyed it.


May 12, 2010 - Posted by | Musings, Science | ,


  1. Thanks SuVo, it is exactly that , boys and girls, breathes a and out. Sniffs the air of the people you love. Lives gladly.

    Comment by Mary | May 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thanks Mary 😉

    Comment by SueVo | May 12, 2010 | Reply

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