Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Breaths Per Lifetime

I was hiking up a mountain at fairly high altitude and this naturally got me to thinking about breath.  I wondered how many breaths there are in a lifetime.  How many are in a day?  How many days in a lifetime?  Doing the calculation in my head, between labored breaths, led me to realize that very approximately, there are about as many breaths in a day as there are days in a lifetime.

That's fascinating.  And it might lead to some interesting analogies.  Let's see.

We start out breathing faster, then slow down gradually, and we breath slower at night.  I wanted to take these things into consideration so I put together a spreadsheet based on numbers from these sources:

And why not throw in heart beats as well:

Here are the main numbers:
per lifetimeper day
femalemalefemalemale
breaths783,861,539731,266,61929,23929,271
heartbeats3,116,459,3902,781,534,939116,248111,339
days26,20924,98311

The number of breaths per day is indeed very close to the number of days per lifetime.  This could be interpreted to mean that each breath represents one day of our lives.  That each breath recapitulates a day.  This should help remind us of our mortality, right?

Let's see what that looks like.  We will take one day and map our life onto it, breath by breath.  (Our lifetime doesn't cover a complete day because there are somewhat fewer days than breaths.) Let's start from the moment we fall asleep.  10PM is our bedtime, and we will sleep 8 hours, waking up at 6AM.  Here is a table showing how old we are at each hour of this day. We wake up at the age of 25, having breathed about 9000 breaths.  We've finished breakfast by age 32, and we clock in at work at age 35.  We clock out at 63.  Dinner has been eaten and the dishes are washed by age 70.  Bedtime is at 80. (These numbers are in the "sleep first" column in the table below.)

(We could also start our allegorical life upon waking, and those numbers are shown in the "wake first" column.)

hour sleep first wake first
10:00:00 PM 0.0
11:00:00 PM 3.1
12:00:00 AM 6.3
01:00:00 AM 9.4
02:00:00 AM 12.5
03:00:00 AM 15.6
04:00:00 AM 18.8
05:00:00 AM 21.9
06:00:00 AM 25.0 0.0
07:00:00 AM 28.5 3.4
08:00:00 AM 31.9 6.9
09:00:00 AM 35.4 10.3
10:00:00 AM 38.8 13.8
11:00:00 AM 42.2 17.2
12:00:00 PM 45.7 20.7
01:00:00 PM 49.1 24.1
02:00:00 PM 52.6 27.5
03:00:00 PM 56.0 31.0
04:00:00 PM 59.4 34.4
05:00:00 PM 62.9 37.9
06:00:00 PM 66.3 41.3
07:00:00 PM 69.8 44.7
08:00:00 PM 73.2 48.2
09:00:00 PM 76.7 51.6
10:00:00 PM 80.1 55.1
11:00:00 PM 83.5 58.2
12:00:00 AM 87.0 61.3
01:00:00 AM 90.4 64.5
02:00:00 AM 93.9 67.6
03:00:00 AM
70.7
04:00:00 AM
73.8
05:00:00 AM
77.0
06:00:00 AM
80.1
07:00:00 AM
83.2
08:00:00 AM
86.4
09:00:00 AM
89.5
10:00:00 AM
92.6

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