Thursday, 8 December 2011

Your Body Chemistry

Here we have two statues, two representations of human figures. The figure on the left is a 'black' madonna from a church in the South of France. She was in a side-chapel at the back of the church, hidden out of the way. Tradition says that this is a representation of Mary Magdalene, a relic from the Cathar set of beliefs that were never quite completely stamped out by the Roman Catholic Church. On the right we have a figure of Scottish reformation man, general difficult character and scourge of popery, John Knox from St Giles Catherdral in Edinburgh. 
In sculpture the human form is mainly depicted in marble or alabaster, both forms of calcium carbonate and less frequently in wood, an organic material composed mainly of cellulose.
The real bodies of the madonna and John Knox would have had a very different compositon, consisting of approximately - water (40 litres), muscle (28 kg), bone (14 kg) and fat (14kg). Looking at the elements and minerals in more detail we would have -
Carbon (16 kg), enough for 9,000 lead pencils.
Calcium (1 kg), the same amount as in 1,450 pints of skimmed milk.
Potassium (140 g), the same amount as in 333 bananas.
Sodium (100 g), the same amount as in 32 bottles of Heinz tomato ketchup
Iron (4.2 g), enough to make two 2.5 cm nails
Fluorine (2.6 g), same amount as in 26 large tubes of toothpaste
Zinc (2.3 g), the same amount as in 181 0ysters
Copper (72 mg), Gold (0.2 mg), Uranium (0.1 mg)

So each one of us is a walking chemistry set, put together very carefully under the influence of sets of genes that scientists are just beginning to unravel.

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder e-book at,, and Barnes and Noble. Paperback print version coming soon at Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post Alan. It appeals to the fact hound in me. Thanks for sharing.