Mass and Measurability

Many years ago I went to a new doctor, and when in the course of vital statistics acquisition she weighed me, she marked off two pounds from the scale-given total because, back then, I had long thick hair that apparently had so much heft it would make a difference in whether or not she would admonish me for being a farm animal in the weight department.

This has stuck with me. By "this" I mean the notion that there are parts of the body that are not really "the body" that still, nonetheless, contribute to overall mass. Like, if I wanted to lose a quick couple of pounds, all I had to do was cut my hair!

But of course nothing is ever done in broad strokes here in the Helen household, where our official family crest is "Why Measure Things In Pounds When You Could Also Measure Things In Micrograms?!" which, in Latin, is "Sum Plene Rabidus." So of course I took my doctor's assessment of my own weight to heart and then started doing completely stupid things, like wondering how much weight I had lost in the process of, for example, blowing my nose.

Okay. Right here I really wanted to talk about how much snot weighs, and do some kind of convoluted analysis of how many cookies (or how much of one cookie) I could justifiably consume per sneeze given a desire to maintain mass equilibrium. But - stop the presses - the internet has failed me. Having googled every permutation of the words quantity, mucus, snot, ml, gram, sneeze, and weighs, I am coming up empty-handed. So, um, I called my dad. So here is an actual quote from a doctor about how much snot you get rid of when you sneze:

"Usually there's a teaspoon or so in there, but if you have a cold or an irritation, you can have up to an ounce or so--up to a tablespoon sometimes. Are you calling me from work?"

Thanks, Dad! A freaking ounce! That is a really really really hugely gigantic quantity of boogers! It is possible that I am a particularly ladylike and delicate sneezer, but I am pretty sure that this is not a snot-quantity I have ever achieved. Maybe manly steak-eating men regularly reach this, though, so I am not going to be too incredulous.

The convenient part is: someone else has already done the cookie part of the math, and it turns out that a package of Oreos (20oz) generally contains about 51 cookies (let's say 50).

Which means that one Oreo weighs 0.4 ounces.

Which means the largest sneezes contain more than two Oreos' worth of snot.

Which means every time you sneeze you can eat at least one Oreo without ANY RAMIFICATIONS AT ALL except for the happiness achieved by eating an Oreo.

I seriously feel right now as if I deserve some sort of Nobel Prize.

Next time: how many chicken nuggets can be consumed every time you trim your nails? Stay tuned!


meredith said...

hmmm. sadly, I bet you'd have to have running pneumonia to justify a deep-fried oreo.

Amy said...

Excellent logic Helen, but not so in practice. Ever since the I noticed that I resembled a "short fat drag queen" in a certain dynamic couple's wedding photos, I have been on a serious quest to return to my svelter, sexier, premarital self. In addition to cutting my daily calorie intake to 1400-1500 (including alas alcohol), had 8-10" of my hair cut off. I assumed this was good for a least 1 lb. if not 2. No change on hair cut day. Severe disappointment.

Also I think it is funny that I knew who your dinner companions were at per se before they told me and it was all because of the foie in-fighting. I could, you know, picture it.

ploop said...

I think your workings are scientifically flawless.

I fully intend to cry for the next 6 hours to lose enough weight to nail me a big mac. This is great news indeed

The Girl Shawn B. said...

I applaud your math. But in the interest of fighting ignorance (there are people out there who read blogs and take every. single. word. literally), but mostly because I am a detail-demanding freak who must share every piece of useless knowledge with those who might listen, I would like to share some information.

In college I was on the co-ed boxing team. Several of the male boxers needed to find ways to shave off a few ounces to make weight. So we researched it via the interweb. Sweating it out before weigh-in was the preferred method. Another possibility was cutting your hair. But someone out there actually measured it, and long hair when wet (but not dripping) weighs less than 2 ounces.

So, deducting 2 pounds for long hair. Please.

Now on to snot. A tablespoon of water is half an ounce. Since snot is less dense than water (see: loogies float), a tablespoon of snot would weigh even less than half an ounce. You may want to adjust your oreo calculations in order to be considered for the Nobel. Also, I question doctors' ability to estimate weight based on volume (at least the ones in your examples).

Holy crap, this is a long comment. I need to get my own damn blog, huh?