There is a fun college chemistry assignment that involves calculating (roughly) how many air molecules from Julius Caesar’s last dying gasp will be in the breath you are about to inhale. You make some reasonable assumptions about the height and density of the atmosphere, and use the gas laws to reach an estimate. It’s perfect for making college chemistry sophomores think, to use their new knowledge in non-technical but useful ways. The answer is that about one molecule in every breath you breathe was also in Caesar’s last dying breath.
I wanted to do the same thing for water, because water is more intimate; it doesn’t just go in and out of our lungs, it lives in us as part of us before being excreted. I was astounded at the results.
Since I’m in the U.S. and was raised in Christianity, I’m going to use Jesus for my calculations, but you could pick anyone who lived more than a century or two ago and get similar results. Let’s assume Jesus was an average Joe, drinking about 2 liters of water per day. Over 40 years, that’s 30,000 liters of water. Talk about holy relics! No water could possibly be more holy than water that actually passed through his body, so I’ll call these 30,000 liters “Holy Water,” and the molecules that made them up I’ll call “Holy Molecules.” Those Holy Molecules are now spread all over the planet thanks to the water cycle. There are 1.0x1030of them.*
The total volume of the oceans is 1.37x109 cubic kilometers. All the fresh water in all the glaciers, lakes, rivers, and groundwater makes up only 2.5%, which is negligible for my purposes here. There are 1015 cubic centimeters in a cubic kilometer, so the volume of the oceans is 1.37x1024cm3.
Jesus’ 30,000 liters is thirty million cm3. Dividing it by the volume of the oceans gives us the fraction of HW among all Earth water: 2.2x10-17. That’s a very small fraction—a drop in the ocean really—but it contains one hell of a lot of molecules. If that fraction of each cubic centimeter of water is Holy Molecules, then each cubic centimeter of water on this planet contains 668,000 Holy Molecules!†
So grab a cup of water. Drink it. You just drank over 150 millionHoly Molecules.§ Now they’re inside you, living asyou. All water is holy water.
Yes, I see you there, waving your arms and puffing out your cheeks about how we can’t assume perfect mixing. “What about the deep oceans, where ocean currents don’t flow,” you ask, “where water molecules might sit for eons without mixing with surface ones? And what about all that water locked up in glaciers since before the Ice Age? What about…”
I hear you. But think about it; if we took those non-mixing waters into account, it would decreasethe volume we used for the oceans, which would only increasethe portion of Holy Molecules in your glass. My calculation is a low-end estimate, a minimum. Being more precise about which waters mix would only increase the holiness of the water in your glass.
For those who think I played a dirty trick by neglecting the planet’s reserves of fresh water, taking them into account would yield 651,000 Holy Molecules per cm3instead of 668,000. For a cup of water, the answer is the same after rounding.
Every cup of water you drink contains over 150 million water molecules that passed through Jesus’ body during his lifetime.Some of those—some small number of them but still a few in every glass of wine, soda, milk, beer or spring-water—were in his body when he died.
All water is holy water.
I’ll raise a glass to that. Cheers.
* Water is 1g/ml and has a molecular mass of 18.015g/mole.
30,000 liters = 30 million ml = 30 million grams.
Divide that by 18.015 g/mol = 1.67x106moles.
Multiply that by Avogadro’s number (6.01x1023) = 1.0x1030molecules.
† Water is 1g/ml and has a molecular mass of 18.015g/mole.
1g divided by 18.015g/mol = .0555…moles.
That times Avogadro’s number = 3.34x1022molecules in each cm3.
Multiplying by the HW fraction of that = 668,000 Holy Molecules in each cm3.
§ 1C = 236 cm3, so multiply 668,000 by 236 = 157.6 million per cup.