Mathematician: All the COVID virus in the world could fit in a soda can


SAN FRANCISCO – JANUARY 16: Cans of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

All the COVID-19 virus particles in the world could fit inside a can of soda, according to a British mathematician, demonstrating how much ruin even tiny particles can wreak on the planet.

Christian Yates, a senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath in England, set out to calculate just how many COVID-19 virus particles are circulating in the world for the BBC and described his process in a piece for the Conversation.

Yates’ calculations led him to estimate that there are 200 million billion virus particles in the world at any given time — a huge number, but given that a single COVID-19 particle is “roughly 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” the total volume of virus particles in the world is minuscule.

Yates then went on to calculate the volume of a particle, using the equation V=4 π r³/3, and came to the conclusion that the total volume of all particles is about 160 ml — “easily small enough to fit inside about six shot glasses” or a can of soda.

“It’s astonishing to think that all the trouble, the disruption, the hardship and the loss of life that has resulted over the last year could constitute just a few mouthfuls of what would undoubtedly be the worst beverage in history,” Yates writes.

There are more than 107 million COVID-19 infections around the world, according to Johns Hopkins. More than 2.3 million people have died.



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