The air in a man’s lungs contains 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms, so that sooner or later every one of us breathes an atom that has been breathed before by anyone you can think of who has ever lived – Michelangelo or George Washington or Moses.
– Jacob Bronowski
I mostly dislike this quote. And while I appreciate that it is likely true and that this should, I suppose, fill me with a sense of wonder and connected-ness to all of humanity, it also means I’m breathing in the same atoms that have traveled the pulmonary veins and arteries of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, to name just a few of the previous century’s more charming individuals. This obviously fills me with less awe and instills in me instead the deep desire to take ammonia hydroxide and a wire brush to the surface area of my alveoli. Which was likely not the intention of the speaker.
Also, Michelangelo, George Washington and Moses are your go-to paragons of the human race? I mean I realize this is quite a subjective thing and that everyone of us has their own weightings they use to ascribe value… but Moses? The man, wondered round a desert for 40 years. A relatively small desert at that. Color me generally unimpressed.
Finally shouldn’t it be ‘in a persons’ lungs (as opposed to a mans). I like quotes to include the lesser and more maligned gender too. I mean if your point is inclusivity. Although maybe girls use less oxygen. And therefore are less likely to have inhaled tainted atoms.
This kinda makes sense to me.