31 January 2007

Visualising CO2

(this calculation
has been driving me

it started way way back
as a visualisation of breezes
on the worldtree

tagging each cubic inch of air
with a tiny black bubble
just 1/12" wide
representing the 0.03% CO2
in 21st century fresh air

but the question arose:
each time we exhale
don't we add a
more-or-less constant
number of black bubbles
to the atmosphere?

say 1500 calories per day
divided by 20,000 breaths per day
means one calorie's worth of carbon dioxide
every 13.3 breaths

which should be 70,000 bubbles per calorie
5000 per breath

so if you're trapped in an airtight room
(like the jackson twins
in a 1965 comic strip
which was another origin of this inquiry)
say 10' by 10' by 10'
1,728,000 cubic inches
1,728,000 black bubbles of starting CO2

adding 5000 with each breath
will mean 300 breaths to double the bubbles
(21 minutes at 14 breaths per minute)

(this small increase
may melt the icecaps
and flood the coasts
by 2100)

in 40 minutes the room will seem stale
in ten hours you'll have a bad headache
and in a couple of days you're a goner
(or one day if you're twins)