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Author Topic: How much does a single cell weigh?  (Read 1784 times)

Offline thedoc

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How much does a single cell weigh?
« on: 09/09/2016 09:23:02 »
Tony Dorn asked the Naked Scientists:
   Dear Naked Scientists
Having heard a segment on your recent Q&A show in which it was estimated that the human body makes 5 million cells a second I started to wonder how much a cell would weigh and how I might work it out. I then realised different types of cells might have different weights and sizes and would be renewed at different rates. I then wondered if there might be a way of calculating this by weighing various bodily emissions (what proportion are dead cells and what else is in balance), and regarding these emmissions there are some obvious ones but then I wondered what the others might be and whether they varied by sex and at different stages of life. I also wondered what proportion of the new cells are made up from materials reabsorbed from old cells and in fact also began to wonder what cells are made of. I also wondered if there was any cross over between cells in our body and other cells such as those in our gut/microbiome.
Also what are the most fantastic/extraordinary cells human or otherwise known at the moment and can cells be created artificially?
It then occurred to me that  the Naked Scientists might be able to give me some explanations and examples to help guide me to a better understanding of the topics that I began to contemplate after hearing that segment.  
I enjoy the shows and always look forward to hearing the next installments.
Regards Tony
(Sydney Australia)
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 09/09/2016 09:23:02 by _system »


Offline Bored chemist

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Re: How much does a single cell weigh?
« Reply #1 on: 10/09/2016 21:30:26 »
A centimetre cube of water weighs a gram. A cell is mainly water and had a similar density and  is about a thousand times smaller (in each direction) so it weighs about a thousandth of a thousandth of a thousandth of a gram.- A nanogram or so

Another way to look at is is that there are  about 3.710^13 cells in the body and between them they weigh about 70Kg.
That gives an average weight of about 2 nanograms per cell.
But that's an average.
As you suggested, there's quite a lot of variation. This site gives some indication of the different sizes.

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Re: How much does a single cell weigh?
« Reply #1 on: 10/09/2016 21:30:26 »


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