The Extent of Human Capacity

We remember one trillion things in our lifetime.

Computer scientists say our brains have a storage capacity approximately the same as an 11-terabyte hard drive, which with current solid-state technology can be stored in an area about the size of a fingertip.

Our eyes are each equivalent to a 137-megapixel camera, roughly ten times higher resolution than a typical modern digital camera.

These comparisons are a bit rough, because humans are made from wetware, not hardware. For instance, the retina has much greater sensitivity near the center than at the edges, while a camera has uniform sensitivity. The memory of a hard drive is digital. Each ‘cell’ in a hard drive can hold a one or a zero. Each cell in the human brain is more of an analog mechanism, firing or not based on many input factors.

Worst Flower

The world’s largest flower is also one of the worst smelling flowers. Rafflesia Arnoldii is often over 3 feet wide and its petals are almost an inch thick. You wouldn’t want it in your garden, however, because it smells like a rotting animal. The flower is attempting to attract flies for pollination.


Rafflesia Arnoldi, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Whale Oil

The fine machine lubricating oil for which the sperm whales were hunted was mostly in their heads – up to 500 gallons (1,800 liters) of it in one whale. Until modern chemical technology, nothing lubricated as well as whale oil. Now there is even more valuable stuff that forms in their intestines – ambergris. This foul-smelling grayish-black stuff is used by the perfume industry, not for its smell, but because it has been found to cause other smells to last longer.