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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Potter 1983.

Capillary diameter and geometry in cardiac and skeletal muscle studied by means of corrosion casts

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Tags: biology

PainSci summary of Potter 1983?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible.

I went looking for this paper because I wanted to know how big capillaries are, and how that compares to thinks like spider silk and human hairs. Both hair and silk come in a wide variety of thicknesses, but this fact is routinely ignored. For instance, spider silk will be described as being a tenth the thickness of a human hair. Which spider? Who’s hair? I haven’t documented my sources because it’s a trivial, gee-whiz point, but the process of clearing this up was interesting. Turns out that human hair diameter ranges from about 15 micrometres at its finest, all the way up to 200 micrometres at the thickest: a full order of magnitude difference! Capillaries, on the other hand, are more consistent at around 4-6 micrometres: something like a third to a fortieth the thickness of hair, depending on the hair. Definitely smaller! Now spider silk turns out to have a really wide range of sizes. The very thinnest is measured in nanometres, just 10 of them, which is really impressive (nanometres are used to measure things on the molecular scale). At the other end of the range, spiders sometimes pump out silk as thick as 150 micrometres, a relatively gargantuan tenth of a millimetre and about the same size as the heaviest hairs. So, capillaries can be up to 500 times larger than really fine spider silk, or about thirty times smaller than than the thickest.

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These two articles on PainScience.com cite Potter 1983 as a source:


This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog.