Nav: Home

Is it possible to cry a river?

May 03, 2016

With Tottenham's dreams of Premier League glory shattered before their very eyes by a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, University of Leicester students research whether it is possible to really cry a river.

Musicians Arthur Hamilton, Justin Timberlake and unsympathetic people across the world have encouraged others to 'cry me a river', a put-down phrase to make light of people's problems.

University of Leicester Natural Sciences students Leah Ashley and Robbie Roe have examined the plausibility of people around the world crying enough tears to create a river, based on the flow rate of the world's shortest river - the Roe River in Montana, United States, which is 61m in length.

The river was chosen as the basis for the calculations as it was assumed to have a low volume while maintaining the title of 'river' and having a characteristic flow rate; while other rivers may be slower-moving, the volume of water also impacts the flow rate.

It was decided that in order to cry a river the best way to model it would be to use the amount of water that flows through it in a day. The Roe River is known to discharge between 156-193 million gallons per day.

Taking the lower volume limit as the most achievable target this equates to 709,190,040 litres per day - and with the average volume of a human tear being around 6.2 micro litres, this would be far more than the world's population could cry, even if everyone on Earth was feeling particularly crestfallen.

However, while copious blubbering may not be able to create a river, it could fill an Olympic size swimming pool, the students suggest.

Taking into consideration that a pool of 50m x 25m x2m would be equivalent to 2,500,000L, and using the population of the Earth and multiplying this by the volume of a tear, the students found that an Olympic swimming pool could be filled if everyone cried 55 tears - an amount possibly produced by Justin Timberlake on a daily basis when reflecting on his origins as a member of NSYNC...

The students presented their findings in a paper for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University's Centre for Interdisciplinary Science. Students from the University of Leicester (UK) and McMaster University (Canada) have contributed to this year's journal. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

Dr Cheryl Hurkett from the University of Leicester's Centre for Interdisciplinary Science said: "An important part of being a professional scientist (as well as many other professions) is the ability to make connections between the vast quantity of information students have at their command, and being able to utilise the knowledge and techniques they have previously mastered in a new or novel context. The Interdisciplinary Research Journal module models this process, and gives students an opportunity to practise this way of thinking. The intention of this module is to allow students to experience what it's like to be at the cutting edge of scientific research.

"The course is engaging to students and the publishing process provides them with an invaluable insight into academic publishing. It also helps students feel more confident when submitting future papers. I find it a very rewarding module to teach and I am always pleased to see my students engaging so enthusiastically with the subject. I encourage them to be as creative as possible with their subject choices as long as they can back it up with hard scientific facts, theories and calculations!"

The paper 'Is it possible to cry a river?' is available here: https://physics.le.ac.uk/jist/index.php/JIST/article/view/186
-end-


University of Leicester

Related Tears Articles:

Study shows surgery reverses pseudoparalysis in patients with rotator cuff tears
Research presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Specialty Day in San Diego shows arthroscopic superior capsule reconstruction (SCR), a surgical approach to treat irreparable rotator cuff tears, may eliminate pseudoparalysis and significantly improve shoulder function.
Crybaby: The vitamins in your tears
Would you rather shed a couple tears or have your blood drawn?
Stem cell 'living bandage' for knee injuries trialed in humans
A 'living bandage' made from stem cells, which could revolutionize the treatment and prognosis of a common sporting knee injury, has been trialed in humans for the first time by scientists at the universities of Liverpool and Bristol.
Researchers report invention of glucose-sensing contact lens
Blood testing is the standard option for checking glucose levels, but a new technology could allow non-invasive testing via a contact lens that samples glucose levels in tears.
Evidence of Zika virus found in tears
Zika virus is capable of infecting the eye, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
Zika infects the eyes of adult mice
Mouse models of Zika infection in adults confirm that the virus can infect the eye, resulting in uveitis and conjunctivitis -- a symptom observed in 10 percent -15 percent of human patients.
Location of UCL tears in MLB pitchers can help determine if surgery is necessary
Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries in Major League Baseball pitchers are high-impact due to player time lost, making treatment decisions an even greater challenge for physicians.
New insights into human tears could lead to more comfortable contact lenses
Chemical engineers at Stanford have discovered mechanical properties of the tear film on the eye's surface that can be used to manufacture contact lenses that more closely mimic the eye.
New procedure for massive rotator cuff tears restores stability better, say researchers
Repairing massive rotator cuff tears is often a tricky proposition, especially for those who have failed prior surgery.
ACL injuries increase among school-aged children and adolescents
A new study confirms what doctors working with young athletes already suspected: the number anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears among youths, particularly high school students, has risen during the past 20 years.

Related Tears Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...