Link #40: Human Bone Is Five Times Stronger Than Steel!


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Link #40: Human Bone Is Five Times Stronger Than Steel!

bad to the bone
Image credit: Robbie Grubbs cc2.0

The information we covered in our last post showed how diverse and strong bones can be. We talked about how birds’ bones are hollow but still extremely strong. They are strong because of their density and struts and trusses, in case you had forgotten.

Birds’ bodies are specially adapted so that they can fly. However, even the bones of mammals have special powers. Take yourself for example. Did you know that your bones are five times stronger than steel?

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Human Bone vs. Steel in Terms of Strength

Diagram of the human skeleton by LadyofHats Mariana Ruiz Villarreal

Human bone is indeed stronger than steel but only if the two are compared in terms of weight. This is an important distinction because steel by nature is a denser material than bone. The human bone is not as dense as steel because of its need to be light.

The human skeletal system, in fact, accounts for only about one-sixth of your weight. If human bones were as dense as steel, they would be much stronger than they are now but also make it very difficult for humans to move.

How Much Stronger Is Human Bone Than Steel?

So, the big question is, how much stronger is human bone than steel? Roughly speaking, human bone is about five times stronger than steel if both of them have the same weight.

If you take a bar of steel of the same size as a piece of bone then you’ll see that the bar of steel is about three to five times heavier than the bone. This is because the bar of steel is denser than the piece of bone.

Typically, you’ll find that one cubic inch of bone can carry up to five standard pickup trucks. Five standard pickup trucks would weigh more than 8,500 kg. However, when comparing the strengths of bone and steel, you need to consider other things as well.

Consider the fact that it isn’t only force that you have to analyse to figure out their strength but also the speed with which the force is applied. Similarly, strength can be viewed in different terms.

The More You Work Your Bones, the Stronger They Get

Dennis Wolf in Arnold Classic 2014. Image credit: Arnold Classic 2014 cc4.0

Forget raw force for a second and consider the qualities that human bone possesses over steel. Your bones can heal themselves because they are made up of living tissue. In fact, the more you work your bones, the stronger they will get.

This isn’t hogwash. When you work your bones beyond their existing capacity, minuscule fractures start manifesting. Your body immediately rushes to fix these tiny fractures.

In the end, your body doesn’t only fix these minute fractures in your bone but also builds over the repair work so as to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Effectively, your bones are now stronger than they were before you overworked them.

If you overwork them again then tiny fractures will start manifesting and your body will work even harder to fix them and improve upon them. This is the core principle behind body building!

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