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How Long Things Last

  • Experts estimate that if a normal cassette tape is played about 100 times a year, sound quality will deteriorate somewhat after about 10 years. But the tape itself will play on.
  • A lightening bolt lasts 45 to 55 microseconds.
  • The average running shoe worn by the average runner on an average surface will last 350 to 500 miles.
  • A hard pencil can write up to 30,000 words or draw a line more than 30 miles long. Most ball-point pens will draw a line 4,000 to 7,500 feet long.
  • Leather combat boots have a wartime life-span of six months, a peacetime life-span of eight months (The army walks during war and peace.)
  • The projected life-span of a baby born in the U.S. today is about 71 years, nearly double what it was at the end of the 18th century. The longest authenticated life-span of a human being is 113 years, 214 days. Studies show married people live longer than those who remain single.
  • A group of subatomic particles known as unstable hadrons exists for only one one-hundred-sextillionth of a second (10 to the negative 23 second)—less time than it takes light to travel a single inch.
  • A 100-watt incandescent bulb will last about 750 hours; a 25-watt bulb, 2,500 hours. The number of times a light bulb is turned on and off has little to do with its life-span.
  • A one-dollar bill lasts approximately 18 months in circulation.
  • Practice footballs used by professionals last two to three days—a playing life of perhaps five hours. Home teams are required to provide 24 new balls each game and these last only about six minutes of playing time.

From Life-spans, or How Long Things Last, Frank Kendig and Richard Hutton, 1979)