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How Long Things Last

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

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)&md;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&md;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.