Friday, 19 October 2012

Pituitary Awareness Quiz: Day 2

Welcome to today's question about the pituitary gland! Yesterday's question was relatively easy to Google, so I thought I'd throw in a slightly more tricky one for you (and my boyfriend did the calculations!).

National Awareness Month Pituitary Awareness Quiz
Day 2 - Question 2

Q.2: Approximately how many (normal-sized) human pituitary glands could you fit in an Olympic-sized swimming pool?

a) 4 billion

b) 20 billion

c) 50 billion

d) 100 million

e) 100 billion

Anyone who provides workings to back up their answer will receive great respect. Good luck!


  1. The articles I read states that there is both a significant change in size of the gland with age (1, 2, 3) (it gets smaller as you get older) and that women's are larger than men's (3).

    I'm going to use the mean value from (3) of 714.93mm^3, including test subjects of both sexes and modelling the PG as an oblong with square cross section, sides = 11.26mm and a depth of 5.63mm (From MRI this isn't accurate, it looks more bean shaped to me but that would have been very complex!

    Length of pool = 50,000mm
    therefore you can fit 4,438 PGs along (length 11.26mm)

    Width of pool = 25,000mm
    so you can fit 2,219 PGs across (length 11.26mm)

    Depth of pool = (minimum) 2,000mm
    so can stack PGs 355 deep.

    Minimum total number of PGs:
    3.49 Billion (a is closest)

    From the same study I can do it for PGs with adenomers and that comes out at
    3.08 Billion (thought you might want to know)

    The real answer would be higher for two reasons:

    1) not being oblongs means they would pack more efficiently than this.

    2) Assuming the PG has a density just above that of water then the PGs on the bottom have a bit over 2,500 tons of mass pressing down on them, which would cause them to compress (read go squish!) Thus compressing them and allowing many many more to be fitted in on top of the squished glands.




  2. It's got to be c) 50 million