What If Everyone On Earth Got Together and Formed a Giant Human Pyramid?
In the last half century, the world’s population has more than doubled, and the trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. But while Earth bursts at the seams with hungry humans and the planet’s finite natural resources are pushed to the limit, our surplus of people could actually result in some pretty amazing things.
What if, in the same ambitious spirit that built the Great Pyramid in Egypt, every single person on the planet got together for a similar construction effort, one that was bit less dreary and a bit more, well, cheery? Let’s imagine, say, that the nearly 7 billion of us human beings in the world joined up to form a giant human pyramid, nay a humanity pyramid! Just how wide and how tall would this (literally) manmade structure be?
To figure out the approximate dimensions of this presumably enormous human pyramid composed of all humanity, it is important that we first arrive at an average size for the people which will be used to build it. Certainly there’d need to be some more specific attention paid to certain factors if we were to actually undertake this project, like making sure to keep all the outlying fatties at the base level for support and the squishy newborns at the top, but in this exercise we’ll assume everyone’s pretty much somewhere in the middle, size-wise.
Standing height isn’t really an issue here since the dimensions of our ‘building blocks’ are measured by shoulder span and knee to back length (the width and height of a person in proper ‘brick’ position). According to a Harvard University diagram of average human body proportions, each person on their hands and knees would measure around 22 inches tall and 18 inches wide at the shoulders. Now, let’s start building.
The first order of business is to figure out how many people will line the base of our super-awesome humanity pyramid. To do so, we’ll use a little arithmetic progression calculator. Using the US Census Bureau estimates which put the world’s population today to be at 6.952 billion, and assuming that we’re building a standard, equal-sided triangle, we soon learn that 117,915 people will make up the foundation — and that that will be the number of levels, too.
A little multiplication gives us the overall dimensions of our massive mound of people. So, the bottom of our the pyramid will be just about 33.5 miles wide (53.9 km), and it will stand 40.9 miles tall (65.9 km). In other words, those at the topmost portion of our pyramid will be square in the center of the Mesosphere, where temperature reach lows of −148 °F, and higher than any airplane can fly. We won’t have to worry about planes crashing into our pyramid, though. After all, every pilot in the world will be in it somewhere.
By comparison, not only would every other manmade structure on Earth seem but a speck next to our pyramid, so too would most of Earth’s geological features. Sure, it’s hard not to be humbled standing alone at the foot of a mountain or in the shadow of some great monument, but if we ever pulled together for such an epic undertaking, we could literally amaze ourselves — until someone sneezed, that is.