4 Fun Facts about the Human Heart

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In their new book, The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart, the brothers Stephen and Thomas Amidon, one a writer and one a cardiologist, have written what they call a "biography of this remarkable machine" — one full of both scientific and literary information about that bodily organ most commonly represented as a red thing shaped like two ears pressed together.

The brothers sent along some fun facts about the heart:

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  • Although it weighs only about 15 ounces (or less than a pound), it's immensely strong: the amount of energy it generates in a single day could drive a car twenty miles.
  • The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley's heart refused to burn at his cremation, leading his wife Mary, author of Frankenstein, to keep it as a memento in her writing desk until the day she died.
  • A red blood cell can be propelled through the circulatory system in about the time it takes an Olympic athlete to run 200 meters.
  • Historically, the heart has signified our deepest thoughts — the ancient Egyptians saw the heart as the a part of the human being that ascended to heaven, carried by a winged beetle, and the Greeks saw it as the home of a man's courage and loyalty.
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