September 13, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

New Video Shows the Boggling Amount of Code in Your Body

Illustra’s new short film, “18 Trillion Feet of You,” shows how DNA is packed into the 3 trillion nucleated cells, and how far all of it would reach.

The latest entry in Illustra Media’s John 10:10 Project explores the amount of DNA in the human body, and how it is condensed and packed into the cell nucleus. Would engineers be able to pack 24 miles of thread into a tennis ball, and still be able to search and find the right segment inside? That’s like what the cell does, and it’s just one of the mind-boggling facts about DNA told in this 6-minute film. Watch it right here:

18 TRILLION FEET OF YOU from The John 10:10 Project on Vimeo.

But Wait… There’s More!

The realities are even greater than portrayed here. In researching for the film, we read many sources that say the human body has 30 trillion cells, not just 3 trillion. Further checking revealed one obscure source that says that most of those are red blood cells, which lack a nucleus. To be on the safe side, therefore, we only added up the DNA in nucleated cells, although that is a conservative estimate. Many sources also said that the DNA in a single cell is closer to 7 feet long. Again, we rounded down to play it safe. Finally, the beautiful animations underestimate the crowded conditions in the nucleus, with untold numbers of molecular machines unwinding, proofreading and transcribing DNA, then splicing the RNA transcripts and preparing them for export. And during cell division, all this DNA is duplicated by rapidly moving copying and proofreading machines, then elaborately coiled and supercoiled into the familiar chromosomes.

In short, what you are seeing is a very understated portrayal of the actual complexity in the cell nucleus. That’s something you can tell after your friends are sufficiently amazed by the video, like a salesman saying, “But wait… there’s more!”

It’s easy to share this free video on social media, and we encourage you to do so. Click the paper-airplane icon at upper right of the video to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or websites. And since Illustra now is dependent on donations in this post-DVD era, you can help them make more films like this by donating at If you sign up to the site, you get additional information and bonuses. Illustra has already produced 8 new short films in 2020. Have you seen them yet?

Each of these is a miniature jewel of filmmaking. Catch the vision: this is a media company that does inspiring work with excellence. It deserves your regular support.


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