Asked by: Ben Goodwin, Lewes

Let’s suppose we give each person the same space they would have if they were lying in a coffin, except we’ll stand the coffins on their end. A medium sized coffin has an internal cross section of 520 by 290mm. That’s seven billion people, each occupying 0.15m2. You could pack them together in just 1,050km2 (260,000 acres).

They wouldn’t quite fit on the mainland of Shetland, but there would be a bit of room to spare if we spread everyone over the Isle of Wight, Isle of Man and Jersey.

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.


luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.