# How Many Diamonds Can Fit in a Human Stomach?

Nov. 15 2012 3:38 PM

# The Billion-Dollar Stomach

## How many dollars’ worth of diamonds can you swallow?

Police in South Africa arrested a drug smuggler on Tuesday who was carrying 220 diamonds, worth \$2.3 million, in his stomach. How many dollars’ worth of diamonds can the human stomach hold?

Billions. The volume of a human stomach is about four liters (or approximately one gallon) at full stretch. The 530-carat Cullinan I, on display at the Tower of London, is likely the world’s most valuable stone, worth more than \$400 million. Since the density of diamond is 17,565 carats per liter, the volume of the Cullinan I is just 0.03 liters, or less than 1 percent of stomach capacity. A human stomach would still have plenty of room for the 317-carat Cullinan II (\$200 million and 0.02 liters), the 203-carat Millennium Star (\$200 million and 0.01 liters), and the 45-carat Hope blue diamond (\$200 million and 0.003 liters). That’s \$1 billion worth of stones occupying just 0.063 liters, or 1.6 percent of stomach volume. Because of the odd shape of the stones, it’s unlikely that the stomach could be packed solid with large diamonds. Still, with access to the world’s most celebrated diamonds, the value of an average stomach could certainly swell past a few billion dollars.

Without access to high-value stones, the smuggler’s potential haul drops significantly. A human stomach could hold no more than 70,000 one-carat diamonds, and probably a lot less than that due to imperfect packing. At around \$4,000 per stone, the stomach would max out at just \$280 million.

Even if you could pack a stomach completely full of diamonds, experienced smugglers know it would be too risky. A fully-loaded stomach looks rigid and distended, and many smugglers have been nabbed based solely on the appearance of their abdomens.

Brian Palmer is Slate's chief explainer. He also writes How and Why and Ecologic for the Washington Post. Email him at explainerbrian@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Doublex

# Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

# No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman”

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

Medical Examiner

# The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

# The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

# Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 3:24 PM Why Innovators Hate MBAs
Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:03 PM Kern Your Enthusiasm: The Ubiquity of Gotham
Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.