Ant Man

Worker_ant_carrying_leafI was watching the movie, Ant Man, the other day and it got me to thinking about some simple physics. Ants are said to be extremely strong – able to lift 10 times their own weight or more. What you don’t often hear, however, is that if an ant were the size of a man, it wouldn’t even be able to stand up, let alone carry anything. This is simply due to leverage. Ant limbs are functional only at the relatively small scale. This is true of almost any creature with an exoskeleton.

What if the roles were reversed and a man were somehow shrunk to the size of an ant. Would he be able to lift 10 times his own weight? If a 6 foot tall 180 pound man were shrunk to 1/10th of an inch, all else being proportional, he would weigh only 0.005 ounces. Assuming he could lift his own weight at normal height, he would now be able to lift an amazing 4 ounces. This is about 800 times his own weight. That’s more than an 18 wheeler at his normal size! He would practically be a superman. Not only could he be able to lift incredible weights he could probably jump at least 4 feet high. This is 480 times his own height. He could clear the Empire State Building at his scale!

Endoskeletons it seems are much stronger than exoskeletons. This is probably why evolution favors endoskeletons in all the larger animals.

But before you try to figure out a way to shrink yourself and become a superman, be warned: none of your vital functions will actually work at a much reduced scale.  Human nervous and circulatory systems need to be of a certain size in order to function properly (or at all).


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