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Humor me; can our bodies be smaller but the same?

  1. Jan 28, 2008 #1
    Working on some sci-fi and exploring the theory that there is redundancy in the human body, i.e., we could function with fewer cells, then fewer amounts of elements, and therefore less matter. Could we be “fine-tuned” and exist as a smaller version of ourself?
     
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  3. Jan 28, 2008 #2

    lisab

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    Do you mean something like island dwarfism? That's an observation that evolutionists have made, which describes the tendancy for some species to become very small when they are isolated from preditors (on an island, for example), for an extended period of time.

    Google "hobbit Indonesia" -- it's mind-blowing.
     
  4. Jan 28, 2008 #3
    Sure it's possible. There are people who are less than 5' tall with all the same proportions. You could definitely go smaller. But why would you want to? You wouldn't be able to reach things on the top shelf.
     
  5. Jan 28, 2008 #4
    The biggest problem is scaling. For instance, looking at it from the mechanical engineering of the bone structure:

    Assume the leg bones have a circular cross section. The moment of inertia for the bones will dependent, to the 4th power, on the leg bone diameter. This means that halving the bone size will make the bones 1/16 as strong in bending. This is HUGE. Now, someone half the size won't weigh as much, but the overall ability for the person to act physically will be changed dramatically.

    Then there's brain mass. I've seen charts plotting the relative intelligence of animals based on their brain size, but I can't recall exactly what kind of empirical relationship there is.
     
  6. Jan 28, 2008 #5
    Careful there. I don't think you want to say someone with a small brain is dumber than a bigger person.
     
  7. Jan 28, 2008 #6
    thanks let me clarify

    My work (fiction) is more looking at the "believability" that a process could remove the number of redundant cells in an existing human body, therefore, allowing it to be smaller, yet still function. A true leaner and meaner you. I've been researching redundancy in the human body for the last few hours and appear it is a major way our bodies deal with brain injuries and virus protection, etc. It seems like a possible sci-fi exploration, no?
     
  8. Jan 28, 2008 #7

    mgb_phys

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  9. Jan 29, 2008 #8

    chroot

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    Guinea pigs are pretty small, compared to humans, but have all the same organs and essentially the same physiology. They do lack cranial capacity, though, and that is necessary for human-like intelligence. Sure, people with smaller brains can be smarter than people with larger brains, on an individual basis, but civilization would not exist if we all had 1/10th our current cranial volume.

    - Warren
     
  10. Jan 29, 2008 #9

    mgb_phys

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    Depends which states you are talking about - and wether you consider them civilized?
     
  11. Jan 29, 2008 #10
    I've had my tonsils out and my appendix too. That's a start. I expect that human intelligence developed for reasons other than our size. Perhaps the same could happen to a smaller species given time and tolerance.
     
  12. Jan 29, 2008 #11
    If you just mean smaller, sure, theres proportionate dwarfism to solve that. Plus, like jimmy said, remove the less important (or totally useless) organs/body parts.
     
  13. Jan 31, 2008 #12
    It depends on how small you want to go in your story. If you just want to shrink in half or so it's already been done in the wizard of oz. If you want to drive a submarine through your veins you'll run into problems.
     
  14. Jan 31, 2008 #13
    You can't scale down atoms, and even if you could, the laws of physics that depend on powers of lengths (and not linearly on length) would make it so that it would just not work. And if you're speaking of reducing the number of cells, etc. that's completely irrelevant since that shrunk person wouldn't even be you, on the account of the new arrangement of neurons in the brain.

    Now if you are speaking of shrinking only the body without affecting the brain; I say it's possible since head transplants are thought to be realizable and obviously no two bodies are of the exact same dimensions.
     
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