# If Humans Were Tiny?

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### #18 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 10:32 AM

I see your point on the size of the fire with a zippo lighter, but I would think just opening the lighter would be deadly. A fully loaded zippo throwing off fumes would make a person that small think they were in the middle of a Cl2 leak or some other chemical from a train crash, pick your choice. Wouldn't you think?

Actually the point was not that a tiny human could use a zippo, but that a flame of the size typical of a zippo lighter (which tends to be uniform from lighter to lighter,and most folks have seen at some point) is enough to soften small pieces of metal to the point where it would be workable...ie. forged, bent, rolled, etc. The zippo and match examples were chosen because of the relative uniformity of their flames makes it easier to determine a scale, for example a typical disposable lighter's flame can vary quite a bit from lighter, same for a flame source such as a bunsen burner which can vary widely depending on model, fuel, and how the user has it set.

My assumption from the outset of this thread has been not that of what if people were shrunk, but that of " if humans had evolved to be much smaller how would their lives be different? Would they have been able to achieve the same things we have? How different would the physical world be different for these tiny people? Would they have abilities that due to our size we do not have?" And introduced somewhere along the way "how small could they be and still have similar capabilities albeit on a much smaller scale?"
In short no big humans with technology to borrow from, so no ready made zippo, no model houses and vehicles to re-purpose, essentially if they started from zero as we did how would their existences be different than ours. Though I see Jamomgo does leave that option kind of open as he does not really specify what the "other beings" are or what level of tech. they have.

I enjoy surfing the Internet and reading various scientific articles relative to our universe. Dark matter, dark energy, stars and galaxies so many many light years away, super novas, and so forth. There seems to be some concern with respect to the macro-world and the micro-world, where the laws of one do not apply to the laws of the other.
I try to imagine what life for us would be like if we were about the size of an ant ( with the same intelligence level we maintain now ), while other beings, our normal size, roamed the planet.
Would we be aware of these other huge creatures? Or would they not even exist for us. Would our understanding of the universe be basically the same, or would we have totally different laws,views, concepts? Would we have a much better understanding of quantum physics while losing most or all of our understanding of our physical universe? Suppose one of the huge beings happens to pass by and accidentally steps on a group of us. Would we view that as a natural disaster? Just wondering what others might think. Does size make a difference?

Edited by DFINITLYDISTRUBD, 08 August 2013 - 10:47 AM.

### #19 Doctordick

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 03:50 PM

I was quite astounded that no one brought up the issue of scaling itself. Just to keep things easy, use a scaling factor "s" of 250:1 (a quarter inch goes to just over five feet) and examine how common things go. Weight goes as $s^3$ so one's weight would fall by a factor of over 15 million to one. On the other hand, the strength of your muscles has to do with tension in the transmitting mechanism: i.e., the cross section of the muscles,tendons and connections to the bones. That means your strength would fall by a factor of $s^2$ in rough round numbers, a factor of around 50 thousand to one. That means if you could press half your weight as a full sized human, you could could press 125 times your weight if you were the size of an ant. It always bugged me that they judged ants to be extremely strong because they could lift ten or twenty times their weight: i.e., from the scaling laws, they really aren't very strong.

Another interesting effect of scaling. When you go to jump, the length of the stroke with your legs clearly scales by s. The energy you can transfer from your muscles to kinetic energy in a vertical direction is essentially $E=fx$. That means the resultant kinetic energy scales as $s^3$. Since you will rise until your potential energy equals your original kinetic energy we know how high you can jump: $E=mgh$. But your weight (which scales as $s^3$) is exactly mg. It follows that the height you can raise your center of gravity during that jump is exactly the same (there is no scale effect). That is really strange. If you were the size of an ant, you could still jump several feet into the air. I have seen spiders jump three feet but never an ant.

Ants sure don't seem to be able to jump very well. Why do you think that is? Actually, it arises because of a very simple problem. Rigidity is an issue very sensitive to scale. The molecular structure of a solid is not absolute. They are held to their shape by molecular forces and this allows some movement. The issue is that, in bending an extended object, the angle of the achievable bend which leaves the object whole (that is, no cracks) is a direct function of the scale factor. The required change in length of the stretched side is proportional to the radius of the curvature. The result is that, the smaller a bone is, the larger the angular deflection can be without breaking that bone.

If you add to that effect the scale of muscle forces, the bending actually rises as the scale gets smaller. As a consequence, a bone structure such as mammals posses tends to lose its rigidity as those mammals get smaller. In fact boned mammals can not really function decently on a scale much smaller than a small mouse. Bending bones become a real problem.

The solution is quite obvious as hollow pipes are much stiffer than sticks. Replace the bones with hollow tubes and put the muscles on the inside. That is exactly why insects have exoskeletons. But exoskeletons increase the effective weight by quite a factor. If ants were as big as we are, they wouldn't have the strength to lift their weight off the ground. If we were as small as ants, we would have to posses exoskeletons: i.e., the conclusion is, if we were as small as ants, we would probably look like ants.

Having brought up scaling effects, there is another very strong effect which should be taken into account. When we run, the distance we move with each step is proportional to our scale. The force of our muscles is proportional to the square of that scale and the weight to be moved is proportional to the cube of that scale and thus $F=ma$ sets the acceleration of our body parts to the inverse of that scale. Since the velocity is proportional to the the acceleration times the time, the velocity of the moving member is inverse to the time. Thus the time it takes to complete a step is also inverse to the scale. As the distance moved in a step is proportional to the scale, the net velocity ends up independent of the scale.

That is a rather stunning realization. It means that two identical entities of slightly different scale would run at exactly the same speed. Note that at a track meet, the big guy has no advantage. I said, “of slightly different scale”, because other factors already mentioned come into play if that scale change is substantial. You will never find a perfectly scaled greyhound as large as elephant because his legs would not support his weight. Likewise you will not find a small elephant who can run like a greyhound because he just isn't built right. It turns out that the effective difference can be seen in the dynamics as a changing importance of gravity. That is why squirrels don't run like dogs. They have trouble keeping their paws on the ground and they instead run by leaping as they can cover more ground in less time that way.

And you will never find a “spider man” who can support his weight with sticky finger tips. At our size, gravity is too important a factor. Insects can fall from a tree without harm because, at their scale, gravity can practically be ignored. In fact that is also why they can walk, if they were as big as we are, their legs couldn't support their own weight.

Conclusion? If we were small as ants we would pretty well look like ants!

Have fun -- Dick

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### #20 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 09:44 PM

DoctorDick- I was quite astounded that no one brought up the issue of scaling itself.

Not sure what you're talking about here...the issue of scaling begins on the second post and continues all the way up to your post.

### #21 Turtle

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 05:12 PM

Not sure what you're talking about here...the issue of scaling begins on the second post and continues all the way up to your post.

I think he meant scaling as a math topic as opposed to any specific scaling problem such as tiny humans.

snip...

Conclusion? If we were small as ants we would pretty well look like ants!

Have fun -- Dick

Earlier Double-D mentioned Australian bull ants. At ~25mm long and weighing = 0.015 g (0.0005 oz), they seem to be the largest of ants. Looking around I found the smallest [i.e. shortest] of mammals is Kitti's hog-nosed bat at ~30mm tall and 2 oz. So that crossover seems a reasonable range for our further speculations on tiny humans and we are comfortably in the 1:72 scale range several folks have mentioned.

So, could 1/72 scale humans build and launch GPS satellites as Craig proposed? Would their satellites scale down too? Their rockets?
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### #22 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 12:38 AM

Turtle- So, could 1/72 scale humans build and launch GPS satellites as Craig proposed? Would their satellites scale down too? Their rockets?

[EXPLETIVE!!!!!!!!!!] Never hop between pages while posting!!!!!
The smallest orbit capable payload (10kg nominal) carrying rocket I could find so far is 5 meters by 1 meter, for comparison a Saturn 5 rocket is 110.6 X 10.1.
Lesse here.... going on 1/72 an average 6 foot dude becomes 1 inch tall or 2.5cm...5 meters is 500cm, 110.6M becomes 11,060cm....11060÷500=22.12.....so the 5m is roughly 1/22...so would be the equivalent of 3.273 times larger than a Saturn 5 for the 1/72 fella.......so...if metal working can be achieved on the level needed...um, yeah...it would be doable provided sufficient metallurgical capabilities are achievable. Once powered mechanical devices are achieved scale pretty much becomes irrelevant...increasingly larger machines make larger machines possible...they also make larger metal producing facilities and capabilities possible. Technology is the gateway to big things for our diminutive protagonists.

EDIT: I'm positive my math's off....rethinking and double checking

EDIT: Ok, I'm comfortable with my mathematical claims.

Edited by DFINITLYDISTRUBD, 10 August 2013 - 01:20 AM.

### #23 Turtle

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 11:00 PM

...
Lesse here.... going on 1/72 an average 6 foot dude becomes 1 inch tall or 2.5cm...

Roger. And same dude weighs 220lbs or 100kg. Dr. Dick says weight scales as the cube of the scale. 723 = 373248: 220lb*16oz=3520: 3520/373248=0.009oz or 0.2673gm.

That's not much. Did I do it right? One one-hundredth of an ounce avoirdupois?

Anyway, got to thinking what any toxin would do to a tiny mass human in comparison to us. Snake bite. Bee sting. Nettles. Psilocybin. For us, smacking a hornet's nest might get off as a childish prank, whereas it might be a criminal matter for wee folk. Thou shalt never tease bees.

EDIT: Attach image of 1" peep facing off with honey bee.

Edited by Turtle, 10 August 2013 - 11:48 PM.

### #24 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 01:14 PM

turtle-That's not much. Did I do it right? One one-hundredth of an ounce avoirdupois?

Not buyin it....nope not at all...While my mathematical prowess is pathetic to adequate at best depending on what is called for, you sir are quite the wiz, I quite expect calculating scales and converting units of measure to be absolutely mundane, even child'splay for you.

Turtle-Anyway, got to thinking what any toxin would do to a tiny mass human in comparison to us. Snake bite. Bee sting. Nettles. Psilocybin. For us, smacking a hornet's nest might get off as a childish prank, whereas it might be a criminal matter for wee folk. Thou shalt never tease bees.

I think due to size, stingers and fangs would range from dagger to sword making the venom a secondary worry, with impalement and bleeding to death taking over the role as primary. Mice and rats would be fearsome predators that scale to scale would make bears and wolves look small...bears and wolves for the little fella would be epic and unimaginable for us large folk...Imagine being smaller than the teeth of the largest creature that would eagerly make a snack out of you should the opportunity arise!!!!

[images flagged as too graphic for sensitive viewers]

Edited by DFINITLYDISTRUBD, 11 August 2013 - 01:15 PM.

### #25 Turtle

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 12:58 PM

...

I think due to size, stingers and fangs would range from dagger to sword making the venom a secondary worry, with impalement and bleeding to death taking over the role as primary.
...
[images flagged as too graphic for sensitive viewers]

Good point!

So stingers, satellites & rockets aside for the moment, I have my doubts that 1" humans could even build Hoover dam. Thoughts?

### #26 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 12:39 PM

Would it be necessary? At such a small scale their energy needs would be significantly lower for 99.99% of situations....as in watts vs kilowatts per person...immediately coming to mind my pretty solar lights which provide barely useful illumination for me but would be equivalent to a 60 to 100 watt lamp at least for the tiny person...right along with that my Ipod nano which would be one heck of an entertainment center for a person one inch tall and operates for several hours on a tiny battery. At 2.1" diagonal (the standard for measuring and classifying TV's and monitors commercially) it would be the equivalent of a 151" big screen tv! (as compactly built as possible 2.1" diagonal (H) 1.5" X (L) 1.9" X (D) .5" = 151" diagonal (H) 108" X (L) 136.8" X (D) 36" or 12.5' diagonal (H) 9' X (L) 11.4' X (D) 3' that's one hell of a tv by anyones standards).

Edited by DFINITLYDISTRUBD, 19 August 2013 - 12:44 PM.

### #27 Turtle

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 02:52 PM

Would it be necessary? At such a small scale their energy needs would be significantly lower for 99.99% of situations....as in watts vs kilowatts per person...

I don't know if it's necessary for the dam on account of everyday needs. But it seems that a rocket that can go into orbit or harder still reach escape velocity can't be miniaturized, so building something as big as a rocket requires power as big as a large dam can supply.

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### #28 SaxonViolence

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 04:56 PM

Laser Launched Craft...

You know, where the Laser Shines on the Craft and Propels it.

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### #29 Turtle

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 05:48 PM

Laser Launched Craft...

You know, where the Laser Shines on the Craft and Propels it.

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No, I'm afraid not. If small scale LASER-driven craft were the answer, we'd be doing it. I've seen tethered vehicles driven by LASER in work on developing space elevators, but then we can't actually do that to any significant height either. Moreover, a space tether wouldn't scale down either given the materials necessary to make it.

I don't think 1" humans could make enough concrete to make even a small dam, or patio for that matter. You can't scale down aggregate and sand to sand & dust and still get concrete. Oui?
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### #30 Turtle

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 07:06 PM

After watching diggingwithmartin's channel, I may allow 1" peeps could possibly maybe make concrete. (I don't see a scale for the machines on his page?)

Nevertheless, rockets that escape Earth gravity, don't scale, so you got a lot o' splainin' to do Lucy!

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### #31 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 10:50 PM

but they do ...well sort of...currently the smallest rocket capable of putting a payload into orbit would scale to about three times the size of a saturn rocket at 1/72 scale....I posted it somewhere some posts back. Could be scaled further using materials such as those used for the hulls of ICBM's and groovey stuff like carbon fiber and aerogel. But there is a limit due to fuel and aerodynamics issues, so I'm not totally disagreeing with you, just saying it's possible but it would be a larger to us rocket. After all it's not a problem of finding new stronger materials that can be used to build something that big...ie. for us to build a saturn rocket three times larger would require locating stronger lighter materials as weight for the stouter components of the hull to keep it from collapsing under it's own weight or flexing wildly would not scale well with the capacity and capabilities of currently available fuels.

Edited by DFINITLYDISTRUBD, 19 August 2013 - 10:51 PM.

### #32 CraigD

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 10:42 AM

So stingers, satellites & rockets aside for the moment, I have my doubts that 1" humans could even build Hoover dam. Thoughts?

I have no doubt at all that I, a 72” human couldn’t build the Hoover dam by myself, using only muscle-powered tools. Building such things require lots of people and artificially powered machines. So this question is really “could 1/72 (or my preferred 1/100) scale tiny humans build the machines to build the machines, and operate them, plus perform whatever their machines can’t do, to build Hoover dam?”

I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.

I can see no reason in principle that present-day dam-building construction machines, which are increasingly have tiny electronic “fly by wire” control systems, couldn’t be slightly modified to allow a tiny human to operate them, nor that the same can’t be said of all the machines needed to build them.

We full size humans don’t, as a rule, build and operate costly machines that do only what a person with cheaper, muscle-powered tools, or bare hands, can do. Since regular-size humans can do a lot more dam-building tasks than tiny ones could. If you’ve seen documentary video recordings of the building of the Hoover dam, and worked any with concrete yourself, you likely recall that it involved many of huge loads of concrete being dumped in forms by huge cable-hung cranes, then very rugged full-size humans tromping around to spread it, wait for it to set, bust off the massive forms, etc. – all jobs that seem that they’d be catastrophically fatal to tiny humans (as they were accidentally to several of said rugged full-size humans). So tiny humans building a big dam wouldn’t need just the same machines we use, slightly redesigned to allow them to operate it – they’d need new kinds of machines to do the jobs we can do unaided, but they couldn’t.

This line of support for the assertion that tiny people could build a Hoover dam suffers, I think, from some narrow-mindedness, assuming as it does that tiny people would build such a dam essentially the same as we did. I doubt this assumption is valid. Tiny people can’t do many jobs we full-size people can, but they can do many we can’t. I expect tiny people engineers would play to their strengths, just as ours do, using different – possibly radically - design and constructions approaches, such as the use of a lot of woven fiber. We full-size people have difficulty with such construction, because typical engineering fiber (glass, carbon, etc) is to us nearly microscopic. To tiny people, it would not be.

It’s also possible that tiny people would choose to build many small dams rather than a few large ones. The civil planning and engineering decision that led to our building of a few large flood control and hydroelectric power dams were based on considerations affected by scale – reduce that scale, and those decisions would, I think, be different.

Would it be necessary? At such a small scale their energy needs would be significantly lower for 99.99% of situations....as in watts vs kilowatts per person...

I think we need to make the key assumption that, like us full-size humans, tiny humans would grow their population to use all their available resources, so while their per person resource consumption would be on the order of 1/1000000 ours, their population would be on the order of 1000000 times greater, and their net energy and other resource needs about the same as ours.

Back to spaceflight...
I’m big on spaceflight as a distinguisher of humans from other animals. Quite a few animals, such as termites, build pretty impressive structures, but we’re the only one to orbit and land artifacts on moons and other planets. So, to keep in my mind the title “human”, tiny humans would need to be able to do this.

I’m pretty sure they could. Their spacecraft might be smaller than ours, or not – while a tiny person version of, say, the Apollo program could be scaled down by a mass factor of about 20 (and thus a length factor of about 3 – I got these factors by a quick comparison of the smaller, unmanned spacecraft of the USSR Luna and the larger ones of the US Apollo programs) – tiny people might chose to send a few thousand individuals rather than a few on a single space mission.

Despite efforts to keep my imagining of our tiny humans as like us as possible, I can’t help but imagine their culture and psychology would have some major differences from ours. With their larger population and greater vulnerability to death from the same uncontrollable natural phenomena, one of those key differences might be accepting that endeavors like manned space missions might have casualties, much like 15th century explorers assumed long naval expeditions would. So, when it came to astronauts, tiny mission planners might “pack a few (or a few hundred) extra” in their planning.

### #33 DFINITLYDISTRUBD

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 12:14 PM

CraigD- I think we need to make the key assumption that, like us full-size humans, tiny humans would grow their population to use all their available resources, so while their per person resource consumption would be on the order of 1/1000000 ours, their population would be on the order of 1000000 times greater, and their net energy and other resource needs about the same as ours.

I don't know about this, I think typically bearing only one infant per pregnancy and a typical household having two, would likely cale down as well. Human infants represent not only a large tax on household resources, but on time as well. That doesn't change simply due to scale. Are there any mammals on the very small side that typically have single offspring births, typically are incapable of reproduction until about 15% of their typical life expectancy is over and at which point typically have only about 43% of their remaining life expectancy left to reproduce before becoming infertile and/or incapable of carrying offspring to full term with each offspring requiring 1.28% to compare too? (assumes 12 - 45 years old for reproduction and a life expectancy of 78 years).

I find it hard to believe anyone would want 33 kids regardless of size, even harder to believe a woman would want to spend most of her life pregnant and raising as many as if not more than a dozen kids at a time. Something else that tends to set humans apart from animals, the ability to choose not to get pregnant. Even from age 18 women have roughly 30 years during which they could have a child if they chose too, on average most chose to stop at between 2 and 3.

Edited by DFINITLYDISTRUBD, 20 August 2013 - 12:39 PM.

### #34 Super Polymath

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 07:21 PM