Remember Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus? A designer named Stephen Taubman (website) has made a wonderful infographic explaining just how Mega Shark was able to take out that airliner. Click on the image below for a larger version. An even larger PDF is available at the original blog post.
Left unexplained is how Mega Shark managed to avoid splashing on impact with the water. No, not splashing like you think….as explained so eloquently over eighty years ago by British scientist J. B. S. Haldane in his essay “On Being the Right Size“—
You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.
The entire essay is worth reading, and gives a very clear overview of the square-cube problem in animal biology: as an animal gets larger, it’s volume (and hence mass) increase proportionally to the cube of its size. However, its air resistance (and strength) is related to the square of its size:
Air resistance ~ frontal area ~ length squared
Strength ~ muscle cross-section ~ length squared
This explains, among other things, why we don’t need to worry overly much about Godzilla and King Kong, and why the fact that an ant can carry fifty times its own weight is not actually that impressive.
Speaking of ants….I didn’t know it was possible to get short fiction about ants published in the New Yorker, but by God, E. O. Wilson has done it. The dude has got no mercy.
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