Hypothetically – if you threw a mouse, a dog, and an elephant off a skyscraper, what would happen?
Well, if you’ve never thought about this before you’re in for a treat – as this new video from Kurzgesagt has all the weird and wonderful answers for you.
To start with, the mouse would walk away mostly unscathed. The dog wouldn’t be so lucky. But the elephant will actually explode when it hits the ground.
Why is this? It all comes down to size – or more accurately, mass, and your volume to length ratio.
And this size issue doesn’t just regulate what happens if you fall off a building – as the Kurzgesagt team explains, it also regulates how we’re built, how we experience the world, and how we live and die.
So – let’s get down to business. There’s a number of orders of magnitude when it comes to life on Earth. You’ve got your tiny little bacteria, mites, ants, and mice. But then there’s also the bigger life such as dogs, humans, elephants, and blue whales.
Each size lives pretty differently to each other – with both upsides and downsides.
As the video explains, imagine a little hypothetical marble-sized bug. You’ve got your length, your surface area (or skin) and the volume (all its organs and everything else).
Let’s say we increase the length around 10 times to the size of a basketball. Its skin and volume do not follow suit by increasing by 10 times. Instead its skin is now 100 times larger, and it’s volume a whopping 1000 times larger.
So the larger your volume, the more mass you have, the higher the kinetic energy while falling, and the harder you hit the ground.
Bugs and insects are pretty much immune to falling. Gravity is just not as big of a deal when you’re tiny.
But this isn’t even the coolest bit – as the video explains above, when you get down to tiny sizes, things that we take for granted become huge problems.
If you’re an ant your issue is water’s surface tension. If you’re a tiny mite, air feels more like jelly, which is a huge problem on its own.
But we’ll let the video above explain what happens when you get that small.
All we’ll say is – we’ve been taking showers for granted this whole time.