76: Quantity

How many animals of each species, how many ears of corn and heads of wheat, how many beans, potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, stalks of broccoli and bunches of carrots will you eat during your lifetime? Strength is proportional to the cross-section; weight is proportional to the volume. The cross-section increases as the square of the linear dimension; volume increases as the cube. That is why an elephant’s bones are proportionally thicker than yours. Otherwise, those bones would break. Your bones, your appetite, and the speed of your heartbeat are between an elephant’s and a rat’s. The size of your eyes is governed by the wavelength of light and the length of certain proteins in the retina. You lose heat through your skin, so the size of your stomach is proportional to the area of your skin. Are your eyes bigger than your stomach? Is your desire greater than your grasp? Is your life too short? Is your sleep too long? Your muscles, unlike those that support the wings of a bird, could not lift you in flight by means of wings of proportional size, unless the earth were half as wide, making its gravity one-eighth as strong, assuming you had strength that you didn’t otherwise need, and that the density of air to bear you up were not diminished, which of course it would be, because everything here is proportioned to the magnitude of the planet.

broken wooden game token O-62