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Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Biology of B-Movie Monsters

"Size has been one of the most popular themes in monster movies, especially those from my favorite era, the 1950s. The premise is invariably to take something out of its usual context--make people small or something else (gorillas, grasshoppers, amoebae, etc.) large--and then play with the consequences. However, Hollywood's approach to the concept has been, from a biologist's perspective, hopelessly naïve. Absolute size cannot be treated in isolation; size per se affects almost every aspect of an organism's biology. Indeed, the effects of size on biology are sufficiently pervasive and the study of these effects sufficiently rich in biological insight that the field has earned a name of its own: "scaling." ..."
"Because of their small size, the tiny people in Dr. Cyclops could have jumped from chairs or tables without worrying about the drop. Gravitational pull on smaller objects decreases more rapidly than drag, so terminal velocity is lower--decreasing the risk of injury from a fall."

The Biology of B-Movie Monsters (via LinkFilter)