28 November 2005

The Little Prince... it's all relative

I have been reading O Pequeno Príncipe (or The Little Prince). In the story there is a prince that lives on a planet. In the illustrations it appears that his height is about 1/4 the diameter of the planet. At the moment I don't find the book particularly interesting so my mind wanders...

How would I behave if I suddenly found myself of a similar size on Earth (about 2000-ish miles tall)? I would think I would want to do the least damage possible and hopefully use my size for good, but how? Well I'd probably need to stand in the ocean because otherwise I'd crush millions of people with my 300 miles long feet. And eventually I'd need to sit down. The only viable place I can think of would be Antarctica. But in addition to killing lots of penguins, I'd melt the ice caps with my body heat and drown half the world's population (this is not to mention lying down to sleep where even if I did so in the ocean, I would displace enough water to cause big problems in low-lying coastal regions).

In fact, there doesn't appear to be much I could do without screwing up people's lives and the environment. So I'd probably take a big leap and hopefully eventually get to Mars. Only the equal and opposite force of the jump would probably send Earth careening out of its orbit and colliding with Venus. But if I had to do it I'd need a launch site. Iran came to mind first, but that's I realize 99.99% of the people there are awesome, so I probably again use Antartica. So really the best thing to do would be to somehow vaporize from existance (but without enough heat to ignite the atmosphere or anything like that).

Or better yet, just stop dreaming and find a job.


Alex Rixey said...
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Alex Rixey said...

I don't think you'd have to worry about any of this because due to scaling problems your body wouldn't work if it were 2000 miles tall. Aside from not being able to dissipate heat fast enough and get blood to pump all the way around your body, I'm pretty sure your head would be outside the Earth's protective atmosphere, so you'd be unable to breathe.

A more realistic scenario would be if you found a planet reduced in size enough to be to be proportionally small, but then the gravity it exerts would be small enough that any movement you'd make without clinging firmly to some large object would send you hurtling off into space (can an object that small hold an atmosphere anyway?)

I really enjoyed the story, but it certainly doesn't seem like the metaphysics pan out.