I was looking outside of the window and got an idea "All tools human use seems to be strangely fit for our size. Buildings, cars, various power tools. All of them are have good size for humans that are 1.5-2m in height." But is that really true?

How would human society, tools, buildings or machines look like if humans were much smaller or shorter. Lets say 1m or 0.5m . Would the buildings or machines be just scaled down or are there any mechanical or technical issues that would need to be handled when fitting them to smaller humans? Or how would such smaller species of humans develop? Would it same as current humans or would there be any differences?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Humans used to be smaller - go find some old buildings that didn't intentionally have high ceilings (i.e., find houses and pubs, not churches). They will all have really low ceilings. $\endgroup$ – Pyritie Jun 25 '15 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ We'd all live in hobbit holes. $\endgroup$ – Theik Jun 25 '15 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ Can you narrow down your question to just one question? As written, you're asking us to re-imagine human civilization if everyone were half as tall. $\endgroup$ – Green Jun 25 '15 at 12:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Look up cube-square (or square cube) law. As you shrink things area goes down by side squared but volume by side cubed. A say 0.5m tall average is say 3x less tall so 9x less area per height and 27 times less volume per height. And area is 3 x as much per volume. MANY factors are influenced in how the creature works and what the tools and accessories look like. Push a model metal car off a table and it bounces. Push a real car from a scale height and it crumples utterly. Scale the model car up to full size and it is so thick and solid it weighs 20 tons and cannot be powered sensibly. .... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Jun 27 '15 at 8:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ .... Scale a real car down to model size and it is paper thin and crumples under its own weight. A horse sized ant just scaled up breaks under its own weight. An ant sized elephant scaled down is so heavy for its power it cannot move. Drop a fieldmouse from ANY height and it survives (as it's small dimensions make its area so large per mass that its terminal velocity is survivable. ... $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Jun 27 '15 at 8:53

If humans were approx half the size they are now, i don't think there would be any technical issues in scaling things down to the new size. For example if you make a computer half the size, you don't need to make all the small electronic components half the size, you could just rearrange them a bit to fit into a smaller box.

As for "Or how would such smaller species of humans develop? ", i think you need to expand on this question a bit.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The keyboard on my phone apparently WAS designed for mini-humans :-( $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 25 '15 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ See my comment above re square-cube law. $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Jun 27 '15 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ @RussellMcMahon some good points there... $\endgroup$ – Max Williams Jun 29 '15 at 8:42

There is a surprisingly exhaustive website called The Incredible Shrinking Man, which, by its own description

is a speculative design research about the consequences of downsizing the human species to 50 centimeters. It has been a long established trend for people to grow taller. As a direct result we need more energy, more food and more space. But what if we decided to turn this trend around? What if we use our knowledge to shrink mankind?


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.