If a hamster and a human both fall from a skyscraper, why would the hamster fare better? Why can’t elephants dance and how strong are ants compared to humans? By exploring the physical rules that govern the animal kingdom, Mark Miodownik reveals how size governs the strength, life span and dance moves of animals.
We are all familiar with watching ants labouring for hours on a hot sunny day lifting crumbs or dragging bits of leaf back to their ant hill – but have you ever wondered how hard it is for them? They are often carrying 300 times their own weight, which is impressive when you consider that the world's strongest man can only lift three or four times his own weight. Are the materials that make up ant muscles much better than ours, or are we just not trying hard enough?
In the first of his Christmas Lectures Mark Miodownik reveals how the amount of sleep mammals need is in proportion to their size, and how all animals have the same number of heartbeats, but mice use them up quicker than elephants.
© Royal Institution / Windfall Films
If a hamster and a human both fall from a skyscraper, why would the hamster fare better? Why can’t elephants dance and how strong are ants compared to humans? Discover how size governs the strength, life span and dance moves of animals.
As we zoom into the microscopically small realm beneath our fingertips to explore the tiny world we have created inside mobile phones and jet planes, curious things start to happen. Gravity becomes less important, while stickiness and quantum mechanics start to dominate.
How big is too big for a glacier or a planet? Could we build a tower to reach the moon? One of the major hurdles is the force that keeps space together – gravity. How Earth's gravity, atmosphere and erosion mean our mountains won't grow any higher.