Questa volta abbiamo cercato: Why don’t ants take fall damage irl
I just don’t get it. I’ll flick an ant off my counter and it just falls on the ground and crawls away. If I were the same size and fell from the same hight I’m pretty sure I’d be dead?
Ed ecco le risposte:
Their body is so light that they can never reach a falling speed that kills them.
Imagine a feather: even if you let it fall from a really big height, it won’t break. It’s the same thing.
The square/cube law. If you shrink something down by a factor of 10 in every dimension (10x less height, 10x less width, 10x less depth) it ends up with 100x less area and 1000x less volume. So in general as you shrink down you lose volume a lot faster than area.
When you fall through the air your speed is a tradeoff between gravity and air resistance. Your weight is a function of your volume, whereas drag is a function of your area. So smaller creatures have less weight compared to how much air they catch, and fall slower as a result.
Then when they hit the ground they also have the advantage of there being less weight in the impact behind each unit of surface area of their skin/exoskeleton, so it’s subjected to less force. And of shorter bones being more rigid so they don’t bend/break.
There’s a very readable essay by a biologist, that I wish I could find a good plaintext version of to link to, instead of all the PDFs (page 4 through 8 on the PDF viewer there) about how all kinds of other facets of an animal are affected by its overall size because of these kinds of tradeoffs between volume and area. It affects how we take in oxygen from the air, and how we dissipate heat; and explains how insects can happily cling to a ceiling or fall a long way, but get rekt by a little water.
Also included the phrase, “You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.”
You know how force = mass × acceleration? There, an ants mass is too low
Surface area to weight ratio works with the exoskeleton in the ants case here