Sunday, November 04, 2007


ScienceBlogger question: body design

After a long absence, the “Ask a ScienceBlogger” feature has returned on ScienceBlogs, with this question:

Which parts of the human body could you design better?

Since I have a few minutes to babble, I thought I’d answer it, despite my not being an official ScienceBlogger, in the way I’ve been answering it for many, many years. This is an easy one:

We need more arms and hands. Three, at least. Four would be better. Six might do nicely too.

I mean, think about it: You’re milling around at happy hour, or a wedding, or a bar mitzvah, with a glass of wine in one hand, and a plate of food in the other. And you can’t eat the food.


What do you eat it with? Do you just stick your face on the plate? Non, c’est très gauche. Most likely, you try to hold the plate and the wine glass in the same hand, having stuffed your napkin in your pocket, and then you can eat with your other hand if your balance is good and you don't tip the food all over the floor. Assuming you don’t have to cut anything. Or else you put down your glass, and while you’re sampling the wild boar sausage with chipotle rémoulade, someone comes ’round and clears it away. Your wine, I mean. Damn.

Yes, I think four arms would be about the right optimization between function and layout.

Of course, that’d make my whole t-shirt collection obsolete.


Maggie said...

We already have an obesity epidemic -- can you imagine how fat we'd all be if we could actually eat at cocktail parties as you describe? And I'm terrified for what this might mean for traffic fatalities unless we get more "attention span" to go with the increase in appendages -- driving with one arm, drinking your Dunkin' Donuts with another, talking on the cell phone, shaving, reading the paper... with more arms you could do it all!


nina said...

Am I the only one who thought of the sexual possibilities of this arrangement that Barry suggests? Just wonderin'.

Maggie said...

Well now I just picture getting groped at a cocktail party, Nina. Although I guess I'd have an extra hand to punch him in the stomach. :-P

choklit said...

Well, personally I've always thought that a MUCH better arrangement would be if a woman carried her unborn baby on her upper back, between the shoulder blades, much as one does a backpack. It would relieve the nuisance of lower back pain and the pressure on her bladder. Where the birth canal would be, well, I leave that as an exercise for the reader.