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<   No. 433   2004-04-03   >

Comic #433

1 Haken: {pointing at a nearby pterosaur} Look Erwin, ein pterosaur! This will be perfect for die Führer's pteranowaffen!
2 Erwin: Herr Kolonel, I am still not sure this plan will work. Das square-cube law means if we increase die size of das pterosaur it will be too weak to fly.
3 Erwin: And if we strengthen die bones and muscles to account for die increased mass, it will be too heavy to fly.
4 Haken: Nazi science sneers at aerodynamic implausibility!

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The square-cube law is a biomechanical principle that explains why we don't have man-sized insects or elephant-sized birds.

As an object increases in size, its volume (and hence mass) increase as the cube of the linear size. The cross-sectional area of bodily organs such as bones, muscles, or breathing tubes only increases as the square of the linear size, however.

In other words, if you double the size of an animal, its mass increases by a factor 8, but the strength of its bones and muscles only increases by a factor of 4. Increase the size far enough, and the animal will no longer be strong enough to support its own weight. It'll also have trouble breathing and pumping enough blood around, because the tubes and blood vessels don't increase in size fast enough to handle the extra body weight either. (This is what prevents giant insects. Insects don't have lungs, they absorb the air they need directly from lots of small breathing holes all over their body. The small tubes that carry the air to the body tissues work fine at small sizes, but wouldn't be able to carry enough air at larger sizes.)

And of course a delicate balance like aerodynamic flight depends critically on these things.

First physics, now biology. You don't need any other comic to teach you stuff! What have you learnt from PvP today? Nothing, that's what!

2013-03-18 Rerun commentary: The square-cube law has an informative article in Wikipedia. It also has a much more entertaining article in TV Tropes.

This, by the way, is only the second time that Nazi science has sneered!

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