Gravity is a Harsh Mistress

March 30, 2024 By arne hendriks Off

The Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote is based on Mark Twain’s description of a coyote as “a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry.” Twain then continues to make an unsavoury comparison between coyotes and native Americans. But this doesn’t take away…

Dino/Bird Maker Space

March 25, 2024 By arne hendriks Off

Birds evolved through a unique phase of sustained miniaturisation in theropod dinosaurs. They didn’t just shrink but continued to do so over long periods of time. Therefor we can conclude that long before their small decendents developed the ability to fly, smallness already had clear…

Cryptic Female Choice

March 4, 2024 By arne hendriks Off

One of the reasons why large mammals are shrinking is because smaller beings need less and are more resilient. In the light of threatening climate change the small have a greater chance at survival, which from an evolutionary perspective, makes smallness an attractive feature. People…

Okinawa Allowances

February 29, 2024 By arne hendriks Off

During a recent visit to the Japanese island of Okinawa in search of the secret of smaller we were lucky enough to end up at Marina’s Cafe. Not because the food was good (which it was), but because we met its owner Mariko, who explained…

Zen Road to Affluence

February 26, 2024 By arne hendriks Off

In 1966, Marshall Sahlins wrote an important and still quite sensational paper entitled “The Original Affluent Society”. In it he argues that the original hunter-gatherers did not exist, as was commonly believed, on the edge of famine but had a sufficient degree of material comfort…

The Giants: Blunderbore

November 21, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

Although contemporary man can be considered a giant, we do not see ourselves as such. In fact we generally distance ourselves from the giant by associating them with forms of evil so outrageous that it doesn’t affect our sense of self. By short investigations of…

Massenerhebung Effect

November 21, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

When big things hang out together, they change the rules. This is clearly witnessed in what in geography is called the massenerhebung effect, a phenomenon where treelines are typically higher and trees are typically taller on mountains in close proximity to other mountains. Trees make visible what…

French Door Fridge

October 10, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

Plus-sized fridges in American kitchens have long been regarded as a domesticated expression of the banal idea that bigger is better. And the rest of the world caught up. Many a kitchen is dwarfed by the size of their refrigerator. We’ve come to the end…

200 Years of Growing Pain

October 5, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

The term growing pain was first mentioned in 1823 by Marcel Duchamp, not the artist but a French physician. It relates to the condition of benign nocturnal limb pains in childhood, most often occuring between 3 and 12 years old. Many studies have tried to…

Overgrowth

October 3, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

“Overgrowth“ is a large video projection of a bonsai tree by the British artist Ceal Floyer. The Incredible Shrinking Man first encountered the work during the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 where it was presented at the end of a long corridor. As such it…

The Swallow Cycle

October 2, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

Thumbling stories have two things in common: 1. The protagonist is by default very small, and 2. To emphasize and perhaps ridicule this smallness, at some point in the story, they’re swallowed by an animal, preferably a cow. The good news is that most times…

SitzZwerg

September 28, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

In the Appendix to the online dictionary Wictionary is a section called “Terms considered difficult or impossible to translate into English”. One word that caught our attention is ‘Sitzzwerg’. The German word Sitzen means to sit, and Zwerg means dwarf. Thus a Sitzzwerg is a…

The Giants: Gashadokuro

July 5, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

To know the small we must also understand the tall. Although contemporary man is himself a giant, The Giants is not about the Robert Wadlows, the Shaquille O’Neals or the Trijntje Keevers of this world. They were real people, albeit very tall. However The Giants…

Elfin Forest

March 20, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

Elfin, dwarf or pygmy forests show us that not only individual species but entire ecosystems select for small size when things get rough. The forests are uncommon ecosystems featuring miniature trees with shallow but extensive horizontal root systems, and mostly inhabited by equally small animals such…

Type 700 Tom

February 20, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

The Thumbling project focuses on global variants of the Tom Thumb and Thumbelina tale. There are literally hundreds of variants of this popular story that features a character of extremely tiny size. This character may be referred to as thumbling, inchling, fingerling, dwarf, homunculus, manikin,…

Aligning the Loops

February 19, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

A study published in the journal Biology Letters finds that the evolutionary advantages and disadvantages of being a specific height are unevenly distributed between the sexes. For women looking to pass on their genes it is better to be short as this is considered to…

Shrinkflation

February 18, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

Shrinkflation, also known as the grocery shrink ray, is the practice of reducing the weight or size of an item without lowering its price. The practise is often used as an alternative to raising prices during times of inflation. We get less volume but pay the…

World in a Gourd

February 2, 2023 By arne hendriks Off

Pumpkins, for one reason or another, are able to ignite our imagination. Just think of Cinderella and how in this fairytale a pumpkin turns into a coach and back into a pumpkin again. Perhaps its relative largeness within the vegetable kingdom enables the telling of…

Juvenile Coccoloba

December 3, 2022 By arne hendriks Off

The Coccoloba gigantifolia, or Giant Seagrape, has the third largest leaf of any plant or tree, just after those of Gunnera manicata and Victoria boliviana. Holding one of its leafs makes you feel tiny, but the trees themselves are not very large and belong to the undergrowth…

Young Mum Factor

November 22, 2022 By arne hendriks Off

To mediate the effects of global warming the Soay sheep on the island of Hirta in Scotland responded by becoming smaller, as many other species of animals are. In the case of Soay sheep the specific reason for a decrease in size is what professor…