Is there a better human size?

September 9, 2010 By arne hendriks 0

43 years ago, in 1967, R.J. Hansen and M.J.Miley, two civil engineering professors from MIT, published an article in Technology Review, on the advantages of smaller human beings. They ask themselves if we can afford to NOT consider, in all it’s aspects, the question of human size. Here’s a quote from this inspiring text, which can be requested from the MIT library.

“If the question of human size merits thought, it appears more reasonable to consider a decrease rather then an increase in size. First, an increase in size would clearly aggravate the problems we already associate with our excessive rate of population growth. Second, the advantages of large size and greater strength (…) have almost entirely been eliminated by technology. Third, the strength of materials of the human body would require improvement to accommodate any substantial increase in in the size of the human mechanism; (…). Fourth, society is not comprised of humans of a single size, but rather an adult set and a still-growing set of children. Any discussion of the human size focuses on the size of the adult set; the other may provide valuable insights into the implications of size decreases.”

But not all effects would be equally beneficial:

“Quite possibly per capita energy consumption would be increased, through the desirability and possibility of substantially increased powers assists to man.”


“the engineered needs of society might be more succesfully provided for small man then for pre-small man.”