io9.com: Tall people at a disadvantage while walking. WTF?

io9wtf

Seriously, io9? Why you gotta try to bring a brotha down?

As the world eagerly awaits Part 2 of Holli’s tall dating posts, I thought I’d drag us down into the oldest of digital traditions: yelling at people on the Internet.

io9.com, one of my favorite destinations for all things nerd, outside of hotnerdgirl.com that is, posted something a little over a week ago that has me mildly pissed off/puzzled/banging my head into my keyboard.

The Journal of Experimental Biology published a study on Nov. 12th positing that “the energy cost of human walking is set by stature.”

“We measured metabolic rates and gait mechanics at six speeds from 0.4 to 1.9 m s–1 in 48 human subjects who varied by a factor of 1.5 in stature and approximately six in both age and body mass. In accordance with theoretical expectation, we found the most economical walking speeds measured (J kg–1 m–1) to be dynamically equivalent (i.e. similar U, where U=velocity2/gravity · leg length) among smaller and larger individuals.”

What all that fancy math means (as opposed to say unfancy math that is taught in non-Ivy League East Coast San Francisco hippies 🙂 ) is that as you get bigger, the cost of walking a specific distance drops. I.E. If I walk a mile being 6′-7″ tall I will expend less energy than someone who is of average male height of 5′-9″.This is due to the obvious: I take fewer strides to go the same distance.

io9.com has somehow tacked this on as a win for short people in that this is an advantage for short people and a disadvantage for us.I’m not sure how, as the article doesn’t really explain it. My guess is that it is because they can stay more lean doing less. For instance, walking to and from the refrigerator to get another beer.

Honestly, io9.com I don’t see how that’s an advantage. According to the article, everything scales, so basically I can run further using the same amount of energy a smaller person would use. I can get somewhere faster, which is also why I’ve taken to walking behind people so as not to get too far out ahead and lose them. Not that that’s a huge problem, because people can usually find me or my family in a crowd if we get separated. (I refer you to last years Saints game post.)

In conclusion, io9.com, I love you, I’ll keep reading you, but seriously if you’re going to write about advantages make them real. Like how YOU didn’t hit your head on the overhang of your bank’s ATM machine last week. Or the bar that hangs down on muni for tiny standing people to hold on to. You know, totally not things that I’ve recently updated on my head injuries list.

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