The Square-Cube Law

November 7, 2015 § 1 Comment

“Get your stupid tail out of my face.”

“I could if you would just hold still.”

“If you two could stop fighting for just one second we might actually be able to make some progress. Those stinking horses are already stacked two-high and are working on the third. Just stand on his back like I told you and then I’ll use the box to get on top.”

“Are you sure they won’t be able to do it, and we can? Horses are pretty strong you know—horsepower and horse racing and “strong as a horse” and all that.”

“Yeah, are you sure? I haven’t—Ow! You stuck your stupid paw in my eye!”

“Ah, sorry! My maw always said I had two left hind-paws.”

“It’s Ok. Anyways like I was saying, I haven’t done anything except nap on the porch and roll over for tummy scratches in the past year. My legs are already shaking with this humungo hound on top of me, and you’re telling me I’m gonna be able to hold two of you better than that thoroughbred is gonna be able to hold two of them?”

“Yes you small brained pooch. I ran the numbers on it. Strong as they are, the ratio of the cross-sectional area of their legs to the weight of three of them is less than ours. It’s all basic scaling.”

“What’s a ratio?”

“Woof, just shut your snout ok? You two are set so I’m getting up on the box to hop on now. Remember to win we just have to hold it for thirty seconds. The equine idiots don’t stand a chance. With those pathetic ponies at our service, we’ll beat the cats once and for all.”

“Hey! That gives me a great idea!”

“…this should be good. What is it?”

“Why don’t we just save some time and challenge the cats to stack three high like we did with the horses!”

Peter Bryant


§ One Response to The Square-Cube Law

  • This is a very interesting way to think about the square-cube law. The description actually reminded me of a similar scene in Dumbo when the elephants stacked on top of one another and then Dumbo was to get on the very top (of course they toppled, but not for the square-cube reason it seemed). As a child I had never thought much about it but watching the movie again recently caused me to have some disbelief in if the feat was possible at all, but I guess that is why it is in a Disney movie and not a documentary.

    I also loved how the entire plot was laid out in dialogue, and the opening line was very catchy. Honestly, at first I was confused as to what was happening and believed the speakers to be monkeys (as traditionally in science experiments it is monkeys that must stack boxes to reach a banana and that was the scenario I was imagining), but after clarification the images in my imagination changed with the new knowledge, something I found very interesting within itsself.

    Overall, I really loved your take on the idea that as mass increases the cross sectional area and strength of support needed to keep that mass upright increases at a greater rate, an essence of the square-cube law. I especially love how different this application is from the traditional view of increasing small animals to a larger size. Thank you for the new outlook.

    -Cassie Woolley


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