Feeds

What's the best way to improve the human body?

Bodily upgrade

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

We humans would look considerably different - both inside and out - if evolution had designed the human body to work better and last longer.

Dr S Jay Olshansky of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois in Chicago and two other researchers recently speculated in Scientific American that a human "better designed for old age" might possess the following features:

  • Shorter stature would provide a lower center of gravity which would perhaps help to prevent falls that often plague the elderly.
  • More ribs could help prevent hernias and other problems of holding organs in place more effectively.
  • Thicker bones would protect against breakage during falls.
  • Knees able to bend backwards would make the bones less likely to grind and deteriorate.
  • A forward-tilting upper torso would relieve pressure on the vertebrae, thus lowering the risk of ruptured disks.
  • A curved neck with enlarged vertebrae would counterbalance the tilted torso and enable the head to stay up and forward.
  • Thicker disks would resist pressure on the back.
  • Extra muscles and fat would add weight on the bones, which would help counter the effects of osteoporosis (demineralisation of bones).
  • Leg veins with more "check valves" would combat the development of varicose veins.
  • Larger hamstrings and tendons would help support the leg and hip, thus reducing the need for knee and hip replacement surgery.
  • The optic nerve attached to the back of the retina might stabilise the retina's connection to the back of the eye, thus helping to prevent retinal detachment.
  • A raised trachea would better help food and drink bypass the windpipe and reduce choking.
  • An enlarged, mobile outer ear would better collect sound with greater efficiency to compensate for internal ear breakdowns.
  • More plentiful and durable hair cells in the ear would help preserve hearing late in life.

With all of these changes our bodies would be better constructed, but wouldn’t win any beauty contests.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Microsoft's anti-bug breakthrough: Wire devs to BRAIN SCANNERS
Clippy: It looks your hands are shaking, are you sure you want to commit this code?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.