Hi all - I need to pick your brains again.
SF games tend to ignore differing gravity on other planets (as does most SF telly like Star Trek
and Doctor Who
). Or they have a minor penalty imposed – say folk from microgravity habitats are at -20% to physical skills when in Earth’s gravity. However I was always struck by the part of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars, when the Mars born character Nirgal comes to Earth and has all sorts of health problems because he’s not used to the gravity and air pressure. I know that wouldn’t be terribly fun to play out in a game, but I’m still interested in finding out gravity-related science.
So, can anyone answer the stuff below? Or point me at answers? Or speculate wildly?
MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
Or to be more specific – here are my questions about sexual dimorphism in size and strength.
Men are physically stronger than women. IIRC men have 13% more lean body mass (muscle and bone) than women. That’s genetic. Possession of a functioning Y chromosome and production of androgens (testosterone etc) for use as actual androgens (instead of for use as the building blocks for oestrogens) gives you that extra oomph in your muscles. Particularly in upper body strength.
So, logically if we colonise Mars, Venus or the planet Bob, the men born and raised there will be physically stronger than the women born and raised there. However, Earth is 1g, Mars 0.37g and – as you all know
– the planet Bob is 1.25g. Has anyone ever seen any solid scientific speculation about how those differing gravities will scale body strength for men and women?
For instance, it is obvious that if men from Earth, Mars and Planet Bob enter the interplanetary arm-wrestling competition, then Mr Bob will beat Mr Earth who will beat Mr Mars. Ditto Ms Bob beats Ms Earth who beats Ms Mars. But if the Interplanetary Olympic Committee decides that arm-wrestling is a unisex sport, how do things play out? Does Ms Bob beat Mr Earth?
Rabid speculation about any other sports appreciated. Javelin throwing, judo, cross-country skiing, tennis, curling, etc etc.
GENES VERSUS PRACTICE
Also have you seen any speculation on training versus everyday life? Does the buffest beefcake on the Moon (0.16g) who lifts weights every day have a chance in the arm-wrestling? Or will he go home crying because he was beaten by a 7 year old from Earth? The 7 year old, of course just lifts school books and only practices arm-wrestling with other 7 year olds.
I’ve seen it stated in palaeontology stuff that since Neanderthal skeletons are more robust than Homo sapiens skeletons, then the following logically applies: bigger bones = more attachment area for muscles = bigger muscles = they were stronger than us. (And by ‘us’ they include big, butch Cro Magnons who arm-wrestled mammoths for a laugh, not just modern folks who sit in offices all day). I’ve never managed to track down anything that guesstimated how much stronger they were, or if Ms. Neanderthal could beat up Mr Cro-Magnon when he called her ugly and doomed to extinction.
So anyone ever seen anything with actual numbers in it on Neanderthal versus Homo sapiens physical strength?
And wild speculation time… do we need to splice in a few Neanderthal genes to help people live on Planet Bob?
EARTH MEN CAN’T JUMP (or SAFETY FACTORS IN BONE DESIGN)
If you’ve ever seen elephants at the zoo, then you may have noticed that instead of a fence around the elephant enclosure, there is often a concrete moat (with or without water in it). This is because elephants can’t jump. Or trot. Or gallop. They are so big and heavy that if they tried to do any of those feats, the forces as their feet hit the ground would break their bones. Charging elephants don’t run – they just speed walk really, really fast. (Play any of the ‘galloping mammoths’ scenes from the 10000 BC movie to a biologist. Listen to them laugh hysterically).
Plus, elephants are big, heavy and strong – they are very good at pushing trees over, so fences aren’t going to last long… (Note to Tokyo: to keep Godzilla from smashing your city, you just have to dig a moat around it that’s wider than Godzilla’s stride length, and deeper than he can step down into).
Anyway, bones have built in safety factors. You or I can safely take a run up and jump over the elephant moat without smashing our bones. However, nature can only do so much, and the poor old elephants have pushed the limit and had running and jumping eliminated from their repertoire.
Sooo… has anyone ever seen calculations involving gravity and bone safety factors for humans? Would we be able to jump in Planet Bob’s 1.25g? Or IIRC 2300AD had a planet called King with 3.0g – what about there?
Stephen Baxter’s Icebones
novel has mammoths on Mars. Can they take up jumping again?