free fall

As I left for work this morning, I noticed an ant walking across the top of the gate. This somehow reminded me of that time in high school when I was waiting at the top of C Block for a teacher to come let us into the classroom (I think it was for maths) and we saw a bug walking near the edge of the port racks, so I suggested that maybe it was going to jump off and commit suicide.

But, you know, even if it did jump from that height, it would probably survive, right? If a human fell a distance of ten times their own height onto the ground (without a parachute or some sort of thing that makes this hypothetical scenario redundant), they wouldn’t be expected to be able to just walk away.

A bug, however, with its exoskeleton, could fall from one hundred times its own height onto solid ground and probably walk away with nothing more than a bit of mental trauma, if anything. I have often wondered if other animals experience emotions and other mental problems like humans do. (Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that emotions are a mental problem. It was referring to trauma as its “other”.)

I’ve heard of pets experiencing depression and dementia and that sort of thing, but what about non-domesticated animals? As I walked home from the bus stop after work, I noticed a group of ants working together to carry a crumb back to their colony, and I thought that maybe the ants didn’t care which of them got the bigger cut – if they got any of it for themselves at all – they’re just programmed to work for the greater good, and they don’t question it. Sounds like a sci-fi novel, doesn’t it?

Anyway… I’m getting really side-tracked. When I saw that ant making its way across the gate this morning, I wondered if it would work for humans to have an exoskeleton. As long as there were places for muscle attachment, you could still move, right?

But, of course, there’d be all sorts of problems with our size and tendency to grow so much. I hope I’m not showing my ignorance here (or lack of willingness/botheredness to go search it up on the internet), but I also wondered about whether you can have touch receptors/sensors on an exoskeleton. You’d have to still be able to tell if something is hot/cold, soft/rough, etc.

Well, in the end, I gave up on that train of thought because I figured that there probably is a very good reason why we have endoskeletons rather than the alternative. I’m sorry if I gave anyone any really bad mental images of half-bug-half-human things or whatever, but who knew that seeing ants do what they always do could trigger so many ponderings?