2023 **Author**: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24

A Japanese physiologist corrected errors in Gulliver's Travels nearly three centuries after its publication, according to The Journal of Physiological Sciences. Jonathan Swift pointed out in the text that Gulliver had to eat the food of 1,728 Lilliputians every day, but, as the Japanese researcher calculated, Gulliver would have had enough food for 42 Lilliputians and 1/42 of the ration of a resident of Brobdingnag. In addition, the scientist calculated the life span, heart rate, pressure and respiratory rate of midgets and giants.

Gulliver's Travels was published in 1726. The main character of this book, Lemuel Gulliver, being a ship's doctor and later the captain of several ships, visits fictional countries, including Lilliput and Brobdingneg, the land of giants. In addition to describing the life and customs of the Lilliputians, Swift described their physiology in some detail. He estimated their height as 1/12 of that of Gulliver and calculated that Gulliver needed to eat the food of 1,728 Lilliputians every day.

Let the reader be pleased to draw attention to the fact that in the last clause of the conditions for the return of freedom to me, the emperor decides to give me food and drink in an amount sufficient to feed 1,728 midgets. After some time I asked a friend of mine, a courtier, how such an exact figure was established. To this he replied that the mathematicians of His Majesty, having determined the height of my height with the help of a quadrant and finding that this height is in such a relation to the height of the midget as twelve to one, concluded, on the basis of the similarity of our bodies, that the volume of my body is equal, at least the volume of 1728 bodies of midgets, and therefore, it requires the same amount of food. From this, the reader can form an idea of both the intelligence of this people and the wise prudence of its great sovereign. Travel to Lilliput. Chapter III. per. ed. AA Frankovskiy Japanese physiologist Toshio Kuroki, professor-emeritus of Tokyo University and Gifu University, first read this book only recently. The scientist noticed errors in Swift's calculations and decided to correct them. In addition, he calculated the pulse, blood pressure and respiration rate of midgets and giants.

Swift writes that Gulliver's height was less than six feet (1.8 meters). Kuroki used modern estimates, according to which the average height of men in the 18th century was 1.71 meters. The scientist estimated the proportions of the growth of giants and Gulliver as 12: 1, based on indirect data in Swift's book ("… each hailstone is almost one thousand eight hundred times larger than we have in Europe …"). According to the scientist's calculations, the growth of Lilliputians was about 14 centimeters, and the growth of Brobdingnezhs was 20, 52 meters, as is the growth of an average rat and the length of large dinosaurs, respectively.

According to Kuroki, Swift estimated the weight of fictional people in proportion to their height in the third degree. From here he got the figure 1728 - this is 12 in a cube. However, according to the formula for body mass index (BMI), which, incidentally, was unknown to Swift, the weight of the fictional people was proportional to the height squared. The BMI formula was derived by the Belgian sociologist and statistician Adolphe Quetelet in 1869. Having calculated the physical parameters of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, he obtained the ratio BMI = W / H2, where W is the weight, and H is the height of a person. The weight of midgets and giants calculated according to this formula turned out to be 0, 47 and 9865 kilograms, respectively.

To calculate Gulliver's energy consumption from the point of view of Lilliputians and Brobdingnezh, Kuroki used the relation, which was deduced in 1932 by the Swiss physiologist Max Kleiber - P ~ W3 / 4, where P is the metabolic rate at rest and W is weight. If we evaluate the metabolic rate of Gulliver himself, as a unit, the metabolic rate of the inhabitants of Lilliput and the giants was equal to 1/42 and 42, respectively. Judging by the calculations, the scientist writes, Swift overestimated Gulliver's needs. He needed food and drink not 1728, but only 42 midgets, and 1/42 of the daily diet of one giant. If translated into calories, it turns out that a resident of Lilliput, Gulliver and Brobdingnezh, need 57, 2400 and 100800 kilocalories daily, respectively.

The metabolic rate of animals according to Kleiber's law. Having calculated the weight of midgets and giants, the author estimated their metabolic rate.

Kuroki calculated the heart rate and respiration rate using the ratio T ~ W -1/4, where T is the time interval between heartbeats and respiratory movements, and W is the weight. He found that Lilliputians had a pulse and respiratory rate 3.5 times higher, while giants, on the contrary, were 3.5 times lower than Gulliver's. The author believed that Gulliver was a healthy person with a pulse rate of 60 beats and a respiratory rate of 18 breaths per minute. Based on these figures, it turned out that the pulse and respiratory rate of the Lilliputians was 210 beats and 68 respiratory movements per minute, and for the Brobdingers - 17 beats and 5 respiratory movements per minute.

To calculate blood pressure, the author uses a systolic blood pressure of 120 millimeters of mercury. It does not depend on body size, and is constant in most mammals. One of the few exceptions is the giraffe, whose pressure is about twice that of humans - 250 millimeters of mercury. Physiologists believe that large dinosaurs also had much higher blood pressure than modern mammals. For example, in a barosaur - a lizard up to 26 meters long, the brain was at a distance of 12 meters from the heart, and in order to ensure its blood supply, the blood pressure had to be about 880 millimeters of mercury.

As Kuroki notes, before him, researchers only twice tried to adjust Swift's estimates. The first was Max Kleiber, the author of the metabolic rate law. However, he did not take into account the body mass index, but calculated the weight of the midgets as height in the third degree, and he estimated their height as seven centimeters. Therefore, according to his calculations, Gulliver needed food for 675 people daily. The next attempt was made by the Australian zoologist Anthony Hulbert. He pointed out Kleiber's error in calculating the height of midgets and estimated their energy consumption using the formula P ~ W3 / 4, but did not indicate the amount of food that Gulliver needed per midgets.

Earlier, the American linguist Irving Rotman proposed a new version of decoding the fictional language and names from "Gulliver's Travels". According to the scientist, these were not meaningless words, but a distorted version of Hebrew.

You can read more about Kleiber's law in our material "Why don't elephants fly?", And at the same time calculate the energy consumption of animals based on their weight.