But now at least one person with a presumably solid foundation in science backs me up. So when I hear yet another short joke (and I think I've heard 'em all), I can smile smugly to myself and know that all you leviathan, Brobdingnagian skyscrapers over 5' (or for the non-abnormal-American-measurementally inclined, 1.5 m) are actually at a disadvantage.
Later In Life
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor, director of the Laboratory for Perception and Action, and director of the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. And a fiction writer. In other words, a guy with a lot of free time. (According to Wiki, an early experience of falling from a roof raised his interest in understanding the neural basis of time perception. I also had a fall from a roof in college, but all I got was a pair of crutches.)
The long range goal of his lab, according to his Web site, "is to understand how the brain constructs perception, how different brains do so differently, and how this matters for society. Our three main prongs involve time perception, synesthesia, and neurolaw."
So when he talks about these subjects, I think it's safe to assume he knows what he's talking about.
Recently on NPR, Eagleman said there is one possible, ever-so-slight drawback to being tall:
Eagleman can imagine situations where tall people experience the world a little later than short people.Since the 5'2" person is taller than me, I'd experience "now" faster than both of them! Take that, Abe. But how is this possible?
If 6-foot-4-inch Abraham Lincoln and a 5-foot-2-inch person were standing side by side, Eagleman thinks he could demonstrate that "now" might come a teensy bit later for Abe than for the shorter person.
A Short Story
"The brain manages to synchronize what's happening even though sensory data comes through your eyes, ears, tongue and skin at slightly different times and speeds," the NPR article says. So, the brain puts the signals on a time delay until the last one comes in and then shoots 'em all off at once, creating a simultaneous experience. (TV takes advantage of this for editing purposes, but sometimes even they are bested.)
"This brief waiting period allows the visual system to discount the various delays imposed by the early stages; however, it has the disadvantage of pushing perception into the past. There is a distinct survival advantage to operating as close to the present as possible; an animal does not want to live too far in the past. Therefore, the tenth of a second window may be the smallest delay that allows higher areas of the brain to account for the delays created in the first stages of the system while still operating near the borders of the present."Eagleman gives the example of a person touching his nose and toe at the same time. (Try it and play along.) Did you feel the touch at the same time? I did. But if you think about it, shouldn't the signal from the toe that says, "hey, something is touching me" take a miniscule amount of time longer to get to your brain? After all, your nose is on your face, which is next to your brain. So you should have felt the touch on your nose first.
It may be that our sensory perception of the world has to wait for the slowest piece of information to arrive, Eagleman says.Apparently Napoleon, a short dead dude, didn't read any of Eagleman's work, or the Battle of Waterloo may have ended differently.
"Given conduction times along limbs, this leads to the bizarre but testable suggestion that tall people may live further in the past than short people."
I'm in good company, though - there are a lot of short people out there doing great things. Short films, short stories, bermuda shorts, Get Shorty - all thanks to short people. (Ok, maybe I made that up.)
Some big little people (all 5'4" and under)
Michael J. Fox
Buckminster Fuller (inventor of the geodesic dome)
Joan of Arc (who is not Noah's wife)
So instead of resting your arm on the head of your shorter brethren, lean down and experience life in the fast lane.