Shrinking Spacemen: 19.7-inch humans could take a giant leap

Space is a big place, but tiny astronauts might be better equipped to explore it. That's the suggestion of several laterally-thinking scientists, who are discussing potential ways to shrink humans down to 19.7-inches tall so that they'd consume less food, require less space and energy, and produce less waste. Florida Institute of Technology space programs director Donald Platt is looking at how genetic engineering can be used to create not only tiny "nano animals" but whether "it may even be possible to modify ourselves and make humanity smaller."

According to Dutch artist Arne Hendriks – who has put together a multi-disciplinary exhibition called The Incredible Shrinking Man – a 3.5lb human measuring 50cm would only require 2-percent of the calories we currently need. "You would only need one coffee bean for an espresso" he explains, "and one chicken could feed up to a hundred people."

Perhaps less shocking than a tiny spaceman, genome specialist Craig Ventner is looking at how specially engineered synthetic bacteria – able to repair damaged DNA or make for more efficient nutrient absorption - could be integrated into the human biome. That would allow for more effective consumption of limited food resources, meaning less space and energy spent on greenhouses built on distant planets.

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