• Question: will we (in the future) be able able to shrink living organisms?

    Asked by amyhay to Dave on 5 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: David Grainger

      David Grainger answered on 5 Jun 2018:

      How cool would this be! I’d like a pet elephant the size of an apple. Unfortunately, I think this is probably impossible. Most animals are the size they are for a biological reason. For an animal to be the same but smaller, it would need the same number of cells but smaller. So what you’re asking me is can we shrink a cell because if we can do that, we could in theory just shrink all the cells down and put them together to make a small animal.

      While I am not an expert on this but I think that we would struggle to shrink cells because they rely on complex interactions between proteins, DNA and other molecules. To start messing with the size of these would mean messing with the size of atoms. This seems pretty difficult to me. But then science is constantly surprising me so here’s hoping I’m wrong so I can have that pet micro-elephant!