Head start: Half as tall at two!

Q. Most of us reach half our adult height by around what age? a) 10 years b) 8 c) 6 d) 4 e) 2 –R. Sampson

 A. Age 8 or 6 are common guesses, but you'll need to drop all the way to 2 to score a height-hit. Average infant is about 20 inches long at birth, 30 inches by Birthday #1, 35 inches by Birthday #2, say V. Gregory Payne and Larry D. Isaacs in Human Motor Development: A Lifespan Approach. Fascinating how a human body comes on line: First the head reaches close to its adult length, then the trunk, then the limbs, says San Francisco State University psychologist Ronald Mayer in his online Human Development: The Beginnings of Behavior. At birth, a baby's head is already huge (reason for those fetching eyes), 25 percent of total body length and 60 percent of its eventual size, then "shrinks" to less than 15 percent of body length by adulthood.

Sizewise, our bodies slowly catch up with our head-start heads. "Not understanding these subtle proportional shifts, medieval artists painted infants– as with the young Christ done at this time– to look strangely like miniature adults."


Q. If betting on the Super Lotto over the years hasn't made you rich, how might not betting on it all those years have made you a millionaire? ­W. Buffett

 A. By using the money to bet on the unpredictable stock market instead, answers Hope College psychologist David G. Myers in Intuition: Its Powers and Perils

 Figure it this way: A truck-driver named "Joe" has spent $30-50 per week for four years playing the Lotto, some $10,000 total, and never won a dime. Still he persists: "You never know," he says.

Now imagine instead that Joe had been betting $40/week by investing in a stock market index fund. Remarkably, over the past 75 years, money gambled on publicly traded stocks has returned more than 11 percent annually on average, says Myers.

So if Joe had started investing at age 25 and his fund did only as well as average, he would be a much wealthier man today. In fact, his accumulating $40 every week, enhanced by an 11 percent return, would have meant $10,400 by the end of the first four years, $37,000 after 10 years, and by age 65, Joe could have claimed a total "jackpot" of $1.3 million!


Q. What would sex be like in the weightlessness of space? ­J. Glenn

 A. "I don't know of any research, but the Russians were rumored to have tried this years ago," says Western Washington University physicist Jim Stewart. Earthbound lovers depend on gravity to keep them together. In space, the conservation of momentum would necessitate a little advance planning: Imagine two lovers floating freely in zero-G.

"Any kind of significant push, one on the other, would result in immediate separation, at least in key body areas. So they'd better keep on hugging." Think postural experimentation and creative Velcro beltings. Owing to counter-torque, Lover A's playful tweak or twist on lover B will set both of them– untethered spinning in opposite directions.

Remember that everybody gets an inch or two taller in space, as the uncompressed spine stretches out. For a short guy, this could feel quite sexy, though naturally she'll match him inch for inch. Space love must be forgiving love, for the face awaiting a kiss will have grown swollen and bloated, as body fluids in zero-G drift upward from the legs and midsection to hang out in the cheeks, nose and lips. Expect male hormonal levels to sag. Maybe it's the sunless days, or the food, or being hundreds of millions of miles from home. Still, the starry-eyed surround may be all the Viagra he needs.


Q. Sneeze while you're reading this and it's no problem, but how about when driving on a freeway or piloting a MiG-25 Foxbat fighter? ­A. Dwarf

 A. Eyes shut for about .1 second for a blink, .5 second for a sneeze, say David Halliday et al. in Fundamentals of Physics, 4th Edition. So at 60 mph you'll be in the dark for about 44 sneeze feet– a couple of car lengths. Flying at 2000 mph, the "blackout" extends to 1500 feet, or more than a quarter of a sky mile.

Send Strange questions to brothers Bill and Rich at strangetrue@compuserve.com