Thursday, June 01, 2017


Suppose you could wave a magic wand and make changes in the design of the human body? What would you fix? Some items on my wish list:

Alter the muscle connections in the torso to accommodate our bipedal posture, thereby alleviating or preventing backaches, organ prolapses, and hernias. (This one isn't original with me.)

Put an upper limit on the intensity of pain. Make it just annoying enough to draw attention to sickness or damage, not enough to really hurt, about the level of a mild cramp. (Assuming people will have the sense not to ignore the signals.)

Synchronize the onset of puberty between the sexes, so the girls don't become young adults while the boys are still kids. If you're worried about increased premarital sex and teen pregnancy, adjust the females upward instead of the males downward.

Turn us into marsupials. Seriously, wouldn't it be easier to give birth to a half-formed fetus and carry it in a secure pouch, like an advanced version of a kangaroo?

Failing that, reduce labor to mild cramps (like pain in general, see above) and painless pushing. Also in the area of reproduction, it would be nice if human females in the first trimester of pregnancy could re-absorb the fetus at will, like rabbits.

And can't we arrange for women to reach orgasm as easily and automatically as the typical young man?

For men, move the prostate gland so it doesn't wrap around the urethra, an arrangement that causes much inconvenience in later years.

Hack the brains of newborn babies so they sleep through the hours of darkness instead of needing to be fed every couple of hours by night as well as by day. Also, how about making human toddlers as easy to toilet-train as kittens? Those two changes would go a long way toward relieving the exhaustion and stress of infant care.

Repair the immune-system glitches that cause allergies and autoimmune diseases in many people.

Currently, the average person's metabolism works the opposite of the way most of us would prefer. Let's have any excess calories not required for daily energy needs excreted instead of stored as fat. That would be a radical change. From an evolutionary viewpoint, the tendency to hang onto fat is a feature, not a bug; it increases our chance of surviving a famine—not a typical hazard in contemporary North America.

If we aspire to superpowers, we could request vision like that of eagles, hearing like that of bats, the speed of cheetahs, and the proportional strength of ants. I'm thinking more of fixes that would make life as we currently live it easier, though. Each of those alterations would involve related changes we might not like, unless we switch from the realm of evolution to outright magic.

Any other suggestions to improve the human blueprint?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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