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The Boston Globe



Attack of the B-movie scientists

Giant mutant beasts are dangerous — but not if they’re too big to walk, says a biomechanics professor.

T he past 60 years of cinematic history have presented a fearsome array of threats to the world. Monsters from King Kong to the Black Scorpion have wreaked havoc on our planet—breathing fire, stepping on cars, reducing cities to rubble. And, in the process, they’ve raised vital philosophical questions: How safe are we from mutant cephalopods? What are the health risks of shrinking to the size of a chipmunk? What’s the best approach to take when being attacked by a giant ant?

As it turns out, there is one expert we can turn to: Michael LaBarbera, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Chicago. “Hit it in the leg,” he advises in the case of the ant. And what with? “When shrunk, don’t try to use any weapon that uses momentum, like a hammer. Small animals need to use thrust weapons, like a spear, something that uses the force of the body.”

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