I found this statement/fun game in a nearby insect zoo:

A leaf cutter ant can lift 50 times its own weight! If you weight ..120.. pounds and were as strong as an ant, you could lift .. baby blue whale ..

It says that as leaf cutter ant can lift 50 times its own weight, if you're 120 pounds and as strong as an ant, you could lift a baby blue whale (presumably this was found by linearly extrapolating the weight).

"As strong as an ant" isn't an exact definition, but if we imagine a creature with exactly the same 3d-structure and material as a leaf-cutter ant, but it was larger such that it weight 120 pound (~54 kg), would this creature be able to lift 50 times its weight? If not, how many times its own weight would it be able to lift?

Initially, I thought the answer should be "definitely yes", since we're just scaling the same thing without modifying its structure, but someone pointed to me it might be different. For example assuming same material = same density, the mass ratio between the giant ant vs the small ant might not be the same as their length ratio, and such thing might have an effect on the lifting ability.


closed as off-topic by Carl Witthoft, Gert, Daniel Griscom, JamalS, user36790 Jan 20 '16 at 2:25

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  • $\begingroup$ Muscle strength is (roughly) going to be proportional to the cross sectional area of the muscle, which goes as $l^2$. Weight is proportional to $l^3$. Not posting an answer because this is probably a duplicate. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Jan 19 '16 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank Could you show which one this is a duplicate of? Also, how many times its own weight does that make the 120-pound ant able to lift? $\endgroup$ – user69715 Jan 19 '16 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ Try searching the site. For the second question can't you plug in the numbers? $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Jan 19 '16 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ Curiously, the answer contained in DanielSank's comment has already been published by Galileo in "Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Relating to Two New Sciences" in 1638. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Jan 19 '16 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs in Biology or Biomechanics. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jan 19 '16 at 13:19