Thursday, January 18, 2007

Balls to researchers

This is an article I'd written in 2005 for the Hindustan Times. It was published in December '05. The recent brouhaha over Indian penis sizes reminded me of it.

A new law

A recent study has found that bats with big balls have small brains, and vice versa. This was reported in last week's issue of The Economist in an article called 'Bats and Balls', and also found mention in The Guardian. The study, conducted by Dr Scott Pitnick of Syracuse University and two of his colleagues, studied measurements of brain size and testis size in 334 species of bats before making their conclusion.

According to The Economist, "The hypothesis they were testing came in two parts. The first was that in any given species, the average male's testis size as a fraction of body weight will depend on the behaviour of that species' females — in particular, how promiscuous those females are. The second was that, given that brain tissue and testis tissue are among the most expensive to maintain physiologically, and that bats have a very tight energy budget, bigger balls would result in smaller brains".

Both hypotheses proved correct. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society.

The scientists have not given their law a name yet. However, since it appears to be a law of conservation, like Einstein's 'Law of conservation of mass and energy', perhaps it should be named in similar fashion, with 'mass' being substituted by 'balls' and 'energy' by 'brains'.

Bats are mammals like humans, and it is quite possible that similar results might be obtained in a study of mankind. The implications of this law are therefore no less staggering than that of Einstein's. I'm not smart enough to figure out all the consequences, but things look bad for Einstein, scientists in general, chess players, class toppers and the IIT-IIM types. It's worst for scientists who are so smart that they can get funding for a study like this. On the other hand, politicians who get caught taking bribes on camera and then say they did nothing wrong obviously have a lot of balls. I shall say nothing of clever journalists who catch them and win awards for bad sex writing.

The new law of conservation proves once again that life isn't fair. There is a very difficult choice involved here, for men as well as women. The dilemma for men will be in deciding how they want to project themselves. People out of IIT and IIM, for example, might be forced to write atrocious books to dispel public doubts about their testes.

For women, the dilemma is greater. Apart from the obvious one of what they value more in men, there's also the other part of the theory: The more promiscuous they get, the more dim men become. This has obviously been happening for a bit now. The evidence is all around us.

Perhaps further studies will indicate what the optimum balls-brains ratio is. This would require a great deal of research, and significant going about with callipers and IQ tests. The Indian Council for Medical Research, which once funded a study on the size of the Indian penis, may want to look into this.

The harried male has another existential crisis to cope with. There is a silver lining, though: We can finally feel good about all the stupid things we've done. Maybe the sizes fluctuate – that would really explain everything. Of course I could be wrong, and just having a testicular moment.