The wonder of parallel stomachs
Monday, Oct 19, 2009
Having lunch with Casey today, we got to wondering about whether cows fabled four stomachs operate in series or parallel. Instinct would imply that series was more likely, but for a system where a cow could regurgitate and chew its cud a serial arrangement seems cumbersome, having to back up the chain to get the cud back into the mouth. A set or stomachs operating in parallel would be AWESOME. Forget for a moment how much it would ease the minds of those who don't like their food touching, and how having several parallel stomachs could ensure that their peas don't mix with their pie even when all is swallowed and done. No, the glory of parallel stomachs is DIFFERENTIATION. You could have stomachs optimized for different tasks. You could have your vegetarian stomach and your protein stomach. Your entree stomach that you can fill to the brim without any worry that you might not have any room left in your dessert stomach. Bulimics would have a whole new set of tools to work with. There would be classes on stomach optimization. Your stomachs and you. Then there's the useful stuff. You could have your 'danger stomach' a sandboxed digestive environment for testing questionable foods without passing on the possible contamination to the rest of the body. A half-fat stomach that has rate-limits on absorption to help your body deal with a world where food is prepared more for taste than nutritional impact. For that matter, you should be able to program your stomachs to absorb the proper amount of nutrients for your anticipated needs for the next several days. Running a 5K? Just let your stomachs know a few days in advance to help you prep your body. Don't forget to put it in your Google Calendar and set up the TummySync in Settings (under Labs, of course). It makes sense that this kind of thing didn't happen evolutionarily, because most stages of evolution involve optimizing to get the maximum value out of any food. Species on the whole rarely exist long in environments where food becomes more and more plentiful with higher and higher fat and caloric content. It might be time for a little intelligent design. And while we're at it, how about that second mouth? The one with limited taste for taking all the stuff that's good for you but tastes bad? Oh, and the cow? Turns out they operate in series, in a digestive train with three steps forward and one step back, like the Hora. Next up: The sandboxed second brain for thinking dangerous thoughts.
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Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
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