Samuel Brody’s surface integrator being used to measure the area of a cow.

Credit: Brody Environmental Center, University of Missouri.

Stillman Bradfield, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, published a study describing her use of the surface integrator to measure the areas of 47 naked young women—to see how their areas compared with the men from whom most of the formulas had been derived. (Eugene DuBois was unimpressed: “There still remains some doubt as to whether the integrator is as accurate as the method employing molds,” he sniffed.)

The surface law was going strong. Succeeding generations of physicians have tinkered with the numbers in the DuBois formula, but calculations of surface area are still based on height and weight. Many medical quantities, such as drug dosage, intravenous feeding rates, calorie requirements, and heart output are still calculated in terms of body surface area, as calculated by these formulas. As we shall see, there is no good reason for this.

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