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neilzero
2013-Oct-20, 01:57 PM
Humans require O2 = free oxygen and we get it by inhaling and exhaling, both of which are impossible without air pressure (or a source of compressed air), other wise our bodies could likely adapt to zero air pressure with some genetic alterations, except hearing and talking require air pressure, but we could text. A prothesis to put oxygen in our blood is likely possible and our lungs can possibly vent carbon dioxide and other waste into a vacuum with some genetic alterations. Please comment, refute and or embellish. Neil

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 01:59 PM
What alterations would be necessary, and what genes would need to be tweaked?

In what ways would an O2-implant prosthesis be superior to a spacesuit?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 02:05 PM
Also, what about radiation shielding and zero-G?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 02:15 PM
Since waste CO2 and moisture is vented rather than recycled, what continuous source of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen would be used? How much of each would be required per hour?

neilzero
2013-Oct-20, 02:21 PM
I see I have addressed only a few of the problems. Possibly keeping the skin in an acceptable temperature range in Mercury levels of sunlight or shaded is the most difficult problem without a bulky and massive space suit. Zero g likely is not harmful an hour or two per day and artificial gravity does not require air pressure. Neil

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 02:50 PM
Zero g likely is not harmful an hour or two per day and artificial gravity does not require air pressure. Neil

How many people do you think would be willing to have their genes experimented on just to spend a few hours in space, when spacesuits that let you do that already exist?

If you can build a spinning structure that is built strongly enough to provide 1g and has radiation shielding sufficient for human habitation, adding pressurized compartments is relatively simple engineering.

Jens
2013-Oct-20, 02:55 PM
. A prothesis to put oxygen in our blood is likely possible and our lungs can possibly vent carbon dioxide and other waste into a vacuum with some genetic

It doesn't require alterations, but we have such a prosthesis. It's called a spacesuit.

swampyankee
2013-Oct-20, 03:43 PM
How many people do you think would be willing to have their genes experimented on just to spend a few hours in space, when spacesuits that let you do that already exist?

If you can build a spinning structure that is built strongly enough to provide 1g and has radiation shielding sufficient for human habitation, adding pressurized compartments is relatively simple engineering.

For the first, probably relatively few, especially since it won't be their genes, but those of their children that would be changed. Of course, given past history, it's possible that governments or quasi-governmental organizations could coerce people to do so or to do so without their knowledge.

To a first approximation, a rotating space habitat can be treated as pressurized cylindrical shell, with the "pressure" being areal density (mass divided by area, kgm-2 times centripetal acceleration. Given that current materials suitable for large structures are restricted to about 700 MPa, there is a size limit for a torus. Of course, adding spokes, that is radial members in tension, would increase the allowable size considerably. Unmodified, but fit, humans can function with pure oxygen up to about 12,000 m (19 kPa) , and did so in unpressurized fighter aircraft in World War II, but it's very uncomfortable and pretty marginal. More reasonable would be an atmospheric pressure of about 70 kPa. It would be easy to separate the centripetal loads from the pressure loads, so that's not a deal breaker.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 04:23 PM
For the first, probably relatively few, especially since it won't be their genes, but those of their children that would be changed.

Somatic gene therapy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy#Somatic_gene_therapy) can alter existing genes in adult cells.

neilzero
2013-Oct-20, 04:35 PM
I've lived though too many unit changes: 12,000 meters = 12 kilometers is about 40000 feet =7 miles. If 19 kPa is 1.47 psi = 0.1 atmosphere then 70 kPa is about 0.36 atmospheres, so you need about 80% oxygen. Is that approximately correct? My spellcheck does not like kPa, but I think that is the preferred unit of pressure world wide.
Why not connect two habitats with about a one kilometer tether and spin up until the less massive habitat has one g = 32.2 feet per second per second = 9.8 meters per second per second?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 04:42 PM
Why not connect two habitats with about a one kilometer tether and spin up until the less massive habitat has one g = 32.2 feet per second per second = 9.8 meters per second per second?

A radial design allows greater redundancy (more tethers in case one breaks), and ease of docking because the poles can host a non-rotating "hitching post".

galacsi
2013-Oct-20, 07:18 PM
Humans require O2 = free oxygen and we get it by inhaling and exhaling, both of which are impossible without air pressure (or a source of compressed air), other wise our bodies could likely adapt to zero air pressure with some genetic alterations, except hearing and talking require air pressure, but we could text. A prothesis to put oxygen in our blood is likely possible and our lungs can possibly vent carbon dioxide and other waste into a vacuum with some genetic alterations. Please comment, refute and or embellish. Neil

Impossible : You will loose all your water by evaporation from your lungs , yours eyes will dry to death and your blood will begin to boil.

danscope
2013-Oct-20, 08:14 PM
In a vacuum, the patial pressure of the oxygen would simply be too small to support life. You die.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 09:00 PM
Impossible : You will loose all your water by evaporation from your lungs , yours eyes will dry to death and your blood will begin to boil.

And then there's the effects on the digestive tract. I won't go into detail, but your space-adapted subspecies would need adult diapers.

cjameshuff
2013-Oct-20, 09:50 PM
Somatic gene therapy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy#Somatic_gene_therapy) can alter existing genes in adult cells.

This isn't a matter of expressing a few new proteins in existing cells, this would require drastic changes to the development of multiple organs and tissues. Just altering genes in an organism that's already formed all its tissues and organs isn't going to help much.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-20, 10:25 PM
This isn't a matter of expressing a few new proteins in existing cells, this would require drastic changes to the development of multiple organs and tissues. Just altering genes in an organism that's already formed all its tissues and organs isn't going to help much.

Tissue engineering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tissue_engineering) is also a developing technology. The OP also specified prosthetic implants, so surgery to alter organs is part of the concept. Not that it matters in this case, since the premise of space-adapting a human body even with radical physiological changes is still impractical compared to simply building suitable habitats and life support systems.

Solfe
2013-Oct-21, 01:02 AM
I seem to recall an older sci-fi story (1980's I think) where a person was able to fly in space due to some really heavy duty genetic modification. Tears and sweat glands that formed a shell over all surfaces on demand, a heart-lung bypass like a baby (or crocodilians) and O2 stored in fat. The material that covered the body would break down in a specific way over the hands and feet to provide a gentle thrust, while the person fell into some sort of altered state too slow down the brain because flying in orbit is so slow. The odd bit was, the person had to be completely naked.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-21, 01:05 AM
I seem to recall an older sci-fi story (1980's I think) where a person was able to fly in space due to some really heavy duty genetic modification. Tears and sweat glands that formed a shell over all surfaces on demand, a heart-lung bypass like a baby (or crocodilians) and O2 stored in fat. The material that covered the body would break down in a specific way over the hands and feet to provide a gentle thrust, while the person fell into some sort of altered state too slow down the brain because flying in orbit is so slow. The odd bit was, the person had to be completely naked.

The fact that you called a 1980s story "old" makes me feel like my brain is slowing down.

Solfe
2013-Oct-21, 02:01 AM
The fact that you called a 1980s story "old" makes me feel like my brain is slowing down.

Personally I love the stuff from the 40 and 50's, which I consider to be "old" because it is older than me. The whole concept of Science Fiction Magazine is dying in my mind, which is why I said "old".

That one that publisher had three different magazines that followed the same principles and formats; one for science fiction, fantasy and mystery. It seemed to be a direct competitor to Asimov's publisher. I think that I was reading stories about Thieves World, Battletech and perhaps Cyberpunk stuff. I cannot remember the name or company, but the were larger format magazines and not the journal sized one done today. I feel quite sad that I can't go to the story and find dozens of Sci-fi Mags.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-22, 02:19 PM
I seem to recall an older sci-fi story (1980's I think) where a person was able to fly in space due to some really heavy duty genetic modification. Tears and sweat glands that formed a shell over all surfaces on demand, a heart-lung bypass like a baby (or crocodilians) and O2 stored in fat. The material that covered the body would break down in a specific way over the hands and feet to provide a gentle thrust, while the person fell into some sort of altered state too slow down the brain because flying in orbit is so slow. The odd bit was, the person had to be completely naked.



How much delta v would you get from sweat?

EDIT: What controls directionality? How do they keep from simply outgassing in all directions?

eburacum45
2013-Oct-22, 03:23 PM
How much delta v would you get from sweat?

EDIT: What controls directionality? How do they keep from simply outgassing in all directions?

Presumably the emission of fluid from the sweat glands would be under conscious control. I like this idea, except you would sooon get dehydrated. Note as well that this is only a temporary measure - the heart/lung bypass doesn't replace used oxygen, so the space people would need to rely on stored O2 from the 'fat' reserves.

None of this gets us a human that could survive in space indefinitely; the entire metabolism of the body would need to be reconfigured to achieve that.

Space humans in Orion's Arm here http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/47f6f4568b9da (the image is one of mine) .

Noclevername
2013-Oct-22, 03:51 PM
Note as well that this is only a temporary measure - the heart/lung bypass doesn't replace used oxygen, so the space people would need to rely on stored O2 from the 'fat' reserves.

None of this gets us a human that could survive in space indefinitely; the entire metabolism of the body would need to be reconfigured to achieve that.


You'd have to basically make the body into a self-contained ecosystem for permanent space living. A separate fluid or gas reserve for propulsion would still only give a miniscule amount of thrust from a human-sized body; It might be useful in an emergency, but not for regular travel.

But space-dwelling humans in pressurized habitats might want even temporary extra O2 and tougher skin just in case of a hull breach. Additionally, if you can alter the human body that radically, you can probably put in spinnerets and shoot a web line to anchor yourself to something, though adhesion in vacuum might require some complex chemistry. Gecko-like clinging pads could help keep you from being thrown out into open space during explosive decompression, if they're strong enough.

All this is of course much easier to achieve by simply being in the habit of carrying or wearing external equipment than by self-modification, but some people are over-achievers.

galacsi
2013-Oct-22, 05:28 PM
All this is of course much easier to achieve by simply being in the habit of carrying or wearing external equipment than by self-modification, but some people are over-achievers.

Yes ,and it seems to go contrary of human evolution.We human beings have not developped a fur to protect us from the cold , or big teeth for shearing our food or big muscles like gorillas to fight our enemies. We developped a big brain and with its help developped artificial means for solving our problems.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-22, 06:22 PM
Yes ,and it seems to go contrary of human evolution.We human beings have not developped a fur to protect us from the cold , or big teeth for shearing our food or big muscles like gorillas to fight our enemies. We developped a big brain and with its help developped artificial means for solving our problems.

Our brains' inventiveness has also allowed us to expand our knowledge and tool-using ability to the point where we might soon begin to guide and direct our own evolution, perhaps even making our brains even smarter.

ZunarJ5
2013-Oct-22, 06:26 PM
Humans require O2 = free oxygen and we get it by inhaling and exhaling, both of which are impossible without air pressure (or a source of compressed air), other wise our bodies could likely adapt to zero air pressure with some genetic alterations, except hearing and talking require air pressure, but we could text. A prothesis to put oxygen in our blood is likely possible and our lungs can possibly vent carbon dioxide and other waste into a vacuum with some genetic alterations. Please comment, refute and or embellish. Neil

I would think that alterations that allow a person to directly absorb radiation as an energy source may be beneficial. Like plants for example. This would turn a hazard into a boon.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-22, 06:33 PM
I would think that alterations that allow a person to directly absorb radiation as an energy source may be beneficial. Like plants for example. This would turn a hazard into a boon.

There are fungi that can feed off radiation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiotrophic_fungus)using melanin as a means of absorption. But that's gamma rays, not cosmic rays. The amount of organic material needed to protect a human to safe levels from cosmic rays outside a magnetosphere would be several meters thick, somewhat impractical for a human body.

EDIT: Oh, and plants only use a few visible light frequencies. Put one near an unshielded reactor core and it'll be as dead as any animal.

ShinAce
2013-Oct-22, 07:53 PM
Impossible : You will loose all your water by evaporation from your lungs , yours eyes will dry to death and your blood will begin to boil.


In a vacuum, the patial pressure of the oxygen would simply be too small to support life. You die.

Add me to this list. Partial pressure = 0 and being made of water is not a good combination.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-22, 08:11 PM
Space humans in Orion's Arm here http://www.orionsarm.com/eg-article/47f6f4568b9da (the image is one of mine) .

But where's their thermal radiators? You could have them spread out like wings, it would look very cool.

Jens
2013-Oct-22, 10:58 PM
I would think that alterations that allow a person to directly absorb radiation as an energy source may be beneficial. Like plants for example. This would turn a hazard into a boon.

Assuming you mean ionizing radiation, what process would you use to achieve this?

Solfe
2013-Oct-23, 01:58 AM
How much delta v would you get from sweat?EDIT: What controls directionality? How do they keep from simply outgassing in all directions?

I believe the substance would only come off of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It was amazingly slow, but since the person's brain also slowed to a crawl, they would think that they were traveling at rocket speeds. I believe they actually tended to float like a cork around a gas giant - a simple flight from one habitat to another would take several orbits. It was much better for moving from one place to another on the same orbiting habitat.

One character did use a spacesuit becuase he was repairing something; prolonged contact with objects would totally ruin the unsuited spacewalker's protection. So spacesuits were still a must have item, at least for some people.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-23, 02:28 AM
I believe the substance would only come off of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It was amazingly slow, but since the person's brain also slowed to a crawl, they would think that they were traveling at rocket speeds. I believe they actually tended to float like a cork around a gas giant - a simple flight from one habitat to another would take several orbits. It was much better for moving from one place to another on the same orbiting habitat.

One character did use a spacesuit becuase he was repairing something; prolonged contact with objects would totally ruin the unsuited spacewalker's protection. So spacesuits were still a must have item, at least for some people.

If they're naked, how did they handle thermal issues such as passing into, and out of, the planet's shadow?

Jens
2013-Oct-23, 03:58 AM
If they're naked, how did they handle thermal issues such as passing into, and out of, the planet's shadow?

Magic?

Jens
2013-Oct-23, 04:07 AM
Presumably the emission of fluid from the sweat glands would be under conscious control.

So how exactly do you change genes to make the body develop a new brain region, provide conscious enervation to sweat glands throughout the body, and change the glands so that they can be triggered to it? How do you connect this new brain region to other places such as memory and logical regions? And also, if you are now going to start using sweat glands for propulsion, how are you going to regulate body temperature? Through conscious control, so a person will have to spend their time thinking about how much to sweat when they get hot? Or will you give them a long tongue like a dog?

Our bodies are very precisely designed. You can't just adjust things without affecting other things.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-23, 04:24 AM
So how exactly do you change genes to make the body develop a new brain region, provide conscious enervation to sweat glands throughout the body, and change the glands so that they can be triggered to it? How do you connect this new brain region to other places such as memory and logical regions? And also, if you are now going to start using sweat glands for propulsion, how are you going to regulate body temperature? Through conscious control, so a person will have to spend their time thinking about how much to sweat when they get hot? Or will you give them a long tongue like a dog?

Our bodies are very precisely designed. You can't just adjust things without affecting other things.

Why are you asking that of someone who neither wrote, nor indicated that they had ever read, the story in question?

eburacum45
2013-Oct-23, 07:39 AM
But where's their thermal radiators? You could have them spread out like wings, it would look very cool.
Here's a vacuum-adapted clade with wings;
http://www.orionsarm.com/im_store/med_sailor.jpg
the colours in the background are a representation of the sort of thing they can see with their enhanced vision.

Whether genetic engineering will be able to achieve spectacular results like this I can't be sure - but it seems much more likely than some other SF tropes, like faster-than light travel or time travel. Genetic engineering doesn't break any rules of thermodynamics- if we can create a robot spacecraft that can operate for decades in deepest space, there is no physical reason to prevent us creating living beings which can exist there.

Jens
2013-Oct-23, 08:55 AM
Whether genetic engineering will be able to achieve spectacular results like this I can't be sure - but it seems much more likely than some other SF tropes, like faster-than light travel or time travel.

I definitely agree. It's an engineering problem, although a very difficult one.



Genetic engineering doesn't break any rules of thermodynamics- if we can create a robot spacecraft that can operate for decades in deepest space, there is no physical reason to prevent us creating living beings which can exist there.

But I would say that depends on what you mean by living. If you would classify a system that works based on electricity as a living being, then perhaps you could do it. If you mean an organism that uses oxygen, then you have to have a source of oxygen, or a biosystem that can recycle it. So you need an environment for that organism. You couldn't engineer an organism whose chemical reactions depend on oxygen to live without oxygen.

Jens
2013-Oct-23, 08:57 AM
Why are you asking that of someone who neither wrote, nor indicated that they had ever read, the story in question?

Because the person started the post with "Presumably..." implying that they were suggesting their own idea of how it might be possible. That's the way I took it.

Solfe
2013-Oct-23, 10:14 AM
Magic?Bio-engineered plastic magic. I wish I could find those magazines.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-23, 11:15 AM
Here's a vacuum-adapted clade with wings;
http://www.orionsarm.com/im_store/med_sailor.jpg
the colours in the background are a representation of the sort of thing they can see with their enhanced vision.


It looks like Batman!

I guess his action figure IS accurate (http://www.shortpacked.com/2005/comic/book-1-brings-back-the-80s/01-just-a-toy-store/batman-can-breathe-in-space/) after all. Batman really can breathe in space (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BatmanCanBreatheInSpace)!

Noclevername
2013-Oct-23, 11:33 AM
Bio-engineered plastic magic. I wish I could find those magazines.

Sounds like heavy-duty nanotech more than genetics. Though I suppose at high enough tech levels there's considerable overlap.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-23, 11:36 AM
Bio-engineered plastic magic. I wish I could find those magazines.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardance


Stardance is a science fiction novel by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson, published by Dial Press in 1979 as part of its Quantum science fiction line. The novel's opening segment originally appeared in Analog in 1977 as the novella "Stardance," followed by the serialized conclusion, "Stardance II", in Analog in 1978.[1]

Is this it?

Solfe
2013-Oct-23, 11:41 AM
That might be it, but for some reason I remember how it came very differently.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-23, 12:48 PM
That might be it, but for some reason I remember how it came very differently.

I actually tried Googling "naked in space" (with and without quotes) and the results were ...unexpected. Instead of having to filter out a ton of porn, I got a ton of new age dream fluff.

Oh, and several articles about Tardigrades.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-23, 12:57 PM
The Stardance sequel Starseed is described thus on Spider Robinson's website (http://www.spiderrobinson.com/books.html):


Starseed: Years later, another dancer of genius faced the end of her career when her body failed her, and Rain McLeod followed Shara into space. If she joined with a symbiotic lifeform that would let her live without artificial protection in the vacuum of space, she would take a quantum leap in human evolution.

So maybe you read the original in a magazine and the sequel as a book?

eburacum45
2013-Oct-24, 09:37 AM
If you mean an organism that uses oxygen, then you have to have a source of oxygen, or a biosystem that can recycle it. So you need an environment for that organism. You couldn't engineer an organism whose chemical reactions depend on oxygen to live without oxygen.

There are anaerobic forms of respiration that could be used by a genetically engineered space organism; it is apparently the case that such an organism would have less available energy to perform activities than an aerobic one, but that might not be such a great problem in microgravity. Would an anaerobic human be possible? Perhaps, but it would be quite different to the humans we know. Maybe they could be facultative anaerobes, able to use oxygen respiration when and if it becomes available.

Concerning the conscious control of functions that are not part of a human's normal repertoir; this could be a big problem, that might be solved in a number of different ways. The genetic engineers could try to redeign the brain and neural pathways to produce something that could control the new function directly; if they give a genetically modified human wings, or an extra pair of limbs, they'd need to drastically redesign the motor regions of the brain, for example. Alternately the new functions could be controlled artificially, with some sort of automatic system mediating between the brain and the site of the new function. This approach has some advantages, since the new functions could be set to operate on 'automatic pilot' under computer control except when a conscious decision needs to be made. Perhaps the most likely would be some sort of intermediate approach would be the best. Look up motor neuroprosthetics for some possible hints as to how this could be achieved.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_machine_interface#Movement

Why would we even want to do all this? Well, the vast majority of the universe is an environment which is not hospitable to humans. There are a number of possible responses to this fact;
:: We could give up any idea of extending our presence in space;
:: We could explore and populate these environments with robots and keep humans at home on Earth;
:: We could create small pockets of Earth-like environment in favourable locations in the univese (habitats and space stations, eventually perhaps terraforming some worlds);
:: ... or we could seek to adapt humans to live in those environments as far as is possible. This approach is sometimes known as Pantropy, and may require a much wider range of technologies than just genetic engineering.

One concern about this approach (and there are many) is that the end result in some cases might be so different to humans to be considered a completely unrelated species, or even a different higher-order taxon. Would an anaerobic human think in a similar way to an unmodified human? The amount of energy available for the brain of an anaerobic human would be reduced considerably; could this be accomodated for by slowing down their rate of thinking? Space people might be slow-thinking and sluggish, and be different to normal humans psychologically. In this case would we even consider them huumans at all?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-24, 09:47 AM
:: We could explore and populate these environments with robots and keep humans at home on Earth;
:: We could create small pockets of Earth-like environment in favourable locations in the univese (habitats and space stations, eventually perhaps terraforming some worlds);
:: ... or we could seek to adapt humans to live in those environments as far as is possible. This approach is sometimes known as Pantropy, and may require a much wider range of technologies than just genetic engineering.


I don't see these as mutually exclusive. We start with 2 (our current model), use it to lay groundwork for 3, and when the tech develops, some might choose 4.


One concern about this approach (and there are many) is that the end result in some cases might be so different to humans to be considered a completely unrelated species, or even a different higher-order taxon. Would an anaerobic human think in a similar way to an unmodified human? The amount of energy available for the brain of an anaerobic human would be reduced considerably; could this be accomodated for by slowing down their rate of thinking? Space people might be slow-thinking and sluggish, and be different to normal humans psychologically. In this case would we even consider them huumans at all?

Perhaps not human, but people nonetheless. I'm of the opinion that in due time, legal personhood will require a slew of redefinitions as more and more varied forms of sapience develop, including posthumans and parahumans, uplifts, and possibly AI and uploads.

ZunarJ5
2013-Oct-24, 02:33 PM
Assuming you mean ionizing radiation, what process would you use to achieve this?

In the spirit of the thread... Perhaps the same method that Galactus used to grant the Silver Surfer his incredible energy absorbing powers?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-24, 03:00 PM
In the spirit of the thread... Perhaps the same method that Galactus used to grant the Silver Surfer his incredible energy absorbing powers?

Kirby dots?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-24, 05:12 PM
I actually recall a Silver surfer story by Jim Starlin where SS lost his Power Cosmic but was otherwise unharmed, and when he went to use his physical strength, the enhanced molecular bonds of his skin insulated him so well, he built up excess heat and could not function. So there's apparently more to the Power Cosmic than absorbing c-rays.

Jens
2013-Oct-25, 12:31 PM
In the spirit of the thread... Perhaps the same method that Galactus used to grant the Silver Surfer his incredible energy absorbing powers?

In the spirit of the thread? I thought that The OP was asking for a discussion on the realistic possibility of humans adapting to live in a vacuum.

Jens
2013-Oct-25, 12:39 PM
There are anaerobic forms of respiration that could be used by a genetically engineered space organism; it is apparently the case that such an organism would have less available energy to perform activities than an aerobic one, but that might not be such a great problem in microgravity. Would an anaerobic human be possible? Perhaps, but it would be quite different to the humans we know. Maybe they could be facultative anaerobes, able to use oxygen respiration when and if it becomes available.

If you make an anaerobic human, what would you use as an electron acceptor? You still have to do redox reactions, and you need atoms to absorb the electrons. You're still going to need that input, and now you're making the process less efficient so you'll need more input for the same ATP output.

ravens_cry
2013-Oct-25, 06:31 PM
With all the changes you'd need, it might be better to invent a brain-machine interface and go full cyborg.
That way you have some versatility. With the right prosthetic body, you could live almost anywhere.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-25, 07:38 PM
With all the changes you'd need, it might be better to invent a brain-machine interface and go full cyborg.
That way you have some versatility. With the right prosthetic body, you could live almost anywhere.

True, but we still need to develop a reliable, self-contained life support system that could keep the brain alive.

EDIT: Depending on the size of the resulting system, your new body might be a vehicle so large it just makes more sense to keep the meat-bod.

eburacum45
2013-Oct-25, 08:07 PM
Iron is one possible electron acceptor, and is common in space. Let's see where that gets us. Note that if a space-dwelling human is allowed to grow space crops, then he or she (or it) could have access to at least an intermittent supply of oxygen, so if it can switch from one form of metabolism to another then it could ramp up its activity for at least a portion of the time. Space plants with a sealed internal environment have been suggested by Freeman Dyson as one way of exploiting comets and water-rich asteroids. It seems reasonable to imagine that some sort of space-adapted humans might be developed to tend and exploit these plants.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-25, 08:12 PM
Iron is one possible electron acceptor, and is common in space. Let's see where that gets us. Note that if a space-dwelling human is allowed to grow space crops, then he or she (or it) could have access to at least an intermittent supply of oxygen, so if it can switch from one form of metabolism to another then it could ramp up its activity for at least a portion of the time. Space plants with a sealed internal environment have been suggested by Freeman Dyson as one way of exploiting comets and water-rich asteroids. It seems reasonable to imagine that some sort of space-adapted humans might be developed to tend and exploit these plants.

It seems more reasonable to me that robots or remote waldoes could tend and harvest vacuum crops using much more easily achieved tech. Why develop migrant farm workers in space?

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-25, 08:23 PM
It's probably possible to adapt organic living things to the environment of space, but it doesn't seem terribly practical to do such a thing. It's probably far easier to shed biology than to totally reengineer it to survive in environments that not even the hardiest extremophile microbe on Earth could survive in--outside of being dormant as a spore, etc.

Machines are built of tougher stuff. When they're turned off, they don't rot. They can employ physical phenomena and structures that biology can't, e.g. nuclear fusion and macroscopic wheels. von Neumann machines would be mechanical life.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-25, 08:39 PM
It's probably far easier to shed biology than to totally reengineer it to survive in environments that not even the hardiest extremophile microbe on Earth could survive in

We don't yet have a baseline for comparison. Molding biology is in its infancy with zero experience at space adaptation, and "shedding" biology (I assume you mean mind uploading) is a total unknown that may or may not even be possible.

ravens_cry
2013-Oct-25, 10:09 PM
True, but we still need to develop a reliable, self-contained life support system that could keep the brain alive.

EDIT: Depending on the size of the resulting system, your new body might be a vehicle so large it just makes more sense to keep the meat-bod.
True, we are a far way from getting even close to that level, let alone splicing in sensors and actuators to nerves, but the life support needs would be significantly less, at least.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-25, 10:16 PM
True, we are a far way from getting even close to that level, let alone splicing in sensors and actuators to nerves, but the life support needs would be significantly less, at least.

Not if you consider the body as part of the brain's life support system. We have yet to come up with something like, say, the kidney, that is as efficient at doing the kidney's job. Plus, with a bio-bod, you can still leave the cybod and visit relatives. It's already a mobile brain vehicle!

ravens_cry
2013-Oct-25, 10:25 PM
Not if you consider the body as part of the brain's life support system. We have yet to come up with something like, say, the kidney, that is as efficient at doing the kidney's job. Plus, with a bio-bod, you can still leave the cybod and visit relatives. It's already a mobile brain vehicle!
Even if you kept all the stuff in the torso, you'd still be losing a lot of stuff that uses oxygen and nutrients but isn't needed by an otherwise full cyborg. All it will cost you is an arm and a leg. Times two.:D
Besides, you could go home in an android body, while a bio-body that spends too long, especially during the formative years, in freefall might find coming back down a painful or even dangerous experience.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-25, 10:27 PM
Even if you kept all the stuff in the torso, you'd still be losing a lot of stuff that uses oxygen and nutrients but isn't needed by an otherwise full cyborg.
Besides, you you go home in an android body, while a bio-body that spends too long, especially during the formative years, in freefall might find coming back down a painful or even dangerous experience.

If an android body is feasible. As I said, the required brain-only life support system might be too big to fit on Grandma's couch. And there are degrees between full bio and brain-only.

ravens_cry
2013-Oct-25, 10:38 PM
If an android body is feasible. As I said, the required brain-only life support system might be too big to fit on Grandma's couch. And there are degrees between full bio and brain-only.
I believe I already mentioned one such degree that would still allow the benefits I mentioned. Besides, a biobody still needs life support in the form of a spaceship, unless adaptation to vacuum is feasible.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-25, 10:54 PM
I believe I already mentioned one such degree that would still allow the benefits I mentioned.

So you did. Sorry, I'm a little sleep-deprived right now so I miss things.


Besides, a biobody still needs life support in the form of a spaceship, unless adaptation to vacuum is feasible.

Grandma's couch is in a vacuum? ;)

ravens_cry
2013-Oct-25, 11:10 PM
So you did. Sorry, I'm a little sleep-deprived right now so I miss things.

No worries, happens to the best of us.





Grandma's couch is in a vacuum? ;)
The robot body with a life support system is.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-25, 11:31 PM
It logistically simplifies the design to incorporate an already-existing, well-tested system rather than invent a new one. At that tech level limbs, as you say, are optional and replaceable, and a little cardiac and skeletal reinforcement can deal with most gravity issues, so a partial conversion does make sense if you plan to spend a long period in low g, and does no harm in Earthlike conditions. But not everyone's going to go for cyber-surgery just to go into a new environment. Even many space-born hab-dwellers might prefer the skin they're in. So we'd develop full-body-capable vessels anyway.

Which brings up the question of what advantage does the jarred brain offer over the un-jarred but computer-interfaced brain?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-26, 01:40 PM
It's probably possible to adapt organic living things to the environment of space, but it doesn't seem terribly practical to do such a thing. It's probably far easier to shed biology than to totally reengineer it to survive in environments that not even the hardiest extremophile microbe on Earth could survive in--outside of being dormant as a spore, etc.


A Dyson Tree is probably more easily accomplished than a space-human. The trees make their own oxygen and feed on comets, supplying plenty of raw materials. Unless you give the spaceman several square kilometers of leaves and root him in a comet head, he's going to need to hang around that tree* all the time for constant resupply, and need external life support when away form it, which kind of misses the original point of "live anywhere in the Solar System".

*Or a similar autotrophic biome

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-26, 07:10 PM
A Dyson Tree is probably more easily accomplished than a space-human. The trees make their own oxygen and feed on comets, supplying plenty of raw materials. Unless you give the spaceman several square kilometers of leaves and root him in a comet head, he's going to need to hang around that tree* all the time for constant resupply, and need external life support when away form it, which kind of misses the original point of "live anywhere in the Solar System".

*Or a similar autotrophic biome

I had Dyson trees in mind with my post. Adapting animals to the vacuum of space would be much harder. I don't see why we should bother with either, if we're being practical.

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-26, 07:16 PM
We don't yet have a baseline for comparison. Molding biology is in its infancy with zero experience at space adaptation, and "shedding" biology (I assume you mean mind uploading) is a total unknown that may or may not even be possible.

Not necessarily mind-uploading. Remaking a brain out of more robust materials would suffice. Do we genetically engineer giant birds, or do we build jet aircraft?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-26, 08:58 PM
Not necessarily mind-uploading. Remaking a brain out of more robust materials would suffice.

Which, like uploading, we also have zero experience with and aren't sure if it's possible.

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-26, 09:37 PM
Which, like uploading, we also have zero experience with and aren't sure if it's possible.

Not with certainty, no. But it would be odd, to put it mildly, if it fundamentally isn't possible. Why should biochemical machines have a monopoly on consciousness? This smacks of vitalism, to me, just a spirit in new clothing.

Even if consciousness involves quantum mechanical processes, like Roger Penrose thinks, this should be open to duplication using artificial substrates, such as Wil McCarthy's quantum wellstone invention: https://www.google.com/patents/US7655942

Noclevername
2013-Oct-26, 09:55 PM
Not with certainty, no. But it would be odd, to put it mildly, if it fundamentally isn't possible. Why should biochemical machines have a monopoly on consciousness? This smacks of vitalism, to me, just a spirit in new clothing.

Not at all. I did not say it wasn't likely for inorganics to have consciousness. I said --implied, actually-- that we have no evidence whether or not inorganics can support consciousness. Also, that is a separate issue form converting an active brain from one chemistry to another, which may merely result in a new brain which is active but not conscious, or which is conscious but not the original self.

We know of one type of brain that can hold a human mind. We have to actually solve the problem of consciousness before we can figure out how to change things, or if we can't.

Even if consciousness involves quantum mechanical processes, like Roger Penrose thinks, this should be open to duplication using artificial substrates, such as Wil McCarthy's quantum wellstone invention: https://www.google.com/patents/US7655942

Duplication is not necessarily transference. It may be possible to build a conscious brain without it being the original mind. Or it may not. As I said, we don't understand consciousness well enough to know if we can duplicate it or transfer it.

eburacum45
2013-Oct-27, 11:01 AM
Remaking a brain out of more robust materials would suffice. I'm pretty sure that you are correct, in that artificial minds will be both possible and sufficient for most purposes.

However it may be the case that organic minds have certain qualities which are different to artificial minds. These specific qualities might be associated with the fact that a biological mind is dependent on a complex support support system, and limited in ways that artificial minds are not. The mere fact that a biological mind is constrained by biological limits might make it different enough in outlook to be worth conserving. If so, them it could be worthwhile developing strategies for allowing organic minds to exist in a wider range of environments.


Do we genetically engineer giant birds, or do we build jet aircraft?
The giant birds will come eventually, I'm fairly sure, within the limits of physical possibility, of course. Giant birds on a paraterraformed moon could be pretty massive, and even fully sentient.

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-27, 05:22 PM
However it may be the case that organic minds have certain qualities which are different to artificial minds. These specific qualities might be associated with the fact that a biological mind is dependent on a complex support support system, and limited in ways that artificial minds are not. The mere fact that a biological mind is constrained by biological limits might make it different enough in outlook to be worth conserving.

To what purpose? To me, this sounds analogous to maintaining physically and/or mentally handicapped people, instead of healing them.


The giant birds will come eventually, I'm fairly sure, within the limits of physical possibility, of course. Giant birds on a paraterraformed moon could be pretty massive, and even fully sentient.

Yes, but as a novelty, a "because we can."

I wouldn't be surprised if in a century or so if there are dragons of a sort. Not the huge ones from modern fantasy, but more the size that they were conceived of back in the Middle Ages. Basically, a large monitor lizard with wings and that belches methane.

If you just want something that shoots fire, flamethrowers make a lot more sense than engineering a dragon.

publiusr
2013-Oct-27, 08:21 PM
Vacuums are bad on liquids and lubrican'ts too.

Now if an inflatable dome could be used to house over a crater, a lot of equipment used on Earth could be used their with little fuss, especially if the Earthmoveing equipment is electrical--as some are--so as not to eat up all the oxygen. Existing lubricants could be used
http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/10/seafloor-mining-robots-and-equipment.html

You would have time to run to a tube like shelter...

Noclevername
2013-Oct-27, 09:21 PM
To what purpose?


The purpose is to allow those who choose, to keep their original functional brains if they so desire, and to allow for greater variety in viewpoints and thought processes.


To me, this sounds analogous to maintaining physically and/or mentally handicapped people, instead of healing them.

It is a false analogy. We existing homo sapiens are not as a species handicapped or wounded, we are as we evolved. We got this far using only our unaltered meat brains, and we've managed to pull ourselves up pretty high and are still rising.

Some people are smarter than others even today; the scale may widen, but not the right to choose your own path, and the right to travel where you choose.

eburacum45
2013-Oct-28, 09:33 AM
The subject of this particular subforum is 'Life in Space', so it is as good place as any to discuss the possibility of engineering life, and humans, to live in space conditions. We will probably need some mild modifications just to live permanently in microgravity, and our resistance to space radiation could be improved as well. If and when we get round to this, we might be moved to take the next step and prepare humans for vacuum-living as well, in one of many ways.

This might all be unnecessary if we can successfully build fully sentient artificial minds of some sort; but does that mean that all efforts to prepare humans for space-living will necessarily stop once these artificial minds are available? It is a big universe- there is room for both, I think.

Jens
2013-Oct-28, 09:48 AM
we might be moved to take the next step and prepare humans for vacuum-living as well, in one of many ways.


We already have the ISS so we can do that pretty well. Though yes, the radiation can be a problem along with the microgravity.

galacsi
2013-Oct-28, 10:56 AM
To be able to spend a short time in space and to live in space are two very different things.If you live in space ,how do you eat, drink ,etc . . . and how do you reproduce ?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-28, 12:22 PM
If you live in space ,how do you eat, drink ,etc . . . and how do you reproduce ?

Wrap a spinning, shielded habitat with farms around you. :)

galacsi
2013-Oct-28, 06:37 PM
Wrap a spinning, shielded habitat with farms around you. :)

That , I can agree !

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-28, 08:26 PM
The purpose is to allow those who choose, to keep their original functional brains if they so desire, and to allow for greater variety in viewpoints and thought processes.

But would their original brains be capable of being preserved? If a body is different, with new organs, appendages, biochemical processes, etc., the brain, which affects and is affected by the whole mess would be different too. You can't change something and have it stay the same.

A biological being that could live in the vacuum of space would not be Homo sapiens anymore--not possible.


We existing homo sapiens are not as a species handicapped or wounded, we are as we evolved.

Sure we are, we're just all handicapped together, so we don't tend to notice.

Can you do complex math problems in your head, or do you need the crutches of pen and paper to help you? What's the fidelity of your memory? Ever looked at one of those perception tests that demonstrates inattentional blindness? Something can happen right before your eyes and you just don't see it!


Some people are smarter than others even today; the scale may widen, but not the right to choose your own path, and the right to travel where you choose.

When did I say we should force anything on anyone?

Noclevername
2013-Oct-28, 09:25 PM
But would their original brains be capable of being preserved? If a body is different, with new organs, appendages, biochemical processes, etc., the brain, which affects and is affected by the whole mess would be different too. You can't change something and have it stay the same.

A biological being that could live in the vacuum of space would not be Homo sapiens anymore--not possible.


We're talking about two different things, then. I was thinking of eburacum45's post comparing a bio brain versus a synthetic brain, and I assumed you were as well. My mistake.

As far as biological vs. cyborg, the differences between the two will probably diminish as the technologies related to both continue to advance.


Sure we are, we're just all handicapped together, so we don't tend to notice.

Can you do complex math problems in your head, or do you need the crutches of pen and paper to help you? What's the fidelity of your memory? Ever looked at one of those perception tests that demonstrates inattentional blindness? Something can happen right before your eyes and you just don't see it!


Everything has its limits. A machine entity might feel "handicapped" because it lacks some biological traits. I guess it's all in what you consider healthy.


When did I say we should force anything on anyone?

eburacum45 said
The mere fact that a biological mind is constrained by biological limits might make it different enough in outlook to be worth conserving.

You answered,
To what purpose?

I took that to mean you saw no purpose in preserving biological brains.

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-28, 10:35 PM
We're talking about two different things, then. I was thinking of eburacum45's post comparing a bio brain versus a synthetic brain, and I assumed you were as well. My mistake.

I was. My point was that since it's impossible to radically change a person's body (e.g. adapting them to vacuum) without also affecting their brain, they don't get to keep their original brain, and if they don't get to keep their original brain either way, why favor biology over machine?



Everything has its limits. A machine entity might feel "handicapped" because it lacks some biological traits.

If this occurred, simulating biological traits should be possible. There are several pathways that could allow this. One is the machine could engineer its own hallucinations, do anything in and to its own mind (presumably reversibly). Imagine being able to experience what it's really like to be a bat, limited cognitive faculties and all--and that hallucination is informed by reality to a certain degree, if so desired: such as a bat-sized drone flying around using its bat-like senses and feeding that data back.


I guess it's all in what you consider healthy.

Yep.


I took that to mean you saw no purpose in preserving biological brains.

Speaking practically, I don't. Unless there is something valuable that biological brains can do that nothing else can, which seems terribly unlikely to me.

That I wouldn't preserve them doesn't mean that I think it's right to force others to not preserve them. I wouldn't save one of Deepak Chopra's books from being thrown in a dumpster, but I wouldn't tackle a muzzy-headed hippy who wanted to.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-28, 10:46 PM
I was. My point was that since it's impossible to radically change a person's body (e.g. adapting them to vacuum) without also affecting their brain, they don't get to keep their original brain, and if they don't get to keep their original brain either way, why favor biology over machine?

It's possible to use a non-biological body, with the brain controlling it via interface. Just as presently some people have learned to control simple cursors and virtual keyboards via induction helmets, a more advanced brain/computer interface could enable control of a spacecraft body.



If this occurred, simulating biological traits should be possible. There are several pathways that could allow this. One is the machine could engineer its own hallucinations, do anything in and to its own mind (presumably reversibly).

And humans using imaginations or lucid dreaming differ from this how?


Imagine being able to experience what it's really like to be a bat, limited cognitive faculties and all--and that hallucination is informed by reality to a certain degree, if so desired: such as a bat-sized drone flying around using its bat-like senses and feeding that data back.

And using a virtual reality induction interface might allow bio-humans to do the same. Assuming that tech works.



Speaking practically, I don't. Unless there is something valuable that biological brains can do that nothing else can, which seems terribly unlikely to me.

We have no way of knowing yet if inorganic brains can do anything.


That I wouldn't preserve them doesn't mean that I think it's right to force others to not preserve them. I wouldn't save one of Deepak Chopra's books from being thrown in a dumpster, but I wouldn't tackle a muzzy-headed hippy who wanted to.

So you're comparing anyone who doesn't want to turn into a machine with a muzzy-headed hippy? ;)

SkepticJ
2013-Oct-28, 11:23 PM
It's possible to use a non-biological body, with the brain controlling it via interface. Just as presently some people have learned to control simple cursors and virtual keyboards via induction helmets, a more advanced brain/computer interface could enable control of a spacecraft body.

But that's not a person adapted to an environment that they can't live in, that's a robotic surrogate.

If you're talking about a biological brain in a mechanical body, a cyborg, you're still going to have mind drift into something new, unless living as a cyborg is indistinguishable from not being a cyborg--and if that's the case, what's the point?


And humans using imaginations or lucid dreaming differ from this how?

Can you change your intelligence? Modify what senses you have? Give yourself new instincts?


We have no way of knowing yet if inorganic brains can do anything.

We have AI now, and it does things, like stomp the best human chess players into the ground, recognize patterns, etc. What we don't have yet is Strong AI, sentient artificial minds that can do anything we can do.

Noclevername
2013-Oct-28, 11:50 PM
But that's not a person adapted to an environment that they can't live in, that's a robotic surrogate.

Potato, potahto. But it's easier than changing brains.


If you're talking about a biological brain in a mechanical body, a cyborg, you're still going to have mind drift into something new,

Yes, it's called "learning".


unless living as a cyborg is indistinguishable from not being a cyborg--and if that's the case, what's the point?

I have no idea why you'd want it, but it is possible. My personal preference is either an immortal bio-bod in a spacecraft, or a regenerative machine with my mind in it, assuming that can ever happen.



Can you change your intelligence? Modify what senses you have? Give yourself new instincts?

It may be possible to modify an organic brain to do those things.

As for whether inorganic brains can do that, let's look at the evidence OH WAIT THERE ISN'T ANY. :razz:


We have AI now, and it does things, like stomp the best human chess players into the ground, recognize patterns, etc. What we don't have yet is Strong AI, sentient artificial minds that can do anything we can do.

Assuming we ever do get strong AI, that's still not the same as making ourselves into uploads or turning our brains inorganic.