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SolusLupus
2005-Sep-10, 05:27 PM
Okay, I'm not sure if this fully belongs in this section, but it seems to. I have a question about Oxygen and potential bodily augmentation. Now, there are a variety of questions, so I'll list them in order from what's most important to me to least important.

1) Is it possible to get our bodies to ingest something besides oxygen for the same effects? This would have a few advantages - such as being able to live in an environment that doesn't batter our bodies and make us older (since I think that oxygen is the primary contributor to aging)... Now, the question here isn't if we have the TECHNOLOGY to cause such an effect, but if it's simply put, possible, possibly in the far future. Also, it doesn't factor anything that might be out there that we, the human race altogether don't know about.

2) Would we have to develop advanced technology in order to augment bodies at such a depth? Would genetic augmentation be possible in the short term? What's your opinion/analysis?

3) If you know of what materials one could use, what would be the detrimental effects of using them for an extended period?

And lastly,
4) Could immersing yourself in an environment with this material, or being exposed to this material, cause you to be able to fight back, or even avoid altogether, the disadvantage of aging? Could one become effectively immortal in age only? What about if this material was mixed?

I know it's a lot of questions, and I'm not sure how many reading would be qualified to answer, but I'm just tossing something out for fun. I'm personally very interested in human augmentation and am a minor Transhumanist in mindset.

Kesh
2005-Sep-10, 06:19 PM
1) To the best of my knowledge, no. Our bodies require oxygen for chemical reactions that allow us to function. You can't substitutedanything else that will perform those same chemical reactions.

2) It would require completely changing our bodily chemistry to rely on another atom for the same processes, which really requires us to alter all the cells in our body. Every cellular function that utilizes oxygen, or the by-products of oxygen reactions would have to be altered. In essence, you'd have to replace most of our cellular structures entirely, since the new chemical reaction won't give quite the same results.

3) Not quite clear what you're aiming for here. Are you asking which other gasses one could substitute for oxygen?

4) Not likely. It would certainly alter your body's metabolic structure, but that won't necessarily give you any advantage in lifespan.

Simply put: our bodies are structured around processing oxygen in combination with other chemicals to keep our cells functioning. Changing that basic assumption means that our bodies are no longer as efficient as before, since they're still structured around oxygen reactions. To get the same efficiency would require re-engineering the entire foundation our bodies.

As for Transhumanism... eh. I'm ambivalent about the whole thing.

SolusLupus
2005-Sep-10, 06:49 PM
For 3, the assumption was that you could think of a material that could be substituted for oxygen. If you could, then what would be the long-term effects of being immersed or exposed to this substance. As you say that no substance can be substituted, it's rather null and void for what you say.

As for transhumanism, I mostly like it because of a lot of the concepts involved with it. I like the idea of immortality, and not just 'cause I'm afraid of dying (though dying does suck). As well, I like the idea of bettering ourselves, physically and mentally, even if this might dramatically change our appearance. Of course, I don't believe that we should go into something without researching first and I'm more for taking slow steps, not huge galactic leaps all of a sudden.

publiusr
2005-Sep-14, 03:34 PM
I seem to remember some talk about the water babies that could 'breathe water' That really means the O2 in the water of course--but it might not take much to adapt to aquatic life. Perflurocarbons like what the non-reactive non-conducting liquid found as cray computer coolants may have a use as an artificial blood substitute. Mice can breathe this liquid--and it might be good for high g-loading railgun launches of the future. It could also be a good radiation shield, and might allow astronauts to pressurize themselves on higher g/high atm pressure worlds without extensive gene-therapy a la Man Plus.

LiquiVent is a brand name for this fluisol. Xenon might have a use for susp. animation--as per Prehoda's book on the subject.

Enzp
2005-Sep-15, 04:16 AM
Of course over the long term, your poor lungs having to pump that liquid in and out instead of light plain old air should have quite a negative effect.

SolusLupus
2005-Sep-15, 04:37 AM
Y'know, to be completely honest, I was mainly thinking about a way to genetically engineer people in a way that they could ingest a different substance than oxygen. Nonetheless, the idea of a liquid agent doing it (and how this liquid agent is around today and works decently well on lab mice) is still pretty darn awesome, and a very suitable answer for my question. So thank yas.

Though... forgive my ignorance, but when you say railgun launches, you mean the idea of launching a shuttle into space with a giant railgun? I heard of that idea (it was called a maglev device by an instructor of mine, which would be technically incorrect), but how would this fluid help with that?

JohnD
2005-Sep-15, 10:12 PM
LOnewulf,
Your body at rest needs 250-300mls of oxygen every minute, Fortunately it's all around us, but if you have to carry it about it limits what you can do. Look at SCUBA gear, one tank lasts ?half an hour to an hour? (I'm not a diver) and you need a refuge to refuel. Of course, if you want to posit an environment with a different atmosphere and entirely different biochemistry.......

Then, as I understand it, the O2-H reaction is so very energetic. Look at the Shuttle! Sure, in animals it loses some by in fact reacting with H that is already combined with carbon, but it is still very efficient. Alternatives like Hydrogen and sulphur, as used by bacteria at the root of the Black Smoker ecologies around deep hot water vents in the ocean abyss, are not as effective, and look where that has got the bacteria.

We barely understand the details of how the Krebb cycle extracts energy from reacting O2 and H without setting us all on fire. Totally alternative biochemistries - silicon anyone? - can be only speculation.

John

publiusr
2005-Sep-16, 05:45 PM
This book has more on maglev propulsion.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0316771651/qid=1126891992/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-6009420-5423839?v=glance&s=books

The Bifrost Bridge:
http://www.distant-star.com/issue1/dsfeat4.htm

James Powell's idea:

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/nexgen/Nexgen_Downloads/Spaceport_Visioning_Final_Report.pdf


Cool...

Some type of breathing liquid may reduce the effects of g-loading.

FP
2005-Sep-16, 06:16 PM
The breathing liquid is only another way to transport oxygen to the lungs. Without dissolved oxygen the stuff will not sustain life.

I guess that you are correct that oxygen contributes to aging, since without oxygen you will not get any older.

Seriously, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon react in ways tht make life as we know it possible. Sulfer, the element under oxygen on the periodic table, is too large to undergo many of the reactions necessary for our style of life.

Could there be other forms of life based on silicon and sulfer? Maybe, but the chemistry would argue against it. However, it is a big universe out there, so who knows?

Tunga
2005-Sep-19, 09:08 PM
Wouldn't it be easier to work with your current structure? Such as improve mitochondrial function by supplements such as a combination of carnitine and lipoic acid. Or maybe a little gene splicing for your offspring such as mitochondrial variant Mt 5178A?

publiusr
2005-Sep-21, 05:26 PM
I couldn't say.
OT Prehoda's book SUSPENDED ANIMATION calls for xenon--but recent SCI AM articles tell us that removing as much oxygen as possible preserves tissue. The problem is having a body that hasn't enough oxygen for respiration--but enough to cause things to break down.

I should think that the artificial blood might be a good way to get oxygen out of a system to preserve it. As far as building a hyman with no need of oxyegen--you might as well build an android anf dump the personality into that--so it doesn't need food or water either. I'm thinking the only way a silicon/ammonia life cycle (as opposed to an carbon/water cycle) could occur would be on pulsar planets with lot of radiation to keep things stirred up. Such 'life-forms' would have to be very simple as with radiodurans--but simple 'monolith monsters' might grow as simple living 'smoker tower flytraps' over vents-- perhaps.

eburacum45
2005-Sep-21, 08:15 PM
As far as oxygen goes, I think we will have to live with it;
with the possible exception of those worlds with anoxic environments which we might attempt to inhabit.

As a thought experiment, I imagined a world with no free oxygen but a complex biosphere; this might not be impossible, as our own world had little oxygen for a couple of billion years despite having a biosphere quite unlike that of today's Earth.

Such worlds with widely differing conditions to our own might make up the majority of life-bearing planets.

Humans would not be able to live there without radical genetic modification; this modification would need to be so radical that it would be tantamont to rebuilding the human form using local biological materials.
Such a process would be very difficult, and the end result would be an almost completely novel organism, which might have a unique physiology and even a completely novel mentality compared to ordinary humans.

Would it be worth doing?
I suspect that most attempts to inhabit non-Earthlke worlds will use machine bodies of various types, but it could be the case that some people or factions in the future will prefer to use living bodies wherever possible.

No matter how odd those bodies might be.

jkmccrann
2005-Dec-22, 05:51 AM
Its an interesting question you pose LoneWolf, and who knows where and how far we'll go with gene manipulation in future, but I think its fairly likely that any future modification of our species will include a robotic/bionic component. The day comes ever closer when we become somewhat bionic beings, in fact I believe it will probably start to occur later this very century.

We already have people walking around with bionic ears for example, bionic eyes will be on the way soon. And with the advent of wireless technologies, surely its only a matter of time before we hardwire the capability into ourselves to tap into this vast network? And once that happens, literally anything could evolve from that.

Humans are complex beings, but we always strive to improve ourselves, augmentation in one way or another has been a part of our societies since they began. Things like liposuction and rhinoplasty fall into this category, and in future, if we can design artificial objects that do a better job than the ones we're given at birth, why wouldn't we use them to improve ourselves?

I find the idea of plugging into some sort of global consciousness both frightening and exciting, the opportunities would be amazing, but the pitfalls would be horrendous.

archman
2005-Dec-22, 06:59 AM
1) Is it possible to get our bodies to ingest something besides oxygen for the same effects? This would have a few advantages - such as being able to live in an environment that doesn't batter our bodies and make us older (since I think that oxygen is the primary contributor to aging)... Now, the question here isn't if we have the TECHNOLOGY to cause such an effect, but if it's simply put, possible, possibly in the far future. Also, it doesn't factor anything that might be out there that we, the human race altogether don't know about. A biochemist would be best poised to answer this question. My own initial response would be "no". Oxygen is the best thing out there for liberating ATP.


2) Would we have to develop advanced technology in order to augment bodies at such a depth? Would genetic augmentation be possible in the short term? What's your opinion/analysis? At depth, oxygen isn't the problem. Temperature and pressure are. Temperature could be corrected for with only *moderately ridiculous* technology, but pressure's another ball of wax entirely. It messes up enzymes and jacks up neurons pretty bad. Animals that live in high pressure environs have specially modified barophilic biochemistry. It's conceivable that extensive genetic engineering could make a "high pressure human", but such people could not coexist with *normal* people. Once a critter has evolved for high pressure life, they're confined to living in a high pressure environment.

snarkophilus
2005-Dec-22, 09:31 AM
1) Is it possible to get our bodies to ingest something besides oxygen for the same effects?


Well, sulphur does do very similar things as oxygen in many cases... but that's why (for example) H2S is such a dangerous chemical. H2S is similar to water, so it fits into the body in a lot of places, but your body is a very finely tuned machine. Everything has to be just so, the chemical potentials just right. Think of how difficult it has been to create artificial blood, for instance. It's a simple little process in theory, but mimicking the reaction rate and potential has proven to be very difficult.

Of course, if you were willing to completely re-engineer the body, modifying every process in it, it might be possible. I see no reason why there can't be complex sulphur-based organisms, except perhaps that sulphur reactions tend to be a bit more iffy because of the atom's d orbitals (and fun stuff like back-bonding).

It's hard to imagine anything else taking oxygen's place. To take part in creating life, an atom must be relatively abundant. There aren't really any abundant atoms that have a stable -2 oxidation state.


This would have a few advantages - such as being able to live in an environment that doesn't batter our bodies and make us older (since I think that oxygen is the primary contributor to aging)...

I doubt it. I'm not even sure I believe the hype about oxygen leading to aging. Your body is going to be battered no matter what -- life itself is a constant war, a delicate balance of beneficial inputs and malicious attacks (sometimes the same event is both: UV light = vitamin D + cancer risk). A far better thing would be to figure out a way to better repair damage. Figure out how to extend telomeres (I'd say engineer a virus for this purpose). They seem to be a major part of aging. Learn how to increase the rate at which a wound heals, DNA is repaired, and foreign agents are eliminated. Stuff like that.


Would genetic augmentation be possible in the short term? What's your opinion/analysis?


Not a chance. We don't even know all the reactions that go on inside our bodies. A change of the type you describe is way off in the future. It would be a huge feat of engineering, probably many orders of magnitude bigger than anything ever done. On the other hand, there is progress -- check out the synthetic biology thread.

And that's ignoring the moral issues, even. Genetically engineering people is illegal in a lot of places, and that's unlikely to change for a long time.

Swift
2005-Dec-22, 03:22 PM
Well, sulphur does do very similar things as oxygen in many cases... but that's why (for example) H2S is such a dangerous chemical. H2S is similar to water, so it fits into the body in a lot of places, but your body is a very finely tuned machine.
I would not agree that oxygen and sulphur are that similar and the example you gave is an example of how different they are. At room temperature and pressure H2O is a liquid and has a melting point of 0C and a boiling point of 100C. H2S is a gas at room temperature, with a melting point of -86C and a boiling point of -60C. The difference come out from the polarizability of the water molecule and hydrogen-bonding. The reactivities are very different.

The toxicity is not because of a similarity to water, but from the sulfur binding to iron containing compounds in the body (reference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide#Health_effects)).

Huevos Grandes
2005-Dec-22, 08:07 PM
I would not agree that oxygen and sulphur are that similar and the example you gave is an example of how different they are. At room temperature and pressure H2O is a liquid and has a melting point of 0C and a boiling point of 100C. H2S is a gas at room temperature, with a melting point of -86C and a boiling point of -60C. The difference come out from the polarizability of the water molecule and hydrogen-bonding. The reactivities are very different.
I'm glad you brought this up. H2S as a hydrogen source is limited by the molecule's properties, compared to water. It is useful for certain bacteria (extremophiles), but it would be difficult to imagine complex multicellular animals being able to subsist with such a system. The pressure/temperature requirements are also a killer to using H2S on most of the surface of the planet.


1) Is it possible to get our bodies to ingest something besides oxygen for the same effects? This would have a few advantages - such as being able to live in an environment that doesn't batter our bodies and make us older (since I think that oxygen is the primary contributor to aging)... Now, the question here isn't if we have the TECHNOLOGY to cause such an effect, but if it's simply put, possible, possibly in the far future. Also, it doesn't factor anything that might be out there that we, the human race altogether don't know about.
Not that anyone can envision, no. Just as the sci-fi writers of the recent past became giddy over possible silicone "lifeforms" (due to the same number of free electrons in a carbon atom), it's just not feasible. Oxygen as a catalyst is not only ideal to our evolved bodies, but as a double-bonded gas, is both stable in gas form, and combines easily with other elements to create important molecules for life, such as water. Anaerobic bacteria will always be simpler, not because of competition from aerobic species, but because the cellular metabolism is so much less.

2) Would we have to develop advanced technology in order to augment bodies at such a depth? Would genetic augmentation be possible in the short term? What's your opinion/analysis?
Augmenting human bodies is probably out of the question, even if done at an early fetal level. The human body has evolved to handly a great many pressures, but this isn't one that it could handle and be viable. Genetic engineering is in its caveman infancy right now, so it's impossible to say. I would imagine that gene therapy may start in earnest in the next couple hundred years and cure some bad alleles to end genetic disease. "Atomic mutant supermen" might be able to be bred and gestate completely outside the body as well.

But you're talking about changing a fundamental cornerstone of human construction- like altering a butterfly to fly at Mach 3, or a 6-lb tricycle to carry 18 tons. Better to create a new design from scratch- like a robot.

3) If you know of what materials one could use, what would be the detrimental effects of using them for an extended period?
None- just so long as it fits within the design contraints.


4) Could immersing yourself in an environment with this material, or being exposed to this material, cause you to be able to fight back, or even avoid altogether, the disadvantage of aging? Could one become effectively immortal in age only? What about if this material was mixed?
Yes, but the problems of aging and immortality are not related to oxygen damage. Cellular messaging is poorly understood, and is responsible for lower bone density, poor neuron synaptic activity, etc. Little is known about why these communications between cells, or why they start/stop. If you're a believer in the DNA-looking-to-protect-itself-and-evolve, then you at least have a guess...

sarongsong
2005-Dec-22, 11:53 PM
W-a-a-a-y outside the box, the case for perhaps such a liquid has been posited among the UFO crowd to account for how ETs could survive 'impossible' flight maneuvers (high-speed 90 degree turns, e.g.), and that the craft/flight deck would be filled with this liquid.
Random example (http://www.mt.net/~watcher/chamishgiants.html) of googling UFO liquid:
"...However, within ten days, two more circles were found just outside Tsiporet's back yard. This time, they were soaked with a red liquid and this fluid would be a constant feature of upcoming landing circles. It was tested by the National Biological Laboratory in Ness Tziona and found to be composed mostly of cadmium..."

archman
2005-Dec-23, 04:29 AM
W-a-a-a-y outside the box, the case for perhaps such a liquid has been posited among the UFO crowd to account for how ETs could survive 'impossible' flight maneuvers (high-speed 90 degree turns, e.g.), and that the craft/flight deck would be filled with this liquid.

Wasn't that used at the end of "Mission to Mars"?

snarkophilus
2005-Dec-23, 07:18 AM
I would not agree that oxygen and sulphur are that similar and the example you gave is an example of how different they are. At room temperature and pressure H2O is a liquid and has a melting point of 0C and a boiling point of 100C. H2S is a gas at room temperature, with a melting point of -86C and a boiling point of -60C. The difference come out from the polarizability of the water molecule and hydrogen-bonding. The reactivities are very different.

The toxicity is not because of a similarity to water, but from the sulfur binding to iron containing compounds in the body (reference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide#Health_effects)).

Yes, the physical properties are different, but the whole point of re-engineering the body is to allow people to exist in different temperature and pressure regimes, no? If you're going to have chemical processes in higher or lower temperature/pressure environments, you're going to need different reactivities.

As to the Wikipedia article, it says

It forms a complex bond with iron in the mitochondrial cytochrome enzymes, thereby blocking oxygen from binding and stopping cellular respiration.
which occurs precisely because sulphur is so similar to oxygen, orbital-wise. The H2S binds better, though, which is what makes it dangerous (the same reason carbon monoxide is dangerous, in fact).

Actually, the thing on induced hibernation in that article is pretty cool, and might be relevant to the topic. If one could induce hibernation in humans by releasing H2S in the blood stream, could one engineer an organ that would create H2S when a person starts to go into shock?

JohnD
2005-Dec-23, 09:51 PM
At depth, oxygen isn't the problem. Temperature and pressure are. Temperature could be corrected for with only *moderately ridiculous* technology, but pressure's another ball of wax entirely. It messes up enzymes and jacks up neurons pretty bad. Animals that live in high pressure environs have specially modified barophilic biochemistry. It's conceivable that extensive genetic engineering could make a "high pressure human", but such people could not coexist with *normal* people.

Quite right about pressure, it does do 'weird' things to enzymes, but does altogether more rational things to partial pressure. The partial pressure of oxygen at sea level is 21mmHg (millimeters of Mercury) or 130 kiloPascals. At the summit of Everest (for example) the atmospheric pressure is about one third of that at sea level. The oxygen content by per centage is the same as at sea level, but it's partial pressure is one third - about 7mmHg. Climbers have great difficulty, as if they were breathing a hypoxic mixture at sea level.

Conversely, at sea level, high concentrations of oxygen are toxic. new born babies develop rentrolental fibroplasia (a blinding condition, due to overgrowth of blood vessels inthe eye) if given to high a conc. of O2 to breath, perhaps because they have immature lungs. Adults develop pulmonitis, inflammation of the lungs, if given more than 50% O2 for longer than a few hours. But a normal, sea level conc. of O2 is just as toxic if the breather is under pressure. Just one of the reasons why 'saturation' divers, who stay under pressure for days at a time, breath a low O2 conc.

A system that delivered an oxidising agent to the cells that was found in solution already would not suffer this effect, until the pressure was great enough to distort enzymes. That's much higher than the few atmospheres that the above refers to.
John

grant hutchison
2005-Dec-23, 10:49 PM
The partial pressure of oxygen at sea level is 21mmHg (millimeters of Mercury) or 130 kiloPascals.Sorry, just a note on units. Oxygen makes up 21 percent of air, which at sea level corresponds to a partial pressure of 160mmHg or 21kPa (since sea level atmospheric pressure is 760mmHg = 100 kPa).

Grant Hutchison

trinitree88
2005-Dec-23, 11:23 PM
A system that delivered an oxidising agent to the cells that was found in solution already would not suffer this effect, until the pressure was great enough to distort enzymes. That's much higher than the few atmospheres that the above refers to.
John

In the 70's DMSO, dimetylsulfoxide, a liquid at room temperature, was found to dissolve sufficient oxygen that rabbits were dropped in aquarium tanks. Their last gasps of air were exhaled. They panicked, as if drowning. Then they began swimming in the stuff, calmed down, and seemed quite at home. It penetrates mammalian tissues, and is sometimes used to transport drugs cutaneously.
For a brief time, the Navy was interested in it's potential....a sub filled with DMSO, and two divers operating it would require no pressure hull to prevent water pressure collapsing an interior air pocket. But, putting people where the rabbits went was hush-hush.:silenced: :naughty:

Swift
2005-Dec-23, 11:34 PM
In the 70's DMSO, dimetylsulfoxide, a liquid at room temperature, was found to dissolve sufficient oxygen that rabbits were dropped in aquarium tanks. Their last gasps of air were exhaled. They panicked, as if drowning. Then they began swimming in the stuff, calmed down, and seemed quite at home. It penetrates mammalian tissues, and is sometimes used to transport drugs cutaneously.
For a brief time, the Navy was interested in it's potential....a sub filled with DMSO, and two divers operating it would require no pressure hull to prevent water pressure collapsing an interior air pocket. But, putting people where the rabbits went was hush-hush.:silenced: :naughty:
One problem with DMSO is that lots of things are highly soluble in it and as you said, it easily penetrates mammalian tissue. So any toxins used in the caulk for your fishtank would dissolve and then be transported into your tissue. wikipedia - scroll down to Safety (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyl_sulfoxide)

JohnD
2005-Dec-24, 02:35 PM
Grant,
OOps, PP of O2 in kPa
I should know that - it's my business to know that.
What I was thinking of was the pp of O2 in the lungs - after the inhaled air at NTP has been fully humidified - subtract the pp of water vapour at 36C, about 45mmHg. My apologies.

Trinitree88,
I think (I don't know) that oxygen dissolves in those hydrocarbon liquids (a gas can be a fluid) and the rabbits or whatever breath the liquid. In other words, the O2 gets to the tissues via the normal air(liquid)-lung-blood-tissue route. It could not be other, because the weird liquid does not change much the properties of oxygen and the enormous surface area of a lung is required for effective gas exchange. Even if they shaved the rabbits, they couldn't absorb enough O2 through their skin - not enough area.
A gas in solution in a liquid always follows the rules of partial pressure, so the partial pressure of O2 in the liquid will still be dependent on the atmospheric pressure - deep diving would require a low concenctration of O2 to avoid the problems I outlined above.
JOhn

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-27, 10:10 AM
Since this discussion is still going, this is my post to make sure it's subscribed for me.

Bob Angstrom
2005-Dec-29, 08:45 PM
Nonetheless, the idea of a liquid agent doing it (and how this liquid agent is around today and works decently well on lab mice) is still pretty darn awesome, and a very suitable answer for my question. So thank yas.
Perflurocarbons are not a substitute for oxygen. They only serve as a medium for transporting oxygen. You can think of perflurocarbons as synthetic haemoglobin.

SolusLupus
2005-Dec-29, 11:10 PM
Perflurocarbons are not a substitute for oxygen. They only serve as a medium for transporting oxygen. You can think of perflurocarbons as synthetic haemoglobin.

Ahhh. Understood. Pretty nifty still, though.

publiusr
2005-Dec-30, 07:31 PM
This same substance was used to cool the Cray computers. In Beyond 2000 a TV set was suspended in this mixture without shorting out, so it is a pretty good insulator, and could be used to help with g-loading on pilots, cooling both astronauts and equipment. This may be useful with any subsurface Europa missions of the far future.

I think it is marketed as a blood substitute, and one other type called Liqui-Vent is used within the lungs as a surfactant IIRC. It has been called fluisol, Liqui-Vent, and another name or two.