[ExI] Meat Hacks
benboc at lineone.net
Wed May 27 21:51:44 UTC 2009
"John K Clark" <jonkc at bellsouth.net> wrote:
>You should never design a system so that a small point failure can
>entire thing; if your heart stops you're dead meat. So give each blood
>corpuscle its own mobility with a rotary engine connected up to something
>like a flagellum just like bacteria do. Then you wouldn't need a heart.
If you're familiar with a british tv show called "Dr. Who", you'll know
that he's supposed to have two hearts. I thought that this idea could
be extended, to the degree that you could have several small 'hearts'
distributed all over the body. You'd need to keep the large blood
vessels associated with the existing heart, I think, but the smaller
pumps would act as an auxiliary system for augmented performance and as
an emergency back-up. I'm thinking of something like an implanted
muscular sleeve around a piece of artery/arteriole between two valves.
The hardest part might be a control system designed to kick in when
needed (under voluntary control, maybe), that has the necessary
co-ordination between the different pumps - you wouldn't want them
fighting each other! No intrinsic pacemaker cells, just an external
signal to squeeze and relax.
Hm, come to think of it, maybe that problem is the reason we don't see
critters with more than one heart. That's an interesting problem for a
systems engineer: - robust co-ordination between multiple pumps over a
wide range of conditions, including different sized pumps, different
flow speeds, and pump failures. Hehe, poor old Dr Who would actually be
worse off with his two hearts, not better. Never thought of that before.
I quite liked the idea of indepenently mobile blood cells, but can think
of too many problems with the idea for it to be very practical. For one
thing, the pulsing of the blood is quite likely necessary to the health
of the blood vessels (and maybe the blood cells too), and may be
involved in various regulatory mechanisms. The problem of ensuring they
all swim in the right direction has already been mentioned, but there's
also the high turnover of the cells themselves, especially erythrocytes.
The rotary engines would have to be gene-engineered in, rather than
made externally and injected, and that takes the idea beyond my
short-term hacks concept, especially as the gene engineering would have
to be done many times over for all the different types of cell (and what
about the cell-fragments, like platelets and so-on?). Finally, the blood
plasma has to actually move, not just the cells etc. A lot of stuff
gets carried around in solution, including a significant amount of CO2.
I'm not so sure about the breathing-valve/pump idea. Your diaphragm
does most of the work in breathing, and monkeying with that could have
some very unpleasant effects (terminal hiccoughs?). I wouldn't want to
have a pump fighting with my diaphragm. Having separate in/out air
ports might be interesting, but you'd have to take into account the
sinuses, nasal cavities, eustachian tubes and of course the voicebox.
If you were going to finish the job that evolution's started, and
completely separate the oesophagus and pharynx, you'd need two mouths,
one for eating and spitting, and one for speaking and breathing heavily.
Might as well make that one replace the nose. Not going to win many
beauty contests, that's for sure.
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