[ExI] Meat Hacks

ben 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 
crash the
 >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.

Ben Zaiboc

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list