Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Living in a Vacuum

No. I don't mean a metaphorical vacuum. I mean a physical one.

I was feeding my roaring information addiction tonight and I came across this very long and interesting /. post.

And there's a comment which speculates on living in a vacuum. Presumably you'd have some kind of respiratory device to help stay alive. But perhaps it's work without even lung action - directly dissolving the oxygen into your blood.

Pursuing that further, maximal exercise uses some 2.6liters of O2 a minute. So we need to figure out a way to have some form of surgical implant to dissolve 2.6L of O2 a minute into blood, and remove the roughly equivalent amount of CO2. Perhaps the lungs could be filled with some form of fluid which does this function. One lung for O2 entry and the other for CO2 extraction.

For the heating or cooling of the body some form of "Rapid Thermal Exchange" would take place. Or perhaps the same device would both cool and exchange O2/CO2. Imagine the lung fluid itself also performing heat exchange.

In fact if there is a scrubber and enough energy generated, the CO2 could even be reformed back to O2. But I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader :-).

Then there would no longer be a bulky space suit required, perhaps even a thin wet-suit kind of outfit would suffice. There's the issue of background radiation, but that'd would be solved by a thin layer of metal foil for the alpha and beta. And I'm not sure what the concentration of gamma is in space. Apparently in a year an astronaut on the ISS gets about 27 times the average someone gets on the surface of the Earth. Which is well within safety limits anyway.

And we could use this outfit not just in space - we could use it on the surface of the Moon or or Mars.

The side-effects would be interesting too. No more romance novels with 'Sighs of discontent'. No need to breathe in and out every few seconds.

Given the rate of scientific advance, how far do you think this form of breathless respiration is going to take? My bet would be on less than 20 years, closer to 10. Any takers for a long term bet?

And Dr. Freeman Dyson on life in vacuum.



this is a good one, and i was mildly lost at the tatistical probability of it for some time..in anycase, living in a vacuum will predispose you to the effects of gravity and the functioning of the body in its entirety..or the lack of it..in case the vacuum is an absolute one..and that calls for more thinking than just dissolving the blood in...it will also mean to dissolve the blood out...

GeekBeyondRedemption said...

Vacuum != lack of gravity

Yep, getting 2.5 liters pm of O2 into the blood and a similar amount of CO2 out. I don't know the physics behind it, but it should be possible somehow I suppose.

If you read the Wired article on heat-exchange it's simply amazing - 1000 push-ups by a 60 year old guy!

That's what gives hope that we have no understanding yet of many of the basic processes of the human body - allowing for further improvements.