How about Gills then?

BlueBottleBlueBottle Australia Join Date: 2018-02-03 Member: 236674Members Posts: 344 Advanced user
In the movie "WaterWorld," Kevin Costner's character has a mutation that gives him gills behind the ears. Given that scuba diving much past 300m is so difficult, deadly, and requires tons of gear, why not take a hint from the fish and just equip yourself with a nice set of gills?

In the Membrane:
The set up for lungs and gills has a lot in common. Both are made of semi-permeable membranes. Meaning they let gases pass through, but not fluids. This is nice for us because we can suck in O2 and offload waste CO2 without worrying about bleeding-out during breathing. For fish their gill membranes do the same, but exchange for gases dissolved in water instead of air. So why not just use our lungs for gills? For starters their shape is not so good. Compared to air, water is very thick and bulky, and the effort of sucking it in and out of a couple of these bags all day would require incredible stamina. Fish have got it right with their flow-through set up, so maybe Kevin's got the right idea too with his creepy little gill slits?

Growing Gills on Humans:
Sure this is crazy, but maybe not so much. After all we know gene splicing works, and we're just now figuring out how to control it. If glowing jellyfish genes can be spliced within a mouse, why not splice some fish gill DNA into a human embryo? With recent gene splicing breakthroughs (CRISPR/Cas9) this kind of thing actually seems plausible down the track. Well, there's a big efficiency hurdle to jump first. Gills work really well for fish, because being cold-blooded, don't need so much oxygen. As warm-bloods we require about 15 times the O2. So if we estimate a fish's gills makes up about 10% of its body size, then Kevin's gills would have to be 150% the size of his body! That's far too gross even for cable television. In fact the problem of building water-breathing mammals is so hard that Evolution has dodged it at every turn. No seal, dugong, platypus or even whale has ever gone back to wearing gills.

Flipping the Finger at Nature:
Well, Nature never evolved wheel either, but we found a technical solution for that! Maybe we can do the same here? We just need to somehow find a x15 gill efficiency:
a) Increase the membrane efficiency x15
b) Increase the water flow over the membrane x15
c) Combination of both

All may be possible options. I'm not certain about a). Fish gill membranes may / may not already have the most efficient gas-exchange stats allowed by physics. But evolution tends to ease off refining an adaptation once it is sufficient, so maybe we can still do it better. But how, manufactured or grown? We already know how to manufacture some great semi-permeable membranes (e.g. Gortex, artificial kidney machines), so maybe we can improve past Nature taking this route. Alternatively, we might go the way of developing lab-grown gill membranes by refining existing fish genes. Either way, looking at fish living in very low oxygenated waters is bound to be useful. As for Point b), increased flow, that seems like more of an engineering problem if we are prepared to shoulder the all gear needed to push x15 the water through a backpack-gill. I imagine it would be like wearing a big jet-like tube with a impeller inside it. Still too bulky? Maybe that's a problem for the Japanese.

Choosing a Nice Gill Set:
By flipping off Nature we at least have a wider selection of design patterns to choose from. Perhaps one of these enclosed in a fashionable backpack?
1. EzyBreather Style: Gills exchange gases between the water and a diver's air supply in regular breathing set. Nice and comfy, but this set up is the least efficient since it requires gases to cross two membranes (both the gill and the lung).
2. Tube in the Jugular: Gills exchange gases between water and the diver's blood stream directly. Not so nice once you've grown accustomed to breathing, so maybe better suited to permanently aquatic living people (fishbabes!). Good part is we've already well developed the techniques at tapping into the bloodstream in this way (renal dialysis and heart-lung machines). Sure it's traumatic, but in a case where the gills were grown from one's own tissue culture, rather than built, it might not involve any tissue/implant rejection issues..
3. The Abyss Liquid Breather: Gills exchange gases between the water and a diver's liquid breathing mechanism. A similar set up to that seen in James Cameron's "The Abyss", where a diver breathes a highly oxygen-saturated liquid instead of air, except in this case it get's that oxygen from attached artificial gills. Very funky, and one that promises to dodge some really deep-sea diving health issues. But also one that's seems least promising because of the difficulties mixing lungs and liquids.

Anyway, sorry. No early access date yet for your Human Gill Set. It's true that a Swedish-Korean company claimed to have cracked it in 2016, but that's since been widely lambasted as a scam. So be thankful you weren't playtester for them.
Post edited by BlueBottle on
I've got my objections to the World, certainly. But I'll be very sorry to see it ruined.

Comments

  • MaalterommMaalteromm Brasil Join Date: 2017-09-22 Member: 233183Members Posts: 475 Advanced user
    BlueBottle wrote: »
    In the movie "WaterWorld," Kevin Costner's character has a mutation that gives him gills behind the ears. Given that scuba diving much past 300m is so difficult, deadly, and requires tons of gear, why not take a hint from the fish and just equip yourself with a nice set of gills?

    That's a great scenario, yet I'll just randomly invoke whales here. Air breathing mammals which may dive, depending on the species, way beyond 1500m.

    More objectively: gills should remove the need for air, essentially removing a key game mechanics, unless... anoxic biomes?
  • BlueBottleBlueBottle Australia Join Date: 2018-02-03 Member: 236674Members Posts: 344 Advanced user
    edited November 11
    I hadn't really thought about this in terms of game scenarios. But if I run into Bart Torgal and he's not yet sporting a set of gills then I take this as an indictment of the 22nd Century's education system!

    Meanwhile in the C21st, if we're going to mess about with our genetics, then I guess you've raised the other question: "Why not do it like a Whale?" Surely, some modding to our blood physiology, at least, might allow us to extend our pathetic free diving ability?

    Whales got the chops. Check this poster out:
    4l7rfdsiwoyu.jpg
    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140326-cuvier-beaked-whale-record-dive-depth-ocean-animal-science/
    Post edited by BlueBottle on
    I've got my objections to the World, certainly. But I'll be very sorry to see it ruined.
  • TIEbomber1967TIEbomber1967 California Join Date: 2015-09-23 Member: 208109Members Posts: 160 Advanced user
  • BlueBottleBlueBottle Australia Join Date: 2018-02-03 Member: 236674Members Posts: 344 Advanced user
    This one by @Shovel_Fighter? Pretty cool hey.

    1tmyzyoq716r.jpg
    I've got my objections to the World, certainly. But I'll be very sorry to see it ruined.
  • LOLeq21LOLeq21 Kelp forest, 97m deep Join Date: 2018-06-02 Member: 241086Members Posts: 13 Fully active user
    Type "oxygen" into the debug window
    Wow instant gills thank
  • AnomalyDetectedAnomalyDetected Alterra Housing District: Planet Vicaron Join Date: 2017-04-19 Member: 229741Members Posts: 753 Advanced user
    LOLeq21 wrote: »
    Type "oxygen" into the debug window
    Wow instant gills thank

    ...That's just cheating. He wants an actual feature.
    ================Anomaly================
    "Life is a game,
    which the universe plays with itself."

    Well said, Jochi Khasar. Well said.
    ================Anomaly================
  • BlueBottleBlueBottle Australia Join Date: 2018-02-03 Member: 236674Members Posts: 344 Advanced user
    edited December 2
    LOLeq21 wrote: »
    Type "oxygen" into the debug window
    Wow instant gills thank

    ...That's just cheating. He wants an actual feature.

    Actually thinking of gene-splicing myself with a whale now instead. Not sure about the hole in head.
    I've got my objections to the World, certainly. But I'll be very sorry to see it ruined.
  • LOLeq21LOLeq21 Kelp forest, 97m deep Join Date: 2018-06-02 Member: 241086Members Posts: 13 Fully active user
    BlueBottle wrote: »
    LOLeq21 wrote: »
    Type "oxygen" into the debug window
    Wow instant gills thank

    ...That's just cheating. He wants an actual feature.

    Actually thinking of gene-splicing myself with a whale now instead. Not sure about the hole in head.

    Hmm, but I personally don't think that gene splicing will be ever in the game, because it'd be not-so-family-friendly, I guess?
  • BlueBottleBlueBottle Australia Join Date: 2018-02-03 Member: 236674Members Posts: 344 Advanced user
    edited December 3
    LOLeq21 wrote: »
    BlueBottle wrote: »
    LOLeq21 wrote: »
    Type "oxygen" into the debug window
    Wow instant gills thank

    ...That's just cheating. He wants an actual feature.

    Actually thinking of gene-splicing myself with a whale now instead. Not sure about the hole in head.

    Hmm, but I personally don't think that gene splicing will be ever in the game, because it'd be not-so-family-friendly, I guess?

    Ah... I hadn't considered if gene-splicing tech might change a game's rating. But I was just brooding over the real-life adaptations really. How can those dumb fish do it but we can't? Same goes for Flipper!
    I've got my objections to the World, certainly. But I'll be very sorry to see it ruined.
  • dasCKDdasCKD Join Date: 2017-11-14 Member: 233978Members Posts: 33 Advanced user
    edited December 4
    I mean, it's really not that simple. I do know that you are talking in-game here, but on a physiological level there is more to a human's inability to breathe in water than just lack of gills. Humans live in air, making fluid circulation (air in our case) very simple and it is trivial for oxygen to diffuse through the lung alveolar. In water, it becomes much more difficult for the oxygen to diffuse in from the water. It is not a coincidence that some of the largest creatures that have ever swam are air breathers. The tagged article explains it quite well, but I'd like to expand on it. Surface breathing whales (all of them) are simply able to use more oxygen, even in their limited breathing period, than fish that takes in oxygen from the water. Human physiology is tuned to take in and cycle astronomical levels of oxygen compared to fully marine creatures that depend on the water for their oxygen. If humans had gills with our physiology, then the extra amount of time that we could spend underwater would be trivial as our metabolism simply can't function at the levels of oxygen that we can take in even close to the surface of the ocean where algae breaks down carbon dioxide into abundant oxygen. Deeper down in the ocean, oxygen will thin to nearly meaningless levels. Humans with gills will die from metabolic asphyxiation if we do not make other massive alterations to our physiology beyond cramming more oxygen retaining molecules into our muscles.

    Animals that live deep subsists on tiny levels of oxygen and food. Relatively speaking, humans run on a very fast metabolic clock. Microorganisms such as pathogens on the surface multiply on the matter of hours whereas deep in the ocean, the life cycle of a pathogen can span decades if not centuries. The lack of resources, oxygen included, down at those levels means that the animals that use the oxygen at those levels have metabolic clocks that barely run by human perspectives or a physiology that is built around retaining and delivering the energy in short burst and otherwise cruising on by 'sleep mode', something which humans basically have no parallel for. Even maximal metabolism in times of exercise in humans is still relatively small in oxygen consumption compared to the base level if we consider how wide the gap is for twilight zone predators. For macroscopic hunters to hunt effectively at those depths, they basically have to take the whale approach; that is taking in massive quantities of air and then crash diving to those depths before returning to the surface. If all we want is more oxygen time underwater, then it is a matter of tuning the variables in the game. Scuba tanks lasts hours after all. From a scientific approach however, gills provide basically nothing to humans unless we want to so drastically alter humans to such an extent that they can barely be counted as humans. Even by that point though, we would still be confined to the epipelagic zone as the twilight zone and beyond could be compared to the humans who climb mount Everest, needing added oxygen tanks to even function though our lungs can breathe air. Scientifically speaking, there's basically little to no departure from current game mechanics.
  • BlueBottleBlueBottle Australia Join Date: 2018-02-03 Member: 236674Members Posts: 344 Advanced user
    Yeah, wot he said
    I've got my objections to the World, certainly. But I'll be very sorry to see it ruined.
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