Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Husky Powered Aircraft

Something even Air Alaska could maintain
  (+7)
(+7)
  [vote for,
against]

Human powered flight is just about possible. Not very fast, high or far however. This is because humans are poor substitutes for engines. Even the most committed exercisers* can only burn 80ml/kg/min of oxygen. An engine is 4000ml/kg/min without trying too hard. This is why human powered flight isn't so popular.

The equation would change dramatically for husky sled dogs however, they're at least 4-fold better than humans at being engines. So let's have a husky powered aircraft. Sled dogs already run in a nice aerodynamic 2x8, 2x10 or 2x12 formation as if they were trying to tell us of their aviation aspirations. Lets line them up on a treadmill, link up a couple of 90 degree bevel gearboxes and power a couple of props.

Take off is initiated by the word "mush". Rapid climb-out is assured by inherent enthusiasm and the cruising altitude should be about 10,000-15,000ft adjusted to maintain -20C for optimum powerplant reliability. Powerplant performance improves following, and even in anticipation of, birdstrike events. Careful management of postal workers and cats should be ensured to prevent un- commanded runway excursions.

*If they aren't already committed, they should be.

bs0u0155, Jan 03 2018

The strongest living land creatures on Earth... http://www.telegrap...o-weight-ratio.html
...measured by their power to weight ratio. [Wrongfellow, Jan 04 2018]

Man pulls plane https://www.youtube...watch?v=tls-Jli6eQE
[bs0u0155, Jan 04 2018]

Damn, it still makes me tear up to read the Tevis link.... horcycle
[normzone, Jan 04 2018]

A plane coming in to land in the morning https://flic.kr/p/21MaxMa
A watercolour painting wot I done a couple of days ago [Ian Tindale, Jan 05 2018]

Mitochondrial Temperature https://www.science...at-a-scorching-50-c
[bs0u0155, Jan 05 2018]

[link]






       //at least 4-fold better than humans at being engines//   

       So, the question is, why? What do dogs do that people don't (in the present context)?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 03 2018
  

       Stay calm during finals, even though the airspeed's maybe a bit low and some more height would be nice, instead of panicking, screaming abuse, grabbing at the controls, hitting the Pilot Flying with a rolled-up map while they're preoccupied with setting the flaps and adjusting the throttle, and exhibiting markedly poor sphincter control ?   

       This may of course be due to the dog(s) being unable to interpret the airspeed indicator and altimeter, and too short to see how close the ground is RIGHT NOW as opposed to how close it should be twenty seconds in the future, when it would have all proper lights and tarmac and stuff, although they might well be disturbed by a human yelling "PULL UP ! PULL UP ! TOGA ! TOGA !" at the top of their lungs ....
8th of 7, Jan 03 2018
  

       Perhaps that depends on the dog. Has anyone measured the ml/kg/min of a thirtieth-generation pampered lap-dog?   

       Anyway, big [+] for the idea, if only because I think the dogs would enjoy it so much.
pertinax, Jan 03 2018
  

       That depends on the setting of their tiny Iron Lung, for those times when nothing much interesting is happening and they can't be bothered to breathe for themselves.
8th of 7, Jan 03 2018
  

       //So, the question is, why? What do dogs do that people don't (in the present context)?//   

       It's a bunch of things. Food (reducing equivalents)+O2 to movement needs mitochondria and a physical/chemical support system. So some muscles, heart, lungs and a digestive system. Bigger hearts need more connective tissue and valving strength. The digestive system is useless weight, most of the time, so a carnivore-style tiny one works, even better that carnivore food is made of mitochondria fuel (ketone bodies in particular can build up to mM and are barely limited by membranes).   

       What you don't want is bones that have to get disproportionately heavy because bone is only just up to the job, a great metabolically needy brain or a huge gastric fermentation plant.   

       In detail, from v.limited studies, it looks like husky mitochondria are real standouts. Elite racehorses aren't any better than us at a cell level, the adaptation is all anatomical. Husky's have double output from their mitochondria. So huge amounts of extra OXPHOS machinery, probably lots of interesting never-to-be- studied details of mitochondrial reticulum morphology and biophysics. It's particularly interesting that they're standout athletes AND standout cold adapters. They seem to be able to just lie, on ice, at -25 looking bored and not shivering, odd.   

       Ultimately, for big animals, the limit is probably thermal. It turns out that mitochondria operate closer to 60C than 37C, in hard working muscle mitochondria, who knows? But being huge, or in a hot place, will not help. The husky is probably in a lot of sweet spots all at once. Incidentally, cardiac reperfusion is a thermal injury of mitochondrial origin, well, in my mind at least, there should be hypothesis patents.
bs0u0155, Jan 04 2018
  

       //"PULL UP ! PULL UP ! TOGA ! TOGA !"// A husky go around can involve some extreme bank angles and departures of pitch and yaw. Even the Spitfire couldn't turn inside it's own radius, but that doesn't stop dogs trying.
bs0u0155, Jan 04 2018
  

       // Even the Spitfire couldn't turn inside it's own radius, //   

       ... let alone the Starfighter, whos performance in that area has been succinctly summarized as "Banking with intent to turn ..."   

       // but that doesn't stop dogs trying. //   

       While technically not dogs, being more of an amalgam of a chipmunk and a personal attack siren, chihuahuas are capable of turning in much less than their own length, subject only to the maximum RPM and output power of the blender you've crammed it into.
8th of 7, Jan 04 2018
  

       Question: What animal has the greatest horsepower to weight ratio?   

       If somebody points out that it's birds, which I think is highly probable, I'll be disappointed for some reason.
doctorremulac3, Jan 04 2018
  

       // It turns out that mitochondria operate closer to 60C than 37C//   

       Whoa there. I mean, what??? Are you saying that mitochondria raise the local temperature to 60°C? If so, how "local" - internal to the Mt, or internal to the whole cell?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 04 2018
  

       //how "local"//   

       Local to the probe that's measuring it! and that is a soluble mitochondrial matrix protein delivered using one of the standard mito targeting sequences. Likely that's an average of the whole matrix volume. The heat source is likely membrane localized so slightly higher temperatures still should be expected close to the inner membrane. What's mito DNA thermal stability like?   

       //internal to the whole cell?//   

       say 30% of some cells is mitochondrial volume so it's likely that there will be significant whole cell changes. Especially if you cut oxygen, build up reducing equivalents to maximum concentrations and then reintroduce O2. I should copyright "Backdraft II: heartburn". Anyhow, more careful measurements obviously needed, funding please.
bs0u0155, Jan 04 2018
  

       The problem with this method of air transport, and the reason for its lack of uptake, is the concomitant husky-poo sputtering of the flight-path and those living there.
hippo, Jan 04 2018
  

       //Question: What animal has the greatest horsepower to weight ratio?//   

       Apparently it's the oribatid mite, whatever they are. [link]
Wrongfellow, Jan 04 2018
  

       From the article: "It can resist a pull of 1,180 times its own weight - which is similar to a human pulling 82 tons"   

       So if humans could double that, they'd have to re do the list? <link>. Also, calibrating mite-sized equipment must be a nightmare, and creating force is not the same as horsepower. Force = torque and force moved through distance = hp. VO2 is how much oxygen you burn, which is a bit of a proxy since you can burn a ton of oxygen while producing little mechanical power, like when you're on fire.
bs0u0155, Jan 04 2018
  

       //Local to the probe that's measuring it! and that is a soluble mitochondrial matrix protein delivered using one of the standard mito targeting sequences.//   

       That is probably the most awesome thing I've learned in the last fortnight, and I thank you. I'd always taken it as gospel that mammalian cells - and everything in them - need to be at 37°C give or take a bit, in order to work well. And yet you're saying that the mitochondria are basically thermophilic bacteria on holiday. That has almost completely blown my mind. 60°C is generally considered the minimum cooking temperature for poultry.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 04 2018
  

       Maybe they’re nuclear power-sourced, each individually. Or, more unlikely, maybe they form a distributed power source network. Based on quantum endanglement.
Ian Tindale, Jan 04 2018
  

       [Ian], it works better when [bs0] does the science and you do the pointless arty stuff.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 04 2018
  

       [Ian], it works better when [bs0] does the science, [MB] pretends to understand it, we sit on the sidelines indulging in gratuitous sarcasm, and you ... well, here's some scrap paper, and a box if crayons the nurses confiscated from [not_morrison_rm] ... see if you can draw something recognizable this time.
8th of 7, Jan 05 2018
  

       //[...] the probe that's measuring it! and that is a soluble mitochondrial matrix protein delivered [...]//   

       My crayons are broken again.   

       How do you use a protein to probe the temperature of something? I think I might be doing it wrong, what with the restraining orders and superficial scarring.
pertinax, Jan 05 2018
  

       //never-to-be- studied details //   

       See if I don't!
Voice, Jan 05 2018
  

       // How do you use a protein to probe the temperature of something? //   

       Our understanding is that individual proteins de-nature (irreversibly) at specific temperatures. Thus if A de-natures but B does not, a temperature between the two known points must have existed.
8th of 7, Jan 05 2018
  

       There you are, this time I’ve painted a plane coming in to land in the morning (but you’ll have to swipe all the way back up to where the links are kept, but first I’ll have to tell you there’s a link up there that I’m referring to from down here, otherwise you’d never discover that).
Ian Tindale, Jan 05 2018
  

       That's much better, [Ian]. In fact it's actually not bad.   

       //How do you use a protein to probe the temperature of something?// For once, I believe [8th] is not completely incorrect, sort of. Fluorescent proteins show a decline in fluorescence as a function of temperature, so that's one way.   

       [bs0] what was the probe protein used in mitochondria?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 05 2018
  

       Thank you, gentlemen.
pertinax, Jan 05 2018
  

       <Moriarty>   

       "Gentlemen ? What does he mean, Grytpipe ?"   

       </Moriarty>
8th of 7, Jan 05 2018
  

       //How do you use a protein to probe the temperature of something? I think I might be doing it wrong, what with the restraining orders and superficial scarring.//   

       There's whole lot of ways to do this. On a really basic level, you could use say an egg to get some idea of the temperature of a hot spring for example. Put the egg in a sock, tie sock to rope, throw egg-sock-rope in spring. Wait 15 mins and haul it out. If you're egg's cooked solid all the way through, it's above 80C. If the yolk is solid but the white isn't then it's in the 65-75C range, if it's totally uncooked then you know it's below 62-ish C, if it's frozen then you're looking at something below -5C.   

       Obviously eggs aren't that practical, but you could build a working thermometer with them. Maybe homogenize the white from a whole lot of eggs and seal some in small metal capsules, now you will get faster readout because the heat will penetrate faster. Then you could keep some of your homogenized egg white back and calibrate it carefully with known temperatures in say a water bath. In that way you can probably get a really good thermometer, but only between 78-81C. This is a small dynamic range, lots of probes have this problem. Then you might find out the spring is acidic and that dramatically increases the rate of protein denaturation in egg white, so you may be systematically overestimating the temperature... BUT you could use that, maybe have your egg white thermometer include egg white measurements at 5 different pH values, calibrate them in the lab and you'll probably have 5 curves stretching out the dynamic range from say 60-90C. Maybe then search the world for exotic egg whites from the Guatemalan Honkybird and you might get 40-90C.   

       That's not far off how we work, only the proteins are fluorescent and we do it all with light. There are lots of additional tricks we pull because humans have light pretty much worked out as a tool. One is anisotropy. Say I have a green fluorescent protein, I shine blue light at it, it shines green light back at me. Now, if I polarize my blue light, line it all up vertically then the green fluorescent protein will shine back with all its light lined up vertically... Unless it rotated between receiving and sending. That rotation is dependent on how viscous its environment is, how the protein is anchored, if at all, OR how warm it is. So with care, you can use that as an assay for temperature.   

       Other tricks include fluorescence lifetime... temperature has an effect on how long the reply is spread out. The clever thing is to use a whole lot of these together, preferably choosing the factors that are known artifacts so that they work in opposite directions.   

       Right now, there's at least 5 ways of looking at temperature in those kind of volumes. Quantum dots, small molecules, fluorescent proteins etc, all multiplied by the tricks I've mentioned and they all point at mitochondria being pretty damned hot. It's at this point that a nice systematic study across many many cells, tissues, species & conditions would be useful. It won't get done though.
bs0u0155, Jan 05 2018
  

       If you genetically-engineered groups of birds to produce eggs with egg-white proteins that denatured at different temperatures, you could then use an egg from each different bird type to make a composite egg-white protein thermometer
hippo, Jan 05 2018
  

       But what about the mitochondria within the egg substance?
Ian Tindale, Jan 05 2018
  

       //If you genetically-engineered groups of birds to produce eggs with egg-white proteins that denatured at different temperatures, you could then use an egg from each different bird type to make a composite egg-white protein thermometer //   

       sadly not very reversible.
bs0u0155, Jan 05 2018
  

       Thinking about this, mitochondria must be pretty extraordinary.   

       Most bacteria (which is sort of what mitochondria are) will thrive only at certain temperatures; at higher temperatures they either shut down or die, and at lower temperatures they just slow right down. Frinstance, good old E. coli grows best around 37°C, gets quite slow at 20°C and is almost asleep at 4°C (which is why you have a fridge). Thermophiles that live at 60°C would be more or less dormant at 37°C.   

       Yet, apparently, mitochondria can work well at 60°C but they must be able to function reasonably well at 37°C (to keep things ticking over when the cell isn't working very hard). That's an impressive range - how do they do it?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 05 2018
  

       //Thinking about this, mitochondria must be pretty extraordinary.//   

       They are, in every measurable way and probably many more. A big shift in thinking is happening, 50 years of EM images of heart muscle told us that they have 1000's of mitochondria. It turns out that was like slicing a plate of spaghetti through the middle and counting the cut ends, the real number is likely <10, maybe even 1 electrically connected reticular network fusing and fragmenting locally. That would mean that the electrical activity of a heart cell is pretty small fry compared to the magnitude, (+100mV, 3-10 fold the capacitance * many fold the electrochemical capacity) of the mitochondria within. I actually think the plasma membrane potential "bounces" off the mito potential, with the two interacting electrically for tuning various ion flux rates, wish I knew an electrochemist. I also think mitos are excitable, I'm studying transient mito depolarizations and they exhibit every feature of an action potential.   

       //That's an impressive range - how do they do it?//   

       They have a lot of heat shock proteins, we even use HSP70 as a standard. The original bacterium was never going to have had as much heat generating machinery, the amplification of the respiratory chain is clearly an adaptation/specialization to their current role. They've had a long evolutionary history to adapt, one strategy for stability at high temps might be the "respiratory supercomplexes" most of the proteins are found in absolutely massive complexes, these fall apart in heart attacks for example.
bs0u0155, Jan 05 2018
  

       //they exhibit every feature of an action potential//   

       That would be utterly huge. I shall expect a guest-invite to Stockholm in about 20 years. Remember I asked first. And let me know if you want artwork for the Nature cover - I can do you something awesome.   

       //most of the proteins are found in absolutely massive complexes// You mean they're stabilized by being part of the complex?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 05 2018
  

       // I can do you something awesome. //   

       No, you can't. There are lots of adjectives other than "awesome" that can be used - disgusting, revolting, sickenening, obscene, unnatural, hideous, pitiful, nauseating, illegal, inexplicable, revolting - but remember, we too have seen the Intercalary with no kit on and (despite extensive and repeated attempts to purge the image) we still consider that "awesome" is utterly inappropriate - unless the observer is in immediate need of extensive psychotherapy.   

       Which, having viewed same, any "normal" person would be ...
8th of 7, Jan 05 2018
  

       Would it form a giant connected component of a directed network?
Ian Tindale, Jan 05 2018
  

       Would the complexes being so big mean the outer peptide chains are shielding active areas? Umbrellas under the sun, so to speak.   

       But [Ian's] inference that the complexes diffuse the heat around also sounds plausible.
wjt, Jan 05 2018
  

       //mitochondria can work well at 60°C but they must be able to function reasonably well at 37°C//   

       Isn't this just a question of where you take the measurement? The cylinders inside a car engine regularly see peak temperatures of ~1500°C, but if the average temperature of your whole car is 1500°C then you might want to stop for a bit and let it cool down.
Wrongfellow, Jan 05 2018
  

       //Isn't this just a question of where you take the measurement? //   

       The point was that the mitochondria themselves get to 60°C. Yet, if the cell is just ticking over, or is watching TV or doing any of the things that cells do in their spare time, the mitochondrion is not going to be doing much, and so will be close to 37°C; yet it still has work to some extent at this temperature.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 05 2018
  

       The mitochondrial membrane seems to form a slotted waveguide phased array antenna, which might explain the higher energy incidence at that point.
Ian Tindale, Jan 05 2018
  

       //things that cells do in their spare time//   

       I just asked a few of my cells what they do in their spare time, and they replied, "Well, nothing really. I just sit here and swelter. It's been bloody hot for these past few million years, hasn't it? I blame all those bloody mitochondria, coming in here with their fancy foreign climates. We should just send them all back to their own bloody tidal pool, I tell you!"   

       So I conducted a fair, democratic referendum throughout my body, and 52% of my cells voted to throw them all out.
Wrongfellow, Jan 05 2018
  

       Maybe you need to build a wall to stop them getting in ?
8th of 7, Jan 05 2018
  

       What’s the current opinion on the origin of mitochondria? The endosymbiotic hypothesis or autogenous hypothesis (or intentional interference by aliens)?
Ian Tindale, Jan 06 2018
  

       Endosymbiosis, I think. At least for the voltage; not sure about the current.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 06 2018
  

       Somebody really has to do this. Either with this method or the helicopter thing. Despite being a bit fun, this actually would be a part of aviation history and the engineering involved would be as noteworthy as the first man powered flight.
doctorremulac3, Jan 06 2018
  

       What if you used a team of eight reindeer ... ?
8th of 7, Jan 06 2018
  

       Just occurred to me, the best non human pilot would be a chimp.   

       1- Strong as hell and   

       2- Very easy to train.   

       Just make a scaled down version of the Gossamer Albatros.   

       Plus you could dress them in a little pilot's uniform, leather helmet, goggles, scarf. Actually, that might over heat the little guy, never mind.
doctorremulac3, Jan 06 2018
  

       // the best non human pilot would be a chimp //   

       That would cause chaos in naval aviation. How would you discriminate between aircrew and Marines ?
8th of 7, Jan 06 2018
  
      
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