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Metabolic Superhuman

Bioupgrades for everyone!
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Humans are OK. We work, sort of. But we're a bit fragile, and worse, we're an endangered species due to our living in only one special habitat, Earth.

To counter that, we're going to have to get out and about a bit. Unfortunately as NASA know, you need about 10 years worth of the USA's energy consumption just to get something modestly cruise-ship sized up to 1/2 light speed. That's a: not very fast b: we don't have an effective way of storing or transporting that energy & c: even if we could, we haven't found a good way of using it to make things go fast. While this is depressing, and a compelling explaination for NASA's obvious malaise, it is also an opportunity.

We're quite good at biology. As far as we know, we're the best, GO EARTH! The physicists are going to need time to scratch their heads and figure out what the remaining 95% of the universe is, how to make and move really very large amounts of energy, and how to deploy that out the back of a space liner.

To combat one aspect of human fragility, we should look to history. Humans set out on a voyage, a few short months later and everyone's falling apart from scurvy. Pathetic. how about we do a bit of that targeted molecular jiggery pokery and replace our broken gulonolactone oxidase with a functional one? Boom! we're scurvy proof.

Next up, we can't synthesize blood glucose from fat. A bit crappy considering the much of the human race is replete with this resource. Instead we strip out amino acids from muscle, which is already an issue in space. There are plenty of plants and things that are good at this, so, you put the relevant genes in a mouse model, if it works BOOM! we can live entirely off fat and protein.

Before you know it we'll be as tough as big-brained cockroaches, and if the physicists haven't got it together, we'll be all the more likely to survive the asteroid fallout.

bs0u0155, Aug 30 2014

Camel's and Water http://www.djur.cob...artiklar/Kamel.html
[bs0u0155, Aug 30 2014]

japanese old people http://www.theguard...entenarians-records
[bs0u0155, Aug 31 2014]


       You should talk to my buddy Bill Rowe - he has very definite views on the physiological suitability of humans for prolonged spaceflight. Personally, I disagree with him, but you might find you need to tinker about with calcium and iron metabolism and a bunch of other stuff.   

       //we'll be all the ore likely to survive the asteroid fallout.// I don't think we'd be very valuable ore - humans reduce to a couple of dollars worth of minerals. I suppose an incinerated human population could be profitably mined for gold from their fillings.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 30 2014

       I dunno, the ageing population will supply a beautiful enrichment of surgical grade titanium, stainless steel and some other interesting minerals in pacemakers and the like.
bs0u0155, Aug 30 2014

       // an incinerated human population could be profitably mined for gold from their fillings //   

       Hmmm ...
8th of 7, Aug 30 2014

       The Galápagos tortoise "can endure 18 months when deprived of all food and water, surviving by breaking down their body fat to produce water as a by-product" and can live up to 170 years in captivity. Sign me up for the fat break-up technology.
4and20, Aug 30 2014

       Humans do the same. In fact all animals with fat reserves convert it into water when starved. A camel's hump is full of fat, and the water it gets from metabolising it is just as important as the energy. It just happens that humans need more water than they can get from fat-burning alone.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 30 2014

       It looks like the metabolism of fat by camels is simply food. <link>. I think the main adaptation camels have is allowing their body temp to increase into the forties. Can you comment on the prevelence of cysteine codons in the camel genome?
bs0u0155, Aug 30 2014

       How about reengineering us for hibernation?   

       Adding antifreeze to blood & cells (courtesy of certain toads beetles & other organisms) so we can just freeze ourselves on long trips (cryogenics as is faces so many problems with our current setup, so engineer it from the other direction, us).   

       A little limb regeneration a la newt would be nice.   

       And then of course there's those pesky telomeres, can't anyone do anything about those, I'd really like to live for ever you know, at least once before I die.
Skewed, Aug 30 2014

       // reengineering us for hibernation //   

       Numerous mammals, including bears, have the ability to hibernate. No antifreeze needed, just a massive decrease in metabolic rate. Research into the mechanisms is proceeding.
8th of 7, Aug 30 2014

       You still metabolise & burn calories though, so only good for short journeys (within same solar system perhaps).   

       But might be nice in conjunction with the antifreeze, go to sleep, slip into hibernation, gently freeze as the auto thermostat linked to bio sensors lowers the temperature once you have, reverse process other end.   

       My vision for the long haul sub-light speed flights.
Skewed, Aug 30 2014

       //In theory// //already possible// //did a bit of research on this last time//   

       Fairy dust & the magically re-growing finger?   

       Keeping the end of the re-growing limb / digit as an open wound for months (let alone years) & dusting ground placenta (or whatever the hell it was) on it daily seems like a bit of a grind.   

       Literally in some senses, as you have to stop a scab forming & shave a bit off the end if it begins to heal over (ouchy).   

       Was really hoping for something a little more low maintenance, & less painful ;)
Skewed, Aug 30 2014

       //idea is all about what ? Survivalism ?//   

       Reaching the stars old chap, reaching the stars.   

       Survivalism seems to be a footnote on the offchance we can't, did I get that right [b]?
Skewed, Aug 30 2014

       :) not sure it's been identified yet, could be a little hard to do if not ;)
Skewed, Aug 31 2014

       //just a massive decrease in metabolic rate   

       As seen in humans on Sunday afternoons.   

       //Boom! we're scurvy proof.   

       As one of those limeys....   

       How about an upgrade to increase cognitive rates in the run up to elections? That would be of greater help to mankind.
not_morrison_rm, Aug 31 2014

       Smarter would be nice, but there's other things I'd like first.   

       A dolphins marginally decoupled hemisphere's would be tops (after immortality regeneration & eternal youth of course), so I can sleep one side at a time.
Skewed, Aug 31 2014

       Here's another, how about a symbiotic bonding with a subcutaneous algae, just below the skin (where it still gets enough sunlight), turn us all into lichens.   

       Should make deep space easier, won't need as much food (so less fuel), & help with world food shortages (latest famine is always somewhere sunny / it works best somewhere sunny).
Skewed, Aug 31 2014

       //Can you comment on the prevelence of cysteine codons in the camel genome?//   

       Certainly: my, but there are cysteine codons in the camel genome. (Actually, if I had to guess, I would say they were no more abundant than in other mammals; 40°C isn't hot enough to require extra cysteines to stabilise proteins, I think).
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 31 2014

       //turn us all into lichens.//   

       No Lichenthropy!
There's a lot of moons out there.

       If you skim the advice for speeding up your metabolism and do the opposite, will you live longer?   

       1) Have low muscle mass 2) Eat very little, but only a few times a day 3) Stay mildly dehydrated 4) Increase your intake of certain pesticides 5) Don't move around too much.
4and20, Aug 31 2014

       In the lab experiments with mice are suggestive of a yes.   

       Howsoever, we aren't mice & though suggestive it can't be relied on to transpose in a similar statistical fashion to humans, the problem with human trials of course is it'll take about 80 years or so for the first raft of results to start coming in.   

       And we aren't doing any, a few individuals have started regimes of this nature in the belief it will have the desired effect, but their numbers are too small to be relied on statistically if they do end up living longer than the rest of us, & it seems an awful lot of deprivation to put yourself through (a lifetimes worth, a bit more if it works) just on the off-chance of a handful of extra years.   

       Which is a really long way of saying all else being equal it probably works but we don't know yet & it almost certainly isn't worth the cost for the return if it does ;)
Skewed, Aug 31 2014

       Are there not entire populations who have had a restricted calorie intake for their lifetime? Or are all such populations malnourished as well as being undernourished? In other words, isn't there a natural experiment we can look at?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 31 2014

       ah... true, but I'd guess the problem with that is the all else being equal bit?   

       The Japanese with their traditional low calorie / animal fat diet (more fish less meat etc.) might be one.   

       Thing is the rest of the lifestyle for any group you might use also differs, not just the food, mucks up your data that, you can't point at any one thing then & say "that's the reason"?   


       Plus genetics.   

       You need a population culturally separate diet-wise but not genetically separate don't you (or it may be genes not diet)?   

       One problem with that is any cultural separation adequate to purpose for the diet may be strong enough to (over time) create it's own genetic separation (however small), the Amish may be a case in point?
Skewed, Aug 31 2014

       That and the reporting was screwed for years. IIRC their social security records were all on paper, and there were many people claiming pensions for years after their deaths. So the Japanese lifespan has been revised downward a little. Still top though.
bs0u0155, Aug 31 2014

       Probably downwards a little more since Fukushima ...   

       //Reaching the stars old chap, reaching the stars//   

       Ach, we've seen 'em, they're rubbish.
8th of 7, Aug 31 2014

       //almost certainly isn't worth the cost for the return//   

       Of course that's a personal assessment, I have an almost unnatural fondness for red meat, so my opinion there should be considered suspect ;)
Skewed, Aug 31 2014

       //Ach, we've seen 'em// //rubbish//   

       Just because you've already seen the movie is no reason to spoil it for the children ;)
Skewed, Aug 31 2014

       //there were many people claiming pensions for years after their deaths//   

       That is a neat trick.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 31 2014

       See <link>
bs0u0155, Aug 31 2014

       I think this would need a complete working model of all molecular pathways and lingering environmental free agents. Changing one facet will inevitably cause a change somewhere else. Fingers crossed it is a good change although good side effects are not usually stated on the bottle or therapy.   

       As for limb growth, a field is needed. In the embryo the limb was there from the start.
wjt, Sep 01 2014


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