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food from sunlight

hey, plants do it, why not us?
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It seems bio-tech is at the stage where it is possible to transplant the DNA strand that creates chlorophyll from plants into humans. This gene would have to be activated only on our skin, making a race of green men no matter what the original nationality. Sunlight would then cause the production of sugar within our skin cells, which would be transported all over our bodies. For max amount of "food" we could be catching rays on the beach, or for a light snack we could drive to work with our elbows outside the window (get it, "light" snack?). Most importantly, no more world starvation. Need the input of some bio-med geniuses, though.
fleasting, Jun 30 2000

Symbiotic Cloroplasts http://www.halfbake...iotic_20Cloroplasts
Great minds think alike. [Scott_D, Jun 30 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Sea slug 'kidnaps' genes from algae . http://www.wired.co.../01/green-sea-slug/
Ain't nature wonderful? [DrBob, Jan 12 2010]

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       You'd get nowhere near enough energy. There's a reason animals never developed photosynthesis.
egnor, Jun 30 2000
  

       ... or, if any animals ever did develop photosynthesis, they're all dead now.
centauri, Jun 30 2000
  

       The energy from skin photosynthesis can be a supplement to energy we get from digesting food, not its substitute. And if you want more energy, then while we're borrowing DNA strands from plants, why not just have tiny leaves growing on our heads and torsos?
fleasting, Jun 30 2000
  

       Thanks, but I'll stick to the old fashioned omnivore way...
StarChaser, Jul 01 2000
  

       Cool idea. Given that the population in the U.S. is facing almost epidimic overweightiness, maybe we don't need this as much as others... Perhaps it could be donated to the African continent, Central and South America, Asia... hmm heck, just about everywhere but here. North Americans with too much heft could probably use the opposite: the ability to burn extra cateogires while staring at the ever-present CRT or LCD.
johan, Jul 01 2000
  

       I actually did an experiment on this in highschool. To maintain the respiration of a sitting 18 year old, you'd need about 8 square meters of (elodea) leaf area at full illumination.   

       The real problem would be that now everyone needs a corner office.
tenhand, Aug 25 2000
  

       no thank you. real food, please.
wenshan, Sep 07 2000
  

       This would create a whole new economy. "Honey, did you use all of the aphid shampoo?"
thumbwax, Sep 18 2000
  

       It would open up a whole new chapter on Dendrophilia.
Detly, Nov 09 2000
  

       Maybe introducing nitrogen (from the air) fixing genes would be more effective - that way we'd be able to make amino acids and then proteins to replace what gets broken down in the way of cells, blood, etc..   

       A variation would be to introduce genes to synthesise compounds we can't make, like vitamins or maybe to make the amino acids that need boosted to give vegetables the quality of meat (tryptophane/tyrosine? I can't recall).   

       Mind you, lack of food isn't the problem Malthus thought it would be.
mkirksmith, Dec 10 2001
  

       Just thinking topologically, I suppose humans are just a tube. Food goes down the centre, gets broken down and absorbed by the inside surface and waste excreted at the other end.   

       Some absorbed food (sugar, fat) gets burnt with oxygen absorbed from the outside surface (OK, lungs) to keep cells working.   

       So we're just a continous surface in contact with the world - some bits (inside/outside surfaces) just interfacing differently with the world.   

       Other absorbed food (protein, fat) gets incorporated into the cells of the tube to ensure the tube keeps working.   

       I've no point to make, I just haven't come across the notion of us just being tubes absorbing different materials. I suppose the notion opens up various analogies with other mass/energy transfer systems.
mkirksmith, Dec 10 2001
  

       surely this would be really impractical? Seeing as how most of the times we humans stay nearly completley covering our skin. The only times we uncover our skin completely is indoors and though you still get sunlight inside it surely isn't enough to warrant photosynthetic skin.
kaz, Dec 10 2001
  

       ¯mrkirksmith: / Just … energy transfer systems. / The important evolutionary change needed to make this work is akin to the change in our primative brain needed to grow a cerebral cortex, that is, skin folding to increase the body's surface area. Ridges and whorles on hands and feet are a design that is evolving to increase our adaptability as a species. The reality of our organism being an evolved gut is important, but what we retain that has adapted to the unyielding world is more fundamental.
reensure, Dec 10 2001
  

       " Mind you, lack of food isn't the problem Malthus thought it would be." Well, actually it is.
Humans are currently displacing other organisms from the biosphere. This can't go on forever, and people with certain moral frameworks consider it a Bad Thing. However it is in line with Malthus observations.
Loris, Aug 22 2002
  

       linky.
DrBob, Jan 12 2010
  
      
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