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Enhancing the Human body

  1. Nov 20, 2014 #1
    Greetings. Well I do not have enough time to pose all of my questions and ideas I can get this thread started off.

    So lets get right into it. The teeth of a Beaver incorporate a comparatively high percentage of iron in their construction, making them very strong and orange hued. (Also made to be self sharpening.)

    Using the same principle, could one modify a human to have a harder, stronger skeleton able to withstand more punishment and or teeth by causing the body to naturally incorporate higher amounts of things like iron, or 'naturally occurring carbon fibers':D? Advantages are obvious, like being able to use more of our potential strength without breaking our own bones, but what could be the potential downsides, like setting off metal detectors? How strong can a human skeleton and human teeth get?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2014 #2
    Sure you could. It would take a lot of work though, and probably more understanding than we currently have of how the human body works on a cellular and molecular level (as far as I'm aware, anyway). You would have to "program" the appropriate cells to actually incorporate larger amounts or iron into bones and teeth, and also other cells to actually take up more iron from the intestines.

    As for the downsides, biologically speaking, it would depend how much you could modify the body, and what you had to do to achieve the results. It might require some sacrifices, but I don't know what.

    If your question was "can we actually do this currently?", then I don't know, if your question was "is this possible?", then I think there would be no reason we couldn't with the right technology and understanding.

    The idea of getting inspiration from nature is a great one, and is well explored in a BBC TV show, Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature, if you're interested in other examples of how we are basing some new technologies off natural constructs.
  4. Nov 20, 2014 #3

    Simon Bridge

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    The large intake of iron involved may be toxic.
    We'd be heavier - harder to swim, run, climb...
    Bones would be more brittle and maybe harder to mend in the case of a break.
    May be trickier to anchor muscles to if you are thinking of an iron-rich coating like with beaver teeth - so muscle attachments become weaker.

    I don't think beaver teeth set of metal detectors. I'd have to look up the amount and concentrations of metal that would do that though.
    Do you have information that bone strength is an important limiting factor in utilizing the strength in our muscles?

    You gotta realize that there are very few animals with lots of iron in their bones.

    There's the butterfly effect - our bodies are the result of the interaction of a lot of different things, change just one thing and quite a lot else must change. But if you are speculating this wildly - why iron? Why not titanium?
  5. Nov 20, 2014 #4


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    This would be potentially very harmful for the human body.

    Too much iron will damage your internal organs.

  6. Nov 20, 2014 #5
    The potential toxicity level crossed my mind, it could be a serious issue, and was more using iron and beavers as an example rather then the only option.

    Titanium you say there Simon? Might not be a bad idea. Where would one acquire titanium in their diet? I know a additive to food is titanium dioxide...but its debated if titanium dioxide is good or bad. I know titanium is favored for implants.

    Something that might be easier, a human modified to use carbon instead, something we ingest everyday to construct something akin to a carbon fiber, or even potentially a nano tube if possible. Being something non toxic as it is the element we are based on, this might be the better option.

    See, i'm working on a model to show the maximum potential of the human body as it is now for the most part, still humanoid and not necessarily a cyborg. Some modification necessary.
  7. Nov 20, 2014 #6

    Simon Bridge

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    Titanium dioxide: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423755/
    The substance is already in our diets by TiO2 contamination... it's everywhere.
    Large variations in the concentrations of titanium in different types of foods have been reported. A typical diet may contribute some 300-400 µg/day, but higher intakes ranging up to 2 mg per day have been reported.

    ... of course modified humans with a metabolism enhanced to use titanium will probably need supliments, just like those enhanced to utilize iron or carbon. The point being that since this utilization of iron is so far from possible that it is in the realm of wish-fullfillment, you may as well wish for something better.

    Although life is based on carbon chemistry, that does not mean that all forms of carbon are harmless to us. For instance, the most harmful toxins are also based on carbon.

    Carbon nanotubes toxicity:

    Carbon Fiber toxicity

    Even if you manage to avoid the toxicity of the substances themselves, their production (within the body from dietary sources of carbon remember) also produces toxic byproducts which will have to be managed.

    All this is, in principle, solveable - but the end result may not be all that pretty.

    ... what science are you basing the model on?
  8. Nov 20, 2014 #7


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    This is in the biology forum and it's speculation, which is against our rules.
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