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Twisted experiment

  1. Aug 27, 2004 #1
    I recently read something about an experiment involving a very large pool of heavy water (deuterium oxide). The article stated the cost of the water and the volume of pool. My immediate thought was "Hey! Heavy water is cheap!". My next thought was "What would happen if someone replaced most of the water in their body with heavy water?". More of a biology question than a physics question, but if I post on a biology board they will just send me here.

    Yes, I am considering performing the experiment if you don't need government permission to buy heavy water. I can afford to drink and cook with heavy water for a few months (assuming the quoted price was correct).

    Is this suicide? Is it pointless? Something in between?

    A side note: it might be fun create some paper that would carbon date to about 50k BC by growing papyrus in an atmosphere with artificially created isotope ratios, and then bury the paper near the sphinx. :devil: (No, I wouldn't actually do that) :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2004 #2
    Well, upon thought. It seems that it can be done. I wouldent think the extra neutron would harm you in any way. But since heavy water is 10% heavier than regular water, then this migh slow down your bodily processes, and act like a poison. Its your choice man.
  4. Aug 27, 2004 #3
    I would rather try it on an animal first. But legal issues might arise. You would have to check. It must have been studied by someone. Mass difference might actually make your heart work harder on heavy blood, which would be no good. And all chemical reactions in your body might be a bit slower, also no good.
  5. Aug 27, 2004 #4


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    It's already known that large amounts of heavy water are toxic. See for example the following links.

    http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mheavywater.html http://yarchive.net/med/heavy_water.html
  6. Aug 27, 2004 #5
    Surely some of the bodily processes which use water specifically wouldn't work with heavy water? ... I have doubts about how viable it'd be to try it. But if you ever do, let us know. It'd be interesting, to say the least!
  7. Aug 27, 2004 #6

    Thank for the links. Changing my body chemistry will remain a thought experiment. Stomach lining = good. Still, an LD50 of about 40kg makes it far less toxic than (for example) table salt. Interesting.

    I double checked the volume and price values for that pool of heavy water. It worked out to $5/kg, not $300/kg. Since you had multiple quotes of $300, either the article I read was wrong or they were just renting the water (not a joke, a possibility).

    Also interesting was the fact that distribution IS government controlled. Still, I could probably find a way to extract small quantities in my apartment (my electric bill is paid by my apartment complex :devil: ).
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