Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Must We Breathe?

Do people have to inhale with the lungs to get oxygen to the tissues? No. It has been proposed more than once that, for various reasons, oxygen could be directly entered into the bloodstream (which is where it goes, anyway, through alveoli in the lung tissues) by various methods. Interesting concept.

Frog larvae (tadpoles) are herbivores that eat algae with small teeth while the adult frog eats invertebrates with a specialized tongue; the tadpole locomotes in the horizontal plane by undulating a tail while the adult includes a vertical dimension of movement by activating muscles fixed to a rigid skeleton; the tadpole's main sense is olfaction whereas the adult frog's is vision...and other transformations...What can we learn about these phase-shifts that can feed wisdom? More than we can imagine, I imagine.

When polar explorer Borge Ousland first reported swimming across gaps between frozen sea ice in the Arctic--taking his example from the polar bear--everyone said he was mad; today, nobody goes up there without an immersion suit because swimming across is infinitely better than trying to paddle across atop an unstable sled full of equipment. In the 1830's one scientist toyed with the 'crazy' idea of using gravitational assist to fling spacecraft through space; today the Galileo probe is visiting the moons of Jupiter coutesy of half a dozen gravity assist maneuvers, allowing it to carry 60 times less fuel than if it did not use gravity assist.

'Crazy' ideas must be given room to breathe!

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