Oceans of Opportunity

liquid breathing and the miracle of life

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiA wonderful Thanksgiving suprise was the arrival of my little Olive. It goes without saying that she was carefully inspected by her family for gills and webbed feet to see how much of her Dad was inherited right off. All kidding aside, among the most striking elements of Olive’s grand entrance was the realization that she had been living in an aquatic world for the last nine months…and using a higher technology than the rest of us have had the means to put together for our worldly exploits here on terra firma.

Amniotic fluid fills the lungs of the fetus and is exchanged in and out of the lungs to encourage lung development, however fetal oxygenation and carbon dioxide removal comes from blood exchange with the mother via the placenta. Once born, and the lungs are drained of amniotic fluid, the newborn’s own respiratory system kicks into gear, with oxygenation of the blood coming from atmospheric exchange in the lungs. This transformation is truly amazing, as our (human) physiology all changes at an instant.

Now of course the idea of breathing oxygenated fluid rather than gas would have tremendous advantages for extreme environment exploration – be it for very deep diving, thus elimnating the many challenges stemming from gas pressure, or for space exploration, where the effects of g-forces could be reduced with fluid immersion. However, the science behind this is much less related to fetal ‘breathing’ than we might consider at face value.

Nevertheless, considering we are born from a liquid medium, there is much to learn as we consider an evolution back to a liquid medium. In the meantime, little Olive will have to wait patiently for 10 years or so til she can start sharing in my underwater explorations the more conventional way.

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *