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Modified Respiratory System

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One possibility for the transhuman design concept involves a modification of the current human respiratory system--the lungs and air passageways. Our own form is, while rather efficient, not quite as superb as that of birds. Our particular use of air sacs means that we only absorb about 20% of the oxygen we inhale--the other 80% are released immediately in the same breath. Bird lungs make use of various air sacs as well, but in an arrangement of air flow so as to make updake of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide for efficient.

Yet another option is the adoption of the respiratory framework of aquatic life, such as fish, utilizing counter-current exchange, a remarkable system in which the blood--depleted of oxygen and rich in carbon dioxide--flows in one way while the air flow--rich in oxygen but depleted in carbon dioxide--flows in the other. In such an arrangement, transfer of gases occurs along the entire length of contact between these two systems so that most of the oxygen (as opposed to at most half in the avian model) can be transferred to the bloodstream. We can only hope that, with such a method perfected, we will be able to obtain an 80% efficiency in oxygen uptake.

What are the advantages of such an improvement? The answer is open-ended. For starters, people will be better able to survive in environments lower in oxygen as well as undergo more metabolism or exercise in the same time period and become exhausted slower. The list goes on and on...

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