[MUD-Dev] Re: Some thoughts on languages and users - was: Ma

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Mon May 11 15:51:24 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Wed, 6 May 1998 14:24:45 -0500 (CDT) 
Travis S Casey<efindel at io.com> wrote:

> On Wed, 6 May 1998, J C Lawrence wrote:
>> One of the more interestingly deadly gases is plain old carbon
>> dioxide.  (Yep, the stuff we breathe out).
>> There exist a number of locations Africa (for instance) where
>> nearly pure CO2 seeps from the ground and collects (its slightly
>> veavier than air due to air's high nitrogen content etc) in
>> hollows.  Any critter stepping into such a seemingly pleasant
>> hollow and taking more than a couple breaths of is doomed.  The CO2
>> binds preferentially with heamaglobin (that's how it gets to the
>> lungs to get out of our bodies) effectively asphyxiating the poor
>> beast in very short order.

> Minor point: CO2 doesn't bind more strongly to hemoglobin than O2
> does -- if it did we'd all shortly suffocate, since the lungs would
> be unable to exchange CO2 for O2.  CO, however, does bind more
> strongly than O2 -- about 10,000 times as strongly.

True.  (And thanks to all the other corrections).

However, given a lung full of CO2 (rarefied O2), the CO2 in the blood
stream will tend to not exchange with oxygen in the atmosphere
(osmosis doesn't work that way).  Instead oxygen will actually leave
the bloodstream and more CO2 enter.

The result is the same -- near certain death.

> Isaac Asimov's _The Stars, Like Dust_ has a small world which has
> enough oxygen for humans to breathe, but which has too *little* CO2
> -- CO2 helps to regulate our breahing mechanism, so if there's too
> little of it in the air, we won't breathe often enough.  Thus, the
> characters have to have canisters which slowly leak extra CO2 into
> the air around their mouths and noses.  It sounds unlikely to me,
> but Asimov had a PhD in biochemistry, so he's more likely right than
> I am.

Ooo!  I forgot that one.  A good read.

Yep, he's right.

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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