Sci-Fi Human Requirements Of Life

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Lets explore what it takes to be a human being. Starting with the basic requirements. Many of us delude ourselves into thinking we could not live without things. As I see it, there are only a few actual requirements to live.
Such as;

Air-
We need air to breathe. Not just any air, a specific concoction of chemicals in our atmosphere. Change the elements or the ratios by a significant amount and we die.
Speculative fiction explores this with space suits, environmental suits, habitats, enclosed ecosystems, atmospheric plants and terraforming. If you think about it, the air we breathe is a result of our planets creation, unique to this planet only. The oxygen levels have been decreasing over time as the planet ages. In the past there was more oxygen and in the future there will be less. Try to imagine a world with half the oxygen we now have. What will life look like? What adaptation would our bodies take to survive in such a world? We need our air to survive.

Heat-
Our bodies require an Earth-like temperature range to survive. Even so, there are places on this planet where slight variations in temperature can kill us. The range of those temperatures are reduced because we have developed means to protect our bodies from the elements. Clothes, shelter, heating systems and cooling systems have opened our planet to us. Imagine if we were naked. Could we survive where you live right now?
Our planet is heated by many variables that you may not know about. Not only does our star warm our planet, it has internal heat as well as tidal friction caused by our moon. Static electricity created by our atmospheric processes causes lightning that also provides us with warmth. Animal bodies generate heat as we burn calories and industrial and electronics industries generate heat. The heat that we know is unique to us. Imagine a planet that has different heat sources. Temperatures could vary to extremes that we are not accustomed to. On the flip-flop, temperatures that are static may be detrimental to our bodies because we evolved in temperature fluctuations. Imagine a place where temperature may swing from 90 deg to -130 to 160 in a matter of minutes. Also try to imagine a place where the temperature is 94 deg (+-)2 deg all the time. We need our heat to survive.

Water-
Our bodies need water. Specific water at a specific temperature. H2O is not the only elements of our water. Our water is processed by a unique cycle on our planet. The moon churns the water and mixes elements of earth and air into the mix. We purify the water so our bodies can use it. Some water can kill us. Even on our own planet. There is biological contamination, radiated and heavy water to name a few. Any exploration to another planet would require us to be able to purify the waters for our bodies to use it. Water may be abundant in the universe but purification devices may not be. Imagine being somewhere there is abundant water but it is laden with chemicals that our bodies cannot handle. We need our water to survive.

Food-
We must have a constant supply of food for our bodies. All the food we have ever eaten has been from our planet. Whether its raw meat, raw plant or enzymes. Even processed food is made from elements found on this planet. Imagine a forest planet where life is abundant yet there is a planetary element that is toxic to our systems. Food everywhere but all of it would kill you if you ate it. Imagine a place where the food you eat wont kill you but your body burns it too rapidly and it doesn't support our calorie needs. You eat tremendous amounts and remain hungry. Soon you starve to death with a full tummy. We need our food to survive.

Gravity-
Gravity you say? Why is that a necessity to survival? Well, think about it. We know recently that astronauts loose bone mass and have muscle failure in microgravity. We know that pilots of supersonic jets can pass out and die from excessive gee forces. We evolve on this planet at this gravity but our planet is not the only thing that establishes our gravitational needs. The moon pulls on the planet which creates variables in our gravity that is cyclic. The mass of our star offsets the planets gravity tho we cant feel it. We are accustomed to our gravity. Imagine a world where there are variations to our gravitational norm. No moon, Larger or smaller planet, different heavy elements, larger or smaller star, closer or more distant celestial objects. What changes would our bodies feel? Would we have super-strength or be weaklings. What affects would this have on our long term health. Would we be able to digest food? In addition, what would happen to the atmosphere and solid ground under our feet. Could we walk on water or sink into the planet surface? Could we fly or glide?
Chances are there are very few planets that can match our earthlike gravity. We need our gravity to survive.

Sunlight-
If you think about it we are dependent on our specific sunlight to survive. We evolved in the radiation of our parent star. The sun's specific composition causes its radiation to have specific properties. Our atmosphere also changes the solar radiation to accommodate our planet's life. In space, astronauts need to shield themselves from the direct effects of solar radiation. Imagine a place where the star has a different chemical composition. The planet has an element in its atmosphere that changes its light. Would our eyes be able to see at all? Perhaps we could see a sub-spectrum or super-spectrum. What if the light just instantly blinded you? What would changes in the light do to your skin? What if the light penetrated deeper into your bodies. what would you look like if you could see peoples skeletons or food digesting? What would it do to your internal body processes? We need our light to survive.

What other basic requirements are needed for humans to survive. Not amenities, just basic life process. We get accustomed to things in our daily live that we feel must be there or we will die but most of those things are not actually required for us to survive. For instance, we need shelter but we dont need a home. We need food but we dont need to actually like the taste. Do we need companionship? Do we need words? Is reproduction a requirement of life? We are alive before we reproduce, right?
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Sunlight can actually be mitigated by artificial lighting that produces light at the same wavelengths as the sun. There are already some systems in place for this with underground malls and even some living areas. Natural light, as you describe, could very well be a factor on a different planet when outdoors but humans could still colonize the planet.
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Everyday I carry a full cup of coffee to my desk and enjoy reading updates on my favorite sites. I manage to carry a cup of hot fluid, filled to the rim, about 20 feet without spilling it despite the fact that I am moving about 1,000 mph. Even with the tidal forces of the Moon and other celestial objects I think of my speed as smooth.
Imagine a planet that has a pulsing speed due to a lop-side in its mantle or a large void of magma in its outer core. Imagine a planet that has a heavier moon or no moon. What if the planet just spins twice our speed? Would we have difficulty balancing? Would our construction projects stand erect or continually fall over? Imagine trying to take a bath when the tidal forces cause the water to slosh out of the tub every 5 minutes. Would we get ear aches due to having to over-compensate to keep our balance? Would our vision be distorted, coordination hampered?

Sunlight can actually be mitigated by artificial lighting
This is very true. If we are trying to colonize a planet for duration and the planet is perfect except for the natural light from the star is different will we want to stay hidden forever? We are currently just exploring our star system to look. If we actually make it to another star, it will probably be a final destination. Even if our new planet is as close to an exact match to Earth as possible it will still be different, if ever so slightly. Even a slight change in our ozone layer drastically affects our sunlight. By your assumption, we will be doomed to exist underground or inside protective habitats.

Right now, to colonize Mars we will require habitats for our life requirements. Will there be an effect on the population from the decrease in sunlight, pressure changes, orbital speed, tidal forces or other factors that will change the human condition? The first child born on Mars, even inside a habitat, will be born without tidal forces affecting their life cycles. They will have been born and grown in lesser gravity, lesser sunlight and a multitude of variances. Will that human child actually be human anymore? What if the child grows to adult on Mars and wishes to return to Earth? Sure it lived in a Earth-like environment all its life but it never experienced direct sunlight on its body, Earth gravity, speed, tidal forces and the like.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
By your assumption, we will be doomed to exist underground or inside protective habitats.
Until humans add the ability to terraform other celestial bodies, I think the possibility of early colonization will definitely be an indoor life.
Will that human child actually be human anymore? What if the child grows to adult on Mars and wishes to return to Earth?
"Stranger in a Strange Land" :whistle:
 

Tom

An Old Friend
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
Until humans add the ability to terraform
Terraforming is insufficient. Which is actually the whole point of this discussion.
Until we have the ability to create an entire planet in a habitable Star system terraforming is a pipe dream.
Its like putting lipstick on a pig and calling it a date.
This is one of those times when science gets in the way of science fiction.

Lets say we wanted to terraform Mars for human occupation long term. Even if we can create an atmosphere the first solar wind that comes along will strip that away because Mars has a minimal magnetosphere. Mars is less massive than the Earth so even the gravity of the planet won't help. The Sun is cyclic. About every seven years it goes into Solar Maximum and it erupts Coronal Mass ejections. Even if we were able to ward off the affects of the lower gravity somehow it would be a gambit as to how long the atmosphere will survive the Solar weather.
That's just the atmosphere.

As far as I know there is no terraforming description that changes the gravity of a planet. Gravity is a big issue for terraforming. I'm not just referring to keeping the atmosphere against the surface. Lets say we terraform a planet and start a diverse biosphere. Will water rain down like its supposed to? We imported our seeds and the plants we used to help terraform must also deal with the change in gravity. Now, we know that plants can grow in micro-gravity from ISS experiments under controlled conditions. But a biosphere is not a controlled condition.

Sunlight on Mars is weaker with high radiation from cosmic rays. Will our terraforming plant-life be able to cope with less sunlight and higher radiation? Sure we have plants here that endure a wide range of extreme conditions that might thrive on a terraformed Mars but what value are they to us? Can you eat cynobacteria laden tubeworms? Take a look at the plants that are naturally found on Antarctica. Oh, wait, there are no plants there. Mars is going to be cold. Even if we manage to make an atmosphere similar to Earth it will be cold and frozen most of the time. Ah, but we could flood the planet with greenhouse gasses to create a greenhouse enhanced atmosphere to warm the planet up. Lets see, Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide freeze on Mars. Okay, lets warm the planet using nuclear bombs to warm the planet so greenhouse gasses can accumulate. Well, we have exploded many atomic/nuclear bombs on the Earth and it had very little effect on the atmosphere. Are we talking perhaps a Billion bombs? One billion atomic bombs manufactured on Earth, Lifted into space, transported to Mars then exploded on the planet surface. All without actually knowing if it will work and even if it does the planet will be irradiated for a half million years to the point that nothing could grow and thrive.

I have a saying: If you must argue a point you should have a counter-argument. Never complain unless you have a solution. Well, I have no solution to terraforming. I just can't see how it would ever work. No matter how hard we try, how advanced our technology can become we will never be able to terraform anything to meet the human needs.

We could, however. change the human to the environment. To do so, we need to understand exactly, and I do mean Exactly, what a human requires to survive. From the type, spectrum, density and temperature of sunlight to the cycles of tidal forces. Terraforming and long duration space travel is just fanciful thinking. How durable or frail is the human equation? Really?
 
Top