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Name: Aaron
Status: student
Age: 15
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 4/8/2003


Question:
Fish can pull oxygen from water, they have gills made to do this when moving water is going through them. My question is, with todays technology, could not people create a gill like machine so that humans could pull oxygen from water. My science teacher said it was possible and if I invented it I would make lots of money. So I would like to know how a fishes gills can take oxygen from water, like the design of a fishes gill. If you can send me pictures of models of how gills work and tell me why these structures do what they do. I am very interested on the subject and hope you reply.


Replies:
A gill is not all that different from a lung. Both use the basic principles of concentrations/partial pressures of oxygen and a carrier molecule (hemoglobin) to bind the oxygen and carry it to the tissues. It is also a requirement to bind carbon dioxide and carry it away from the tissues and release it in the lungs of gills. Hemoglobin is the central molecule here. A possibility would to be to look into artificial blood and find a way to use that in making an artificial gill. Then the artificial blood once it passed through the gill could transfer its oxygen to the air and then to our lungs. In essence, what you are trying to do is find a way to extract oxygen from water and then provide it to a human under water. Lots of challenging problems. Good Luck.

Peter Faletra


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