An Epiphany About Vulcan Physiology

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Defiler-Of-Redshirts, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. Defiler-Of-Redshirts

    Defiler-Of-Redshirts Commander Red Shirt

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    It does makes sense that their resting heartbeat is 300 bpm. Because earth's crustacean family also has copper-based blood (I'm a huge fan of sauteed lobster tails and I'm sorry, but Mr. Roddenberry didn't invent that concept; it already exists on this planet) but copper is only 25% as efficient as iron in delivering oxygen compounds. Now that's no problem with cold-blooded ocean life because they only burn a tiny fraction of the amount of oxygen as us warm-blooded mammals. So for copper-based blood to properly oxygenate a mammalian body like a Vulcan, the heart would have to be racing the blood around the system and lungs many times faster than a human heart, to compensate for copper's shortcomings compared to iron.

    It's probably the same reason why whales evolved the ability to hold their breath a long time and sometimes surface to breathe - as opposed to evolving gills like fish; because whales are mammals and fish gills could never provide the amount of oxygen that we endothermic life require.

    I'm a science/medicine geek who's worked a number of medical-bureaucrat jobs over the years so these are naturally the kinds of thoughts that occur to me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  2. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As Spock would say: fascinating.
     
  3. JaffreyPanthosa

    JaffreyPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What makes you think they don’t have a way better VO2Max?
     
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  4. DanGussin

    DanGussin Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    It's also interesting that McCoy also referred to Vulcan blood as "Ice water" which implies that Vulcan blood may be a coolant adapted for a high Temp environment. Typically, absorption of oxygen and many other molecules is more efficient when heated, so an increased heart rate may also compensate for a lower percent of O2 saturation in Vulcan blood than typical for warm blooded species.
     
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  5. Defiler-Of-Redshirts

    Defiler-Of-Redshirts Commander Red Shirt

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    Interesting. Maybe Vulcans are semi-warm-blooded, with a slightly cooler body temp. than humans. It would make sense in adapting to a planetary oven-climate similar to the 100+degree American Southwest summers. I remember reading in some non-canon source that Vulcan bodies are internally cooler than ours, but radiate more body heat than us humans. Because their green blood cells have a convex shape designed to dissipate extra body heat. Presumably in adaptation to Vulcan's brutally hot climate, because it orbits fairly close to its somewhat sun-like 40 Eridani.
     
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  6. Tim Thomason

    Tim Thomason Commodore Commodore

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    Vulcans are genetically engineered chimeras created by Sargon's people a couple million years ago.
     
  7. DanGussin

    DanGussin Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    The other interesting part of this is the concern in "Journey To Babel " about the unique construction of the Vulcan heart that would make surgery difficult.

    I have an image in my head of a very complex and delicate micro capillary system surrounding the heart to assist with cooling, similar to what we see in NASA space suits of today. This would be consistent with the concern about massive bleeding in Babel and seem to make sense from a biology point of view.

    And just for fun - How would a Vulcans skeletal structure provide protection for a heart that is not deep in the center of a chest cavity ? It seems as though Vulcan lungs are in about the same place as human lungs so ribs would be required in the chest to allow for breathing. In Vulcans, could the ribcage extend further down into the abdomen and be curved in a way that would surround the heart ? If so, access to the heart during a surgical procedure could be very difficult.
     
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  8. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That may have been another of McCoy's jabs at Vulcans. He sees them all as cold, so he calls their blood ice water.
     
  9. Defiler-Of-Redshirts

    Defiler-Of-Redshirts Commander Red Shirt

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    Maybe because Vulcans need bigger lungs for the thin air on their planet, which take up their entire chest cavity. Which caused their hearts to evolve on the right side of their ribcage - so biologically their hearts are still protected by the lower ribcage.
     
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  10. Brain Melter

    Brain Melter Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I always wonder why the Vulcans don't have greenish skin. Because our skin is only pinkish because of the red blood that is seen by transparency through our very white skin. So the color of Vulcan skin is rather hard to explain.
     
  11. Defiler-Of-Redshirts

    Defiler-Of-Redshirts Commander Red Shirt

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    Sometimes it looked like Spock was wearing greenish eye-shadow. Maybe Vulcan skin has fibers, pigments or qualities that make their blood chemistry less visually apparent than in us humans. For example, lobsters have blue-green blood but their shells are brown (which become fire-engine-red after you cook them, that's how you know a lobster tail is properly cooked and neither color resembles their blood). As Spock himself would say, "There are always possibilities."
     
  12. Brain Melter

    Brain Melter Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What is funny is that they manage to have pinkish skin with green blood so that means that their skin is actually violet!:D
     
  13. Spock Riding

    Spock Riding Commodore Premium Member

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    Instead of thinking more arteries and veins to make up the efficiency issue with copper versus iron, maybe the blood cells themselves are more complex with vastly higher surface area or reaction sites. A sphere shaped blood cell like our human cells versus a waded-up sheet shaped cell with a huge surface area. The amount of copper concentration in each cell could have 10-20 times more than an iron blood cell to make up for the 25% efficiency plus a thinner oxygen content in the Vulcan air.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  14. Dry Bones 37

    Dry Bones 37 Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps their skin is far less translucent than human as a protective factor against the thinner atmosphere, and thus, more atmospheric background radiation.

    I think I have that right.

    Also, love your analysis. I'm a huge medical geek and figuring out alien physiology is a weird fascination of mine.
     
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  15. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Probably just to save money on actors' makeup, like with TOS Klingons.
     
  16. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    That was the weird thing. In one episode, McCoy describes the Vulcan heart as being located roughly where the human liver is, yet in another episode, he points to his lower left back, saying the Vulcan heart is "Right about here." For years I wondered which one was the mistake.
     
  17. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What do you mean "our" white skin?

    (fairly dark brown)
     
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  18. Brain Melter

    Brain Melter Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What I mean is that without blood, white people would really be white.
     
  19. Dry Bones 37

    Dry Bones 37 Admiral Admiral

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    That, and, if not done right makes actors look sick.
     
  20. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Another problem: Making the skin greenish would have also required greening the lips and inside of the mouth, and there's no way they would have bothered with that.