Science is Awesome: Humans Can Breathe Liquid

Depending upon one’s teachers at school when they were younger (or older), there can be an affinity for or a strong aversion from science. I remember fondly some of the teachers I had in science (and then in physics and chemistry, when I was able to pick different topics in science). Heck, I even remember the analogy my biology professor used to explain diffusion at university.

I recognize that not everyone feels this way about science and talks of “randomized controlled trials” (RCTs), experiments, studies, or anything with language like that can be intimidating. This is certainly frustrating. There is so much good that comes from science (of course, there are some not so nice externalities sometimes), but we’ll just say that science has certainly been a net positive for society through time. If you need a clear example, the life expectancy of a person born in the US at the turn of the last last century (1900), was mid-to-late-40’s. Nowadays, some people’s true career doesn’t start until they’ve turned 50!

Anyway, so yes, the subheadline of today’s post — humans can breathe liquid. Just as a brief aside, can you imagine how cool that would be if this were true? Can you imagine plumbing the depths of the Marianas trench (uh, a really deep part of the ocean) without needing to be in a vessel (OK, OK, easy before some of you write me to say that the human body couldn’t withstand that kind of pressure — let’s just imagine for a moment that that wouldn’t happen).

Right — breathing liquid. A few weeks ago, I came across an article that I thought was some sort of science fiction or at least theoretical (i.e. humans used to breathe liquid, but we don’t anymore). Turns out, it’s not. Turns out, doctors have newborns (!) breathe liquid to help stabilize their lungs (WTF!?). OK, so here’s an excerpt:

Seven years later [1995], another team using refined liquid breathing techniques tried PFC liquid ventilation on 13 premature babies suffering from severe respiratory distress who were not expected to survive. Liquid breathing resulted in an improvement for a majority of the infants, potentially by stabilizing alveoli and reducing surface tension within the nascent lungs. Put more simply, the premies’ lungs weren’t ready for a gas environment, and PFC provided a nurturing bridge been amniotic fluid in the womb and outside air. Incredibly, eight of the infants survived at four-month follow-up.

The human body is pretty cool, eh? Science is awesome.

Published by Jeremiah Stanghini

Jeremiah's primary aim is to provide readers with a new perspective. In the same vein as the "Blind Men and the Elephant," it can be difficult to know when one is looking at the big picture or if one is simply looking at a 'tusk' or a 'leg.' He writes on a variety of topics: psychology, business, science, entertainment, politics, history, etc.

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