Dear Mr. Scientist,
Vampires are all the rage these days and it got me thinking. Could humans survive by only drinking blood? Is it safe?
In theory this sounds possible, right? Blood is full of nutrients, and vampire bats can live solely on blood, so certainly other animals should be able to as well. Ignoring the difficulty your body would have in absorbing enough nutrients from blood, there’s one major issue: because of its high iron content, blood is toxic to humans.
The human body has a difficult time excreting excess iron, and too much iron causes a condition called haemochromatosis. This leads to problems like liver damage, a buildup of fluid in the lungs, low blood pressure and nervous disorders. Vampire bats have developed a mucous membrane along their intestinal tracts that prevents the absorption of too much iron, but you are not a vampire bat and should not be drinking blood.
Dear Mr. Scientist,
I read an article about a Japanese company that plans to build an elevator to space by 2050. Is this really necessary? What’s wrong with rocket ships?
Sending things to outer space is really expensive. Depending on how far you want to go, the price can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per pound. The construction costs of an elevator may be high, but with operating costs being up to a thousand times lower, the elevator would quickly pay for itself. On top of that, there are no rocket engines involved, so there would no longer be a risk of having another tragedy like the Challenger disaster.
There is a small road block though. The cable for the elevator is planed to be over 60,000 miles long and made out of carbon nanotubes, according to the Japanese company proposing the plan. However, the current record for the longest carbon nanotube array is less than 20 cm.
Mr. Scientist is Michael Leitch. If you have a burning science question you'd like him to answer, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org