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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford
||Human Blood Chlorophyll
||Replacement of elements of human blood with chlorophyll.
Early use of biological experimentation in humans.
|"The Committee knows very well the history of my work," he began, "and my knowledge of chlorophyll. The only method we have of converting the energy received from the sun is through the use of that substance. Chlorophyll, of course, is the green coloring matter of plants which has the peculiar property of transforming carbon dioxide gas, water, and the sun's energy, into starches and sugars which are available for assimilation by the animal world. All of our food supplies, save those produced in the laboratory by the direct conversion of energy into matter, are derived from this source. The method is round about and very uneconomical. First the energy must be converted into sugars and starches with the waste attendant on all forms of metabolism and then it must be reconverted into animal tissues with another large percentage waste. Sometimes it is allowed to go through still another step, as occurs when we feed plans to animals and then eat the products of the animal life in the form of eggs, milk and meat. In such a case, not over one-half of one per cent of the initial energy taken from the sun ever goes into the animal tissue. It is my hope to remedy this situation and eliminate the waste.
"Chlorophyll is a very complex substance. The Sub-committee is familiar with the work that I did some thirty years ago, when I revolutionized plant husbandry thus enabling five crops of grain a year to be raised on land that formerly produced but only one crop. This was done by substituting for some of the nitrogen atoms in normal chlorophyll, an atom of radium, and by decreasing by four, the number of carbon atoms with corresponding decreases in the oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The result was a substance which is five times as efficient as chlorophyll and which differs from hematin in the location of the double bonds connecting some of the atoms. For the benefit of the members of the Press, I will state that hematin is one of the constituents of hemoglobin, the red coloring matter of the blood which enables the carbon dioxide produced in the body to be eliminated by way of the lungs. Hemoglobin consists of hematin and of globin, a basic protein.
"It is my opinion that it is possible to replace that hematin of the blood by superchlorophyll or some related substance and thus enable mankind to utilize directly the energy derived from the sun. Should my theory be correct, mankind can subsist on water and a small amount of dissolved mineral matter with the aid of sunlight. Agriculture will be unnecessary and the enormous space devoted to raising of plants can be utilized for dwelling space. The food supply of this world will be increased by over five thousand per cent and the danger of a world-wide starvation removed. The idea of realizing the free energy of atoms is idealistic. It has been attempted for the last century and a half without material success. It is improbable that the problem can be solved in time to be of any value in the impending crisis. On the other hand, success has crowned my efforts along the lines of plant biology and I believe that in five years I can solve my problem. I therefore request authority from the Sub-Committee to work on my theory and ask for space, funds and assistants to carry on the work."
|From The Murgatroyd Experiment,
by S.P. Meek.
Published by Amazing Stories Quarterly in 1929
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