5
$\begingroup$

In my world, a small population on an isolated island were bitten by radioactive electric eels while fishing. I read that the eels can send out carefully timed signals through their nervous systems to activate the electric organs which generates electricity . Science is still debating why they don't accidentally shock themselves. I'd like my subjects to be able to grow similar organs inside their bodies but with a safety mechanism in place (this is unprecedented because nature kept it a secret).

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a good question, but without a natural precedent to guide answers, how will you judge the best answer? As written, this question is POB. $\endgroup$ – JBH Feb 14 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH: I believe there are many ways nature do things but there is a distinction between electric eel and electric catfish so this also apply to my subjects meaning because i have chosen the eels. So any good answer must apply to both eel and human provided it must not conflict with science, I can only grant a one time scientific miracle to radioactive electric eels and that's it. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Feb 14 at 4:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't know enough to give you a proper answer, but I would imagine that the electricity would always follow the path of least resistance. In this case, just make sure the resistance between the electrical organ and the vital organ is high enough that the electrical charge will jump onto the target instead. Your only issue is that air, unlike sea water, has very good electrical resistance. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Feb 14 at 5:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee: I recently read that the eels can flex their body to avoid shocking their heart and then my imagination runs wild, I picture a person doing yoga to control the curse and turns it into a gift... But sadly few will survive doing jack knifes while those doing crunches would be killed I guess. BTW right now I am more concern about the internal body so we can neglect the safety of the surrounding people and object. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Feb 14 at 5:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ electric eels DO shock themselves, sometimes fatally. Even with a perfect performance they still give themselves a pretty hearty jolt, they have done everything physiologically they can to insulate themselves but it does not help much. worse as Shadowzee mentioned the contortions won't help on land. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 14 at 5:46
5
$\begingroup$

First of all, most of my reading on electric eels indicates that they do sometimes shock themselves, but that the real danger they face is the charge going through their heart. They have the ability to kill themselves with their own shock, but tend to shape themselves in a way that protects themselves as much as possible before discharge. But, for the purposes of the question, what mechanisms could humans use?

Humans have a distinct advantage over eels in this regard because they naturally live in the atmosphere, not water. Water is a great conductor; air, not so much. So, the real danger of humans having electrical generation organs in their bodies would relate to their capacity to touch their target.

In such a case, you're probably going to have some conduit that allows the electricity to flow through a given channel from that organ through to (say) the tips of their fingers. But, the human body is around 70% water which is a great conductor! What ever shall we do?

Fortunately, nature already has a solution to this - Cellulose. There are even electrical insulation papers that are made specifically because they are pure cellulose, and act as an insulator. This is a natural organic compound, critical in many respects to both plant and animal life, so your augmented humans probably have a tertiary circulatory system, made exclusively of some of hollow cellulose, channeling a conductive fluid (could even double up on the lymphatic system) that allows the discharge to release through the dermal layer.

In its present form, there are a LOT of problems with this model, but fundamentally in an atmospheric environment rather than an aquatic environment, the key to biological electrical discharges is going to be insulation that allows the electricity to be discharged to a contact point. If you have a need for a natural insulator, one that already exists in a biological context and is therefore not so exotic, cellulose would seem to be a good fit.

From there, the question is the design of the dispersal or circulatory system that fits into the human body to make all this possible in a similar manner to an eel.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.