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In the world I'm building, there's a race of sapient, technologically advanced lizard people, most of whom live in an enormous, climate-controlled city. Based on the answers to this question, it seems that being cold-blooded could actually be an advantage in such an environment, where they can keep as warm as they like.

But their civilization also has a strong military that needs to operate in a variety of diverse locations, ranging from blistering desert to cool, temperate forest to frigid wasteland. Cold-blooded reptiles would probably be at an enormous disadvantage in such situations (correct me if I'm wrong).

Thankfully, this species has access to advanced cybernetics and genetic engineering, and so, the proposal circulates that they engineer their soldiers to be better suited to operations outside the city. So, what changes should be made?

I want to know what technological solution would be most effective at increasing cold-blooded soldiers' ability to effectively and reliably operate in diverse and fluctuating climates.

  • Genetically engineer them to be warm-blooded?
  • Install an internal heat source?
  • Just wear an integrated heat blanket?
  • Something else?

Cost is no object, but difficulty might be if one option is significantly less feasible than another. Technology levels are significantly more advanced than present day, but not to the point where technology is unrecognizable.

Also, I'm not particularly interested in changes directly aimed at making them better at combat, just at making them generally better at functioning in non-ideal environments. But metaphorical bonus points if your solution also has immediate combat potential (e.g. internal heat source can be used to incinerate enemies).

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    $\begingroup$ "Warm-blooded" actually means homeothermic. There are two components: producing enough heat to keep warm when the environment is cold, and shedding heat to avoid overheating when doing work or the environment is warm. The physiology of homeotherms is very different from that of "cold-blooded" poikilotherms. Controlled shedding of heat is actually the hardest part; it is the main reason why reptiles have no endurance -- they can have small burst of high energy but they cannot sustain a high-level of effort for a long time because they overheat. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 30 '17 at 12:11
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The First , general option, would be Suits. Powered by handwavium batteries to run small, controlled heating elements in the torso, limb, and tail sections. The batteries are modular, rechargeable, and hot swappable. The suits all contain a full head enclosing hood. Breathing can cause rapid loss of heat in very harsh environments, so make sure you keep the hood up as much as possible. Suit capabilities can be extended with a series of hard, modular covers that can be hung off of the core suit and powered by the same handwavium batteries. options include research equipment, long range communications gear, melee weapons, and projectile weapons. (think of a medieval suit of armor that starts with quilted garments, then chainmail, then plate mail over the top)

The second option would be Implants. Implant tiny heaters directly in the torso and along the long bones. Treat them like pacemakers that need replacing every so often. The problem with this is that it would allow troops out in the generally colder regions, but it would be unpleasant, and it probably wouldn't be able to keep up with the harsher climates or winters. You might look into nanobot heaters directly in the blood stream but that is a pretty big technological leap, so it would depend on how far along your lizard-dudes are. I can't think of any combat bonus this would grant.

Genetically engineering them to be warm blooded though would be a non trivial project. You are talking about massive changes to the physiology that would include things like cellular heat generation, temperature regulation, and so on and so on. There is an awful lot to consider.

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  • $\begingroup$ The suits could more easily have thermal regulation, preventing the wearer from overheating as well as over-cooling. Implants would, I think, be harder to adjust for variable temperatures... not just not warm enough for some temperatures, but too warm for others and no easy way to shed them (or the heat) if things go too far out of balance. $\endgroup$ – Megha Mar 31 '17 at 0:56
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Cost is no object, but difficulty might be if one option is significantly less feasible than another

Implanting a quantity of sub-dermal (and removable) plutonium-238 pellets tailored for the target climate would be relatively easy.

This is simply the "thermal" part of a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, with all the "electric" part removed as we are only interested in heat.

To achieve smaller mass at the expense of mission duration, polonium-210 could be used. It is a powerful alpha emitter, and a half dozen grams, suitably divided in several dozen shielded pellets for a total mass of perhaps half a kilogram, could easily heat the largest lizard, providing around 800 W of thermal power.

Ideally, you would implant surgical bypasses around arteries, with a slot for the pellets. This way, the pellet would directly and more efficiently warm the blood.

If a thermal superconductor is available, then implant a permanent network of superconducting fibers, coated in inert material that's not biologically reactive, and at key points in the network place fewer, but larger, heating pellets.

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For colder environments suggest having them produce antifreeze or an antifreeze equivalent chemical compound in their blood. Certain species of insects, fish plants and organisms. More information here- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antifreeze_protein#Fish_AFPs

On another note. You could perhaps invent some sort of nanobots that chemically react to keep your soldiers warm or something along those lines like others have said. I like the suit idea for this personally.

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