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Old 10-02-2010, 02:45 AM
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Default The Na'vi and our oxygen

I've read the survival guide, and I've never seen this answered anywhere else (I might have missed this, and if so, sorry) and maybe JC's novelization will enlightened us, but 'till then...

I was wondering if the Na'vi could actually breath our air (let's say inside hell's gate). We know they're impervious to Pandora's toxic air (for us), but what about if they have to breathe our "clean" air.

The only close call we see in the movie is when Neytiri scoops human Jake in her arms (while the module is being filled with Pandaora's "air").

How would their body react?

Just a thought...
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Old 10-02-2010, 02:54 AM
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The air is poisonous because Pandora's atmosphere has a carbon dioxide concentration of around 18% whereas Earth has 0.01-0.1% carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I am not sure how Earth's oxygen level and Pandora's oxygen level compare. Their bodily reaction would be based upon the difference in % of oxygen. Generally throughout Earth's history, larger animals have been present when oxygen levels are higher (the highest concentrations being around 30 to 35%). If the oxygen levels are vastly lower in Earth's atmosphere, then a Navi may have trouble breathing similar to how humans have trouble breathing at higher elevations. If its too low then they will die. If Earth's oxygen levels are higher then there should not be any immediate problems but long term complications can result usually in the form of organ damage.

Last edited by Banefull; 10-02-2010 at 03:01 AM.
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Old 10-02-2010, 03:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jachyra View Post
I've read the survival guide, and I've never seen this answered anywhere else (I might have missed this, and if so, sorry) and maybe JC's novelization will enlightened us, but 'till then...

I was wondering if the Na'vi could actually breath our air (let's say inside hell's gate). We know they're impervious to Pandora's toxic air (for us), but what about if they have to breathe our "clean" air.

The only close call we see in the movie is when Neytiri scoops human Jake in her arms (while the module is being filled with Pandaora's "air").

How would their body react?

Just a thought...
You've got it wrong......

Pandora's air is not "poisonous".

It has higher concentrations of Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulfide, and Xenon. The animals and plants that live there evolved under these conditions, so this is the mixture of gases that suits them best.

For animals living on Earth, Hydrogen Sulfide is highly toxic, and Carbon Dioxide is toxic in high enough concentrations, making it poisonous to us and any other animals that do not do well under such circumstances.

Since the Na'vi have reddish blood, we could make the assumption that they also use Hemoglobin to carry Oxygen on their red blood cells; Hemoglobin has an Iron ion in it's core, and the Oxygen molecules we breathe in bond to the Iron ion (this is also how rust forms) and the blood cells carry them to other cells, where the oxygen is removed and taken up by the cell.

So, if they use Oxygen for cellular respiration, and posses Hemoglobin (or another molecule that can bond with Oxygen and give it to cells) then as long as the air has Oxygen levels high enough to sustain them and nothing that is poisonous to them, they should be able to breathe clean Earth air just fine (although it might feel thin to them due to the lack of Xenon, a very heavy noble gas element).
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Old 10-02-2010, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Zai-en-ken View Post
You've got it wrong......
Pandora's air is not "poisonous".
I especially said poisonous for humans, not Na'Vi.

Anyway, my take would be since the Na'vi are able to "absorb" more poisonous (for us humans) elements in the air, they should be able to cope with our needs air wise.

Last edited by Jachyra; 10-02-2010 at 04:08 AM. Reason: Edit, typo
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Old 10-02-2010, 04:22 AM
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This is my problem with the theory that Na'vi can breathe human air.

They probably can... if there was enough. The air pressure is higher on Pandora. There are certain toxic gases in the air that prevent humans from breathing it directly, so we need exopacs. The Na'vi, so to speak, have their own "built-in" exopac in their bodies. They breathe pretty-much the same stuff we breathe, only their bodies filter out any toxic gases. In theory, that would mean they could breathe air on earth.

But since the air pressure is much lower on earth, that would automatically mean there's less oxygen to breathe. The Na'vi would be able to survive, but probably wouldn't live as long as they normally would on Pandora.

This is one theory scientists have on how the dinosaurs died out: because there wasn't enough oxygen at one point. A brachiosaurus' nostrils are as big as an average horse's. With 50% more oxygen, they'd survive. With our current atmosphere, they cannot survive. That's why "Jurassic Park" would never work. The dinosaurs cannot breathe as efficiently in our atmosphere as they could long ago. This assumes the atmosphere back then had a higher concentration of oxygen, thus allowing dinosaurs to live.

But anyway, I'm pretty-much in agreement with Banefull on this one. The Na'vi would survive on earth, but not nearly as long as they would if they stayed on Pandora.
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Old 10-02-2010, 06:16 AM
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The largest problem is the differing levels of carbon dioxide or CO2. The Pandoran air has about 18% CO2. Our air has about .04% CO2. It's that 18% CO2 that is immediately toxic to humans. I bet that a Na'vi could breath our air and not experience the immediate toxicity. It would almost for sure cause delayed issues. Now it's up to James Cameron what that time frame could be. It might be 15 minutes, an hour, a day or a week, but after some point I'm almost certain that the lack of CO2 would cause problems
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:57 AM
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I agree with txen. There would probably be no short-term problems for the Na'vi but we can't know about long-term ones. It should be noted that humans can live in atmospheres with different gas mixes as long as there is enough oxygen and nothing toxic. For example, deep-diving submarines sometimes use an oxygen-helium atmosphere rather than oxygen-nitrogen.
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Old 10-02-2010, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodsprite View Post
The air pressure is higher on Pandora. There are certain toxic gases in the air that prevent humans from breathing it directly, so we need exopacs.
That's true. In the survival guide, they explain that the exopacks basically contain a small filter for the toxins that have to be washed once every 3 months or so.

This means the air is not that different (except for the CO2 and toxins). It might be denser over there, but I guess the Na'vi could be able to breathe ours for a long time without problems.

Anyway, time (and JC) will tell...
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:26 PM
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They would be able to... carbon dioxide has no useful biological function except for presence is part of what speeds up breathing and circulation. Hydrogen sulphide has no useful biological properties, and is in fact poisonous. Humans can survive a low concentration, but a higher concentration kills them (although the levels of CO2 would first). The other main difference is more Xenon and less Argon, both of which are inert.
The Na'vi's respiration is oxygen based, just like humans. Red blood implies haemoglobin, so it's the same but with a higher tolerance for CO2 and H2S.

Woodsprite, the vehicles and buildings on Pandora are pressurised ABOVE the air pressure on Pandora (which is close to Earth's) so that in the case of any minor damage, air leaks OUT rather than in, stopping the atmosphere from incapacitating and killing the occupants.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
Woodsprite, the vehicles and buildings on Pandora are pressurised ABOVE the air pressure on Pandora (which is close to Earth's) so that in the case of any minor damage, air leaks OUT rather than in, stopping the atmosphere from incapacitating and killing the occupants.
True. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the air pressure inside any human vehicle or building is the same as it is on earth. Thus, you'd actually be breathing more oxygen if you were inside a compound on Pandora, rather than if you were breathing normal air on earth...

...But then, the earth in the Avatar universe is so badly putrified and toxic that it can't support human life any longer, so... I guess we could theorize whether or not the Na'vi could breathe on earth as it exists today, but it's pretty obvious that they couldn't breathe earth's air in 2154 Avatar-version earth.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Human No More View Post
They would be able to... carbon dioxide has no useful biological function except for presence is part of what speeds up breathing and circulation.
That's not quite true. CO2 is not really carried in your blood as dissolved CO2. Pretty much all living creatures have an enzyme carbonic anhydrase. It is clearly an ancient enzyme that evolved way back. In your tissues the CO2 is converted to the bicarbonate ion and the H+ ion. About 80% of the CO2 in your body is in that form. The bicarbonate ion is critical for regulating blood pH. Too much CO2 in the air you breath results in more CO2 in your blood. The CO2 in your blood gets turned into the bicarbonate ion and H+. Those hydrogen ions are literally acid and it lowers the pH of your blood. This is directly toxic.

The carbonic anhydrase enzyme is wide spread and is so useful it appear to have evolved five separate times. This is pretty unusual.

Now a Na'vi system would have the opposite problem. The lack of CO2 would tend to drive their tissues in to a more alkaline condition.
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:15 PM
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That is actually an interesting point. The difference would be manageable, though may be a problem if a Na'vi was in a human atmosphere for the long term (although then, they would likely just need to be exposed to a higher level of CO2 for maybe a few hours per day to maintain levels)

Woodsprite, RE pressures: Pandora's air pressure is 0.9 atmospheres. If we assume that RDA vehicles and buildings are therefore pressurised to 1 (makes sense in terms of comfort for humans while being above the ambient air pressure) then that is within the range for a Na'vi to survive with no discomfort or ill effects, humans can survive and even live in significantly further from average air pressures.

I agree on pollution though... a Na'vi may find it difficult to breathe while actually on Earth (as opposed to just an Earthlike gas mixture) without some kind of filter system because it would be their first encounter with pollution. While earth today would be likely tolerable (if unpleasant), 22nd century Earth is so badly polluted that exopacks are starting to be used there, so Na'vi would certainly need some kind of filter system for the air there.
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