What if…and “Bullet-proof Human Skin”

As discussed here, scientists are attempting to create bullet-proof human skin by genetically engineering goats to produce milk that contains the protein found in spider silk. Putting aside all the Frankenstein or Island of Dr. Moreau elements of this story (spider goats?), it’s a pretty interesting idea. The article even contains photos of the “skin” stopping a bullet fired from a .22 rifle.

Before I even discuss the what if questions that come from having bullet-proof humans, I think a few caveats are in order. Bullet-proof skin wouldn’t stop knives or the concussion wave from an explosion–just like regular skin (or so I would think). Similarly, although the skin might stop a bullet from penetrating, the shock of the force the bullet delivers might be enough to bruise skin, break bones, or even damage internal organs. So it’s a cool idea, but not a bullet-proof injury-prevention idea (of course that pun was intended).

What if you were able to completely bullet-proof your skin, or, say, the skin of a company of soldiers/mercenaries/security personnel? These individuals would carry less weight and be able to move more freely, faster, and longer than those wearing traditional, Kevlar gear.

But how would enemies respond? Assuming we are dealing with a story about bullet-proof people fighting normal humans on Earth (or some similar environment not in space, so as to avoid complications of a spacesuit), wouldn’t the “normals” resort to explosives, fragmentary grenades and such? There’s also bladed weapons if in close range. It seems like you have the basis for a good high-tech, genetically enhanced super soldiers vs. low-tech “normals” asymmetric warfare story. What if your story dealt with the development of new tech and tactics (on both sides) in light of a new type of war?

What if a bunch of bullet-proof people, fresh from putting down a human rebellion, had to fight an alien species off-world? What if the aliens used biological or chemical weapons, acid, poison, etc.? What if your great tech was suddenly worthless, or worse, the spider proteins were affected by the alien weapons? What if your skin fell apart, or some other horror?

What if “bad guys” bullet-proofed their skin? Would it change what crimes they commit? How would it affect police procedure? What weapons or tools would the police use to take down a bullet-proof criminal? Instead of guns, perhaps things like flash-bangs, glues, tazers? What other weapons would help? Would the police begin genetically engineering themselves in response?

What do you think about bullet-proof skin, super soldiers, asymmetric fights, or alien battles?

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