Is it possible to immerse a person in suspended animation?

Table of contents:

Is it possible to immerse a person in suspended animation?
Is it possible to immerse a person in suspended animation?

You may not have known this, but bears are far from the only animals that can hibernate. Various species of squirrels, bats, and even some birds can also lower their body temperature by immersing themselves in a dormant state for weeks or even months. It is possible that people will one day join them. At least according to engineers from NASA, there is no reason why this would be impossible. The interest of space agency researchers in this topic can be explained very simply - a long hibernation, like in some animals, can help future astronauts to overcome large cosmic distances, for example, a trip to Mars. However, the immersion of a person in suspended animation - a temporary slowdown or cessation of life processes in the body - can become a real breakthrough in medicine, as it will allow doctors to put seriously wounded patients into a state of suspended animation. This will buy time for the operation and, as a result, will help save many lives. But even though scientists do not consider it impossible to introduce a person into suspended animation, they still have to figure out how to do it. But how?

Anabiosis is a temporary slowdown or cessation of all body functions, which occurs under the influence of external or internal factors. Many plants and animals are capable of entering a state of suspended animation.

What is suspended animation for?

There are not so few animals in the world - usually mammals - that hibernate for a long time to survive the harsh winter. This is possible because animals slow down their heart rate to a few beats per minute. In this state, they do not need water and food, and fat stores help them to survive for several months. In addition to bears, this opportunity is not neglected by rodents and even a pair of primates, including the fat-tailed pygmy lemur from Madagascar. Agree, we are not that far from the primates on the family tree, so if they could, perhaps we will succeed.

A flight to Mars takes 6 to 9 months. Scientists suggest that this time is better spent in a dream.

In fact, medicine has already made some progress in this area. So, thanks to a special technology - therapeutic hypothermia - which lowers the body temperature by several degrees in order to increase the chances of surviving heart attacks and strokes. To lower body temperature, doctors use and even tried to inject chilled saline into the blood. The fact is that at a low temperature, a person's metabolism slows down and he falls into an unconscious state. However, the challenge is to ensure that the patient does not die during the procedure, and there is a very thin line between unconsciousness and death. Read more about how doctors for the first time in history managed to put a person into a state of suspended animation, read in a fascinating article by my colleague Vladimir Kuznetsov.


Who would have thought that these amazing primates could hibernate?

However, according to The Atlantic, the results were quite surprising: people were in a state of numbness for up to 14 days, going through several cycles. The therapeutic use of this condition is still under research. In the future, this will help to find out if it is beneficial for patients with cardiovascular diseases and even advanced diseases (cancer). Scientists also intend to find out if there are any side effects or complications after this procedure, but so far no long-term problems have been found.

For this reason, SpaceWorks Enterprises presented a report to NASA a few years ago on how therapeutic hypothermia can be used for long-term space flights within the solar system. Let me remind you that according to experts, a trip to Mars will take about 6-9 months. Throughout this time, precious air, water and food will be consumed. And in a state of suspended animation, SpaceWorks estimates that the crew will reduce their metabolic rate by 50% -70%. The lower the metabolic rate, the less resources are expended. This means that the cargo to be sent to Mars will also be smaller. In addition, astronauts will not need to move around, so they can be immersed in small and cozy capsules for the entire journey. Just like in science fiction films about space.

However, the immersion of astronauts in suspended animation is not the only and not the main problem of space travel. We know that weightlessness has a negative effect on the body, leading to bone loss and muscle wasting. To avoid this, astronauts and astronauts exercise daily for several hours a day to counter the negative effects of reduced gravity. Another, and perhaps the main problem of future space travelers is space radiation. Its effects on the body - in particular on the brain - have the most damaging effects on health. Read more about this in one of our materials, which is devoted to the problems of space exploration. But is it possible to plunge a person into prolonged suspended animation - for years or even centuries?

Is cryogenic freezing real?


A pizza delivery man named Fry woke up a thousand years later. And if you haven't watched Futurama, I highly recommend

Despite the ease with which the protagonist of the animated series "Futurama" found himself in the year 3000, having fallen into a cryogenic chamber, we do not have the technology at our disposal that would allow us to maintain the vital functions of the body for so long. We know that microbes can be frozen for hundreds of years. Moreover, not only ancient microbes, but also viruses and even plants are awakening from the melting permafrost. However, you and I, like our ancestors, are not capable of something like that. This is because when we freeze, ice crystals form in our cells that destroy them. True, there is a whole line of research that gives hope, it is called cryogenics. During this procedure, the fluids of the human body are replaced with antifreeze, which does not have a destructive effect on the cells of the body.

So, scientists were able to first freeze and then thaw 50 milliliters (almost a quarter of a glass) of human tissue without any damage. In the next few years, we will likely see this technology evolve into the preservation of organs for transplantation and ultimately whole bodies, and maybe even living people. In this case, all sci-fi ideas can turn into reality.

Popular by topic