Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Human Hibernation on the Horizon? 511

Mincemeat.net writes "The BBC is reporting that scientists at University of Washington have successfully induced a state of extreme hibernation in mice. The mice suffered no ill effects. Naturally, testing in larger animals will ensue. Humans wouldn't necessarily appreciate the smell of hydrogen sulfide while being placed into suspended animation. However, the applications are numerous if the usage of similar techniques can be applied to us. Cancer treatment, delaying death from injuries, interplanetary expeditions top the lists of possibilities. While it's not a quick freeze, maybe Fry will be able to meet Bender after all."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Human Hibernation on the Horizon?

Comments Filter:
  • by A Boy and His Blob ( 772370 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:17AM (#12310970)
    a chamber filled with air laced with 80 parts per million (ppm) of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) - the malodorous gas that give rotten eggs their stink
    ...
    its possible use in space travel
    Hey NASA, I'm your man, I've been enduring riding the elevator with my gaseous coworkers for YEARS.
    • by gokulpod ( 558749 ) <gpoduval@h o t m a i l .com> on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:59AM (#12311116) Homepage
      No wonder your boss catches you sleeping all the time.
    • by yog ( 19073 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @09:48AM (#12312561) Homepage Journal
      The uses are almost endless. Anyone can build a home H2S chamber and just shut themselves down for days at a time. I can envision a time when people are freed of the need to wait for anything. Spiderman 7 coming out in 15 days and you just can't wait? Hop in the chamber, dial it up for 14 days and 23 hours, and just "chill out".

      The cool thing is that since metabolic activity cease, your cells would stop dividing, and therefore the aging process would cease as well. Opportunistic viruses would not multiply since they require cellular mitosis, and most bacteria would also take a nap.

      I would, however, worry about anaerobic bacteria, especially the kind that thrive on sulfur gases; they'd literally eat you for lunch while you were out like a light. If even one of those suckers got inside, then when someone opened your chamber six months from now you'd be pretty much a skeleton with a mass of oozing, smelly residues--ewwwww!

      I would also wonder about undigested food sitting in your stomach and small intestine for days or months, not to mention feces still in the colon. You want to move that stuff through before you shut down the system. On second thought I think I'll wait before trying this one out.
      • by nounderscores ( 246517 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:37AM (#12313690)
        No longer use my nose
        The kittens run away from me and hide
        Weird things between my toes
        And people often think something has died.

        I climb a lonely hill
        On the Boulevard of Bad Hygiene
        I frighten CowboyNeal
        But he could learn to love it if he tried.

        Something has died? Something has died.

        Something has died? Something has...

        My B.O.'s the only thing that walks beside me.
        My B.O. makes strong men think of suiciding.
        My Odor kills the flowers and the pine trees.
        Smells like, something has died.

        Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack, *Cough* *Cough*
        Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack.

        I'm walking down the line
        diners flee the buffet so that's fine
        so I can take my time
        And eat onions, cabbage and... *sniff* something has died.

        I can shower, fine.
        Or I could on go slashdot tonight.
        Closed window, pull the blinds.
        But the neighbours think something has died.

        Something has died? Something has died.

        Something has died? Something has...

        My B.O.'s clings to surfaces behind me
        My B.O.'s beyond a mortal understanding
        Sometimes they wish someone would put me in a... um...
        Plastic bag, something has died.

        Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack, *Cough* *Cough*
        Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack, Arrgh ack.

        Something has died? Something has...

        I walk this empty street
        On the Boulevard of Bad Hygiene
        City evacuates
        in it's pants and something has died.

        My B.O. is worse than a Bush e-con-omy.
        My B.O. gets UN weapons inspectors antsy.
        My Odor could be casus beli if they could find me.
        I think, Something has died.

        from amiright.com [amiright.com]
  • Well Water (Score:5, Informative)

    by teh merry reaper ( 758071 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:19AM (#12310976)
    Funny, Hydrogen Sulfide is a common enough contaminant in ground (well) water systems as well as a byproduct of oil refineries. It deprives the brain of oxygen and causes what IIRC is called "blowdown" or "knockdown" in oil refineries when people momentarily pass out.
    • Re:Well Water (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda@nOspam.etoyoc.com> on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:24AM (#12311191) Homepage Journal
      According to one of the articles I read, the researcher actually got the idea to use that molecule from a documentary about caving.
    • Re:Well Water (Score:5, Interesting)

      by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:48AM (#12311263) Homepage Journal
      I've done research using Hydrogen Sulfide and it's nasty stuff. It's corrosive, explosive, poisonous and a chemical asphyxiant.

      Its corrosive property is particularly nasty. Here's [img224.echo.cx] what happens to a copper seal in a H2S gas line over time. The inner part of the seal has been in contact with H2S and as you can see it's just flaking away. Aluminum, plastic or synthetic rubber seals don't do much better and a leak in a H2S line will definitely ruin your day...

    • Momentarily?? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:58AM (#12312121)
      It will drop you for a little more than "momentarily". H2S has the capacity to kill at less than 100ppm, depending on how long your exposure is. Yes, it will make you pass out -- but you might never wake up.

      It's nasty stuff and all refineries, pipelines, and other oil/gas installations are trained about H2S and it's risks. Where H2S is present in the lines, you will see many of the technicians wearing portable H2S monitors.

      (BTW, I sell H2S detectors for natural gas custody transfer points. Not the portable ones I spoke about but large scale one for pipeline intersections)
      • Re:Momentarily?? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:13AM (#12313487)
        yeah its for sure deadly, i work for an oil company and got my h2s certification, its actually kinda interesting the dangers, and the precautions taken with equipment such as yours, to avoid it at all costs...
        another note though on the risks of h2s just for information and grins is that rotting/spoiled food and fish can cause it as well... thats why all freight trucks that carry fish have to put that fish symbol outside the truck, the idea is if the truck has wrecked off the side of the road and sat in the heat long enough that the fish has become rotten its possible for h2s to have been produced and could possibly kill someone coming to help out....
        and more directed to the parent, i was wondering if you sell h2s equipment to the freight industry under regulation type stuff, or any other industry besides oil and gas....

        • Re:Momentarily?? (Score:4, Informative)

          by tacokill ( 531275 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:40AM (#12313727)
          Huh. I didn't know about the Fish aspect. That's pretty cool! You learn something new everyday.

          I do sell equipment to freight guys but most of what I sell is into gas/oil just due to geography and the businesses here (Okla/TX/KS). Seriously, I'll sell to anyone who can and wants to buy!

          Here's another little nerdy fact about H2S. It's very easy to detect. H2S reacts with Lead Acetate to produce a brownish lead sulfide. So, you create a roll of lead acetate tape and then "spot" your samples onto it. If H2S is present, it will create a brownish lead sulfide which is easily visible.

          The best part about it is this: H2S is the ONLY substance that reacts with lead acetate in this way. So interference and false signals are a non-issue. Brown = H2S. White = no H2S.

  • I can't wait for... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Palal ( 836081 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:19AM (#12310980) Homepage
    ...an instant coast-to-coast flight.... "Fifth Element" is coming true. :)
  • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 ( 812236 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:22AM (#12310997) Journal
    Hibernation has been taking place in people since geeks took to their parents' basements.
  • That's nice. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by natrius ( 642724 ) * <niranNO@SPAMniran.org> on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:22AM (#12311000) Homepage
    Now that they've got that done, they can work on getting people to function on less sleep. I want to be a microsleeper. [futurismic.com]
    • by varghan ( 834564 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:17AM (#12311172)
      From what I've heard, the use of certain acetylated opium derivatives induce a state where one needs less sleep (2hrs/day).
      The use has quite some side effects, one of them, in my city at least, seems to be a strong preference for car hifi equipment.
  • I'm up for a little hibernation for space travel, but for medical aid? Aren't we already saving too many people who should be dead and thereby contributing greatly to world problems like overcrowding and world hunger and fun stuff?
    • The solution to world problems like overcrowding and world hunger is not to let disease and ill health cut population down to size. That is simply barbaric in this day and age. As humanity progress, I believe we should seek social solutions for social problems rather than let nature prune our civilization as if we were a herd of hoofed herbavores. Otherwise, the whole lot of slashdot readers would have become extinct through vicious sexual selection preasures.
      • Our options really are to cut down the population or to increase the area we live in (unless we /want/ to live with 300 people per square nanometer). So, either let people die or explore space and colonize other planets and/or moons. I'm just pointing out which one we're more capable of.
        • Um you must not travel much. Contrary to popular belief the world is NOT overpopulated. Infact I am sure it could handle 10 or 20 billion. Extreme poverty and man made disasters are the real causes of so much misery present in the world today.

          As hibernation tech increases you can bet many will pay millions for it, and why not? All we need now is some megacorp to set up a freezing station on the moon to store all those human popsicles and they will be billionaires.

          I doubt you would be so quick to con

        • Or, we stop reproducing so much. It's really not that hard, and what's even better is that wealth appears to result in people having fewer children -- so as standards of living improve, population growth will slow. Europe already has negative population growth once you subtract out imigration, and the US is on its way.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @05:34AM (#12311361)
          If you do a little math, you'll see that neither killing people nor exploring space are solutions to overpopulation.

          The population is just growing too quickly. We get 75 million new people a year.

          Let's start with the easy one -- space colonies. You can start exploring planets all you want, but unless you can figure out a way to ship off more than 75 million people a year, the population is still going to increase on Earth. Think about how many resources and man-hours are required to get seven people into LEO -- we couldn't reduce population by shipping people into space even if the whole world were united behind the project.

          Next, let's talk war. Suppose you started a war that lasted a week and killed 1,000,000 people. That's a lot of people in a short amount of time -- it would be horrific. At the end of that week, you'd still have 430,000 more people than you started with! You could drag that war on for ten years, kill half a billion people (more than any war in history), and you'd still be way behind. Sure, you could pull out the nukes, but then you'd be reducing livable space and making a mess for the survivors.

          The other thing you have to keep in mind is that many of the people saved by modern medicine are already past child bearing. The sort of people who could afford hiberation treatment would be in wealthy countries where the birth rate is low, anyway.

          Everyone dies eventually, so killing a few adults off early doesn't change much in the long term balance sheet. The only practical way to do so is to alter the birth rate.

          And one of the best ways to lower birth rates is to raise living standards and give people access to modern medical care (including contraceptives). When the mortality rate drops to some reasonable level and half the family isn't sick from malaria, you don't need to overproduce children just to make sure you'll have enough healthy members in the family.

          It's also a lot more efficient for people to have a few healthy children than it is for them to spend resources raising a lot children only to have some large portion of them struck down by one of the four horsemen.
          • by milosoftware ( 654147 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:25AM (#12311891) Homepage
            ...one of the four horsemen...

            They drive motorcycles nowadays, and Plague has been replaced by Pollution.

          • by Bonhamme Richard ( 856034 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:55AM (#12312085)
            And one of the best ways to lower birth rates is to raise living standards and give people access to modern medical care (including contraceptives). When the mortality rate drops to some reasonable level and half the family isn't sick from malaria, you don't need to overproduce children just to make sure you'll have enough healthy members in the family.

            I agree, although for different reasons. Concraception is not the reason that most postindustrial countries have low birth rates. For the most part, it is just more economically efficent to have many children in poor countries and less efficent to have children at all in wealthy countries.

            If you live on a subsistence level, every child is another pair or hands to work the farm, or help out however. In the US, Europe, etc, a child is a drain on your resources for 18+ years. So you have fewer.

            We do need to give access to concraceptives to deal with overpoplation, but if we just raise the standard of living, contraceptives, and economical pressure to use them, will follow.

            • by ShieldWolf ( 20476 ) <jeffrankine@nOsPam.netscape.net> on Friday April 22, 2005 @10:08AM (#12312772)
              Sorry it just isn't that simple. If it were then why did the U.S. birthrate PLUMET when the pill was introduced?

              Having studied birthrates and the third world I can tell you what some studies have said.

              First of all most Women is poor countries DON'T HAVE FARMS. These isn't little house of the prairie where a bunch of little helpers go out and milk the cows. They live in poverty with very little to provide sustenance. These women have children by the bushels for numerous reasons, but one of the most striking is a concept called numeracy. They don't have it. It is the concept of how many children one has, e.g. only child, 2, 3 then stopping. When you ask a woman is sub-saharran Africa how many children she wants she will reply with something like - "as many as god gives me" or "I don't know what you mean, as many as will come".

              What most studies find about lowering birthrates in the thirdworld is an insanely simple answer: empower women. When women become empowered they begin to feel they can control their environment and by extension their reproduction.

    • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:01AM (#12311787) Journal

      Aren't we already saving too many people who should be dead and thereby contributing greatly to world problems like overcrowding and world hunger and fun stuff?

      No, the problems of world overcrowding and hunger are not problems of supply, they're problems of distribution. The world's food supply is perfectly adequate to feed everyone, and global food production has kept up with population growth. As for overcrowding, the entire population of the world could be housed in an area the size of Texas. This would give every family (or group) of four 5000 square feet of living space.

      The problems of world hunger and overcrowding are not problems inherent with having too many people.

    • Aren't we already saving too many people who should be dead and thereby contributing greatly to world problems like overcrowding and world hunger and fun stuff?

      Fair enough: drop dead.

      You do not want to? Hm, funny. Neither do I.
    • Masterzora's world looks something like this:

      MORTICIAN: Bring out your dead!
      Bring out your dead!
      [clang] Bring out your dead!
      [clang] Bring out your dead!
      [clang] Bring out your dead!
      [clang] Bring out your dead!
      CUSTOMER: Here's one -- nine pence.
      DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
      MORTICIAN: What?
      CUSTOMER: Nothing -- here's your nine pence.
      DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
      MORTICIAN: Here -- he says he's not dead!
      CUSTOMER: Yes, he is.
      DEAD PERSON: I'm not!
      MORTICIAN: He isn't.
      CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
      DEAD P

  • by nigham ( 792777 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:26AM (#12311009) Homepage
    Here [sciencemag.org]
  • by Omkar ( 618823 )
    Fry could just go look in New Mexico.

    Wait, would they have gone back in time if Fry hadn't been frozen in the first place? What if Fry dug Bender up today and moved to Roswell (avoiding hibernation). [brain explodes].
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:29AM (#12311024) Journal
    So I'll be alive when Duke Nukem Forever is finally released. :)
  • why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tsioc ( 787745 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:30AM (#12311029) Homepage
    why? oh why did it have to be THAT molecule?
  • Olson Twins (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frodo Crockett ( 861942 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:30AM (#12311032)
    Wake me up when the Olson Twins are legal.

    Wait, nevermind...
  • by Rie Beam ( 632299 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:33AM (#12311039) Journal
    "But he added that any procedure in a clinical setting would likely be administered via injection rather than by getting patients to inhale a gas."

    Injectable Hybernation. I'm sure this can't be abused in any way whatsoever.
    • It would sure make airliners a lot quieter.

      Actually, as a parent I can think of a few times where a few hours of peace could be a really good thing. Now the question is do I administer it to me or the child...

      • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:23AM (#12313566)

        Your child will only be a child for a short time. I know it is hard when the kid is crying in your face and won't shut up, but take the time to enjoy it. In just a few years the kid will be crying about something else, and a few years latter wrecking your car (unless you teach safe driving by example now, and even then good luck). Then suddenly he is gone and you will realize how much you miss the kid crying in your face.

        It is hard to keep proper perspective, but when you are in that situation remind yourself of it.

      • Actually, as a parent I can think of a few times where a few hours of peace could be a really good thing. Now the question is do I administer it to me or the child...

        Most definitely the kids. I'd love summer vacations. We could just put the kids in storage for the summer and it would just be me and my wife until August when we'd have to wake them and send them to school again.

        Maybe it would be easier if we developed year round public boarding schools.
    • What is your point?

      If anyone wants to kill/silence/ect you, he could just inject some air to kill you or some normal sedative and than do whatever he wants in as much time as he wants.

      So why does the facts that the hibernation can be started by injection make it in any way abusable? Wouldnt airborne starting much worse?
  • by Rie Beam ( 632299 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:37AM (#12311050) Journal
    "Finally, after being in a constant state of hibernation for the last fifty years, I am ready to greet the future!"

    "Yeah...about that...we all kinda went in after you...so science and technology is about at the same point you left off."

    "So I still have cancer?"

    "Technically, yes. But hey, at least that asteroid never hit...right?"
  • by Andy Mitchell ( 780458 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:39AM (#12311057) Homepage
    Humans wouldn't necessarily appreciate the smell of hydrogen sulphide while being placed into suspended animation

    One of the effects of hydrogen sulphide exposure is that is "paralyses" the sense of smell before a fatal dose is reached. This is normally very dangerous as people can think they have left the contaminated area while continuing in fact to breathe in more of the toxic gas.

    So chances are you wouldn't have to put up with the smell too long, before you either stop smelling, die horribly or maybe just go into suspended animation.

  • How about (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 )
    Using these in prisons?

    Seems a bit better then the death penalty, would also actually make those 600 year jail sentences mean something =)

    One day you go to jail, 5 years later you wake up anew.

    Remind anyone of Demolition Man? Good because it should!
    • Re:How about (Score:2, Insightful)

      by datafr0g ( 831498 )
      It's better than the death penalty (hell, what isn't?) but as there would likely be no concept of time while in hibernation and therefore no real deterrant, prison would be used moreso as a time machine by people.

      "Wanna see what it's like in the future? Kill someone today!"
    • Reminds me of the Red Dwarf episode where Rimmer is sentenced for 1,167 counts of second-degree murder (failure to seal a drive plate properly on Red Dwarf, which killed the whole crew except Lister, who was in stasis).

      "Each count carries a statutory penalty of eight years penal servitude. In the light of your hologrammatic status, these sentences are to be served consecutively, making a total sentence of nine thousand, three hundred and twenty-eight years."

    • Re:How about (Score:2, Insightful)

      by aerthling ( 796790 )
      That would just defeat the purpose of prison.

      Being sent to prison is not just a way to keep criminals from harming society (again), it's also (primarily?) a punishment..
      • Re:How about (Score:5, Interesting)

        by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda@nOspam.etoyoc.com> on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:37AM (#12311232) Homepage Journal
        Technically no. Prisons are there for reform, punishment is a side effect.

        Our penal system is based on the "Penetentiary" concept developed by the Quakers. Basically, sitting in a room, unable to leave, and deprived of your senses gives you time to think about your crimes. It also turned out to be a reasonably heinous form of psychological torture.

        So around the 1960s they watered down the Penetentiary concept, and we got what is more or less the modern "Convict Warehouse". Fitting as many bodies as possible into a confined space without them killing each other.

        • Re:How about (Score:5, Interesting)

          by philbert26 ( 705644 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @06:45AM (#12311560)
          Our penal system is based on the "Penetentiary" concept developed by the Quakers. Basically, sitting in a room, unable to leave, and deprived of your senses gives you time to think about your crimes. It also turned out to be a reasonably heinous form of psychological torture.

          The trouble is, not all criminals care about what they've done. Some of them just don't feel pity or remorse.

          CS Lewis argued against a purely penetentiary model of justice on the grounds that it would lead to disproportionate punishment. If we discount punishment as a motive for putting people in jail, then the only reason to send people to jail is to reform them and protect the public. This means that instead of sending people to jail for a fixed time that matches how much punishment the criminal deserves, it is more logical to imprison people until they see the error of their ways and are deemed safe to release. But in some cases this could take a very long time, and there are some criminals who will never be reformed.

          Are we really willing to put people in jail indefinitely? It was proposed here in the UK that "psycopathic" criminals who were judged a permanent danger could be subject to open-ended detention. This met widespread opposition from people who, I assume, feel that jail sentences should fit the crime (ie, they believe in just and proportionate punishment, rather than simply the necessary evil of reformative incarceration).

          As another Slashdotter once put it, imagine if someone was in jail for sharing MP3s online. Should they stay there until they can convince the parole board that they're sorry and won't do it again, even if that takes years? I would say that the punishment for copyright infringement should be proportionate to the harm it causes. Those who make illegal copies should only be punished as much as their crime deserves to be punished. Under a purely penetentiary regime, the whole question of punishment and how much a person deserves to be punished is irrelevant.

          Reforming criminals is a vital part of the justice system, but I wouldn't like a society where it was the only part. I don't believe in insanely heavy penalties for file sharing. Likewise I would be angered if a murderer got off with a light sentence on the grounds that he was unlikely to do it again.

  • I wonder who will be the first to undergo this procedure sometime before they're about to die.

    Maybe they'll pay somebody to put them into hibernation when they're 75 years old and tired of life, and have instructions to wake them up when we finally have flying cars.
  • Brains in jars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:47AM (#12311089) Homepage Journal
    It's funny that Futurama has the technological development of two distinct and competing technologies for longevity. Fry gets frozen in the chrogenics centre, wakes up in the future and, a few episodes later, discovers that celebrities live on as brains in jars. If we had the technology to keep a human brain alive and kicking I'd much prefer that to getting my head lopped off and frozen in the hope that a sufficiently advanced technology will one day be able to revive me. Even if it ment I had to spend the rest of my days as a body-less paraplegic in a wheelchair I think I'd rather that than to die from cancer.

    Hybernation offers a third technology. Instead of lopping off my head at the first sign of cancer, you could put my body into hybernation and keep my brain active with regular stimulation. Hopefully you could do it by jacking me into a video game. I could handle living in MxO, as long as it was on a non-hostile server. Maybe I could even earn a living as a member of the Live Events team.
    • One thing that they never explained was how the got the heads in jars of people who died long before the technology was developed, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Yeah, I know. It's a cartoon. I shouldn't take it too seriously, but even a funny explanation would do.
  • by janek78 ( 861508 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:49AM (#12311094) Homepage
    <obligatory Futurama quote>

    Hey, I was frozen, I know what guy wants to hear first: the bathroom's that way.

    </end of obligatory Futurama quote>
  • by Chitlenz ( 184283 ) <chitlenz@chitlenz . c om> on Friday April 22, 2005 @03:51AM (#12311097) Homepage
    And what strikes me right off (because of my field) is, if a 'hibernation' state can be easily and mobily achieved, you could save a LOT of critical cases by slowing them down right at the point of injury or on the ambulance, maybe even before moving them. That would have a definite positive benefit for sure, though thinking about flying through space in slo-mo is a cool vision too, for sure. =)

    -chitlenz
  • I'm using some elements of this technology in my next novel (although a lot will get cut in current revisions).

    Hibernation is going to come before any kind of cold sleep or freezing. Kind of silly for science fiction to skip it, even if it is easier on the writer.
    • Arther C. Clarke beat you to it by 30 years.

      In his novels, Hibernation was induced by a variety of things including an enzyme discovered in bears, to the "Dreamless sleep" used by explorers in 2001.

  • That's great news. However, there is no need to ponder possible applications any further because SF authors did that at length over the last 50 or so years. This is just yet another field in which imagination has overtaken reality so now it's just the question of getting it to work. Applications would bloom everywhere as soon as these folks progress from mice to humans.

    Now I'm just waiting for someone to finally find a new energy source.

  • Sweet! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:01AM (#12311125)
    Letter to my lawyer

    Enclosed in this envelope is my account information. Please wake me up when I can afford a decent spaceship.

    Thank you

    PS. ZZZZZzzzzzzzz
  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:02AM (#12311128) Journal
    The article and research paper note that they placed the mice in the hibernation state for six hours, without any long-term effects. Unfortunately, I can't find in either the article or paper if they tried longer hibernation periods. If they haven't, I suppose that's the next logical thing to try. Looking at their figures, it seems that the 6 hour mark is about when the body temperature finally finishes asymptoting down to the ambient temperature.

    Anyways, here's the research abstract from Science:

    H2S Induces a Suspended Animation-Like State in Mice [sciencemag.org]

    Eric Blackstone, Mike Morrison, Mark B. Roth

    Mammals normally maintain their core body temperature (CBT) despite changes in environmental temperature. Exceptions to this norm include suspended animation-like states such as hibernation, torpor, and estivation. These states are all characterized by marked decreases in metabolic rate, followed by a loss of homeothermic control in which the animal's CBT approaches that of the environment. We report that hydrogen sulfide can induce a suspended animation-like state in a nonhibernating species, the house mouse (Mus musculus). This state is readily reversible and does not appear to harm the animal. This suggests the possibility of inducing suspended animation-like states for medical applications.
    • by spineboy ( 22918 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @05:07AM (#12311300) Journal
      What about after 6 hours? 80 PPM of H2S shouldn't have much or any affect on anaerobic (non O2 requiring) bacteria, which are found in our gut and mouth. Will people start to "rot" after the six hours because those bacteria shouldn't stop growing.

      Mice are also much smaller than humans (yes a statement of the obvious) and so their thermal mass is much slower - i.e. they cool down MUCH faster due to their increased surface area to mass ratio. I'll try to not become too enthusiastic until I see some larger animal studies - preferrably on cats (not dogs please - I like them) or also on a few of the weird looking guys who hang out at the gas station by my house.

      • Good point. I wonder if this would be a good way to transition to a cryo-like state for longer-term hibernation. One could use H2S to mostly knock out metabolism, then chill the body to slightly above freezing to prolong the effect and hinder bacterial growth. To restore, you'd warm the body back up and remove the H2S.
  • Been done (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:10AM (#12311154)
    Really, I've done this. I hacked my deep freeze to cryogenically freeze me and let me awake in the year 2211. I set up a Unix server to run it all and made sure I had power available until then at least by having my power bill paid from an account into which I deposited $263. I figured the compounding interest over that time would more than pay for the power plus give me a nice nest egg when I awoke. Assuming they still used money in those days. I put myself to sleep on Februray 4th, 2003. Unfortunately I had forgotten to put out dog food for the time I was going to be asleep and poor old Turing (the dog) got a bit restless and he ended up pulling the power on that Unix box. Well, the freezer defrosted, the door popped open and I awoke. First thing I did was turn on the TV. MTV in fact and wow, everything was so different than before. I saw nothing I recognised. I was convinced I had awoken in my choosen time. ThenI looked at my watch and it was February 5th. 2003. Damn the fast moving and ever changing world of popular music.
  • I always wondered why, when I needed to, it was so hard to recruit decent chemists. Nothing to do with the pharmaceuticals companies hiring all the best people, everything to do with entering the inorganic chem lab and going into a state of suspended animation.

    The amazing thing, given the amount of the stuff you use in basic inorganic analysis, is that any of us got any work done at all.

  • by theufo ( 575732 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:18AM (#12311174) Homepage
    From eating you alive? Metabolism is down to 10% of normal conditions and almost all of our enzymes have an optimum around 310 K (37 Degrees C). Immune cells won't be very active in hibernation (282 K, 11 degrees C), while some microorganisms flourish at that temperature. Just put a piece of cheese in your fridge, wait two months and take a look to see what the effects can be.

    Actually there's probably already a couple of billion of them on your skin and completely sterilizing a human being (alive) is long from possible. Six hours of hibernation is one thing, but I wouldn't want to try this for more than a day.
    • by BlueFashoo ( 463325 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @05:55AM (#12311411)
      The human ecosystem (body) is host to ~10e14 bacterial cells. A bit more than a couple of billion. Your dirty. Scrub till you bleed if you want, it won't make much of a difference. They are everywhere, on your eyes, in your ears, in your GI tract, in every little pore on your body, all over the skin, in your mouth. Many of your normal flora can be pretty nasty too, if their virulence genes get turned on. You have a lot of Stahpolococcus sp. in your mouth and on your skin. Under the right conditions, they will betray you.

      As for sterilizing a human, even if it was possible, it would be a very bad idea. Your normal flora are adapted to live peacefully side by side with. They protect you by outcompeting invasive foreign species. They manufacture vitamins in your intestines. It would not be a good idea to get rid of them.

      Sterile people can be made in theory. It's been done with mice. Scientists aseptically cut them out of the uterous and raised them in sterile environments. They lived twice as long as ordinary mice, but they were weak and sickly the entire time and died of strange nasty diseases. Some of these sterile mice were exposed to a normal environment. They died soon after of horrible nasty diseases.

      In summary. Long term refridgeration will cause your little buddies to turn on you and sterilization will lead to a bubble life.
    • Bats would argue that you are wrong:

      "During hibernation, the bat's body functions slow down, and its body temperature drops to that of its hibernation site"

      http://www.tlgrant.r9esd.k12.or.us/english1/vonl ub ke/bats/batstext.html
    • by Angry Toad ( 314562 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @08:25AM (#12311894)
      That's a really interesting question - all the same quite a few animals do essentially this for extended periods of some months.

      Why don't their commensal bacteria infect and kill them? That's worth finding out.
  • Imagine this becoming a commodity: you can hibernate through all kinds of rough or simply boring times. Lost your job? Hibernate for 6 months and see whether things have improved. Perhaps something for the loving and caring US government, a way of managing the population?

    Anyway, judging from the research into the life-prolonging effects of calorie restriction this might make people live longer (at least in real, if not in subjective, time)
  • by Muhammar ( 659468 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @04:31AM (#12311216)
    shithouse mice are resistant
  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @07:33AM (#12311702) Journal
    How about a religion of sorts for the wise. they sleep and tend-one-another in turns. The membership can be self-supporting with replacments chosen by the group by invitation.

    every x years, a 'class is awoken', it is shown an explination of the last y years developments by the previous class (the previous class is then put into hibernation for a spell).

    each class digests and reflects on humanities progress, problems etc. and issues reports, runs for offices, give grants etc etc etc.

    right now, our insect-like-lifespans cause chaos. there is no incentive to plan long term, there is no incentive to build real solutions to real long-present problems.

    maybe if we all lived longer (or my flight-of-fancy "Cult of the Wise") we would stop thinking about our personal pleasure more and start to think about how to gaurantee pleasure for all... and taking reward in eliminating war, famine, global-pollution etc etc.

    or, we could fly off to other planets - hell i dont know.
  • I wonder though... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by technomancer68 ( 865695 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @07:46AM (#12311732)
    I mean since mice can't talk how do they know how this affects their memories? The normal human brain cannot go without oxygen for 5 minutes, and while oxygen wouldn't be completely cut off from the brain, it would still be greatly reduced. I wonder if this would send the brain into a "skeleton system" type of environment where it keeps on only the bare essentials to survive and therefore shuts out memories. Humans breathe roughly 12 - 20 times per minute, if we apply the rate change of the mouse (1/12 it's normal rate) then humans would be breathing between 1 and 1.5 times a minute. I wonder if this would be enough oxygen for the brain to retain everything that it needs so when the person wakes up they can still perfrom their lives and jobs.
  • synthesize it (Score:3, Informative)

    by delong ( 125205 ) on Friday April 22, 2005 @11:39AM (#12313717)
    I appreciate the dangers of this particular chemical, but we won't necessarily use this chemical to achieve its effects in humans. If researchers figure out the process the chemical induces in organisms, they can synthesize safer methods.

    Bring on the hibernation! Jupiter, here we come.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra

Working...