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Boffins Close to Creating Suspended Animation

We've certainly seen our share of suspended animation scenes in sci-fi movies throughout the years, ranging from the Alien franchise to Stanley Kubrick's awesome theatrical rendition of Arthur C. Clark's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not only is suspended animation a good way to skip from one point in a story to another, but in a real-life scenario, it would keep you from going absolutely nuts on long treks across space (without a Warp or Black Hole drive, that is).

But suspended animation may not be mere fiction in the coming years. According to TechEye, hydrogen sulphide is deadly in large doses, however researchers have discovered that--when applying the gas in small amounts--animals will appear dead for a while, and then wake up physically unharmed.

Along with his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Biochemist Mark Roth discovered that hydrogen sulphide actually bonds at spots within animals that are usually occupied by oxygen. Using a mouse, he determined that suspended animation-- or rather a forced hibernation--doesn't require the fictional ice chambers, but rather any room with normal, every day temperatures.

In space exploration, suspended animation would be ideal for long hauls across the dark empty void, alleviating the mental stress of claustrophobic conditions, the alienation of family and friends, and the sheer boredom of a 6-month journey (or longer). For patients suffering serious injuries, this may bid them extra time for technical advancements.

Roth said that he has not tested the gas on humans.

  • Shez
    A thought just popped into my mind. What sort of precautions would need to be taken to avoid decomposition while you're in suspended la-la land. Knowing bacteria, they'll find a way to avoid going into a suspended state and you might end up with a 'boffin' filled with digested people goo at the end of a trip.
  • pbrigido
    Great, just make some room if Kevin Smith is aboard.
  • Humans think
    is suspended animation correct?

    Anima (root) may refer to:

    * the Latin term for the "animating principle", see vital force
    o the Latin translation of Greek psyche
    o in Christian contexts, the soul
    o see also spirit
    o Anima and animus, expressions of the unconscious or true inner self of an individual in Carl Jung's school of analytical psychology
  • JasonAkkerman
    I work inside chemical plants and refineries . I wear an H2S detector almost everywhere I go.

    At 5 ppb (parts per billion) you can small H2S. It smells like a rotten egg.
    My detector goes off at 10 ppm. That's when I start looking for a wind sock and get the F out there.
    At around 300 ppm the H2S does something to your nose and you lose your sense of smell. At this point it is probably too late to run. Chances are your going to die.

    H2S is bad stuff. Oh well, I guess it can't be any worse then injecting botulism into your face.
  • JohnnyLucky
    Sounds like a fancy sleeping pill. Take enough of them and you could wind up in lala land permanently.
  • lurker123
    Too bad suspended animation wouldn't protect them from cosmic rays during the long journey to Mars.
  • ruschein

    I don't think you a clue as to what "boffin" means!
  • ruschein
    I meant to say "have a clue", of course!
  • This is a fairly old (2005) research area. Check out the wikipedia article on Hydrogen Sulfide and you'll find that this treatment doesn't appear to work on larger mammals as it has been tried on both pigs and sheep with no similar effects.
  • victomofreality
    I wonder what the long term effect on the body is while in that state. Do they wake up grogy generally the same like in sci-fi or would you muscles waste and you wake up looking like you where in a full body cast.