CAN WE SLOW OUR METABOLISM FOR EXTENDED SPACE TRAVEL?
It looks like we could cryo-sleep for the three month journey to Mars, but what about a twenty year voyage to the stars? That is going to require some major advances in medicine and equipment.
So, we need to consider the medical and equipment requirements for an extended cryo-hibernation at say 5 degrees Celsius. This post will focus on medical issues.
The bodies’ metabolism must be slowed to a minimum ‘ticking over’ state whilst maintaining oxygen and blood flow to all vital organs and tissues albeit at a very low rate. This will need some very clever genetically modified DNA or stem cell technology by the end of this century – we certainly don’t have it now.
But let us get Zec to describe this….
‘It is not possible to freeze someone and then thaw them out in some years’ time – the body is 65-75% water and when that turns to ice it expands – think of the damage to delicate nerve ends, capillaries. If you cool someone down, they start shivering in an attempt to generate heat and if they can’t generate enough they die of hypothermia. The key to cryo – hibernation was to cool the body very slowly and at the same time to slow the body functions so that they required very little heat to maintain life. The breakthrough in animal testing 30 years ago (around the turn of the 22nd century) was the use of new strains of genetically engineered DNA which were introduced into the body as it cooled. These controlled the slowdown of body functions, pulse, brain activity etc. and through an exothermic reaction produced minute amounts of heat right at the key points of activity. Provided that the cooling and warming periods were long enough, the infused DNA balanced the bodily rates and the amount of heat required.’
Thus the process was proved first on animals that were successfully recovered after periods of up to 5 years cryo-hibernation. They were in very good health and, surprisingly, showed no deterioration in tissue quality. They appeared not to have aged!
Proving the process on animals was a major breakthrough but how do you entice volunteers to gain confidence that cryo-hibernation works for humans and for periods of up to 20 years?
The answer may surprise you, so perhaps you would like to take a 20 year cryo-sleep to the star Seren and wake up at Cloud Planet to discover life elsewhere. But your journey through time and space is only just beginning.
Plus you will also find out who or what Zec is! Click the link below.