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Old May 27 2007, 08:16 PM   #1
Cheryl
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Default Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

Apparently, there's a doctor in Massachusetts that will be starting experiments on human volunteers before the end of 2007 for cold-induced hibernation. I'm shocked that medicine has advanced enough for tests on humans!

From http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle1845294.ece
TURNING science fiction into science fact, American doctors are preparing to chill volunteers into a state of suspended animation that could keep them asleep for months.

Medical teams in Los Angeles, Boston and Pittsburgh are racing to become the first to test out new theories of “induced hibernation” which could save lives and also help to send man towards the stars.

Hasan Alam, a surgeon at Massachusetts general hospital and consultant to the US army, is poised to start the first human trials before the end of the year.

Last week he said that he wanted to equip ambulances with a clear saline solution called plasma expander that would be injected into seriously injured victims at the scene of a car accident.

The plasma would rapidly send body temperature from 37C to 10C, slowing the metabolism, delaying the onset of shock and limiting damage from wounds.

Alam has experimented on eight-stone Yorkshire pigs, stopping the heart and electrical activity in the brain for up to two hours before slowly replacing the plasma with warm blood and reviving the animals with no apparent long-term effects.

The plasma could also be tested on soldiers: many survive an initial injury only to die waiting for treatment.

Alam, a trauma specialist, is primarily thinking about the time-critical dash to hospital. But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research at the University of Pittsburgh are more ambitious. “You start with 20 minutes and then find the limits – days, weeks, months, we do not yet know,” said a UCLA medical school researcher.

Although it is 20 years since Nasa abandoned work on induced hibernation as a way of helping astronauts to survive long space missions, research began again at the European Space Agency in 2004. Funding has flowed in the United States since October, when Mitsutaka Uchikoshi, 35, strayed from a Japanese office barbecue, fell down a snowy mountain and broke his hip.

He lapsed into a frozen coma, which lasted 24 days until his apparently lifeless body was found and revived in a Kobe hospital. He is now known in Japanese newspapers as the “Bear Man”.

“We don’t know how he survived so long, but his body was preserved in ice for nearly a month and now he is back to normal,” a Kobe doctor said. “If we can understand why, we can save many lives in the future.”
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Old May 27 2007, 09:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

Sounds intrusting but not for me I HATE cold.
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Old May 27 2007, 10:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

I vaguely remember a story years ago about a child who drowned in a frozen pond and was revived after several hours. As I recall, he had severe brain damage, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I don't think I'll be standing in line for the trials.
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Old May 28 2007, 12:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

There's a case of a Norwegian child who fell through the ice of a river and was transported several hundred meters downstream. It took rescue workers several hours to find him. They revived him with apparently no ill effects. This happened about twenty years ago.

It's important not to heat the body up too quickly, because that could lead to oxygen starvation and the victim/volunteer would die anyway, or at the very least suffer brain damage.
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Old May 28 2007, 02:28 AM   #5
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

This will be very interesting to see how the testing progresses. As someone else who hates to be cold don't expect me to volunteer though! If it works out well this could certainly help in longer distance space exploration.
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Old May 28 2007, 03:53 AM   #6
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

I know there's a company in California that already freezes deceased people who pay a lot of money in the hope science will be able to revive them in coming decades... centuries...? Needless to say it costs a bundle
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Old May 28 2007, 05:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

You know, the pig thing has been around for about a year- more than!
I read about it in New Scientist last academic year!
They were thinking about using it for serious wounds which they were simulating on the pig.
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Old May 28 2007, 04:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

Sounds very interesting.
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Old May 29 2007, 02:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

errr... I think I'll sit this one out. Until space craft looks like it came from Lost in Space or Star Trek, I doubt I'll be going into space any time soon.
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Old May 29 2007, 02:02 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cold sleep for interstellar travel -- soon a reality?

BUT, the medical implications this raises are astounding!
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