Search results for: "suspended animation"


Human Suspended Animation Trials Are Set To Begin

suspended animationBears will tell you hibernation is the best way to weather a brutal winter. It may also be the best way to make it through long-distance spaceflights or to survive life-threatening injuries. Researchers have figured out ways to induce suspended animation in worms, frogs, fruit flies, and pigs, and will soon conduct human trials.

While this may eventually become a way to get humans to the far-flung corners of the galaxy, Pittsburgh’s UPMC Presbyterian Hospital is experimenting with the technique to save lives. Placing injured patients in suspended animation is a way to buy time. The human body can’t last long—only a few minutes—without blood pumping to its organs, but suspended animation might increase survival time. Rather than externally lowering the patient’s body temperature, this trial involves replacing blood with a cooled down saline solution. This will slow down body functions and cellular activity, which also makes the body less dependent on oxygen.

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Save Yourself: The Best Sci-Fi Space Arks

When the world is ending there’s only one way out: You’re going to need a “space ark” Sometimes the ark’s creators are worried that bad things are about to happen and it’s time to get out of Dodge. Other times the goal isn’t to abandon an imperiled planet, but rather to set out in search of a new place to settle among the stars. One variant is the so-called “generation ship,” a vessel designed to allow its human occupants to live out many generations before it finally reaches its distant destination.

If you had to book passage on one of science fiction’s space arks, which one would be best to board? After all, they each have their advantages and disadvantages, ranging from robots designed to attend to your every need, to hungry cannibals determined to eat your every part. Get your tickets early, people; it’s time to see what’s out there.

WorldsCollideAtomic Rockets (When Worlds Collide)
In Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer’s 1933 novel When Worlds Collide, South African astronomer Sven Bronson discovers a pair of rogue planets that are headed toward Earth and bringing all manner of trouble with them. Bronson A (he got to name them, obviously) will come close enough to cause tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions…not to mention it’ll wipe out the moon. But once it whips around the sun, things are going to get really bad, because it’s going to hit Earth dead on and destroy our homeworld. Naturally, several nations begin work on “atomic rockets” that can transport some of Earth’s population and animals to a new home on the second rogue world, Bronson B.

Advantages: Well, not being pulverized by a rogue planet is definitely a mark in the “pro” column. What’s more, Bronson B is not only habitable, but contains technology and cities left over by previously unknown alien inhabitants.

Disadvantages: You might have noticed we said the rockets could transport some of Earth’s population. Some ain’t by any stretch the same thing as all, and as you would expect, things turn violent when it comes time to decide who gets to go and who gets ringside seats for the end of the world. Moreover, the sequel, After Worlds Collide, reveals that the colonists still manage to find plenty of danger on Bronson B.


But on the upside, everyone looks mah-vel-ous.

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Sci-Fi Romance Passengers Adds These Two Big Stars In The Lead

movies-the-hunger-games-catching-fire-jennifer-lawrence-katniss-everdeenPassengers has become something like Sasquatch over the years. A few scattered reports surface now and again, but while there’s an overall mythology, we’re not entirely sure that it’s real. There have been a number of actors and directors attached to the project, and while none of those have ever panned out, it’s starting to look like the deep space romance actually exists. They’ve locked in an interesting director, and now they’ve added two of the hottest actors in Hollywood for the leads: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

Variety reports that the Oscar-winning Lawrence is in talks for the female lead, while The Wrap says Pratt will take a break from saving the galaxy from nefarious villains and is in early discussions about playing the primary male role. Keanu Reeves and Reese Witherspoon once occupied these parts, then it was Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams, though they all bailed for other things when this took forever to get moving.

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Arthur C. Clarke Predicts The Future From 1964 — How Well Did He Do?

ClarkeIn addition to being one of the literary titans of the science fiction genre, Sir Arthur C. Clarke proved an adept hand at predicting the ways technology would evolve in the future, from game-changing communications satellites to visions of space flight that uncannily mirrored the eventual real thing. Of course, this sort of forecast runs the risk of you looking goofy a few decades down the line when we’re not all puttering around the sky in Jetsons vehicles. Or, as Clarke himself more eloquently put it:

Trying to predict the future is a discouraging, hazardous occupation, because the prophet invariably falls between two schools. If his predictions sound at all reasonable, you can be quite sure that in 20, or at most 50 years, the progress of science and technology has made him seem ridiculously conservative. On the other hand, if by some miracle a prophet could describe the future exactly as it was going to take place, his predictions would sound so absurd, so far-fetched that everybody would laugh him to scorn.

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Mars Colonists Could Spend Their Entire Journey Sleeping

suspended animationWith today’s technology, it takes a spacecraft approximately seven months to reach Mars. That’s a long time for astronauts to be crammed together, especially if their Netflix access is choppy. It also means that astronauts have to eat, use the bathroom, exercise, and clean (at least a little bit) during the journey, which increases the amount of supplies they need, and thus, the cost of the mission. And something tells me that playing “I Spy” would get a little old. NASA is backing a study at SpaceWorks Enterprises in Atlanta to see if it’s feasible to put a crew into deep sleep for the journey.

The official term for the state is “torpor,” which involves slowing down metabolic functioning to the point where hypothermia is induced and people enter a state of hibernation. The technique has been used in medical facilities, particularly in trauma units, for keeping patients alive long enough to undergo surgeries or other procedures. For crews headed to Mars in the future, scientists consider six months to be an optimistic traveling time. So the idea of the idea is to see what it would take to keep humans in a state of torpor for 180 days. Thus far, the longest any human has been kept in this state is one week. Human suspended animation trials are currently being conducted on gravely injured ER patients, however, and may provide some insight into how the process can be adapted for longer-term scenarios.

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Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf: Week Of August 4, 2014

As much as we love science fiction on TV, on the big screen, on the comics page, and in video game form, there’s just something irreplaceable about digging into a good book. There’s no shortage of new sci-fi adventures hitting shelves on a regular basis, but GFR is your one-stop shop to keep up with what’s hitting shelves in a given week. Here’s what’s new on the Giant Freakin’ Bookshelf!

ArrowsTime“The Arrows of Time” by Greg Egan

Hard science fiction’s grand master delivers the stunning conclusion to his Orthogonal trilogy.

In a universe where the laws of physics and the speed of light are completely alien to our own, the travelers on the ship Peerless have completed a generations-long struggle to develop advanced technology in a desperate attempt to save their home world. But as tensions mount over the risks of turning the ship around and starting the long voyage home, a new complication arises: the prospect of constructing a messaging system that will give the Peerless news of its own future.

While some see this as a guarantee of safety and a chance to learn of their mission’s ultimate success, others are convinced that the knowledge will be oppressive or worse — that the system could be abused. The conflict over this proposed communication system tears the travelers’ society apart, culminating in terrible violence. To save the Peerless and its mission, two rivals must travel to a world where time runs in reverse.

Continuing in the tradition of The Clockwork Rocket and The Eternal Flame, Greg Egan’s Orthogonal trilogy has continuously pushed the boundaries of scientific fiction, without ever losing track of the lives of the individuals carrying out this grand mission. The Arrows of Time brings this fascinating space opera to a close while offering insight into human nature and the struggles we face, both as individuals and as a species.

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