January 25, 2011
Real Cryosleep - cold methuselah
Cryosleep is "sleeping" or "hibernating" for long periods of time in a controlled environment. Cryosleep is featured in the film Avatar, where Jake Sully and other passengers cryosleep while they travel to Pandora. While cryosleeping, or "in cryo", a person does not age.
We recently covered the real life use of magnetic fields to vibrate water to prevent the formation of ice crystals to prevent damaging organs during freezing. If techniques like this could be mastered for suspending life and then allowing people to be safely revived, it would be a method of extending life until there was improved longevity medicine from scientific progress.
The UK Telegraph reports on surgeons pioneering the method of inducing extreme hypothermia in trauma patients so that their bodies shut down entirely during major surgery, giving doctors more time to perform operations.
* If you drop the body's core temperature and brain temperature down to 15 degrees C or 10 degrees C you are talking about 60 minutes and even 190 minutes of protection.
* By cooling rapidly in this fashion we can convert almost certain death into a 90 per cent survival rate
* Pump are connected to the major blood vessels around the heart to remove the warm blood in the body and replace it with cold saline solution.
* the body cools by around 2 degrees C every minute, rapidly causing the body's tissues to shut down (previous techniques took 8 hours for 3 degrees of cooling)
This shows that there is progress to mastering putting people into a frozen or cold state and then reviving them.
Unlike cryonics where a person is dead and then frozen and needing nanomedicine to revive them, cryosleep could be mastered with less demanding technology.
As Chris Phoenix has pointed out in comments to the previous articles, it would require a development program of learning to freeze and revive larger and larger animals. It would involve figuring out the steps and procedures in the sequence of freezing different parts of the body.
The use of induced hyperthermia in surgery is not cold enough for cryosleep but would be the first leg of taking a body down to the temperatures needed for preservation and the last leg of bringing a body back to warm temperatures.
With a mastery of cryosleep one would not need to be "clinically dead" before applying cryonics. An individual could choose to go into induced hibernation/suspension for large fractions of year or for several years and then get periodically revived. One could skip forward at a controlled ratio of how much aging to experience versus actual time passage. If aging could be slowed to say 1% in the frozen state and then having 1% non-hibernation period per year, that would result in a 50:1 reduction in aging. 50 years of actual time versus 1 year of actual aging.
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