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Re: starship-design: Cryogenic Suspension

Nels Lindberg wrote:

This is a really novel (afaik) and intruiging idea.  How are you going to
get at body parts protected by bone, especially the brain and spinal cord?
Also, how are you going to keep the needles from bending as they go in
real fast? If they bend they either cut through flesh or break off.
Anyway, i think this is an idea worthy of discussion.  I think it beats
the heck out of lopping someones head off and dunking it in LN2.


Appreciate your consideration, Nels. Your pointed questions show you're
thinking seriously on this. We might not want to get too "clinical" here, or
somebody might get turned off. (Please, nobody ask me a question about the
eyeballs!) First we should prove the concept, then develop the technique.

Let me say I chose platinum because organisms have an absolutely zero
reaction to it, making it completely inert physiologically. This, though, is
overspecified; tungsten or stainless steel would work equally well.
Platinum, though, in spite of being a noble metal, is not at all weak.
Whatever the material, your basic question about the bone penetration
applies the same way. I would expect the answer to involve forcible
insertion of the needle into the bone. I have flashbacks to bone marrow
biopsies conducted with needles on my hipbones, as part of my treatment for
mantle cell lymphoma. The hip is the largest,  and I think the hardest bone.
The doctor had no trouble getting a steel needle into it, though some force
was required. Most distressing, I can tell you.

Ben Franchuk wrote:

Why is freezing needed? You have three options
1) Slow down the body by keeping it just above 32F.
See chipmunk dan or hibernating harry.
2)Clean and reset the cells to a early time every few years.
  This is at the DNA level that would sweep through the body and
repair aging DAMAGE and clean up the body.
3) Create longer living people (test tube baby style)
PS. Send a very slow moving craft to the stars and have the slime
evolve into people when you get there.:)

Thanks for pointing out these options. Freezing is only needed to keep
people from dying, whether from lapse of time, or from shorter term factors.
Hibernation I would expect to require constant maintenance, at a level of
intensive care comparable to that needed by a coma patient. Respiration and
circulation must be maintained. If nutrient levels in the blood fall, the
subject must be revived to eat. Since body cells are active, the
microorganisms of the body certainly are. Hibernation in nature is a
ninety-day phenomonon, at a constant physiological cost. It does not stop
the metabolism, nor prevent aging. I don't see much advantage of this over
the active state, at least enough to compensate being so vulnerable. Should
we find out what hibernation is, and how to induce it in humans, and how to
extend it for years, and how to ward off starvation, and how to maintain the
bodily tone, and how to prevent biodegradation of the tissues consumed by
microbes, I think it would still be too risky.

Rejuvenation is a very interesting concept. An organism's cells are limited
to about fifty generations of cell division. Theory among biologists points
toward the progressive shortening of the telomeres of chromosomes, the
non-coding repetitive DNA sequences at their exposed ends, as the cause of
this limitation. Recent work
indicates some possibilities in this regard. Life extension by genetic
treatment now glimmers as a remote posibility on the far horizon. I don't
feel, however, that you and I should place this among our immediate

What I'm saying, is my proposal is immediate and concrete. If you can spare
me a dozen hogs, a tank of liquid helium, and 2748 platinum needles, I can
show you if it works or not. Experiment can provide a decisive answer to any
related questions of theory. To consider an alternative to this method, we
need it to be a comparable plan, at the same level of specificity.

Johnny Thunderbird