Human hibernation SuperPod


#1

Hey all!

I’m super excited about creating a space/science Super Pod relating to human hibernation. Back in my research days, my thesis focused looking at short-duration hibernation (also known as Torpor) in mice.

My supervisor wanted me to focus on the ecological aspects of torpor but I always wanted to dive into the WHY of how mice could do it, the biochemistry behind it and how to stimulate the process - because i could always see how incredibly useful this ability would be for humans in long duration spaceflight.

With my research now submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (finally!) I was inspired to take this knowledge that I kinda forgot about, and apply it to spaceflight.

So what will the Pod look like?

I really want it to be solidly grounded in scientific fact but I also want to guide the viewers along a journey. I want to weave a story that starts somewhere around the ‘Why should
I care about hibernation’ and ends with ‘Holy crap this is a cool idea and I want to see it happen’ and ideally, gives the viewer an understanding at a high-level on how the process would work, biologically, along the way.

I think this is how I’d like to set it out:

  • Overview of the problem (long duration spaceflight, people in coma/severe medical accidents etc)
  • How torpor works in mice/other animals
  • The cutting edge researching being done today
  • What future would be unlocked by figuring this stuff out in humans

To make it kickass, I think i’d need these resources to make it happen

  • Interviews with subject matter experts explaining the facts/process
  • Case study of a human with some medical problem that could have been improved with hibernation
  • LOTS of quality animations. This process happens at a molecular level and is super hard to try to visualize. I think this would set the Pod apart from all other videos out there.

Anyway, this is only in the early stages but I wanted to float the idea and see if people would be interested in watching something like this.

Thoughts? Questions?

Cheers!


#2

I would watch this. Out of curiosity, can this same tech/research be used to slow aging while not actually hibernating? Kinda like putting certain cells in stasis but not others?


#3

I think you might get some bad consequences from slowing down some cells but not others. Lots of our cells are linked together through the chemicals/proteins/products they make, and they also constantly signal to each other.

If some cells are working full speed and others aren’t responding effectively, I have no idea how that would turn out.

However, you raise a really good point about slowing aging. Another way to do that without actually going into hibernation is to find a way to repair/lengthen the telomeres on the end of our DNA.

Telomeres are like the endcaps of our DNA that prevent the ‘useful’ information from becoming frayed like the end of a piece of string. Each time our cell divides to make more new cells/replace cells that have died, the string gets shorter and shorter. Luckily, the ends of the string are the ‘not super critical for life’ telomeres.

So… your telomeres get shorter over time.

Until they get so short they run out and now you lose actual important DNA after each cell division… also known as ‘getting old’. This is not conductive to the cell staying alive.

Anyway, if we could find a way to make the telomeres longer again, we buy ourselves time before our cells inevitably have divided too many times and we die.

Interestingly, Scott Kelly’s telomeres got longer during his one year mission on ISS. The effect was lost around 2 days after he returned to Earth.

(Maybe this could be another SuperPod? Ha!)


#4

I would love as much information about this as possible, Torpor is simply fascinating! So many stories and movies involve hibernation or “hyper-sleep” for long-term space travel, but what are the real possibilities? I would be more receptive to the getting the gist from someone who has done real research… luckily we have you, MiniStoj!


#5

Sounds fascinating. Wish I had the animation skills you are looking for.


#6

Absolute zero would be true stasis … which is impossible due to quantum fluctuations. Can’t beat father time :slightly_frowning_face:


#7

Interestingly, Scott Kelly’s telomeres got longer during his one year mission on ISS.

I wonder if it is the body’s response to long-term exposure to elevated radiation …


#8

Who knows… Maybe Martian colonist will live to 1000 years…