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Suspended animation

From Academic Kids

Suspended animation is the technical term for the slowing without termination of life processes by external means. Outside science fiction, the technique as applied to humans is hypothetical. Breathing, heartbeat, and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means. Extreme cold is used to precipitate the slowing of an individual's functions; use of this process had led to the developing science of cryonics.

Placing astronauts in suspended animation has been proposed as one way for an individual to reach the end of an interplanetary or interstellar journey, avoiding the necessity for a gigantic generation ship; occasionally the two concepts have been combined, with generations of "caretakers" supervising a large population of frozen passengers.

An article in the April 22, 2005 issue of the scientific journal Science, reports success towards inducing suspended animation in mice. The findings are significant, as mice do not hibernate in nature. The breakthrough was achieved when the lab of Mark Roth placed mice in a chamber containing 80 ppm hydrogen sulfide, and the test was conducted for 6 hours. The mice's core body temperature dropped to 13 degrees Celsius and metabolism, as assayed by carbon dioxide production, decreased 10-fold.

Suspended animation is also a common device in fiction used to transport individuals from one time period to another. Among the characters or works that utilize suspended animation are:

See also

For some “real life” starting points:

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