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shadowwalker
06-02-2010, 02:10 AM
I'm contemplating my first sci-fi story, based (but not completely focused) on cryonics. I've found the websites for Alcor and the Cryonics Institute, but of course, their information is somewhat biased ;) I'm looking for some neutral information on the feasibility, possible/probable problems, and also wondering if anyone could recommend fictional stories that deal with cryonics on a more realistic level (ie, not the body in the ice block thing).

Thanks - appreciate any info/direction :)

Lhun
06-02-2010, 05:10 AM
I'm contemplating my first sci-fi story, based (but not completely focused) on cryonics. I've found the websites for Alcor and the Cryonics Institute, but of course, their information is somewhat biased ;) I'm looking for some neutral information on the feasibility, possible/probable problems, and also wondering if anyone could recommend fictional stories that deal with cryonics on a more realistic level (ie, not the body in the ice block thing).What exactly are you looking for? Your questions as they are are hard to answer, because there's really no "neutral information on the feasibility, possible/probable problems". Because as it is right now, you can mark it down as either total bullshit, or a long shot for people with the attitude to say "why the hell not".
Right now, the whole revival part relies on futuristic, i.e. as of yet not even forseeable technology. Might as well be fictional technology. This is what marks it down as bullshit, because for all we know right now, 300 years in the future there might be technology available to revive people who have had their brains put in a pickle jar after death, but not people who have been frozen. Point being: there is no information.
As for the "why the hell not" part, well freezing the body might be the wrong method of conservation, or might not be enough to revive someone, ever, but then again, giving it to your local feed-the-worms charity is going to be worse. So it's not really fraud. More like buying real estate on the moon. Who knows whether there'll ever bee cities on the moon to make those land prices rise, but you know what you're paying for and you get exactly that.

shadowwalker
06-02-2010, 05:48 AM
I guess what I was looking for was info from science on the feasibility - if, theoretically, infusing the body with some chemical and lowering the temperature could actually preserve more than just certain parts, like eggs for artificial insemination. So, basically what scientists/doctors who don't have a financial stake in it think is possible/probable. But if there hasn't been any real study of the idea, other than various parts of the body, then...

I guess, for me, getting the 'hard science' part is important so that the rest of the story - the meat of it - will be taken seriously versus being seen as another ScyFi movie type thing. Or maybe putting it better, I don't want people shaking their heads at the cryonic part and have that carry over to the rest of the story.

flood
06-02-2010, 06:34 AM
The cryonics forum at Imminst contains discussion and research links. Some of the posters are scientists involved in cryonics, bioscience and life extension:

http://www.imminst.org/forum/forums.html

Lhun
06-02-2010, 09:02 AM
I guess what I was looking for was info from science on the feasibility - if, theoretically, infusing the body with some chemical and lowering the temperature could actually preserve more than just certain parts, like eggs for artificial insemination. So, basically what scientists/doctors who don't have a financial stake in it think is possible/probable. But if there hasn't been any real study of the idea, other than various parts of the body, then...

I guess, for me, getting the 'hard science' part is important so that the rest of the story - the meat of it - will be taken seriously versus being seen as another ScyFi movie type thing. Or maybe putting it better, I don't want people shaking their heads at the cryonic part and have that carry over to the rest of the story.Ah.
Well, at least in theory, that idea is sound, i.e. placing a living person in suspension to revive/wake up later. There are even animals that are able to do this, or something similar. The problems are pretty much what one would expect, i.e. first one has to find a way to freeze the body without causing damage. Just dunking them in liquid nitrogen doesn't work, it doesn't flash-freeze objects like it does in hollywood, and having the outside of a creature frozen to a depth of a few centimeters and the rest still warm will kill it pretty quickly. Also, human bodies haven't evolved for this kind of treatment, many, if not most, cells would rupture when frozen, various proteins could denatureate etc.
The challenge is to find a way to quickly and smoothly freeze a person, without killing them until a temperature is reached where all biological functions (or maybe i should say all biochemical functions) pause. And then to be able to reverse that process.
As far as i know, there's not a lot of hard science on this yet, since it's pretty futuristic, even though the concept is sound. But it's not something i'm really reading about so maybe someone else knows more.
Cold suspension (or cold sleep) is a really common and really old idea in SF though. Probably present in the majority of space fiction. I suspect that the idea is so established that you'll have to go back pretty far to find an author who actually pays it any attention in a book. The wiki article on cryonics actually has quite the list of stories in the popular culture section.

shadowwalker
06-02-2010, 05:55 PM
The cryonics forum at Imminst contains discussion and research links. Some of the posters are scientists involved in cryonics, bioscience and life extension:

http://www.imminst.org/forum/forums.html

Oh, thanks! Just giving it a quick glance and I think this might be just what I was looking for. :D

PeterL
06-02-2010, 06:06 PM
The cryonics forum at Imminst contains discussion and research links. Some of the posters are scientists involved in cryonics, bioscience and life extension:

http://www.imminst.org/forum/forums.html

Thanks for the link. It is an interesting site.

shadowwalker
06-02-2010, 06:19 PM
Ah.
Well, at least in theory, that idea is sound, i.e. placing a living person in suspension to revive/wake up later. There are even animals that are able to do this, or something similar. The problems are pretty much what one would expect...
Cold suspension (or cold sleep) is a really common and really old idea in SF though. Probably present in the majority of space fiction. I suspect that the idea is so established that you'll have to go back pretty far to find an author who actually pays it any attention in a book. The wiki article on cryonics actually has quite the list of stories in the popular culture section.

This is where part of my dilemma comes in - I know the popular belief is that people are frozen, but there's more to it than that (special chemicals replacing the fluids, etc) and although I need to look at a couple of those books Wiki mentioned (why do I always think of Wiki last? :rolleyes:) a couple I recognized as being the "frozen block of ice" type. And again, I don't want people reading the story from that mindset - I want to have enough knowledge of the theories so that, with some embellishment on my part, they'll view it as something real and probable versus "fantastical". Otherwise, the rest of the story (and the important part, actually) won't catch them emotionally the way I'd like.

FOTSGreg
06-18-2010, 10:02 AM
Hey, Lhun, given that hibernation in certain animals is certainly possible, what do you think about the idea of "aging" of humans during hibernation? I'm thinking that "standard" hibernation techniques in scifi such as drugs, etc. would not slow down the normal human aging processes, but might slow them a bit.

BTW, I've got a story idea I'm just in the planning stages for that involves decades-long hibernation.

Dommo
06-20-2010, 07:56 AM
I'd say inducing a type of torpor is definitely possible. The issue is that once someone is already dead, it's probably not reversible. It's sort of like the difference between a grizzly bear going into hibernation, versus a grizzly freezing to death in a glacier. In the first case a bear could still wake up.

I agree with Lhun. Cryo as these "institutes" put it, is bullshit. They're banking on a long shot that probably won't pan out. Now if we figure out how to induce a type of suspended animation/hibernation kind of thing, that we know actually works(e.g. we've already done some successful experiments on animals already), then there may be possibility of something like "cryo" working.

Lhun
06-23-2010, 05:02 AM
Hey, Lhun, given that hibernation in certain animals is certainly possible, what do you think about the idea of "aging" of humans during hibernation? I'm thinking that "standard" hibernation techniques in scifi such as drugs, etc. would not slow down the normal human aging processes, but might slow them a bit.

BTW, I've got a story idea I'm just in the planning stages for that involves decades-long hibernation.Well, we've got a pretty good idea of what makes organisms age. Put short, the DNA in cells degenerates over time, as they replicate (except in germline cells). Since any kind of deep-frozen hibernation would completely stop the metabolism, there's no cell division going on, and thus no ageing. Anything less than popsicle-type hibernation would still slow down the ageing process by the rate it slows down the metabolism.
Interestingly enough, unrelated to hibernation, research has shown that mice living in cold conditions tend to have a longer lifespan than mice living in warm conditions. Yep, freezing prolongs your life. Thinking again about wearing thick coats in winter? :p
Oh, hunger also seems to extend the lifespan. Apparently, we (or mice at least) live longer when we're uncomfortable.

rmgil04
06-23-2010, 05:22 AM
I guess what I was looking for was info from science on the feasibility - if, theoretically, infusing the body with some chemical and lowering the temperature could actually preserve more than just certain parts, like eggs for artificial insemination.

Frozen embryos are essentially freeze-dried. If any moisture is left, the embryos would be destroyed (it happened to my family a few years ago). Maybe that's something you could use.