Cryogenic Suspension…The Solution To “Hyperspace” Travel
Are ready for “Hyperspace” Travel where you sleep as you go? It’s a nice thought, but we’ll probably never be able to push a button and travel through “hyperspace.” What’s even nicer is to journey for light years while you sleep. Traveling faster than light is most likely impossible and wormholes don’t seem very promising either. According to scientists, the only way you will ever personally be able to visit other stars is by sleeping through the journey.
Cryogenic suspension makes it possible
The idea of cryogenic suspension has been featured in science fiction movies for decades. In these stories, people have been shown going to sleep and waking up months, years, or even centuries later, in another part of the universe. But Cryosleep is more than just a fantasy—it could be our only hope of making an interstellar journey in a single lifetime. And while there are a few major hurdles to overcome, it’s a much more sound option than the alternatives.
Karl Schroeder, the author of Lockstep, is optimistic that we will figure out how to sleep for long periods of time required for space travel.
Faster-than-light travel still takes forever
“If faster-than-light travel is even possible, there will almost certainly be only one way to do it, and that way may not be accessible by any human technology,” Schroeder said in an interview with iO9. But, “we can sketch many different engineering solutions for cold sleep.”
“There are many different paths to long-term hibernation. We already know that living things can be revived unharmed after very long periods,” Schroder adds.
“We already have several animal models for hibernation, so we know it’s at least distantly possible,” Alastair Reynolds says, adding that “extending it to humans is bound to be complicated. But there are efforts being made in that direction.”
Reynolds notes that NASA has been spending more time looking into the idea of using hibernation. At this point, the research is looking into “induced sleep rather than Ripley-style cryosleep. But anything that helps us along in that direction has to be worth pursuing, and presumably, there would be any number of Earthbound applications for such a technology.”
“I think a hibernation-like state may be possible, but the question is whether it will be under hypothermic conditions or not,” Marina Blanco, a Duke scientist who studies hibernation in lemurs, notes. “Remember, some lemur hibernate despite the hot weather.”
At present, scientists are only looking to cool people for “one to three days,” Kelly Drew, a professor at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska told iO9.
“If we get this figured out, the next step will be to cool them for several days, maybe a month,” Drew adds. ‘We have a long ways to go to make it a hundred, or a thousand, years.”
The complicated part is figuring out how to freeze and thaw the human body without causing damage. Usually, when mammalian cells are frozen, ice crystals form inside the cells and cause damage to the membranes.