Hibernation in Space #SciFiSunday

Sci fi stories love using various forms of hibernation to tell stories of deep space travel. Hard science fiction writers often prefer to avoid the fuzzy science of faster than light travel. In those cases, some form of hibernation is used to help humans traverse the unimaginable distances of interstellar space. But are there any forms of hibernation that are scientifically viable? Here’s more from Centauri Dreams:

Larry Niven played around with an interesting form of suspended animation in his 1966 Ballantine title World of Ptavvs. While the usual science fictional imagining is of a crew in some sort of cryogenic deep freeze, Niven went all out and envisioned a means of suspending time itself. It’s an ingenious concept based on an earlier short story in Worlds of Tomorrow, one that so aggressively pushes the physics that the more subtle delights of characterization and perspective come almost as afterthoughts. Niven fans like myself will recognize it as taking part in his ‘Known Space’ universe.

In the absence of time manipulation, let’s plumb more modest depths, though these can be tantalizing in their implications. In the last post, Don Wilkins described new work out of Washington University on inducing states of torpor – life processes slowed along with temperature – in laboratory experiments involving rodents. The spectrum from torpor to suspended animation has intervals that may suit our purpose. At the Interstellar Research Group’s Montreal symposium, John Bradford examined technologies with interplanetary as well as interstellar implications, though as he pointed out, they differ greatly from our cryogenic imaginings.

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