back to article DARPA project seeks immortality, suspended animation

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is offering money to researchers looking at identifying and controlling timing mechanisms in cells, including those of the human body. The blue sky gazing loon-collective notes that no single "master switch" has been found to control genes' activities. But it hopes that …

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  1. Shakje

    It would be better

    if they worked out how to reawaken cryogenically frozen people :)

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      We already know that...

      It can't be done.

      When you freeze something, the water expands. The human body is ~80% water. Hence, I can say with reasonable certainty that people who have already been frozen by cryo institutes will stay dead because brain tissues will have ruptured.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Others know different

        Dixie's rebirthday (unfrozen german shepherd): http://www.alcor.org/cryonics/cryonics8601.txt

        Effects of antifreeze proteins on red blood cell survival during cryopreservation: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/199/9/2071.full.pdf

        (These links are from 1986 and 1996 respectively and could be cobwebs. Dixie only went to 4°C, and not for very long. It looks like you need lower temperatures to preserve people for a longer time, but the required cryoprotectants are toxic. I was surprised not to find more modern links.)

        1. ratfox Silver badge
          Devil

          Reawaken cryogenically frozen people? Why?

          If humanity manages to extend its lifespan, we will soon run out of place on earth. Why should we make the problem worse by reanimating the icicles?

          What's this altruism thing you're talking about? Let'em melt, I say!

          1. Franklin

            A title is required

            "If humanity manages to extend its lifespan, we will soon run out of place on earth. "

            History shows us that longer lifespan correlates strongly with decreased birth rate; in fact, many Western societies actually have *negative* population growth, with the rest made up by immigration. There is no reason to assume that with radically extended lifespans, this trend won't continue.

            And indeed radically extended lifespan does not necessarily equate with radically extended fertility. Women are born with a finite number of eggs, after all; it would be a bit odd to assume that a woman with an indefinite lifespan will keep having more and more and more and more and more children.

      2. Franklin

        A title is required

        "It can't be done. When you freeze something, the water expands."

        That's why cryo institutes like Alcor don't freeze people. Instead, they infuse people with a complex set of cryoprotectants which are intended to displace the water in their cells. When the people are brought down to liquid nitrogen temperature, the cryoprotectants go through a glassy phase change--they vitrify rather than freezing. There's no expansion and no ice crystal formation.

        These cryoprotectants have already been used to bring animal organs down to liquid nitrogen temperatures, then warm them back up and show that the cells are still alive and the organs still function.

      3. Dave Lawton

        @ Peter2

        It's not as clear-cut as all that, see

        http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/02/03/broadcasts/main156476.shtml

        also

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLr15BBBtrc

        (5 min extract from BBC Horizon programme)

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          @ Dave L

          I beg to differ. Her brain wasn't frozen. Parts of her body that froze were either completely destroyed and required replacement (ie; major internal organs) or lost significant functionality. (ie; fingers)

          Given how long it takes ice cubes to freeze in my freezer and the relative size of a head, I am going to assume that her brain wasn't actually frozen in 80 minutes (ie; frozen in the scientific definition as in frozen into an ice cube, causing the creation of ice crystals and expansion which causes the destruction of tissues)

          I'm quite willing to assume that her brain was reduced in temperature to virtually zero and not functional, but to the best of my knowledge medical science cannot resuscitate someone who has been *frozen solid*.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Some pickling required

        The testing phase in 2 years could require some serious study.... Cheers!

    2. Originone
      Megaphone

      John Wayne's not dead.

      He's frozen and as soon as we find a cure for cancer we're gonna thaw out the Duke, and he's gonna be pretty pissed off.

  2. RobE
    Big Brother

    How about an even better device

    A person/soldier is drowning or in some other traumatic state and unconcious. Invent a device that is embedded in the Central Nervous System that can put the persons limbs into auto pilot and swim to safety.... or at least above water so they don't drown/freeze to death. It could even be remote controlled by some one else, or use brain interfaces to tell the mind what activities to perform.<Evil Genius>

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    B u t i f I s l o w d o w n

    to reach a high age, will that not be very boring?

    1. frank ly
      Happy

      Perhaps....

      .. but only for you. The rest of us will find it very amusing and will call you Captain Slowborg.

  4. Solomon Grundy
    Thumb Up

    Neato

    Isn't there a movie about this? Didn't the process result in really f&*cked up consequences? Cool! I hope they succeed.

  5. Steve X
    Black Helicopters

    Super soldiers next?

    What next, overclocked squaddies? They only last for a war, but get so much more done...

    1. Graham Marsden

      I think you mean...

      ... Idiocracy http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/

      1. nyelvmark
        Thumb Down

        Cyril Kornbluth

        ...has been dead for years, so pinching his ideas is not a problem.

  6. Alex King
    Thumb Up

    Gotta love DARPA

    If anyone's going to get us our flying-car, pill food, MrFusion, warp drive and everlasting life sci-fi future it's these guys. You go, blue-sky gazing loon collective!

  7. moonface
    Black Helicopters

    DARPA v DWP

    DWP would rather an "off switch" for when we retire.

  8. Mike Richards

    Cross squaddies with jellyfish

    They're already immortal.

    Problem solved.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Immortal Jellyfish? From Wikipedia

      "Scientists have evidence of jellyfish roaming the seas for about 500 million years."

      refers to the species, not individual entities.

      The whole immortality thing is a dead end unless they restrict breeding (which is a whole taboo ballpark in itself) to 1 in, 1 out.

      John Barrowman becomes mortal though, the crazy yank weegie.

      1. Old Handle
        Boffin

        I believe Mike was referring to this:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turritopsis_nutricula

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        John Barrowman

        He is not Merkin.

        We do love him though, sexy bitch!

  9. Chemist

    Everyone knows that ..

    if you become immortal you have to go round the galaxy insulting everyone in ALPHABETICAL order.

    Thanks Douglas for that beautiful twist on the immortality theme

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    They appear to be looking for the Hapson Survival System

    Hopefully their version will be a bit more effective.

    Yes that is a copy of The Outward Urge in my pocket.

  11. Christoph Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    How long before they warehouse the 'terrorists'

    First use will be a big storage facility at Guantanamo Bay, where they don't have to bother about any boring 'human rights' legislation.

    Anyone vaguely suspicious gets warehoused there in cold storage 'just until we get the case sorted out'.

    Nice and cheap, no worries about detainees demanding that you produce evidence against them. Hey, you can even promise to release anyone who protests against their detention!

    Then you let them go a few decades down the line when all their family and friends are dead so they can't be in any nasty conspiracies.

    1. nyelvmark
      Boffin

      @Christoph

      You know - that's not as ridiculous idea as you make it sound. If suspended animation was actually possible, it could have judicial applications. Analogous to sending convicts to Australia.

      So far it's just a science-fiction idea, however, so I don't recommend starting a political party which promises this as a reform. Not that that's going to stop anybody...

    2. cum grano salis
      Mushroom

      or

      They may also keep the tearists on the shelf next to smallpox et al, just in case they ever need to stage another attack and boost the fear levels, or even release them on their enemies.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Anyone else read this and think of Red Dwarf?

    "There, that wasn’t too bad was it? Look, we’ve found a stasis leak on floor sixteen. I’m dead now and you’re not. But if I save you, you won't die so I won't die. And you won't be dead, and neither will I!"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    RE animator

    They are allready experimenting with putting people into a state of suspended animation using H2S. Theres a talk on TED about it:

    http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/02/mark-roth-on-mice-and-men/

    Clever stuff.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Phase two: ???

    Phase three: profit!

  15. Blasmeme
    Alien

    I'm worried

    First DARPA wants ideas for starships. Now it wants folks to work on suspended animation among other things. Do they know something we don't? I really need to buy a telescope.

  16. Msan

    Can I get a $million for further 'research'?

    As a kid I'd freeze flies in a ice cube tray in the freezer - 24 hours later put the ice entombed fly on a window sill in sun, cube melted and fly slowly revived then flew off.

    1. Your Retarded
      Happy

      Really?

      How did you get the flies to stay in the water long enough to freeze without them drowning?

      1. Msan

        Easy

        You pour the water on them and I think the weight of the water pins them down. Every one that went in came out - I'm not an irresponsible scientist!

  17. Nick Pettefar

    Sex Mission!

    Not to mention Woody Allen's Sleeper!

    What will life be like in 100 years? Would you find somewhere to plug your iPod into?

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