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Can humans hibernate to travel in space?

Can humans hibernate to travel in space?  - Photo 1.

The development of science and technology makes traveling around the Earth easier and seems to be not enough. People increasingly desire to explore space – Photo: Austral de Chile University

Every year, millions, even billions of dollars, are spent researching the search for extraterrestrial life and how we can reach a distant planet.

It is not a wishful thinking. The fact that humans have set foot on the Moon and built modern machinery and equipment such as spacecraft to explore Mars shows our achievements in the process of exploring and conquering our universe.

One of the familiar methods in science fiction movies for humans to travel into space to another planet is “putting the body into hibernation mode”. Astronauts will step inside a cocoon-like device. Then, thanks to scientific techniques, the body immediately “sleeps” for a few months to several years. When the spacecraft lands on the new planet, the astronauts will wake up.

However, everything has to be looked at in reality. Scientists in Chile confirmed that it was just a pipe dream, only found in movies.

Researchers from the Austral de Chile University (Chile) conducted a study to see if humans can hibernate like bears.

In mammals, such as bats, some marsupials, and rodents, natural hibernation can consume energy and reduce energy levels by 98%. If possible, this would allow us to effectively hibernate during spacewalks that last longer than a lifetime.

In space missions, an astronaut and everything on board has a direct effect on the volume of the mission, as well as the number of launches required for the trip.

Can humans hibernate to travel in space?  - Photo 2.

A scene from the movie Alien shows the astronauts waking up in a “cocoon” after a long period of “hibernation”.

One solution that has been proposed is to put humans into a short-term hibernation, where a decrease in physiological activity – usually due to a decrease in body temperature and metabolic rate – results in a significant reduction in mass and metabolic rate. size, thereby reducing the required mass on board.

The researchers looked at metabolism during hibernation in mammals (bats, bears) and found that one gram of tissue in each bat has a metabolism similar to one gram. tissue in each bear during hibernation, although a bear is about 20,000 times larger than a bat.

Black and brown bears, weighing around 80-400kg, are the largest known hibernation species and reduce their resting metabolism by up to 75% during hibernation. But bats have a 95-98% reduction in metabolic energy.

This shows that the metabolic rate during hibernation is more or less depending on body weight and mass. The adult human body is quite large, the energy saved during hibernation will be less than the energy saved during normal sleep.

Findings published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B is bad news for sci-fi fans, showing that humans will never be able to survive in a state of hibernation to travel long distances through space.

Previous studies of dwarf lemurs (human closest genetic relative) hibernate, suggesting that during hibernation, which lasts eight months, their normal heart rate of 180 beats a minute can be reduced down to the lowest level 4 times/minute.

According to Maria Berg von Linde, a cardiologist at Sweden’s Orebro University, it is also hoped that from hibernating brown and black bears, we can learn to prevent and treat a variety of diseases.

“If people spend half a year in a state of physical inactivity without eating, defecating or urinating, they will suffer heart failure, blood clots, organ damage, blood poisoning. Bears are not in danger. Understanding and applying hibernation could lead to important discoveries that have implications for the treatment of human disease,” she said.

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