Long journeys in space. Scientists have found that will help a person fly to the stars
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The experiment, so far on monkeys, has shown how a certain effect on the brain can be useful for distant space travel.< /p> Related video
Chinese scientists, as part of a new study, decided to test whether it is possible to induce artificial hibernation or hypothermia in monkeys by inducing neurons in the brain. Since humans have a similar brain structure, this study was aimed at exploring the potential for humans to hibernate during long space travel, writes ScienceAlert.
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The problem of distant space travel
In order for people to ever fly to the nearest stars, several important problems must be solved. For example, the distance to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is approximately 4 light years. This means that if the spacecraft flies at the speed of light, then it will arrive at its destination in 4 years. But people do not have such technologies and are not expected in the near future. And theoretically, scientists question this possibility.
Therefore, in any case, there will be engines that will help to move through space faster than now, and yet such a journey can take hundreds of years. Technologies that will appear in the near future will allow the spacecraft to reach the nearest stars in several thousand years, scientists believe.
For comparison, the Voyager 1 spacecraft launched in the late 70s of the last century, if it will not fail its engine, fly to Proxima Centauri in more than 70 thousand years.
< h2>What will help a person reach the stars?
Some scientists propose to create such spaceships in the future, where people could live, give birth to children, and only perhaps the great-grandchildren of the first travelers could reach the nearest stars. But there is another option: use artificial hibernation or hibernation so that people can sleep through the entire journey, and then wake up at the destination.
Hibernation is used by some mammals, especially in winter, when they need to reduce their metabolic rate as much as possible and thus save the energy necessary for life. But some animals go into another type of hibernation, hypothermia, which means they have a lower temperature and lower metabolic rate as well. So far, scientists do not know how possible it is to introduce a person into a state of artificial hibernation, but everything can work out with hypothermia. At least in theory.
New monkey experiment
A group of scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences conducted a study on cynomolgus monkeys, during which they artificially tried to induce a state of hypothermia. During hypothermia, body temperature drops and metabolism slows to a minimum, but the body retains all vital functions in the normal range.
Scientists Wang Hong and Dai Ji wanted to know if they could induce a state of artificial hypothermia, and possibly hibernation in primates with using chemical effects on neurons in the hypothalamus, which are responsible for the processes of sleep and thermoregulation.
To do this, macaques were injected with and without anesthesia with a special antipsychotic called clozapine N-oxide. After the manipulations, scientists used MRI to examine the brains of monkeys, and also studied behavioral, physiological and biochemical changes.
It turned out that this drug can put monkeys into a state of hypothermia, both under anesthesia and without it. But in anesthetized monkeys, hypothermia led to a drop in core body temperature, preventing external heating. The researchers say this demonstrates the critical role neurons play in primate thermoregulation.
The scientists also found behavioral changes in awake monkeys and compared them to those in hypothermic mice. Typically, mice reduce their activity and their heart rate drops in an attempt to keep warm. But in the monkeys, on the contrary, their heart rate and activity level increased, and, in addition, they began to freeze. This suggests that thermoregulation in primates is more complex than in mice, and if we talk about introducing a person into a state of hypothermia, or hibernation, then this should be taken into account.
Scientists believe that this study is an important step towards understanding how it will be possible to put a person into artificial hibernation to overcome long distances in space.
Focus already wrote about another study that suggests that while traveling to Mars people still have to fall into a state of artificial hibernation.