Could Madame Tussauds' wax figures come to life? Suspended animation (putting life on hold) was explored in the episode, 'The Fine Art of Crime' on the TV series, 'Wonder Woman' first went on air in October 1978. In the episode, real people were placed in a state of suspended animation by a small stream of electrons controlled by a neuro-impulse modulator. The NIM (Nuclear Instrumentation Modules) unit, created in 1969, would produce an electrical signal which froze a person indefinitely. 

In March 2014, surgeons at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania reportedly begun trailing a groundbreaking emergency technique which saw 10 patients with fatal injuries placed in suspended animation ("where people are not alive but not yet dead") to buy doctors up to 2 hours of time in order to operate on those injuries. Surgeon Samuel Tisherman insisted, "We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction, so we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation." 

Surgeon Peter Rhee from the University of Arizona in Tucson had assisted in the development of the technique made the point, "If a patient comes to us 2 hours after dying you can't bring them back to life. But if they're dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed." 'New Scientist' elaborated, "It takes about 15 minutes for the patient’s temperature to drop to 10°C. At this point they will have no blood in their body, no breathing, and no brain activity. They will be clinically dead. 

"In this state, almost no metabolic reactions happen in the body, so cells can survive without oxygen. Instead, they may be producing energy through what’s called anaerobic glycolysis. At normal body temperatures this can sustain cells for about 2 minutes. At low temperatures, however, glycolysis rates are so low that cells can survive for hours. The patient will be disconnected from all machinery and taken to an operating room where surgeons have up to 2 hours to fix the injury. 

"At normal body temperature – around 37°C – cells need a regular oxygen supply to produce energy. When the heart stops beating, blood no longer carries oxygen to cells. Without oxygen the brain can only survive for about 5 minutes before the damage is irreversible. However, at lower temperatures, cells need less oxygen because all chemical reactions slow down. This explains why people who fall into icy lakes can sometimes be revived more than half an hour after they have stopped breathing." 

The UK 'Mirror' reported in 2016, space agency NASA was investing up to $500,000 in research for the development of the "cryosleep" system as part of its Phase II - Innovative Advanced Concepts Program. As explained, "The cryosleep system works by chilling humans and artificially inducing a state of hypothermia so astronauts can hibernate for up to two weeks. A similar technique is already used to cool the body of someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest in a bid to avoid brain damage."

SpaceWorks collaborated in the development enthused, "Medical progress is quickly advancing our ability to induce deep sleep states with significantly reduced metabolic rates for humans over extended periods of time. NASA should leverage these advancements for spaceflight as they can potentially eliminate a number of very challenging technical hurdles and ultimately enable feasible and sustainable missions to Mars." 

Jacqueline Ronson of  'Inverse Science' informed, "Bears don't hibernate. What bears do, perhaps better than any other species on Earth, is chill. Every winter, grizzlies crawl into their dens, bed down, and enter a state called torpor. Their internal temperatures drop by 10 degrees, their breathing slows with their heart rate, and their metabolic activity drops as they begin to cycle nitrogen that would otherwise be excreted in urine to prevent muscle atrophy. 

"This feat of physiology is remarkable on its own, but the real reason spaceflight entrepreneurs are so interested in torpor is what would happen if you poked a resting bear: It would wake up and eat you. Torpor isn't deep sleep. It is sometimes considered a type of hibernation, and the two are similar. In both cases metabolic activity slows, although true hibernation is more extreme — some animals can reach near-freezing internal temperatures and thaw out just fine. It's the closest thing the natural world has to suspended animation, a way to avoid the negative physical and mental effects of time in space by leveraging a mammalian superpower — one humans might, on some level, possess."

John Bradford of SpaceWorks Enterprises conceded, "We still really don't understand a lot of the triggers and mechanisms for even why some animals do it." Jacqueline Ronson continued, "His thinking? If we can get a handle on how our mammal cousins shut down without suffering long-term ill effects, we might be able to replicate those results in ourselves.

"Here's what he imagines: Astronauts entering pods, slowly losing consciousness, and letting their internal temperatures drop as engines fire up and blast away. Six months later, these unconscious explorers wake up on Mars without recollection of the journey. NASA buys into this vision, which sounds science fictional, but might become a key component of the plan to get humans to the Red Planet this century.

"Spaceworks is now in the second phase of a NASA-funded project to research the feasibility of inducing torpor in Mars-bound astronauts in order to keep them healthy and save money. As it turns out, the strongest argument in favor spaceflight hibernation is economic. Bradford estimates that a torpor habitat and launch system would weigh half as much as a traditional living space loaded up with food and oxygen tanks. Shipping costs to Mars work out to about $50,000 a pound, so when you’re talking savings in the realm of hundreds of tons, even a very large investment in research and design could pay off. Plus, torpor might offer protections against bone density loss, muscle atrophy, and possibly even space radiation for astronauts on the long haul."

John Bradford stated, "They're still looking for good solutions to address those, and consequently you end up with multiple technology paths trying to solve each one of these individually, and we think we can with this one technology offer some benefits to all of those." 'Inverse' continued, "From a medical perspective, it's unclear at this point whether stasis would in itself protect against cellular damage from radiation, but from an engineering perspective, it’s a lot easier to implement shielding if astronauts are contained to a capsule.

"Which all brings the question back around to feasibility. Humans do not typically hibernate, but many mammals do, and there are reasons to believe that we have our biology can be hacked to create a similar response. The best evidence is in rare and extraordinary cases where people have been found apparently frozen to death, only to come back to life once they warm up. As biochemist Mark Roth memorably put it in a 2010 TED Talk: 'You're not dead until you're warm and dead.'

"In 1999, Anna BĂ„genholm spent 80 minutes trapped under a frozen waterfall in Norway, and her internal temperature dropped to 57 degrees. Her heart was stopped for 3 hours, and yet thanks to a careful medical resuscitation, she came back to life and recovered almost completely. In 2006, Mitsutaka Uchikoshi of Japan got lost in the forest and was found 24 days later in a hibernation-like state. His body temperature was just 72 degrees, and he had no recollection past the second day of his absence. He also recovered.

"Most of the medical research into human stasis is focused on finding ways to safely slow human metabolism for a period of a few hours to a few weeks. To get to Mars, that timeline will have to be expanded significantly, although that work will certainly provide crucial insights that will guide the future of space hibernation." Jason Derleth of NASA maintained, "Phase II decisions are always challenging, but we were especially challenged this year (2016) with so many successful Phase I studies applying to move forward with their cutting-edge technologies. I'm thrilled to welcome these innovations and their innovators back to the program. Hopefully, they will all go on to do what NIAC does best - change the possible."

On 'Wonder Woman' viewers learnt art sought to interpret life, not merely to imitate.

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