Humans flying anywhere near the Moon is pushing human health, food, and psychology to new level we''re just beginning to realize.
A common solution to these problems in science fiction is to simply bring the void-travelers to bed for a while. In a sleep-like state similar to hibernation or torpor, metabolism decreases, and the mind is spared the burden of waiting endless empty hours.
Unlike faster-than-light travel and wormholes, the meaning of putting astronauts into a form of hibernation feels like it''s within reach. Enough, so even the European Space Agency is serious examining the science behind it.
A trio of researchers from Chile''s impact on a new research has shown a mathematical challenge to transforming human stasis'' potential into reality, one that may result in it being foreseemed.
Roberto F. Nespolo and Carlos Mejias of the Millennium Institute for Integrative Biology and Francisco Bozinovic from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile have teamed up to investigate the connection between body mass and energy expenditure in hysteria.
They discovered a minimal amount of metabolism that permits cells to thrive in cold, low-oxygen conditions. Nevertheless, for relatively heavy animals like us, the energy savings we might anticipate from entering a deep, hibernation-like state would be negligible.
In fact, we''d probably be better off narrating our days away in the old-fashioned manner.
The term hibernation often evokes images of a bear tucked away in a dumpster for a long winter''s rest.
Despite their shady days, bears aren''t likely to retaliate among small critters like ground squirrels and bats.
Body temperature in these animals is decreasing, and metabolism is decreasing, reducing heart rate and breathing slow. In some cases, this process may reduce energy expenditure by as much as 98 percent, thus eliminating the need to spend time hunting or foraging.
As it burns through its fuel reserves, the animal can still lose more than a quarter of its body weight in this state.
If we applied the same basic techniques to a hibernating adult human, a daily food intake of around 12,000 kilojoules would be replaced by a requirement for only a couple hundred kilojoules of body fat.
Keeping an eye on this scenario, we might imagine our intrepid space tourist tucked up in their specially-kitted bed would lose just over six grams of fat per day. This would increase weight over a year.
It might be good for a quick journey to the Jovian moons, but if the average adult wants to survive decades floating through interstellar space to a nearby star, they''d need to pack on an additional few hundred kilograms of fat. That, or routinely wake to throw back a lard milkshake or three.
These back-of-the-envelope calculations rely on many assumptions, including how hibernation might measure. After all, there''s probably a valid reason behind the scarcity of massive hibernating mammals our size (or larger).
So, the researchers performed a statistical analysis across a wide spectrum of hibernating animals, as described in previous studies.
They found out from this that the daily energy expenditure of hibernating animals scales in a fairly equitable way, thus a gram of tissue from a tiny mammal, like the 25-gram leaf-eared bat, consumes as much energy as a gram of tissue from an 820-gram hibernating ground squirrel.
If we ever worked out how to hibernate as efficiently as a dormouse, every gram of our tissue would require the same energy as every gram of theirs.
While mammals are active, the scale of the relationship between active metabolism and mass produces a somewhat different diagram that reveals a point at which hibernating does not really save a lot of energy for larger mammals.
This is because it is nearing our own mass, implying that our total energy needs, while hibernating will not be significant different from those when we''re resting.
Bears don''t hibernate in the same way smaller animals do. It also means for us humans, going to all the risk and difficulties of cooling our bodies, decreasing our heart rate, and artificially depressing our metabolism just might not provide us the results we''d expect.
If we want to stay in our boredom and keep an eye on the ship''s supply of frozen ice cream, then we might both binge The Expanse, take a bunch of medications, and begin fleeing the ocean.
Getting humans to hibernate isn''t going to be expensive.
The Royal Society B.''s study has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.