... seeking simple answers to complex problems, and in the process, disrupting the status quo in technology, art and neuroscience.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What Ever Happened with H2S Induced Hibernation?

11-20-19 Humans Placed in Suspended Animation for the First Time


What Ever Happened with H2S Induced Hibernation?

I wrote this post on April 22, 2006




One year ago today, something extraordinary happened...

Mark Roth at Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle announced the astounding ability to induced hibernation in mice by having them breathe 80 parts per million (ppm) hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S). Yes, that's the gas that smells like rotten eggs.

Not only did these critters fall asleep for six hours, their heart rate and respiration dropped by 92% - apparently replicating the effects of true hibernation. And their temperature dropped to 2 degrees C above ambient temperature. They in effect became cold-blooded.

It should also be noted, when the gas was removed, the mice awoke with no apparent ill effects. The critters could still run their maze in a normal fashion.

There are hints that H2S Induced Hibernation might be a natural defense mechanism or at least a normal biological process. It appears this H2S gas is produced by the body under certain
conditions and may be the key to normal hibernation. This may also be the cause of "Cold Water Shock Reflex" in which those who have "drowned" in cold water come back to life.

At 80 ppm, H2S can not simply be replacing O2 in the blood which exist at 210,000 PPM in typical air. It seems that H2S acts more like a hormone causing ALL cells in the body to slow down at the same time. Is H2S the body's way of adjusting the thermostat?

Hold on! I'm way out of my element here. I'm not qualified to do biology. I'm not even qualified to write about it.


But I DO considered this ASTOUNDING news! And indeed the world reported it. Well at least in a tepid way (sorry about the pun). From the BBC to the Washington Post they did at least rehash Mark's original work. Even
Wikipedia added three paragraphs to the Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) page. I was impressed with that.

But THAT was it...

I'm serious.

Nothing more.

No follow-up questions.

No follow-up answers.

No in-depth reporting.

No detailed analysis.

No flying out to Seattle.

No camping on the lawn.

No helicopter shots.


No checking tax returns.


Hell, Tom Cruise jumps up and down on a couch and the media follows him around for weeks! Where is the coverage for the stuff that REALLY counts? Oh well. I would wait. There was sure to be more news on the topic in a short time. So I set my Google news reader and waited...

And waited...

And waited...

And I'm still waiting.

It's been one year. Other than some comments from an aging blog and one think tank, there has been nothing at all. Nothing! Am I way off base or is this NOT a Nobel class discovery?

Where's the follow-up from Mark Roth?

Where's the H2S Induced Hibernation blog?


Where are the frat boy posts about their flatulent experiments?

Where's the Flatliner crew?


Where's Kiefer Sutherland when we need him?

Where are all the science fiction plots?

When I read the news release last year, I thought follow-up would be like the coverage for Cold Fusion a few years ago - lots of people trying to reproduce the results. Maybe we would even get some quick test with humans.

But no...


Nothing.


Nada.

Zilch.

What's a geek to do? There's only one thing. Ask the questions that SHOULD have been asked a year ago. So here goes.


Does this Roth effect work longer than six hours?

Does it work for days?

Does it work for weeks?


Does it work for months?


Does it work on other larger mammals?


Does it work on humans?

Any obvious side effects?


Any long term side effects?

How long can someone stay under without ill effects?

Does this low-level metabolism consume fat like it does in bears?

Does muscle tone also atrophy?


Does this low-level metabolism extend life?


Is 80 PPM a threshold or is there a proportional effect at 40 PPM? 20 PPM?

What happens at 160 ppm? Is the sleep deeper? (yes, I know H2S is deadly at higher concentration, but so is table salt).

Is this truly a natural feature of mammals?
  If H2S is produced internally, can the effect be induced by meditation? If so, how does one exit the state?

I could go on and on but you get the idea. To get the answers to these and other questions, first they have to be asked. And then asked by the right people. That's what this blog post is all about. We need the right people asking these questions - not me.

There's a saying in the world of finance, "Capital finds it's highest and best use". This seems to take a little longer with science. It also takes imagination, speculation and a whole lot of
promoting.

Promotion is important. America was not named for Columbus. America was named for a navigator and blogger of the fifteenth century - Amerigo Vespucci. His letters were published widely on his
return from the new world. He didn't discover anything, but promoted what he found. The name stuck.

That's why H2S Induced Hibernation now needs to be all about blogs, Digg and Wikipedia. It's up to us. It's time for some speculation. Maybe even some speculative fiction. We need serious talent
applied to finding the answers to the above and other questions. More discussion may help.

Here are some ideas as to how H2S could be used. Maybe this will help move things along.


Time in trauma care - This one is obvious. With such low concentrations of H2S needed, a simple regulator mask in first aid kits might extend that "Critical Hour" to a "Critical Day" giving time to do a better
job with transport, evaluation, and treatment. It's easier to stop bleeding when the heart is only pumping eight times per minute. It's easier to keep cells alive when their demand for resources has dropped by 92%.

Mine Disasters - During the recent mine disaster in West Virginia, the miners only had air for one hour. Could this have been extended to 12 hours by adding a little H2S to those respirators? Coal mine accidents are an even bigger problem in China with over 6,000 dead per year. Think of the lives that could be saved even if a small percentage had this advantage.

Fire Escape - Since most fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation, many extra minutes could be gained with one of those new and improved masks from the coal mine? Check the first-aid kit. Is it there yet? Again, the lives saved would be in the thousands
world-wide.

Underwater Rescue - Another good application for limited oxygen? And maybe a re-make of the movie Abyss? Lots of possibilities here.


ALL incurable disease - This is a no brainer. Got a problem? Take a break for a while. Wake up to review the literature. Take another break. Repeat until cured.

Medical scheduling - Waiting for an organ? Make
sure you have enough time. It's better than death.

Military Use - Lot's of possibilities here, from trauma to transport. Here's where Kiefer Suterland comes in with a new release of 24 Hours lived in 24 years. How's THAT for a challenge to
his premise?

Sleep Efficiency - How about all that time we waste sleeping? Might we extend our life by taking it deeper? Or maybe the opposite, and find out how to shorten sleep? Keep an open mind.


Weight Loss - this could be a biggie, both in terms of dollars and quality of life. Let's say you're not a fan of winter anyway. Why not do like the bears do? You could wake up ready for your
new spring swim suit.

Capital Punishment - This is a bit radical, but at least it's not a death sentence. And they aren't causing any problems in the mean time. In time we might even find a "cure" for murder.


Pregnant Mothers - This might at first seem radical too, but Mark Roth's page refers to "embryonic diapause, a pause in embryonic development found in about 70 species of mammals". It might be
useful one way or the other. Don't count it out.

Punishment - What the hell. Let's put them ALL on ice as a cost reduction measure! We could count it as good time. Would it still be punishment? Fun to think about. (note - after I wrote this I found one blog post at World Think Tank that talked about using H2S for prison riot control. Could we extent this to riot control in general?)

Athletes - Since I'm getting radical, how about extending the performance window of our very best athletes? We could give them the option of waking up every four years in time to train for the Olympics. The other option would simply be to let them "rest" off season.

Space Travel - Yep. Classic application. Maybe we could finally do some. There are at the very least, some fresh movie plots here, or the chance to make them more realistic.

Time Travel - This is of course relative and one direction. But how about sleeping a few weeks at a time and find yourself subjectively rushing forward into the future? It might be fun.

Tivo for life - This is an extension of the time travel idea - sort of fast forward when you want, live life when YOU want. Let's say you're a basketball fan but hate the rest of the year -
beep, beep, beep. Treat the boring parts of life like one big commercial. Live life on YOUR terms!

Tivo for the heart - Will H2S sleep dampen a heartache? I think Heinlein used this in "Door Into Summer". Would it help? Who knows. If you've ever been there, anything's worth a try.


Tivo for the soul - Could this be the ultimate form of meditation? Stay awake for only short slices of life and jump WAY into the future. Would it give you a different perspective? Would you dream? Would it matter?

Anyway, you get the idea. The point is, there are LOTS of possibilities not being effectively promoted. Feel free to ad yours below. These examples are why it's so important to know...

H2S Induced Hibernation useful?

It's been a YEAR!

Clue us in.

Or is everyone, "No Longer Sleepless in Seattle" ?

BTW, amazing work Mark. Congratulations.




Sudden Disruption



The latest:

Apparently "Torpor" is the new handle for this technology:

09-30-10  Considering the theme of my original post, here is yet another example of the media missing the story and working the "politically incorrect" angle.  


In this case, documents were revealed from a Naval Surgeon in 1805. The headline is about "Bizarre naval experiments" and the focus is tobacco smoke and deliberate transmission of venereal disease, when the real story is quite probably the first documented case of suspended animation.  

When will they ever "get it"?

Bizarre naval experiments revealed


04-21-10
  Significant advancement and recognition for the concept of induced hibernation! 

I revisit this topic each year.  It appears there's been significant progress.  Look through my list of uses below to understand why, and how important this discovery is.  Or start with Mark Roth's latest TED video at the end of the post.

Another major update 02-18-10 - Wired Interview


11-20-19 Humans Placed in Suspended Animation for the First Time

12-06-19 Woman Survives  six hours

03-16-20 Hydrogen Sulfide Is an Antiviral

06-15-20 Switch in Mouse Brain Induces a Deep Slumber Similar to Hibernation

Monday, September 09, 2019

Absolutely!

First posted on 8-7-2013:

"Absolutely" sets a new standard for "most abused word".  


My granddaughter Leah searching for absolutes


Turn on any interview news show.  Within seconds you'll hear the word, "Absolutely!" What's wrong with that? Well, this definitive response is likely about some relatively complex issue that doesn't even approach any absolute condition. Or the question wouldn't have been asked in the first place.


Why is "Absolutely!" such a common answer?  Is there really that much certainly in our world?  Nope.  It's the result of lazy thinking.

"Absolutely" is being applied to things that are not only NOT absolute, often they are not even probable. Consider the source. Who is the spokesman?  Politician? Anyone else with a bias?  See what I mean?  Ironically, the very opposite of their "absolute" assertion is often the case.  Strangely enough, the more emphatic the claim, the less likely it is to be true.


"I did not have sexual relations with that woman" and "there is absolutely no sex of any kind" 
- President Bill Clinton, 1998 from public statement and deposition

This onslaught of "absolutely!" is an excellent opportunity for some critical thinking.  Consider possible exceptions to the assertions as they are being stated.  Under what conditions might the statement NOT be true?  See what I mean?

Years ago I had a friend who, when I'd make some brash statement would say, "As opposed to?", then follow it with possible exceptions.  She was very good at this, and it became a game we played.  So I stole her trick. It's great mind candy, and quickly begs an even more important question - is ANYthing absolute?


Absolutely!

Seriously, isn't "absolutely" simply an idea?  A creation of the human mind?  Is it not our aspiration to see things all one way? Or all the other?  Isn't "absolutely" merely the result of a bad case of polar thinking?


"Absolutely" doesn't really exist.  Seeking the truth is best approached asymptotically, leaving the end-point for the weaker mind.  It's like "unsinkable", "unstoppable" or "immovable", each an admirable goal, but not achievable in the real world. "Unsinkable" didn't even complete its first voyage.


So is NOTHING absolutely true?  Nope.  Well, not likely.

"There are no absolutes", MAY be the ONLY valid absolute.


I can imagine everyone now bringing to mind their favorite absolutes - God, love, mathematics, gravity. I could go on and on, and so can you.  So let's start with the most popular:



God

Many of you think me an atheist, but you'd be wrong.  I'm at best (or worst) an agnostic.  And I have doubts about that.  But I DO hold that each of us should be given the tolerance to explore as we wish.  And that's the key - we need to keep an opened mind.


God is not only an overloaded word (many meanings), it's also one of the most over-loaded concepts we have in all the various aspects of human culture.  Unfortunately, the truth of God does not have a very good track record, under any religion.  


Compare the "truths" of  God, Jesus Christ, Buddha and Mohammad as documented.  They can't ALL be right.  To be candid, I think Mohammad, Buddha and Jesus Christ may have been pretty impressive guys, but you wouldn't know it from all the contradictions and contemporary interpretations.   To be fair, let's take each one separately.  They still get interpreted in many different ways by different "believers".  Again, even for any one religion, they can't ALL be right.  And if any of these doctrines were absolutely true, why would there ever be a need for change?  And yet they DO change from time to time. 

Let me get specific about the absolute aspect of God, not religion. Is our existence (or its illusion for some), proof of God?  Hardly. Our "existence" is demonstratively discoverable, and aspects of it are changing day by day.  Make a statement about existence, and a thousand others will provide counterpoints.  And that's WITHOUT questioning perception and relativity.  I could go on and on, but everyone else already has.
Keep an opened mind.  Even about God.


Love

So, what about love?  It's so pure and simple, it MUST be absolute. Unfortunately, love too is a highly overloaded word, concept, and even overloaded feeling. Love goes mystic as an experience, but all you have to do is ingest some MDMA to produce its subjective conviction.  This clearly demonstrates our experience of love is at the very least, part of a chemical feedback loop in human behavior. And the conviction you feel on your wedding day? Give it seven years. Again, love's track record is no better than God's. Actually, it's quite a bit worse.



Mathematics

Ahh... mathematics - it's perfection itself.  Hardly.  Math is only a game we play in our struggle to understand the world. Mathematics is a creation of the human mind, and simply a tool for science.  If you look closely, the "truth" of mathematics flows from its usefulness in the observations we've made, or else is some form of identity - wholly disconnected from reality, which again makes it simply an abstraction of thought, which is more of an illusion than an absolute.

How a verbal paradox shattered the notion of total certainty in mathematics

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” – Albert Einstein



Gravity

Speaking of Einstein, gravity never fails us!


Don't be silly.  Of course it does.  Along with all the other "laws" of science.  All you have to do is go into orbit.  OK, that's not fair.  The subjective experience of gravity just takes on a different form in orbit.  But seriously.  Ever heard of the 30 years that shook physics? 


In the late nineteenth century, it was thought that all science had been discovered, there were just a few refinements to be made. There was even talk of shutting down the patent office. And then along came Einstein.  That's when all hell broke loose (not related to God).  

Suffice it to say, we have more organized doubt in science now, than in any time in history.  And that's healthy. And that's the point. Any student entering the field of science today who does not have an open mind is a fool.  If he "believes" in math, if he "believes" in science, he is likely to be worse than useless in this endeavor. He may actually distract us from approaching the truth with his conviction.

Like mathematics, scientific absolutes are an illusion of the human mind.  Instead of discovering absolutes, science is how we claw our way forward in thinking.  Just don't hold too tightly to your conclusions, while you reach for the next hand-hold.  You'll find it easier to grasp.



Useful Generalization

So the next time you hear someone exclaim, "Absolutely!", let your mind wander to all the exceptions.  Then realize the person making the statement needs a lesson in critical thinking. Help them out. Explain that their conclusion may only be a useful generalization.

If you have any other "absolutes", please comment below.  I'll do what I can to help you test them.


Who knows, maybe you'll find one.  


But I doubt it.


If you do find something in nature that is perfectly consistent with all of its history, well, it's probably just waiting for its exception.

Perhaps the best statement on the topic: 

"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief." - Gerry Spence

Another similar conclusion:

"I'm not absolutely sure of anything" - Richard Feynman in 1981 from this interview:

Richard Feynman on Religion, Science, the Search for Truth; Our Willingness to Live with Doubt

Half the "Facts" You Know Are Probably Wrong

"Settled" Science?

There are NO Absolutes. There is NO Absolute Truth!

03-07-06 Everything Is Crumbling

John Oliver: Scientific Studies

12-07-17 Scientific Proof Is aA Myth

05-02-18 The Danger of Absolute Thinking