• Question: Hi Mike, I’m very extited on your research. I have a question. If you find the solution for hibernate,would we need lots of food?

    Asked by AlexC to Michael on 5 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Mike Ambler

      Mike Ambler answered on 5 Nov 2018:


      Hi, interesting question- thanks!

      Some animals that hibernate do spend a lot of time eating tons and tons of food before they hibernate (like bears in America and Canada). This lets them get really fat, and they then use the fat as fuel (food) while they are hibernating. These animals tend not to get very very codl when they are hibernating.

      Other animals don’t get so fat before they hibernate and these ones become so very cold that all the processes slow right down. Once they are really really cold they don’t actually need much fuel to keep them going because their body really isn’t doing anything – a bit like when the TV or computer goes onto standby to use less electricity.

      Other animals just do a short hibernation for a few hours (called torpor). They don’t need to eat lots and lots before they do this because they wake up again and find food after their ‘torpor’.

      If we find a way to make humans do a hibernation, then I would expect we would make them get very cold so they didn’t need much food. Also, if we do this on the intensive care in hospital, we can feed people by injecting the nutrients they need into a vein (like a drip you might have seen on TV), so we could keep feeding them a little bit while they were hibernating.

      One of the other reasons it is interesting to know if humans could hibernate is because we want to go to mars. It would take 6 months to get their, and so if we could make people hibernate on the way, they would not get so bored and also they wouldn’t need so much food or oxygen, which would make the space craft lighter!

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