This is a reposting of an earlier blog from my previous site.
In the movie "The Empire Strikes Back" Han Solo is frozen in a cryogenic slab by his enemies until he is later revived by his friends in "Return of The Jedi." But is it really to freeze a human body to only be revived at a later date? Although it is currently not possible to do this, it hasn't deterred people from trying. There are currently 200 people who have died and had themselves frozen, in hopes that science might someday find a way to help them live again in the future.
This concept is purely science fiction but is based on science fact. Biological organs can be frozen and often are to be used in later operations involving hearts, livers, kidneys, and so on. In some medical procedures, the body can be slowed by a certain temperature to combat various forms of viruses and cancers. Cryogenics is involved in food production, keeping foods cold enough to prevent contamination, a process known as flash freezing. It is also used for different types of medical research, including gene therapy, cloning processes and in vitro fertilization. Frozen gases are used for all of these purposes, as well as various rocket fuels. Oxygen is often used as an oxidizing agent and liquid Nitrogen as a propellant. Many spacecraft, especially the Apollo missions have used these types of fuels.
It is also used extensively in the area of quantum physics. To create the reality of space, temperatures as low as absolute zero, or -459 Fahrenheit are used with a vacuum and radiation to mimic the properties in space. Comets are believed to carriers of amino acids, the building blocks of life, frozen inside their icy surface, until they land on a planet sustainable for life, such as our own. Plans are being made to create the world's smartest computer, the quantum computer, which may be able to even surpass the complex processes of the human brain. It must be kept at absolute zero in order to maintain its functions. It may one day lead to true artificial intelligence.
So you see, there is more to cryogenics than meets the eye. Next time you watch a sci-fi movie involving cryogenics, such as Demolition Man or Prometheus, remember this is only science fiction. Real cryogenics has the potential to boost mankind to the next level. Tomorrow I will discuss the other process allowing people to live longer and go farther than man has ever gone before. Until tomorrow, here are today's links: