Getting to Earth the Hard Way: Extraterrestrials in Suspended Animation

© 2008 by Gregory Watters
We tend to embrace the concepts of warp drive or wormhole shortcuts to explain how interstellar travelers journey to Earth; however, what if some extraterrestrials are not that advanced technologically? Then these intrepid alien astronauts probably hibernate in cryogenic stasis within the womb of their mothership for decades or even centuries before finally setting orbit around Planet Earth.  When awakened, they head out in smaller scout ships to survey and explore Earth.
 In Part Two of this article next week, we will explore the idea of multi-generation motherships with alien travelers who live and die in space, leaving their descendants to finally arrive at new worlds.  
The suspended animation method and multi-generational space travel are two relatively hard ways to journey to new worlds when compared to “Star Trek’s” warp drive or other shortcut theories. These theories do have potential for reality in the future, and NASA works on folding or “warping” space even now. But what if there are insurmountable barriers to these theories being put into practice? Then it might be that “chugging along” just below the speed of light or even slower – is the only answer to interstellar travel.
The largest barrier to “Star Trek” warped space travel is the high rate of intense radiation to which our astronauts would be constantly exposed.  Extraterrestrials would have discovered this also if they have organic bodies; therefore, they might have to use cryogenic suspension wherein astronauts are “sleeping” encased in vessels which radiation cannot penetrate and perhaps they are constantly “washed” while suspended from life itself. In short, aliens would be frozen in huge sleeper ships as they traverse interstellar space.
Is suspended animation an impossible process found only in science fiction stories? No! We have it on Earth today and have had it since the late 1960s, but only for those who have officially died. People like Michael Jackson, Walt Disney, and Ted Williams, the baseball star, are even now in frozen stasis (Michael Jackson’s body is unconfirmed).
Why would individuals chose to have this frightening and almost “unholy” process done as soon as possible after death? These individuals have hopes of being revived in the future when their fatal disease (or reason for death), will have a cure. An individual can have all of his or her body frozen or just his or her head. 
When that future day arrives, one’s suspended brain would be defrosted, downloaded into a computer and repaired by nanobots. If there was brain damage, chemicals might repair it and then an android or robot body would be given you. Are these people who chose to be frozen solid in liquid nitrogen just plain crazy? 
We don’t know yet, because that future has not arrived. However, the small chance this might work, giving someone who was dead – new life in a better future does sound more likely than it did ten years ago! We know that living humans and computers are predicted to become one entity, “The Singularity” – by 2035. 
Consider this: If you were told you would die in five minutes but there was a method which might cure you, wouldn’t you try the drug, even if there was a 1% chance it would work? Otherwise, dying is certain. This is how those individuals who choose to be cryogenically frozen at death – feel and reason.
But what if you were a healthy individual, human or alien? Would you have the courage or foolishness, to be placed in suspended animation for a long space voyage? 
What is the process of cryogenic freeze?
Here’s how it works today for dead people:
When the person looking to be frozen has been declared legally dead, a team of cryogenisists will work to get the heart and lungs working with a respirator and a pump so that blood can be moved around the body. 
Blood is gradually replaced with drugs like glycerol to prevent damage to the cells during the freezing process, before the patient is placed in a silicone oil bath cooled to almost -200 degrees C. The patient is then stored in liquid nitrogen at that temperature, essentially halting all cellular activity for years.
The aim is to then defrost and cure patients of whatever ailed them when the technology becomes available to do so. Some people might prefer that their consciousness be transferred into the body of a robot or into a computer program where they can live as a digital representation of themselves forever. That’s if technology ever gets there, of course.
If you can revive or restore the original body and make it feel 30 again that’s fine, but if the original body is too damaged, then that individual can live in a virtual world or in a synthetic body. 
The biggest problems facing cryonics is a series of negative urban myths around cryogenics, as well as the risks presented by global instability. Can the state of suspended animation be maintained through super-storms and other upheavals?
Would you freeze yourself? If you were an astronaut, human or alien, headed for deep space, you would be dependent on technology activating and working correctly after many years to defrost you and wake you up. Or, if you were on a multi-generational ship, some workers would stay functional, maintaining those travelers in suspended animation;  a later generation of those workers, would wake you up when it was time to go exploring – having arrived in orbit somewhere, finally!
As we wonder if extraterrestrials are beings who would be willing to be placed into suspended animation in order to explore strange new worlds, we should consider that they might be a species who hibernates naturally or who evolved from such a species. In other words, if bears instead of apes had been our ancestors, we humans might have a hibernation instinct or at least not object to it as strongly.
Or, extraterrestrials might not be as fragile organically as we are. The greys in particular seem “streamlined” and/or simple than we are. Supposedly they have atrophied genitals and digestive tract, and who knows about other organs and blood? However, they have large heads and probably large brains – so some good dreams should transpire as over the frozen centuries.
Do humans or other beings dream in cryogenic freeze? 
Picture From Original Star Trek, The Sleeper Ship of Khan and Crew
If extraterrestrials do undergo years or even centuries in cryogenic suspension in order to  travel interstellar space, they must really want to go to other worlds. However, we should not assume their motivation is to conquer because they simply never have. 
The aliens seem to be explorers; they are not perfect, they do nab a few humans and give them unexpected and sometimes terrible experiences. It is difficult to know if some of these bad abduction experiences are because of blind fear on the human’s part or entirely because of the aliens’ bad behavior. 
Maybe it is too far a stretch to have empathy for aliens (after all, we don’t even know who or what they are), but just perhaps if you had your life’s juices drained out, replaced by chemicals, and had been frozen for 300 years, all  just to arrive in Earth orbit, you might figure you were justified in “interviewing” a human inhabitant or two. No, not perfect behavior but not evil either – somewhere in between, just like humans.
Write to Diane and join Exo-Trekking, free online newsletter: [email protected]
Top illustration:  Computer illustration(s) based on documented reports. © 2008 by Gregory Watters

Most recent posts by Diane Tessman

All posts by Diane Tessman