« Not Just Iraqi Civilians: US Soldiers' Deaths Down Dramatically Since Surge | Main | "No One Is Suffering More Than The Palestinian People," Continued »
March 14, 2007

The Glove

When Allah says it's the Quote of the Day and then adds "Awesome," I guess I should listen.

This reads like every superhero story you've ever read.

Mark Roth never expected his research to have military applications. He was a biochemist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, studying how chromosomes move during cell replication. Then, about a decade ago, his second daughter, Hannah Grace, died of heart failure at the age of 1. Her death sent him down a much stranger path. “I became interested in immortality,” he says.

Roth knew that some animals hibernate — slowing their metabolisms until environmental conditions improve. He also knew that some cells can enter a kind of dormancy and then spring back to life — essentially, they go into suspended animation. Roth wanted to better understand this “metabolic flexibility.” He started testing various chemicals that slowed metabolism, like heavy water and tetrodotoxin (puffer fish poison, used in Haiti to turn people into zombies). Nothing worked. But then Roth found a loophole in one of nature’s seemingly absolute rules: Animals need oxygen. But some creatures, like nematodes, fruit flies, and zebra fish, don’t die if oxygen levels drop. Instead the critters suspend. Their hearts stop beating for up to 24 hours. They don’t breathe. And they don’t die. Wounds stop bleeding; nearly any injury becomes survivable, and the brain shuts down without damage. “If you were shot, this is exactly what you would want,” Roth says.

It’s a timing issue: At oxygen concentrations below some critical level, animals kick off. But take the oxygen level even lower than that, fast, and they don’t. The problem was, Roth couldn’t figure out how to pull off his oxygen reduction trick in mammals, let alone humans. What would a battlefield medic do? Tie a plastic bag over a wounded soldier’s head?

A television show gave Roth the clue he needed. In October 2002, he was watching a PBS show about caving in Mexico. The host had to don a breathing mask because the cavern’s air was full of hydrogen sulfide, which binds to mitochondria and impedes the body’s ability to use oxygen. “Oh my gosh,” Roth thought. “We can de-animate people.”

Three weeks later, Roth was at a meeting at the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, organized by DSO’s Bielitzki, the ex-NASA veterinarian. The agency was looking for ways to extend the “golden hour,” the period of time within which massive-trauma victims need to get medical care. Bielitzki thought Roth had the best shot, and was prepared to fund further research.

But before the program could start, DSO’s performance-enhancement push ran into trouble in Washington. The President’s Council on Bioethics was publishing reports decrying body hacks. Some in Congress worried about being accused of funding a Frankenstein army.

In response to those critics, the agency already predisposed to clandestine research — decided to go underground. Program names were changed to dull their mad-scientist edge. Metabolic Dominance became Peak Soldier Performance. Augmented Cognition became Improving Warfighter Information Intake Under Stress. Researchers were told to keep their mouths shut; many current and former program managers still won’t talk on the record, requesting anonymity for this story. The Surviving Blood Loss program, meant to fund Roth’s work, was itself put into suspended animation.

That's the part of the research that will save lives. Anoter DARPA Project -- "The Glove" -- will build super-soldiers so fewer lives need to be saved at all:

Grahn and his research partner, biologist Craig Heller, started working on the Glove at Stanford in the late 1990s as part of their research on improving physical performance. Even they were astounded at how well it seemed to work. Vinh Cao, their squat, barrel-chested lab technician, used to do almost 100 pull-ups every time he worked out. Then one day he cooled himself off between sets with an early prototype. The next round of pull-ups — his 11th — was as strong as his first. Within six weeks, Cao was doing 180 pull-ups a session. Six weeks after that, he went from 180 to more than 600. Soon, Stanford’s football trainers asked to borrow a few Gloves to cool down players in the weight room and to fight muscle cramps.


In trying to figure out why the Glove worked so well, its inventors ended up challenging conventional scientific wisdom on fatigue. Muscles don’t wear out because they use up stored sugars, the researchers said. Instead, muscles tire because they get too hot, and sweating is just a backup cooling system for the lattices of blood vessels in the hands and feet. The Glove, in other words, overclocks the heat exchange system. “It’s like giving a Honda the radiator of a Mack truck,” Heller says. After four months of using it himself, Heller did 1,000 push-ups on his 60th birthday in April 2003. Soon after, troops from Special Operations Command were trying out the Glove, too.

So one guy is researching how to put you into suspended animation like Captain America, and another guys is working on giving you his strength and endurance, too.

Definitely worth reading. Damn, that Noah Schactman reports on some cool shit.

Of course, I already had this idea like ten years ago. I called it "The Cock-Bottle," but it was the same basic principle.

Correction: I was confused by the ice-bath thing. MBurris tells me the Glove and the de-animation research are two separate lines of research, completely unconnected.

I thought the Glove was being used as part of the de-animation. I may be wrong. I've emailed Noah Schactman to get an answer.

Answer From Noah: Unconnected, though he's nice enough to say they're "connected" in the sense they're both part of the same human-potential research.

The glove / ice bath and Roth's zombie rodents *are* connected, but they're not part of the same experiment. They're both part of much, much larger push by Darpa's Defense Sciences Office into augmented human performance. Dozens and dozens of university, industry, and military researchers have been funded under this family of programs.

You can check out a rundown of those efforts here;
Roth is under "Surviving Blood Loss"; the glove is under "Peak Soldier

I've got a ton more on these projects here.

And coming tomorrow, I'll have a story on some of the neurotech works
that's being done at DSO, too.

I've re-written the post to correct my error, but I've kept the correction part so as to not hide the fact I made it.

digg this
posted by Ace at 02:31 PM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
Mr. Peebles: "[i]So why were the McKenzie Brothers selected to b ..."

Berserker-Dragonheads Division: "Yes. First launch of manned capsule from American ..."

Aetius451AD: "The one guy is twitching his hand. I do that when ..."

Bert G: "So why were the McKenzie Brothers selected to be a ..."

Aetius451AD: "Wrong thread. My fault. ..."

Kilroy wasn't here: "I am not arguing that we should know how he died. ..."

Aetius451AD: "The one guy is twitching his hand while waiting. I ..."

BifBewalski - sinis est culus: "VMom, Do you ever get to the world championship ..."

AlaBAMA : "10 minutes. Zoom zoom! ..."

Kilroy wasn't here: "The Untuckit guy is a sponsor of this space missio ..."

Berserker-Dragonheads Division: "Bingo, Donald. Bring charges against the people ..."

Ghost Of Qassem Soleimani: "Posted by: rhomboid at May 30, 2020 03:09 PM (El6T ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64