According to this Wired article
, which I have not yet bothered to look into further, scientists have located microbes that live at such a slow rate they resemble dead creatures more than they resemble living ones. Apparently, they look like bacteria in the same vein as E. coli
, but they metabolize and breed at such a slow pace that they might as well not be doing it at all, at least by comparison.
But that's not the best part. The best part is that these creatures "represent a thus-far untapped genetic repository for scientists looking for novel genes for changing metabolism, withstanding cold or synthesizing chemicals. "
Be it real life or Sci-Fi, the idea of genetically engineering humans into zombies---humans with extremely slow metabolisms and able to go without a lot of environmental/temperature control---isn't exactly a new one, but reading this article made me realize something. If a human could go with very little food, water, air, or temperature control for long periods of time, wouldn't they make an ideal slower-than-lightspeed extrasolar colonist?
Just a thought. I mean, zombie astronauts? And someday, zombie space pirates? Why WOULDN'T the UN fund these research programs?