I am a collector traveling from planet to planet, who believes that art is an expression of human emotion and feeling, and can come in all types of forms. Many greats, such as Picasso and Van Gogh, aren't fully appreciated until years after they are dead, and I intend to change this by giving the art that individuals create the respect it deserves in life. However, my focus tends to be unique in our species history. I believe that the greatest artists among us exist among what conservative circles refer to as "the criminal element". These kinds of individuals have been wrongly labeled as evil by the ignorant masses, and I have made it my mission in life to preserve them.

I have created a process to realize this dream. During this process, the individual is coated in a thick substance which covers and then hardens over the body, freezing the cells completely. This puts the person in a form of suspended animation, while keeping the mind alive and awake. In this state, the person can think, feel, and experience the world around them, but are unable to move. The individual also experiences time dilation, as moving the pupils feels like days and blinking feels like weeks. The subject can survive for hundreds of years, perhaps even longer, posed in a way to demonstrate their greatness.

With this process, I can immortalize the artists I feel are worthy of my recognition. The worst criminals from all over the galaxy, at one time being the most feared and hated individuals in society, unjustly ostracized and condemned by ignorant circles, have the honor of gracing my collection. With carbonization, I can give them what they were wrongly denied in life, appreciation for their talent and respect for their work.

I need to be able to explain how this substance works. Is there a way to make this possible?

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    $\begingroup$ The phrase "suspended animation" usually implies that consciousness and higher brain activity is temporarily lost. It seems like what you're asking for is how to trigger something similar to locked-in syndrome (which is quite horrifying). $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 May 12 '19 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ I've carbonized things before, but it usually involved overcooking them. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 12 '19 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ Your subjects will die rather quickly. of asphyxiation. Either because their heart no longer works, or because their lungs don't. And if you spare your subjects' chests of carbonization, they'll still die of dehydration. With the body carbonized, you may be able to get more than three days' worth of consciousness, but you're still on a tight budget. Not to mention what you're doing is highly unethical and illegal. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak May 12 '19 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ I just rapped Mephistopheles' knuckles for asking how to explain something from a commercial world (Jimmy Neutron). Please describe in detail why this isn't carbon-freezing from Star Wars and shouldn't be asked about on the Science Fiction & Fantasy stack. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 12 '19 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ I believe it's time to formally address the question of asking about (or being influenced by) third-party worlds. I've opened a Meta discussion about the issue. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 12 '19 at 22:03

One way to explain it is if the crispy coating that freezes and preserves the cells is also high resolution scanner — think 100s of MRI machines with atomic scale resolution, and an exact model of the subjects brain and nervous system is recorded like a Blue-ray or LP in the substance.

Then when the subject is on display a brain/body simulator reads the recording and creates a faithful replicant of the subject in a simulated reality using the exact neuronal pathways and synaptic gap potentials and ngrams chemically encoded in the subjects brain.

The subject can then interact with patrons when they view their work through the simulated reality. Of course, having a human from 20th century suddenly interact with a tentacled alien dripping ooze with half its brain visible might cause the subject to go insane. So, maybe the brain simulation creates an avatar for the patrons and lets them interact in a setting appropriate to the subject — say on the patio of a Parisian Cafe smoking unfiltered cigarettes and drinking wine when chatting with Toulouse-Lautrec or Ernest Hemingway.

And, to stop the subject from going insane maybe it pauses the simulations when no patrons are around.

  • $\begingroup$ Making it a simulation would also let the subject percieve said oozy tentacled brain alien as a human instead $\endgroup$ – Andon May 14 '19 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Andon, you are right. Not intended as snark, but that is what I was thinking when I talked about creating an avatar for the patron aka OTBA. Thanks for help making it clearer. $\endgroup$ – EDL May 14 '19 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ Best part is, you could sell tickets to be hunted and murdered by the galaxies greatest criminal minds in the safety of a virtual environment. This would offer great learning opportunities for law enforcement, make for a strange hobby for people with odd fetishes, and be much less cruel way of dealing with criminals by letting them do what they love without anyone getting hurt. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki May 14 '19 at 16:06

Paralysis + Longevity

The substance you coat the people with serves both to immobilize and to sustain them. The immobilization aspect is easy: you said the substance was thick, and as it hardens it restrains them physically. The substance continually injects nanobots through their skin. These nanobots repair their aging body, delivering nutrients, eliminating waste, and preserving them in the exact state they were in when first encased. Nanobots this capable aren't exactly possible with our current understanding of science, but they might be believable enough to fit in your story.

If you don't want longevity elsewhere in your story (though I assume you do: how else would you live to see your artists get their recognition?), you can say that the nanobots don't work outside of the substance. In fact, the nanobots are the substance. A thick ecosystem of them must stay in place to build each other and ensure that there are always enough fresh ones to enter the preserved person. Nanobots this powerful are a finicky technology and even the slightest disruption could mean death.

As a side note: this would be extremely unethical and would probably cause them to go insane. I'd recommend watching The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which is based on the memoirs of a man with locked-in syndrome


What you are describing is similar to trying to freeze water by throwing it in the Sun. You need unobtanium combined with maguffanite that change the sun's heat into power to refrigerate the water, somehow. That is about as logical as any solution will sound.

I assume that when you say "carbonized" you have this in mind: https://images.app.goo.gl/5Q3c8dHTxWhtpNFj7

The problem with freezing the body and keeping the brain functioning is that the tissue that is functioning needs to remain unfrozen enough to function, with all the necessities of requiring oxygen, nutrients, signal transmission and signal reception as a consequence. So you wouldn't be able to freeze the torso for example as that would inhibit breathing and the heart.

I assume that time dilation here means that the biological processes are slowed making time seem slower, rather than time itself being literally dilated similar to near a Black hole. Yet I do think that the solution is probably by using real time dilation. Rather than actually freezing the subjects, you place them in a station close to a Black hole, if necessary with immense speed to increase the time dilation without having to be too close to the black hole. This slows down their thinking processes and capabilities, but prevents easy access to the subjects whenever you want. You have to bring the station or the capsules on the station with the desired subject out of orbit and slow it down enough, then bring it back later. This is the most realistic method I can think off without going for pseudo-magical science.

  • $\begingroup$ you and @Incognito both seem to assume that slowing down the physiology would lead to experienced time dilation - why, though? if anything, the world should appear to rush by. real experienced time dilation (as opposed to only perceived time dilation -in the real version, you can think five thoughts in a blink, in the perceived one you only think 'whoa, everthing is sloooow' while actually taking a minute for even that thought) would need brain processes to be sped up, wouldn't it? $\endgroup$ – bukwyrm May 15 '19 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ @bukwyrm lets assume a thought that takes 10 signals to complete. A normal person does 1 signal every second and finishes in 10 seconds. Someone with slowed physiology would take longer per signal, say 2 seconds. So a slowed physiology would take 20 seconds for the same thought. The OP describes that the body is slowed more than the brain, meaning that compared to the brain's perception of time it takes a week to blink. $\endgroup$ – Demigan May 15 '19 at 7:35

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