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?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ 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
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 18:26
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I've carbonized things before, but it usually involved overcooking them. $\endgroup$ Commented May 12, 2019 at 19:06
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Commented May 12, 2019 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
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 21:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ 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
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 22:03

4 Answers 4


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
    Commented May 14, 2019 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
    Commented May 14, 2019 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
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki or, you can go out of your way in the opposite opportunity to perform arbitrary behavioral experiments and then rolling back to a consistent state. Or even run several instances of the same brain in parallel (in separate environments is recommended but optional). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 9:22

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
    Commented May 15, 2019 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
    Commented May 15, 2019 at 7:35

A plethora of technology...


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke (1962)

In any case, as you have learned from the other answers, the issues with your idea is rather complex. Far too complex to be covered by a nice and tidy answer on StackExchange. But we can listen in on a conversation between a Chamber Monitor Employee and an intern.

CM: Welcome! I suppose you are the new intern?

I: Yes, I am. I hope it's not too much of a hassle to you that I accompany you for this inspection walk?

CM: Of course not! Having some company on an inspection walk is always nicer thank walking alone. You see, I have to inspect 36 chambers today - which, basically, means to read out a few dials - and 36 chambers means eight hours of walking, usually alone.

I: Eight hours to check a few dials on 36 chambers? Any can't they be monitored remotely...?

CM: No, no remote monitoring, for safety reasons. The chambers' machines are very delicate and we protect them fron any unnecessary exposure from any external interference. Except for the mandatory External Brain Interface Links, of course.

I: But still...eight hours...for a "few dials"?

CM: It's mainly walking. See, the chambers are massive. For each occupant, we require about one cubic kilometer of machine space, so the walk from one chamber to another is about one kilometer. Hence, 36 chambers on a regular work day. And, before you ask, yes, the idea of using bicycles without electronics did come to us, but it would mean that halb of the Chamber Monitor personnel would be laid off...and so we prefer walking.

I: Uh, one cubic kilometer? I know that the Quantum Space Cooling machines are huge, but that huge? I mean, just for cooling one body...?

CM: Actually, the Quantum Space Cooling machinery only cools the brain. Obviously, a brain running at 100 times the normal speed also generated 100 times the heat, so there are 2 kilowatt to be taken care of.

I: But can't you just cool the blood going into the brain?

CM: No, that won't work, we need to remove the heat immediately, so all brain cells stay at reasonable temperature. And, also, we cannot speed up the blood flow 100 times to keep up with nutrition and cooling. So we teleport photons out of the brain to keep it cool.

I: Uh, isn't teleportation illegal?

CM: Large object teleportation is, indeed illegal? Do you know why?

I: No, not really....I guess so it cannot used for burglary or such? Of course I know all the conspiracy theories, like the government keeps it secret because they use to teleport airplanes away from the Antarctica Wall so they can upkeep their Round Earth conspiracy...but I don't believe in the Flat Earth idea in the first place.

CM: So you belong to a minority...nice to meet one of the 10% people who understand physics. However, the real reason that we don't use teleportation on a larger level is that it's too unstable. We can teleport photons relatively easy. Except that in our case, it isn't. More on this later. For nutrition, we need to teleport complex molecules, and this is already a pain. The machinery to accomplish a hydrocarbon teleportation, with a very close to zero failure rate, takes up a lot of the space inside that one cubic kilometer chamber. You know, we want to teleport carbohydrates into a precise location, not just anywhere, and definitely not into a cell core. So we also need to constantly scan the brain to yield high resolution tomograms. Unfortunately, these MRT scanners interfere with the External Brain Interface Links, so we require quite a heap on machinery to keep these working despite the magnetic fields. Fortunately, the MRT fields are predictable, so we can create Magnetic Tubes to contain the communication links.

I: Oh. And what was the "more on this later on" thing?

CM: To maintain the rest of the body in a useful state, we require to cool it down...and to actually slow it down. You are probably aware that we don't just use drugs to speed up the brain and slow down the body? No? Never mind. We use Temporal Effectiveness Shifting to actually slow down the flow of time in the space occupied by the body, and to speed up time proportionally in the brain region. This leads to Type Two Interfacing Issues, because the Quantum Space Cooling machines, and their larger cousins which are used to deliver nutrition and other things, run at a very different time speed than the target areas. Tis is the part of the science where I fail to even remotely grasp what's going on...after all, I am just a Chamber Monitor.

I: You mentioned Type Two Interfacing Issues. What are the Type One Interfacing Issues?

CM: These are just the basic ones you expect when the brain runs at a different speed than the rest of the body. We need to decouple the nerves linking brain and body and feed them with synthetic signals so they keep working. That is in addition to the External Brain Interface Links. Also, the tissue in the Shift Region, where the slower time flow speed intersects with the higher one, suffers a bit, especially from the resulting Brownian Motion Shift Gradient. In an area with a uniform time speed, like the brain space, we can easily convert brownian motion into photons - we use so called nanobots for that, even though these are not really 'bots, they are just a tine MEMS LASER combination which converts thermal motion into photons. These photos, with an specific and exact wavelength, are then removed by the Quantum Space Cooling machinery. --- Ah, look, here we are, Mr. Salvatore's chamber. All okay, the dials say. Here you can see the current brain heat extraction; Mr. Salvatore is producing 2500 Watts so his brain is currently running 125 times faster than your brain.

I: How is this speed increase chosen? Is is just the maximum you can attain with the machinery?

CM: The subject can change the speed by himself. Actually, most of our subjects have extended "sleep" periods where their brain is almost stopped. Life in suspended animation can be boring at times, and even the funny cat videos they can watch on the Internet get old pretty fast.

[six hours later]

CM: ...and there is also the issue that the body's and the brain's health state deteriorate over time. As we monitor the brain continuously, we can administer measures there quite fast, using the nutrition teleportation system. In case of a defect in a blood vessel, we can deliver some sort of "glue" to that spot to fix it up before the subject has a stroke. For the rest of the body, things are a bit different. I already mentioned that we perform regular x-ray scans of the whole body to check performance of all the different nanobots and the general state, in five minute intervals. We cannot use MRTs here, as the more complex nanobots deployed in the body are damaged by the magnetic fields. But the x-ray exposure causes cell defects...

I: ...cancer...

CM: ...yes. Therefore, we each chamber also contains a full Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Module. Are you aware on how these work?

I: Uh, no, I just happen to know that they have the size of a city block...

CM: Never mind. The most interesting part of the Treatment part is how these Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Module build and deliver replacement cells. It works by...ah, well, that'll take some time to explain, and we have only two hours left on our inspection walk. I'll continue on that tomorrow. --- Now, for a change, let's talk about you for a change. Do you have any hobbies?

I: Yes, I own an H0 scale model train from one of my ancestors, and I'm restoring it to its original condition. This is not as interesting as a Artist's Suspended Animation Chamber, though.

CM: Well, it sure beats checking the dials of 36 chambers every day...


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