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In my world there is an old human guarding something of great significance.

All chemical reactions in their body have been slowed down to a microscopic fraction of what is deemed usual*. Once the peace of the chamber is disturbed, this condition will be broken until the threat is dealt with.

Let us assume that the chamber provides all the protection and resources needed for the guardian to survive when 'awake'.

Will the guardian survive under these conditions?

*The effect would probably be a result of the speed of electrons being reduced.

Edit: As far as I'm aware cryostasis can lead to tissue damage and I am expecting that there may be certain side-effects that are not directly influenced by slowing down chemical reactions.

Should human bodies, as a hypothetical example, require radioactivity to function, the guardian would not survive since the life-preserving radioactive matter would decay.

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    $\begingroup$ Can the guardian survive...what? You essentially have cryostasis or hybernation but with "magic" instead of "technology". We have lots of fiction that utilise these in space and people "survive". If you just transplant the very same idea into a magic setting, then I'd expect the guardian to survive as well. But since you're asking I'm left wondering what the additional limitation is in this case. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ May 28 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ The magic must do quite a bit more than slowing down the chemical reactions, because there are also purely physical phenomena which need to be countered. But since it's magic, this shouldn't be a problem. The question is asking basically "I have a magical means of placing a human in stasis. Can my magical means of placing a human in stasis place a human in stasis?" $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 28 at 8:08
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP Your first sentence is precisely what I'm looking for. $\endgroup$ – A Lambent Eye May 28 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix But that wouldn't be interesting or fit the mechanics of magic in my world. $\endgroup$ – A Lambent Eye May 28 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ @VLAZ not true. Lets say we have the Force from the first three movies. It is a magic system that allows for telekinetic manipulation, dead people who come and give advice, future sight and influence of weak-minded people. This magic system is not suited for a long-term stasis of the Guardian in the question, and it wouldnt fit the personal in-the-moment style of magic that the movies posess. So suddenly allowing this to stasis someone would break with the story similar to how 8 movies in suddenly someone uses FTL travel as a ludicrously good weapon breaks the story. $\endgroup$ – Demigan May 28 at 13:13
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Reality Check time.

In my world there is an old human guarding something of great significance.

Presumably the least assumption we can make is that this guard was put there with the intent of surviving by whoever put them there. So the first problem is that we would assume the system was intended to keep them alive and failed for some reason.

If, BYW, you mean an "old human" meaning a human who was old when they were frozen, keep in mind that if I want to go to all this trouble to guard something I'm not going to freeze someone old, I'm going to freeze someone at the peak of their physical powers - that's e.g. late twenties special forces types, not some retiree looking to beat death. In the unlikely event this corpse is revived I want them able to kill, main or intimidate anything I can imagine. They'd be equipped with enough firepower that I feel is needed to counter any threat I consider reasonable. They'd also have enough engineering skills and knowledge to e.g. repair stuff and check it's all working. So for "old human" replace with "volunteer Captain of special forces with PhD in engineering". Think "astronaut" level of skills and knowledge. You wake this person up, you're gonna regret it. :-)

All chemical reactions in their body have been slowed down to a microscopic fraction of what is deemed usual.

Handwavium physics that means you've broken the "reality check" principle.

Freezing things can't slow down reactions in that sense. What it does is lower the energy levels that particles occupy to the lowest possible distribution of states. This won't slow things down, it will completely change the nature of the chemical processes taking place. You don't get the same chemical processes slowed down, you get different chemical processes, and in particular you get all the nasty effects that means you do damage.

And undoing that isn't the same as doing it in reverse. We have no idea how you undo this and you need both.

Once the peace of the chamber is disturbed, this condition will be broken until the threat is dealt with.

So your handwavium method seems to require that when they are handwavium revived they are also handwavium wide awake and alert and able to instantly work out the nature of the threat and defend themselves. That's not how humans work. Wake me or anyone else up or drop me into an unexpected situation and there is a non-trivial time to work out what is happening and what to do. There have been many accidents caused by precisely this issue - you need time to acquire situational awareness and get it right.

Let us assume that the chamber provides all the protection and resources needed for the guardian to survive when 'awake'.

Seems odd that someone would design a chamber to keep them protected when awake, but neglect the rather critical safety of the cryogenic part of the system. If the cryogenic system is not considered 100% safe (or as close as physically possible) it's simply a waste of time.

Engineers don't design systems that are assumed to fail, the designed systems that are assumed to fail one way, but have backups and backups for the backups. That way the one in a thousand failure won't be a problem without a one in a billion combination fo failures.

If it's that important, it will be built to work and last even with problems.

Will the guardian survive under these conditions?

Baring unforeseen problems and employing your "handwavium" in the first place, why would they not survive ?

In "reality check" terms, they're dead, because physics and chemistry aren't going to let you do these things.

Edit: As far as I'm aware cryostasis can lead to tissue damage and I am expecting that there may be certain side-effects that are not directly influenced by slowing down chemical reactions.

"Slowing down" chemcial reaction is not what happens and that's part of the reason why you get "side effects". Either way if you've now turned off handwavium physics and expect the patient to survive, you are in for a nasty shock.

The scientific term for what you're talking about is Cryonics. While people have paid to be "frozen", the problem (especially with regard to reality check !) is that no one has been unfrozen. So-called cryonic institutes take money to freeze you and (supposedly) keep you stable, but they have no idea how to reverse the process.

Reality check : For "cryonicically frozen" read "frozen corpse" at the moment.

Should human bodies, as a hypothetical example, require radioactivity to function, the guardian would not survive since the life-preserving radioactive matter would decay.

I have no idea what you mean by this, but essentially this idea as you describe it is either this :

Trivially works.

They designed it to work and wouldn't have used it if it did not do so reliably. Your handwavium physical process (whatever it may be) does all the stuff we don't know how to and works flawlessly because it's designed to.

... or this ...

Fails miserably.

We can't do it and we don't really have any reason to think it can be done successfully. Some con artist in your story convinced the originators of this madness to chuck a human into the "device" (= "fridge" :-) ), and skipped with the money in the certain knowledge the con artist would be long dead before anyone came back and said "it didn't work". And a government probably would fall for this because they fall for the most ridiculous cons all the time. But the stiff is dead.

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  • $\begingroup$ A very detailed analysis of my question. You've brought up some good points in your answer, but the fundamental idea is quite different to cryonics. The subject is not frozen, but each and every chemical reaction in their body takes longer to complete i.e. all electrons inside the body have been slowed down. This also means that to the subject it would appear as if time had jumped forward to the next encounter. They should not need a 'warm-up' time since they are fresh from the fight. As I understand the [reality-check] tag, one may manipulate given laws as long as they're defined. $\endgroup$ – A Lambent Eye May 28 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ Reality check only requires internal consistency under the defined conditions. You can suggest the whole thing collapses in spite of that, but accepting the premise of the question is the key. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix May 28 at 14:27
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No

Unfortunately slowing his chemical reactions isn't enough. Even assuming you slow all the chemical reactions in the room such that the torches burst into life when someone walks in (and nothing eats him).

Stopping the primary processes of life isn't enough, there are physical processes that'll "kill" a statue given enough time. Remember that those chemical processes heal as well as consume, every tiny bit of damage is going to be cumulative with no chance to recover. That means the guardian can be destroyed by physical processes without ever upsetting your chemical reaction protections.

The poor chap is going to erode.

If there's any airflow in the chamber then movement of particles will physically erode him. If there's significant temperature shift then he might get frostbite or even freeze-thaw weathering, though even a single hard frost should be enough to kill him outright as he's generating no body heat. If you haven't adequately water sealed the room then he might end up under a drip and either be eroded by the water or turned into a stalactite.

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No

The guardian can't survive.

If we only stop/sufficiently slow down chemical reactions but leave other physical processes untouched the following things will be a problem:

  • Physical motion
    Lots of tiny parts (i.e. blood cells) in the body are in physical motion all the time. Without chemical reactions they can't be properly steered or maintained and will - maybe after some iterations of killed intruders - accumulate damage from 'crashing' into each other.

  • (Background) radiation
    DNA damage can come from many sources, most of which are important during DNA replication which is a (collection of) chemical reaction(s). However, DNA can also be damaged by physical interaction with UV light or radiation - normally low radiation exposure is no problem and be counteracted by repair mechanisms, without chemical reactions the DNA will be severely damaged and your guardian will wake up with severe radiation poisoning setting in.

  • Gravity
    Humans generally need their heart to keep blood distributed properly in the body, but even then just holding one hand in the air and one lower you'll quikcly see how blood accumulates in the lower hand. With a slowed down heart (muscles use chemical reactions to operate) gravity can easily lead to removal of blood from the brain (if standing) or at least certain parts of the brain (if laying down). Waking up without any blood in your brain (or parts of it) is not very healthy.

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