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«DAVID POGUE: Cold is the new hot. Join me on a journey down the thermometer, away from the warm world we inhabit, to the realm of cold. Cold is a ...»

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# 4020

Making Stuff: Colder

DAVID POGUE: Cold is the new hot.

Join me on a journey down the thermometer, away from the warm world

we inhabit, to the realm of cold.

Cold is a force we can harness to save us, the stuff we are made of,…

GREG FAHY (21st Century Medicine): The ability to preserve organs for transplantation.

DAVID POGUE: …and even bring us back…

NEWSCASTER: …back from the dead.

DAVID POGUE: …came back to life?

MARK B. ROTH (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center): Oh, yeah.

DAVID POGUE: We are going to a topsy-turvy world, where heat is the enemy,… ERIC CORNELL (JILA/National Institute of Standards and Technology): Heat is like noise.

DAVID POGUE: …random energy and vibration that disturbs and destroys,… ERIC CORNELL: But if you get things really, really cold, you can listen to what nature is whispering to you.

DAVID POGUE: …so cold that ordinary physics breaks down and the rules change. Things levitate.

We will travel to a place so cold that new states of matter are born, where cold is creating a new breed of computers, a quantum leap beyond the most powerful today.

GEORDIE ROSE (D-Wave Systems, Inc.): By the time you get to about 500 bits, you have more possibilities than there are atoms in the visible universe.

DAVID POGUE: I’m David Pogue. Join me tonight, as we journey down the thermometer,… MARTIN ZWIERLEIN (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): This is the coldest spot in the universe right now.

DAVID POGUE: That’s amazing. I want to get its autograph.

…to make stuff colder.

I’m beginning my voyage down the thermometer from a very warm place in the universe: Earth. Now, you may think it gets pretty cold here. The lowest temperature ever recorded was minus-128 degrees Fahrenheit, in Vostok, Antarctica, in 1983. But that’s a heat wave compared to Saturn, Pluto and most of outer space.

We’ll get a lot colder than that as we journey down into the weird world of cold, towards absolute zero.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our first stop is one we can all relate to:

98.6 degrees, the temperature of my body. Before I came here,…

JOHN CASTELLANI (United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine):

We’re going to go into the chambers.

DAVID POGUE: The chambers? Sounds ominous.

Turns out, to learn about the cold, first, I have to get hot.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: We are going to put you a little hotter than that today.

DAVID POGUE: John Castellani is a scientist at the Army’s Doriot test chamber.

–  –  –

Will we be seeing one of these poor victims?

JOHN CASTELLANI: The only victim that we’re going to see in here today is yourself.

–  –  –

MARISSA SPITZ: …all the way past, to make sure it doesn’t fall out.

DAVID POGUE: How about I just go in there and tell you how I am? Pretty hot!

MARISSA SPITZ: This is mostly for your safety.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: There is. I mean, really, what we’re trying to understand is—when we develop this kind of gear—is can we develop it in such a way that we can allow the body to be able to be able to get rid of the heat?

–  –  –

ERIC CORNELL: More and more heat, your temperature goes up.

DAVID POGUE: But cold is another story.

ED YARMAK: Because there’s no cold flow, there’s heat flow.

–  –  –

ERIC CORNELL: If you take heat out, your temperature goes down.

DAVID POGUE: You mean, you don’t put cold in? No?

ED YARMAK: No. No. There’s really no such thing as “cold.” DAVID POGUE: So cold is just the absence of heat? So things don’t ever really get colder?

ED YARMAK: No, they just get less hotter.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: Actually the heat from your hand is moving into the spoon, not the other way around. Heat moves from areas of hotter temperatures, or high energy, to areas of lower temperature, or low energy.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: So, David, this is how we’re going to cool you off. So what this is is a cooling garment. It’s essentially going to circulate water through here.

We’re going to hook this up to a small refrigerator.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: …and keep it at about a nice, cool 70 degrees.

DAVID POGUE: I don’t know, but I’ve been told… SOLDIERS: I don’t know, but I’ve been told… DAVID POGUE: …hundred and four degrees gets old.

SOLDIERS: …hundred and four degrees gets old.

–  –  –

SOLDIERS: A vest is best if it is cold.

JOHN CASTELLANI: He is feeling better. He seems in better spirits, and those are all the benefits that we see with this particular technology.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: We’re going to increase the wind.

DAVID POGUE: …in 15-mile-an-hour wind.

JOHN CASTELLANI: To mimic, again, you’re outside.

DAVID POGUE: He repeats this… JOHN CASTELLANI: We’re going to have it rain on you again.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: So, if you were, say, in 50-degree water and immersed to the chest, that water is conducting so much more heat away from you than would air.

–  –  –

JOHN CASTELLANI: We may be able to tell people, you know, you may be able to last maybe an hour or an hour and a half, in those kinds of conditions.

DAVID POGUE: What are the early onset signs of hypothermia?

JOHN CASTELLANI: Well, certainly, very intense shivering.

–  –  –

SUSAN KOEPPEN: We’re about two miles into the run,… DAVID POGUE: When a heart valve suddenly failed.

SUSAN KOEPPEN: I put my hands on my knees, and then collapsed on the sidewalk.

CLIFTON CALLAWAY: Her heart stopped.

SUSAN KOEPPEN: I was gone.

CLIFTON CALLAWAY: Cardiac arrest; paramedics arrived. They were able to stabilize her and transport her to the hospital.

DAVID POGUE: Fortunately, Callaway and his colleagues were there. Their goal: to stop the brain damage that immediately follows cardiac arrest.

CLIFTON CALLAWAY: She was in a coma. We used cooling blankets for hypothermia therapy.

–  –  –

CLIFTON CALLAWAY: She came around and talked to her husband for the first time.

SUSAN KOEPPEN: I said, “Where am I?” (Susan Koeppen’s Husband): You’re in Shadyside Hospital, Honey.


(Susan Koeppen’s Husband): You never made it home from your run on Sunday.

DAVID POGUE: A year later, she had fully recovered.

SUSAN KOEPPEN: Hypothermia treatment saved my life, saved my brain, and I’m a mom and a wife, like I was before.

–  –  –

VOICE ON MACHINE: Therapy started.

DAVID POGUE: I recognize her. She’s the lady on the Star Trek: Enterprise.

CLIFTON CALLAWAY: This device has water coming in through this tubing and pulls heat out of your body.

–  –  –

CLIFTON CALLAWAY: It lowers the metabolism, it reduces brain swelling, it reduces the likelihood of having seizures.

DAVID POGUE: This has proved remarkably effective.

CLIFTON CALLAWAY: The odds of waking up are almost two to three times greater for the patient with hypothermia treatment, compared to the patient without.

–  –  –

MARK ROTH: Well, a simple way to think about it, David, is that we’re trying to take the “emergency” out of “emergency medicine.”

–  –  –

MARK ROTH: She was brought to the hospital. Twenty-four hours later, walked out of the hospital, refusing any treatment, and has been fine since.

–  –  –

DAVID POGUE: A one-year-old, her core temperature dropped to 61 degrees, after she wandered into freezing cold weather, wearing nothing but a diaper.

MARK ROTH: They didn’t find her ’til morning.

DAVID POGUE: After two hours without a heartbeat, she too was revived.

–  –  –

NEWSCASTER: She was skiing down a waterfall gully near Narvik, in north Norway, when she fell head first into a river.

BRYANT GUMBEL (News Clip): …clinically dead for three hours.

–  –  –

SCIENTIST ON NOVA (NOVA Film Clip): So we wear these gas masks to help filter out the hydrogen sulfide.

MARK ROTH: And she said that if you go in there without this respirator, then you will collapse to the ground. Immediately I thought, “That’s it!”

–  –  –

MARK ROTH: …room air laced with hydrogen sulfide.

DAVID POGUE: After three hours, its core temperature drops almost 30 degrees.

MARK ROTH: The mouse is hovering now at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

–  –  –

Prometheus clip: Suspended animation.

DAVID POGUE: Yes! Suspended animation,… Prometheus clip: It’s inevitable.

DAVID POGUE: …to make human time capsules,… Austin Powers clip: Powers volunteered to have himself frozen.

DAVID POGUE: …or to travel to another solar system.

2001: A Space Odyssey clip: I tucked my crew in for the long sleep.

–  –  –

JON COSTANZO: Some of these animals can, in fact, survive freezing and thawing of their body fluids.

DAVID POGUE: Back at his lab, he pulled one out from a deep freeze.

JON COSTANZO: Let’s go take a look.

–  –  –

JON COSTANZO: It’s very much alive.

DAVID POGUE: If there’s no brain activity, it’s dead.

JON COSTANZO: Clinically, perhaps, but we’ve seen them thaw and come back to life.

DAVID POGUE: How would that be possible? Ice destroys cells, right?

JON COSTANZO: This frog has worked out a number of different ways to avoid that kind of damage.

DAVID POGUE: The frog’s vital organs shrivel up, releasing their water safely away from the frog’s organs. And something else happens.

JON COSTANZO: Most importantly, as soon as the frog begins freezing, the liver begins producing compounds that allow the cells and tissues to survive.

DAVID POGUE: A kind of antifreeze, or as Costanzo calls them,… JON COSTANZO: Cryoprotectants.


JON COSTANZO: …protectants, in huge quantities.

DAVID POGUE: Which protect the frog until the spring, when something amazing happens.

JON COSTANZO: The ice begins to melt, and water returns to its usual location. So, the cells take the water back up. And, after a time, the heart begins beating again.

We don’t know how this happens; it just spontaneously resumes beating.

–  –  –

JON COSTANZO: That’s one of the first signs that the frog is really not dead at all. It’s alive.

And then the frog begins to breathe. Eventually the frog will be able to move its limbs, sit upright, and, eventually, it can hop away.

DAVID POGUE: With these cryoprotectants, the frog has survived the cold of winter.

–  –  –

JON COSTANZO: Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Some of the cryoprotectants that these frogs use are very toxic to mammalian muscle tissue.

–  –  –

GREG FAHY: So, the kidney might start off being 80 percent water. We’re going to reduce it to about 30 percent water.

DAVID POGUE: All right, so water out, antifreeze in.

–  –  –

DAVID POGUE: The “antifreeze” is the key. It’s called M22, a strange substance that’s not toxic to rabbits or humans.

BRIAN WOWK: And, as you can see, at room temperature, it’s clearly a liquid.

DAVID POGUE: I imagine M22 must, of course, work better than M20 and M21 did.

GREG FAHY: Well, M22 is named because it’s intended to be used at minus-22 degrees Celsius, which is minus-eight degrees Fahrenheit.

DAVID POGUE: And when they take it down below those temperatures, it behaves strangely.

BRIAN WOWK: Cooled to below minus-100 degrees Fahrenheit,… DAVID POGUE: Whoa!

BRIAN WOWK: …and it’s now like a viscous syrup.

–  –  –

GREG FAHY: At a certain point, there’s insufficient heat energy in the system to maintain molecular motions, and the system just locks up as a solid. But it’s not a frozen solid. It’s going to a very different kind of solid state.

DAVID POGUE: So it’s a solid, but it’s not ice.

GREG FAHY: It’s called a glassy solid state, sort of like a windowpane.

DAVID POGUE: So it’s not called “freezing” organs, you’re…?

GREG FAHY: Vitrifying those organs.

DAVID POGUE: Vitrifying.

–  –  –


GREG FAHY: Well, practically.

DAVID POGUE: A hundred years?

GREG FAHY: Forever, as far as you’re concerned.

DAVID POGUE: Fahy and his team have successfully re-implanted one of these kidneys into a rabbit.

–  –  –

DAVID POGUE: From cooling soldiers and saving heart attack victims, to preserving organs, the cold has amazing potential. And, as I continue my journey down the thermometer, moving from the world inside us to the world around us, I’m headed to the last place you’d think anyone would want to make colder: Fairbanks, Alaska. I trekked there to find out why.

–  –  –

DOUG GOERING (University of Alaska Fairbanks): Oh, no. When this road was first constructed, it was perfectly level.

DAVID POGUE: Houses are sinking into the ground.

DOUG GOERING: You can see that many of them are not particularly level.

DAVID POGUE: And this doesn’t just happen overnight?

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