In early winter, brown bears find a comfy spot in a cave or burrow that’s well-protected from the cold. Then they curl up, fall asleep, and don’t awaken or eat for five to seven months. It’s called hibernation, and until now we weren’t really sure what happened in bears’ bodies during that time.
How could they survive for half a year without food? Today, Science published the first comprehensive study of bear hibernation, which revealed that many of our assumptions about it were wrong.
What we learned will help scientists studying suspended animation for humans on long space voyages. For one thing, they won’t be packed in ice boxes like River Song was on Firefly. Here’s why this study means you’ll have to revise everything you’ve learned about cryo-sleep in science fiction. [via io9]