Mark Roth discovers that hydrogen sulfide derivatives may be useful for putting wounded soldiers in suspended animation until they can be taken to a hospital.
See, it wasn't like Roth ever let go of the dream of immortality. He was still obsessed with the lumps. He just began thinking about them in a different way. Okay, the lumps are immortal -- so what do they do; how do they achieve that end? And here's the answer: They do nothing. They're quiescent. They're couch potatoes! They're immortal, because for all intents and purposes -- in terms of movement -- they're already dead! And maybe that's what immortality is. People always think of it in terms of living forever. But maybe it just means not dying -- not dying when you're supposed to die, surviving the mortal moments. We don't know what life is, anyway. Not really. We just know what life does -- it burns oxygen. It's a process of combustion. We're all just slow-burning candles, making our way through our allotment of precious O2 until it becomes our toxin, until we burn out, until we get old and die. But we live on 21 percent oxygen, just as we live at 37 degrees. They're related. Decrease the oxygen to 5 percent, we die. But, look, the concentration of oxygen in the blood that runs through our capillaries is only 2 or 3 percent. We're almost dead already! So what if we turn down the candle's need for oxygen? What if we dim the candle so much that we don't even have the energy to die?
And so began Mark Roth's career as a deanimator. As a gorker. Gorking is...well, gorking. You take away some creature's supply of oxygen, you're gorking it, man. The trick, of course, is bringing it back. In the beginning, that wasn't so easy, because in the beginning Roth was just free-associating. He was using heavy water, rat poison, and he was a deanimator without being a reanimator. Other scientists were laughing at him: Hey, Roth, did you suspend anything today? But then he did. He gorked some nematodes -- roundworms -- with nitrogen. An inert gas, sure, but it crowded out the oxygen available to them; it diminished the atmosphere. Roth took them to the Death Hole, which was an atmosphere of less than 1 percent oxygen. They died. But then he took them beyond the Death Hole, and they came back when oxygen was reintroduced. There was life beyond the Death Hole! So he tried carbon monoxide. Talk about gorking: Colorless, odorless, the agent of choice for many of the world's yearly cull of suicides, CO is Thanatos in a bottle -- but it didn't kill the worms. It just dimmed the candle, not by taking away the supply of oxygen but rather by preventing the worms from using it. And that was the leap that Roth made -- employing toxins for benefit. Using one of the most toxic substances known to man to interfere with the toxic effects of oxygen. See, when creatures die of hypoxia, they don't die because they don't have enough oxygen; they die because they're still burning the oxygen they don't have enough of. What Roth did was find a way to turn off -- or turn down -- the fire. What he did was find a way to separate the living cell not from oxygen itself but from the capacity to use it.
I'm not sure if Esquire's writing style is to my liking, but the content is interesting.