Resuscitation science, pt. II

Yesterday I blogged about “resuscitation science”— and the startling discovery that rapidly infusing a nearly-dead person with oxygen can actually hasten their cellular death. In contrast, scientists in this area are arguing that someone who’s been deprived of oxygen for a while should be kept cold, very slowly warmed up, and only then gradually introduced to oxygen.

After reading about that, Tony Comstock emailed me with this great anecdote:

I used to be a white water river guide, and many of the most exciting rivers were fed by snow melt and ran very cold. There was simple saying regarding resuscitation of people who had drowned in these rivers: they’re not dead till they’re warm and dead. While this could mean performing ultimately fruitless CPR for more than an hour, it also saved lives.

As I wrote back to Tony: “I’m always intrigued to see the ways that the everyday practices of people in the world — farmers, athletes, mothers, etc. — intuit scientific principles long before scientists themselves figure them out …”

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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