How likely is it both scientifically and medically that Frank Poole could have been found in space and revived as in 3001: The Final Odyssey, 1000 years after Hal jettisoned his body from the Discovery?

  • 8
    His shipmate metamorphosizes into an energy-based space-baby, fuses his consciousness with a computer, and then lives inside a monolith--I'm pretty sure "the monolith did it" will cover Frank being frozen in a way where he can be revived later on.
    – Kevin
    Mar 11, 2011 at 15:52

4 Answers 4


Actually, it is worse than what Zypher said. Space doesn't have anything for your body to lose heat through, so you only lose heat slowly through radiation. The core body temperature of Frank would have been sufficient for long enough for the bacteria in his gut to have ate their way through most of his body. Spreading outward and consuming his body. He would swell, then release a stream of putrid fluid into space.

He would have shot around like a water balloon with the end untied. This destabilization would have likely lead him out of any chart-able orbit, which would have been tenuous anyway, as he probably would have floated along with the ship and burned up in Jupiter's atmosphere. Or would have been slingshot into the sun or out of the solar system as a meat version of the Voyager probe.

Only harder to find, since his trajectory would be incalculable. So it would be a sphere around the solar system of roughly 500,000,000,000 miles. (If Jupiter didn't impart any additional speed to his body, and Discovery was traveling at roughly 50,000 MPH.)


I had way too much fun writing that.

  • Would it seriously take that long for your core temp to drop to freezing? I know you wouldn't freeze solid instantly like they like to show in movies, but I always thought you'd freeze quickly enough that bacterial decomp wouldn't go too far
    – merk
    Jan 12, 2011 at 18:56
  • @merk: The only way to lose that heat is to radiate it. He is covered and touching his coverings, and they are designed to restrict the movement of heat. He's basically wrapped in the thermos. Additionally, he would be blasted by the sun in periods, too.
    – DampeS8N
    Jan 12, 2011 at 19:07

Scientifically and medically, Frank Poole had no chance of survival. Space is not a cryogenic freezer. In fact due to the vacuum your body would start outgassing, and your cells would be frozen in a crystalline structure that would do massive damage both as they froze and as they thawed. Even if you are in a space suit, you would eventually be subject to these issues - you would just survive a little longer until the suit's batteries/electronics/seals failed.


Given what the others have said, i still think it would be possible to revive him, assuming you could find his body and it was relatively intact.

In a thousand years from now, assuming there isn't some huge mega-disaster that sets us back to the stone-age, think how far we will have progressed. Just consider nano-technology alone.

Even if the dna in his body is badly degraded, you could take bits and pieces of it and then assemble a whole. Using nano-robots you could either have them physically go in and repair each dna strand, and then repair each cell. Or, using the whole dna strand, grow a new body. The real question is the brain. I know the brain cells would all be trashed - destroyed by freezing and then desiccated. But maybe that's not that important, as long as you can still map out the individual connections. I'm not sure how likely that would be since when the cells freeze and dry out, i'm sure some/all of those connections are going to be broken and it might not be possible to piece them back together.

So to me, his body/dna is almost irrelevant. I'm thinking we could repair it and/or grow him a new one pretty easily by that point in the future. To me it all comes down to the brain. Snap-Frozen Brain Tissue Sections Stored With Desiccant at Ambient Laboratory Conditions Without Chemical Fixation are Resistant to Degradation for a Minimum of 6 Months: that doesn't really answer the question although it does lend some evidence that structures in the brain can be preserved after death.

Effect of Human Cryopreservation Protocol on the Ultrastructure of the Canine Brain (Platt): and that one is even more encouraging, although of course that's talking about freezing under controlled and optimal conditions. But it at least lends some support that it's possible to freeze the brain and maintain the structures. A 1000 years in the future i dont think it'll matter if the cells themselves are all basically destroyed. You can use nano-robots to repair them. I think it just matters if you can still map out the individual neural connections. If you can do that, then i think you could revive him.

  • 2
    Few lucky impacts and this frozen brain would become a puzzle with way too many solutions (-;
    – user48
    Jan 13, 2011 at 1:17
  • 1
    I would think that if they had nanobots to repair his whole body then they would have "fixed" the issue of his missing foreskin. Apr 19, 2012 at 21:11
  • Building on that theory of being able to restore connection and possibly regrow the cells in the brain, would that actually restore the brain? Where's the content or memory in Poole's brain?
    – Mentatmatt
    Jan 29, 2014 at 12:45

In such a time the body would be scattered into pieces through numerous collisions with micrometeoroids, and the DNA would degrade due to space radiation.

  • Depends on where his body was lost. The chances of running into stuff in space can be relatively low depending on where in space you are.
    – merk
    Apr 20, 2012 at 23:24

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