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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 13: Science and Technology > SUSPENDED ANIMATION


The technology to freeze all bodily functions and thus survive for centuries is one that many races have employed…
Concept art by Shaun Williams, illustrating the cryo chamber from A Christmas Carol (2010)

Although Doctor Who has included many examples of scientific approaches to suspended animation, the programme has also featured several species that can survive freezing naturally.

In The Seeds of Doom (1976), for example, Krynoid seed pods thaw out and germinate after 20,000 years in the Antarctic permafrost, while The Ice Warriors (1967) have an affinity with colder temperatures that enables them to be frozen and revived. Trapped in an avalanche at least 10,000 years before, Martian leader Varga is thawed from a block of ice by the Britannicus ice base team and quickly revives his fellow frozen crew members. We only discover much later that Martians possess cryogenic freezing technology on their home planet.

Other races possess apparently innate powers to suspend life. In The Sensorites (1964), the telepathic creatures of the Sense-Sphere place a 28th-century Earth spaceship crew in a sleep state. Astronaut Carol Richmond describes it as “a deep sleep which gives the appearance of death”. Which life functions are suspended is debatable, with the humans remaining warm to the touch and the Sensorites returning periodically to feed them. The crew can be revived with a small heart resuscitator placed on their chests. Time Lords can also suspend their own life functions naturally; in Destiny of the Daleks (1979), Romana halts all outward life signs, having been taught at school how to stop her hearts.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Ever since the TARDIS was first revealed in 1963, Doctor Who has presented a bewildering array of alien technology and gadgetry. Human scientific knowledge can do nothing to explain the mysteries of the astonishing devices and phenomena that the Doctor takes for granted. This is the first publication devoted to the incredible ideas that the series has made its own. Highlights include a comprehensive guide to the sonic screwdriver, the secrets of the Time Lords and the weaponry of the Doctor’s most dangerous enemies.