Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cryonics



Have you ever heard of cryonics?

This morning, I read an article in The New Yorker on cryonics. I have heard of it before, but I had never read about it in this much length before. I can't believe that it's really a serious study, practice, and belief that people follow and go along with. But in the meantime, let's discuss what it is.

In plain English, cryonics is when humans literally freeze their bodies after death in the hopes that technology will increase so much that their bodies will be resurrected by newer medicine in future years.

Cryonics was first proposed in 1962. The founder of this movement is Robert Ettinger, the focus of this article. This paragraph will provide some background on Ettinger and cryonics in general from "The Iceman" by Jill Lepore:

"Ettinger is a founder of the cryonics movement. When he dies, the blood will be drained from his body, antifreeze will be pumped into his arteries, and holes will be drilled into his skull, after which he will be stored in a vat of liquid nitrogen at minus three hundred and twenty degrees Fahrenheit. He expects to be defrosted, somewhere between fifty and two hundred years from now, by scientists who will make him young and strong and tireless. Ettinger has already frozen his mother and his two wives, along with ninety-two other people who await resurrection inside giant freezers in a building five minutes away from his house, in Clinton Township, Michigan."

Ettinger, born in 1918, was inspired by many pop culture texts that made cryonics seem like a plausible idea. The birth of the sci-fi genre, Edgar Allen Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," Jack London's "A Thousand Deaths," Gernsback's "The Corpse That Lived" and "The Ice Man," Dr. Strangelove, and Woody Allen's Sleeper. These texts give him faith in cryonics.

All a person needs is fifteen hundred dollars for the downpayment on preservation, and twenty eight thousand dollars to keep the body for all of that time until the body can be resurrected. Some can use their life insurance or life savings. Unfortunately, they wouldn't leave anything behind for others. They put their money towards their futures, after they're dead.

Ettinger has been on talk shows and published manifestos. A lot of the public has laughed at him for this crazy theory, and I'm presenting it to see what others think about it.

To me, I have a problem with the soul. Where does the soul go, and can it return back to a dead body? How does one restore LIFE into a dead being? That sounds more like a god complex to me. I'm sure that technology is going to increase a lot in the near future--I just don't know HOW far.

I haven't delved into the deeper science involved in cryonics, but even just examining the overall theory makes me hesitant to believe it. Giving new life into a frozen body does sound sci-fi. It does seem like a cheesy movie more than reality. Crazy things do happen every day though (especially connecting with science), things never deemed possible. I just don't think people can be brought back to life--especially two hundred years later. I'm not saying it's IMPOSSIBLE--it just doesn't seem probable to me.



Here are their beliefs or PRO-Cryonics theories:

"A central premise of cryonics is that memory, personality, and identity are stored in durable cell structures and patterns within the brain that do not require continuous brain activity to survive. This premise is generally accepted in medicine; it is known that under certain conditions the brain can stop functioning and still later recover with retention of long-term memory. Additional scientific premises of cryonics are that (1) brain structures encoding memory persist for some period of time after clinical death, (2) brain structures encoding memory can survive cryopreservation, and (3) future technologies that could restore encoded memories to functional expression in a healed person are theoretically possible.

Cryonics is controversial because the technologies of premise (3) are so advanced that premises (1) and (2) are considered irrelevant by most scientists. Whether biological traces of memory or personhood might persist after clinical death is of no interest to medicine once resuscitation becomes impossible by present technology. Similarly, outside of cryonics there is no interest in the question of whether memory encoding might survive cryopreservation because the question is regarded as meaningless until cryopreservation can be reversed. At present only cells, tissues, and some small organs can be reversibly cryopreserved. Medical science is primarily concerned with what is demonstrably achievable, not what is theoretically possible. There are therefore no established scientific specialties or journals directly concerned with the scientific questions posed by cryonics.

Cryonics advocates claim that it is possible to preserve the fine cell structures of the brain in which memory and identity reside with present technology. They say that demonstrably reversible preservation is not necessary to achieve the present-day goal of cryonics, which is preservation of brain information that encodes memory and personal identity. They believe that current cryonics procedures can preserve the anatomical basis of mind, and that this may be sufficient to prevent information-theoretic death until future repairs might be possible.

A moral premise of cryonics is that cryopreserving people when there is no other hope is the right thing to do, sometimes even under poor conditions that make the scientific premises of cryonics highly uncertain. Some cryonicists believe as a matter of principle that anyone who would ordinarily be regarded as dead should instead be made a "permanent patient" subject to whatever future advances might bring. Unlike the scientific premises of cryonics, such moral beliefs are not testable or falsifiable."

So what do you think of Cryonics?

5 comments:

Luke said...

The soul question is sort of what got me into cryonics. The more I learned about neuroscience the more it looked to me like the soul is part of the material brain. So I decided that if we want the soul to last as long as possible, cryonics is a good idea.

In a way it is like saving a life or taking a risk in an attempt to save a life. Like running into a burning building to try and rescue an unconscious elderly person. The difference is there is no risk to life and limb, just a financial risk.

Also, if the life is successfully saved they might end up living a lot longer than a fire survivor. There are currently some hard problems like aging and cancer, which will probably grow less hard to solve over the next few decades or centuries. By the time cryonic reanimation of a legally dead person is possible, they may have long since been solved.

I also think it is a positive thing to bet in favor of the future, and to have a vested interest in it. Perhaps if more people did, there would be less war and poverty in the world.

Anonymous said...

I wonder once she/he revived after 2500 years later, how she/he adapt to the new time. If it was me, I think I will be very sad because I will be a total stranger in the world, even to myself since I have lost all my memory.

Besides, if it's expensive to do the procedure, I would rather spend the money to help young/natural living generations.

cheap viagra said...

I have not idea about cryonics , it is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, I think that it is a game of the science and the technology!22dd

Kamagra said...

allegedly Walter Elias Disney is this preserved in this state, of course this is only a urban legend, however we are not so far to have this technology right now.

Cromersqse said...

Cover Template. Sample Cover Page. The challenge for most job candidates is, not only has the. Posted in Fax Cover Sheet Pdf Tagged Blank Fax Cover Sheet Pdf, Fax Cover Letter Pdf, Fax Cover. How to Make Fax Cover Sheets in Word eHow com. cover sheet to help detail where a new fax begins and where it ends. There are various fax cover sheet templates to select from in Microsoft Word. Most fax cover sheets. fax cover sheet template Results for: fax cover sheet template. fax cover sheet template in PDF. No results have been found for your query. fax cover sheet template on the Web. No results have been found for your query FAX TO ANY EMAIL ADDRESS*. MongoFAX Email Cover Page MongoFAX Email Cover Page. Powered by MongoNet Mongo FAX www Mongo Net. net FAX TO ANY EMAIL ADDRESS* 1. FAX Cover Letter TEMPLATES. FAX Cover Letter TEMPLATES. See below are simple blank Fax cover letter templates that includes To, From, CC, Date and other blank areas to include common fax.