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Archive for the ‘Cryonics’ Category

Why Are We So Obsessed With the End of the World? – New York Times

New York Times
Why Are We So Obsessed With the End of the World?
New York Times
Last year, Don DeLillo published an exemplary preapocalyptic novel, Zero K, narrated by the son of a billionaire who's sunk his hopes, his fortune, his wife and himself into cryonic storage beneath the Central Asian steppes. Cryonics has for decades ...

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Why Are We So Obsessed With the End of the World? - New York Times

Exploring the hidden politics of the quest to live forever – New Scientist

Transhumanists think that bodies are obsolete technology

Yves Gellie/picturetank

By Brendan Byrne

THERE was a lot of futuristic hype surrounding cryonics company Alcor. When Dublin-based journalist Mark OConnell travelled to its facility in Arizona, he found himself surrounded by corpses in an office park, between a tile showroom and a place called Big Ds Covering Supplies.

In his book To Be a Machine, new father OConnell invokes the twin spectres of death and child-bearing in an attempt to make sense of his subject but he also manages to be staggeringly funny. He explores the intersecting practices of body modification, cryonics, machine learning, whole brain emulation and AI disaster-forecasting.

The transhumanist world view, OConnell writes, casts our minds and bodies as obsolete technologies, outmoded formats in need of complete overhaul. He worries more about the collateral damage such a future will inflict, less on the world views of the supposed visionaries who supply the ideas. Not that the two can be separated.

Throughout the text, it is difficult to ignore Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire and an adviser to Donald Trump. While Thiel, who takes human growth hormone daily and has signed up for cryonic freezing, is not featured directly, the longevity start-ups he funded are, including Halcyon Molecular, 3Scan, MIRI, the Longevity Fund and Aubrey de Greys Methuselah Foundation.

Another pervasive presence is Nick Bostrom, an Oxford University philosopher. But while Thiel wants to extend life, Bostrom is worried about its eradication. He is best known for his 2014 book Superintelligence, which brought thought experiments about AI security to public notice. OConnell finds it disquieting to see the likes of Elon Musk and Bill Gates effusing about this book. These dire warnings about AI were coming from what seemed like the most unlikely of sources: not from Luddites or religious catastrophists, that is, but from the very people who seemed to most personify our cultures reverence for machines.

The race to achieve AI first will be tight, pushing corporations to disregard security

Musk and Thiels recent OpenAI project attempts to address such existential threats by freely disseminating its research. This is meant to encourage the rise ofmultiple AIs, whose balance of power will keep any non-benign ones off-balance. While Bostrom agrees that this plan will decrease the threat from a world-eating singleton, he worries that winning the AI race is incompatible with using any safety method that incurs a delay or limits performance. If basic information is made public, the race to achieve AI first will be tight, pushing corporations to disregard security.

Given Musks public admission that he is trying to move Trump to the left, rumours that Mark Zuckerberg is considering a presidential run and the fact that many users are deleting the Uber app after the company broke the taxi strike at JFK Airport, Silicon Valley can no longer claim to be apolitical. And there seems to be something about transhumanism that draws out reactionaries. As OConnell observes, in one sense the whole ethos of transhumanism is such a radical extrapolation of the classically American belief in self-betterment that it obliterates the idea of the self entirely. Its liberal humanism forced to the coldest outer limits of its own paradoxical implications.

Thiel is strangely for a former libertarian a planner. In his 2014 book Zero to One, Thiel writes of the dot-com bubble as both a peak of insanity and a peak of clarity: People looked into the future, saw how much valuable new technology we would need to get there safely and judged themselves capable of creating it. Depicting how private enterprise failed to bridge the gap between aspiration and realisation, Thiel seems here to be arguing for total mobilisation of the state.

Thiel favours taking huge risks to achieve miraculous results. He champions the government-funded space race and rails against incrementalisation in scientific and civilizational achievements. At the time of writing, Jim ONeill, the managing director of Thiels Mithril Capital, is one of Trumps main candidates to head the Food and Drug Administration. ONeill thinks that drugs should be approved not by safety but by efficacy. Thiel himself has criticised the FDA for being overly cautious, stating five years ago, I dont even know if you could get the polio vaccine approved today a sentiment shared by the president.

If the low-safety moonshot approach favoured by Thiel and the futurist frat houses OConnell describes is applied on a national level, and longevity research funded by a Silicon Valley billionaire does pay huge dividends, a new question emerges: immortality for whom?

Thiel is notoriously anti-competition, writing in Zero to One that only becoming a monopoly can allow a business to transcend the daily brute struggle for survival, since competitive markets destroy profits. A monopoly price for life extension suggests a future in which we will all be in monetary debt to mortality, working forever to pay off our incoming years.

During a recent public lecture, genomics pioneer Craig Venter discussed his new company that aims to use genetic sequencing to provide proactive, preventative, predictive, personalised healthcare. According to Venter, 40 per cent of people who think they are healthy are not they have undiagnosed ailments such as tumours that have not metastasised or cardiovascular conditions. And he says his method can predict Alzheimers 20 years before its onset, and a cocktail of soon-to-be-marketed drugs can prevent it. Thanks to this $25,000 genome-physical, Venter himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer and operated on.

Can any imaginable public healthcare provision pay for such speculative treatments? Or will there be a widening gap between those who can afford to stay healthy and those who will have to shoulder early-onset penury in the face of their time-limited humanity?

In response to questions about such inequality, Thiel offers little comfort. Probably the most extreme form of inequality, he told The New Yorker six years ago, is between people who are alive and people who are dead.

Jonathan Swifts satirical letter A modest proposal responded to an equally cold-blooded ideology, in his day. But a field whose pioneers sport names like T. O. Morrow (Tom Bells 1990s soubriquet), FM-2030 and Max More demands something different from OConnell an unexpected, often funny effort of restraint.

This article appeared in print under the headline In debt to mortality

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Exploring the hidden politics of the quest to live forever - New Scientist


If death was imminent, would you consider cryogenically freezing yourself, with the hopes that one day future technology would bring you back to life? Battling with brain cancer, thats what 22 year old Kim Suozzi did, and there are others just like her! But does this have any basis in science? Trace has the answers!

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Cross Post: Solomon’s frozen judgement – Practical Ethics (blog)

Written by Anders Sandberg

This post was originally published onAndert II

A girl dying of cancer wanted to use cryonic preservation to have a chance at being revived in the future. While supported by her mother the father disagreed; in a recent high court ruling, the judge found that she could be cryopreserved.

As the judge noted, the verdict was not a statement on the validity of cryonics itself, but about how to make decisions about prospective orders. In many ways the case would presumably have gone the same way if there had been a disagreement about whether the daughter could have catholic last rites. However, cryonics makes things fresh and exciting (I have been in the media all day thanks to this).

What is the ethics of parents disagreeing about the cryosuspension of their child?

One obvious principle is that parents ought to act in the best interest of their children.

If the child is morally mature and with informed consent, then they can clearly have a valid interest in taking a chance on cryonics: they might not be legally adult, but as in normal medical ethics their stated interests have strong weight. Conversely, one could imagine a case where a child would not want to be preserved, in which case I think most people would agree their preferences should dominate.

The general legal consensus in the West is that the childs welfare is so important that it can overrule the objections of parents. In UK law parents have the right and the duty to give consent for a minor. Children can consent for medical treatment, overriding their parents, at 16. However, if refusing treatment parents and court can override. This mostly comes into play in cases such as avoiding blood transfusions for religious reasons.

In this case the issue was that the parents were disagreeing and the child was not legally old enough.

If one thinks cryonics is reasonable, then one should clearly cryosuspend the child: it is in their best interest. But if one thinks cryonics is not reasonable, is it harming the interest of the child? This seems to require some theory of how cryonics is bad for the interests of the child.

As an analogy, imagine a case where one parent is a Jehovahs Witness and want to refuse a treatment involving blood transfusion: the child will die without the treatment, and it will be a close call even with it. Here the objecting parent may claim that undergoing the transfusion harms the child in an important spiritual way and refuse consent. The other parent disagrees. Here the law would come down on the side of the pro-transfusion parent.

On this account and if we agree the cases are similar, we might say that parents have a legal duty to consent to cryonics.

In practice the controversialness of cryonics may speak against this: many people disagree about cryonics being good for ones welfare. However, most such arguments usually seem to be based on various farfetched scenarios about how the future could be a bad place to end up in. Others bring up loss of social connections or that personal identity would be disrupted. A more rational argument is that it is an unproven treatment of dubious efficacy, which would make it irrational to undertake if there was an alternative; however since there isnt any alternative this argument has little power. The same goes for the risk of loss of social connection or identity: had there been an alternative to death (which definitely severs connections and dissolves identity) that may have been preferable. If one seriously thinks that the future would be so dark that it is better not to get there, one should probably not have children.

In practice it is likely that the status of cryonics as nonstandard treatment would make the law hesitate to overrule parents. We know blood transfusions work, and while spiritual badness might be a respectable as a private view we as a society do not accept it as a sufficient reason to have somebody die. But in the case of cryonics the unprovenness of the treatment means that hope for revival is on nearly the same epistemic level as spiritual badness: a respectable private view, but not strong enough to be a valid public reason. Cryonicists are doing their best to produce scientific evidence tissue scans, memory experiments, protocols that move the reasons to believe in cryonics from the personal faith level to the public evidence level. They already have some relevant evidence. As soon as lab mice are revived or people become convinced the process saves the connectome the reasons would be strengthened and cryonics becomes more akin blood transfusion.

The key difference is that weak private reasons are enough to allow an experimental treatment where there is no alternative but death, but they are generally not enough to go for an experimental treatment when there is some better treatment. When disallowing a treatment weak reasons may work well against unproven or uncertain treatments, but not when it is proven. However, disallowing a treatment with no alternative is equivalent to selecting death.

When two parents disagree about cryonics (and the child does not have a voice) it hence seems that they both have weak reasons, but the asymmetry between having a chance and dying tilts in favor of cryonics. If it was purely a matter of aesthetics or value (for example, arguing about the right kind of last rites) there would be no societal or ethical constraint. But here there is some public evidence, making it at least possible that the interests of the child might be served by cryonics. Better safe than sorry.

When the child also has a voice and can express its desires, then it becomes obvious which way to go.

King Solomon might have solved the question by cryosuspending the child straight away, promising the dissenting parent not to allow revival until they either changed their mind or there was enough public evidence to convince anybodythat it would be in the childs interest to be revived. The nicest thing about cryonics is that it buys you time to think things through.

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Cross Post: Solomon's frozen judgement - Practical Ethics (blog)

Cryonics Experts Want to Freeze Human Blood Into Glass – Inverse

The ability to freeze things is our greatest weapon against the passage of time. To a frozen fish fillet or chicken nugget, physical aging is barely a threat: the cold protects them indefinitely against the hot degradation of bacterial death. Better still, when they are finally thawed, they are practically as good as new. Cryonics, a hypothetical science cited as a human preservation technique in sci-fi movies like Passengers and Austin Powers, is a proposition that our bodies, like meat, will be eternally preserved by turning them into ice.

The problem is, a frozen body isnt so easily defrosted.

Cryonics biggest obstacle is our physical composition. Two-thirds of the human body is water, which means that some 66 percent of the human bodys cells will turn into ice if its not frozen correctly. And ice, as anyone with a freezer knows, takes up more space than water in its liquid form. Theres no way our fragile cell walls and veins could contain waters rapid expansion, driven by the formation of crystal lattices of H2O, once our bodies are dropped into a freezer. If the point of cryonics (thats the process of freezing entire bodies; cryogenics is the study of biology at low temperatures as a whole) is to someday unfreeze a human, maintaining the bodys integrity is key. Thats why cryonics researchers put all of their efforts into perfecting a process that stops our fluids from freezing into ice, turning them instead to glass.

Unlike ice, glass contains no crystals that might fracture or stab the other contents in the liquid. The idea behind vitrification named for the French verb for converting things into glass, vitrifier is that the formation of ice crystals in our cells, which would inevitably puncture or deform the machinery inside them, can be prevented by adding the right types of antifreeze to our bodies. While we associate antifreeze with the blue stuff we put in cars in the winter, it really refers to any molecule that can be mixed into a solution with water to disrupt the crystal-forming process. It is a lot harder for water molecules to find each other and form a solid lattice when other, bigger molecules are getting in their way. In the same way a slushy alcoholic cocktail or a fruit sorbet never form a solid mass of ice because they contain substances other than water, the fluids in a body filled with antifreeze molecules or cryoprotectants will turn much more viscous, but never quite solid.

This phenomenon already happens in nature: certain species of frogs, for example, produce glycerol or glucose tiny, natural sugars that wedge between water molecules, keeping their fluids running, albeit slowly, at subzero temperatures. Scientists trying to make cryonics work have struggled to find substances that can do the same under even colder conditions without killing us. As of right now, options are limited: as a review of cryoprotectants in Rejuvenation Research noted in 2015, our best bets are on molecules like ethylene glycol and propylene glycol literally those used in cars and other known preservatives like methanol, formamide, and butanediol. All of these are pretty toxic, and especially so at high concentrations.

A person that undergoes cryonic preservation begins the vitrification process almost immediately after they are declared brain dead. As the body is rapidly cooled to a temperature just slightly above the freezing point, the heartbeat and respiration are artificially maintained as heparin is injected to prevent coagulation and cryoprotectants are perfused into the body. When vitrification is complete full glassiness occurs at around 196C, according to a 2015 report in the journal Neuroethics the body is then fully submerged in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of 196C.

Then, we wait.

Tests on frozen organs have shown that cryonic freezing with cryoprotectants works to a certain extent, depending on the organ, but damage still results from the toxicity of the antifreeze or from errant ice crystals that manage to form.

Despite these setbacks, cryonics companies like the Cryonics Foundation and the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, which just froze its 148th patient in August 2015, are already using techniques like vitrification in the hopes that future researchers will have figured out how to bring bodies back to life. Only time will tell if this experimental technique actually works.

Photos via Passengers

Yasmin is a writer and former biologist living in New York. A Toronto girl at heart, her writing also appears in The Last Magazine and SciArt in America. You might recognize her as a past host of Scientific American's YouTube series.

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Cryonics Experts Want to Freeze Human Blood Into Glass - Inverse

A Visual Tour Of Colorado’s Most Hilarious Festival: Frozen Dead Guy Days – UPROXX


Last weekend was the Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival in Nederland, Colorado, and naturally the title alone brings up some serious questions. What is it? How did it start? Who is the frozen dead guy? We looked into it, and the history of the festival is actually pretty fascinating.

It all begins with Bredo Morstoel who never lived in Colorado during his lifetime, but, due to a series of odd circumstances, has had quite an active death there. Lovingly called Grandpa Bredo by the townspeople of Nederland, Morstoel died from a heart condition in 1989 in Norway. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?

Well here we go: Grandpa Bredo and his family had a strong interest in cryonics. So instead of being buried or cremated, he was packed in dry ice and shipped to a cryonics facility in California where he lived for almost four years. However, his daughter and grandson lived in Colorado and eventually felt that keeping Grandpa frozen was something they could very well do on their own. So in 1993, they had him shipped to their house and kept him in the shed.

It was an odd situation, but it became even odder when his family no longer lived in the area. Because eventually, both his daughter and grandson headed back to Norway. And that left the problem of what would happen to Grandpa Bredos body. Garage sale? Goodwill?


After the city council found out that a frozen body was being kept in someones shed, they passed a new municipal code making it illegal to keep bodies at your home (something that apparently was A-okay before that). But since Grandpa Bredo had already been kept there for several years, he was grandfathered in and allowed to stay. By that point he had some pretty strong squatters rights.

So, with the assumption that Grandpa Bredo would stay in Nederland until cryogenic reanimation became a reality, Grandpa Bredos grandson put out a want ad on the internet for a caretaker of the body. It was then that resident Bo Shaffer took him on the job. Now known as the Ice man Shaffer and his pals bring Grandpa Bredo 1,600 pounds of dry ice monthly, pack it around him, and surround him with foam padding and blankets. The bizarre situation became a source of laughter and also pride in the small community.

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A Visual Tour Of Colorado's Most Hilarious Festival: Frozen Dead Guy Days - UPROXX

Frozen Dead Guy Days: The story behind Nederland’s most famous … – The Denver Channel

NEDERLAND, Colo. -- The16thannual Frozen Dead Guy Days begins Friday in Nederland, inspired by the bizarre tale of the town's most famous -- albeit deceased -- resident.

For 27 years, "The Frozen Dead Guy's" body has, in theory, been cryogenically preserved on dry ice in the mountains overlooking the town, and the only way to see him is to go with the man paid to keep him on ice.

"I'm supposedly the only guy with keys," said Brad Wickham, opening the door to the now world-famous Tuff Shed. "I hope some day when he is reanimated, we can talk about all the fun we had bringing ice up here every two weeks."

The story goes something like this:Bredo Morstoelwas a minor public official in Norway, and when he died in 1989 his grandson, TrygveBauge, had him cryogenically preserved in the hopes he could one day be re-animated.

The body was eventually moved to Nederland, where Baugehad plans to build his own cryonics lab unit he was deported.

Now, Bauge pays Wickham $9,000 per year to buy and deliver between 900 to 1,200 pounds of dry ice every two weeks and cover his grandfather's frozen sarcophagus.

"It's basically a thin metal casket. It's been chained down to prevent theft," said Wickham, who said Bredo has never thawed out on his watch, but the previous iceman may have missed some runs. "He may have gotten pretty warm by cryonic standards, let's just put it that way. But I don't think ever over 32 degrees."

Next to the Tuff Shed, the abandoned cryonics lab is filled with boxes of notes, worthy of a mad scientist.

"I picture him sitting over a dim light bulb, Archimedesstyle, scribbling," said Wickham with a smile, pointing to the painting that was done by Bredo. "Trygve was really close to his grandfather."

And while the town fought having a frozen body in a neighborhood, it has since embraced the idea, naming an annual festival after it.

"It's not much, but I guess it suits him," said Wickham, closing the shed. "Stay cool, grandpa!"

Fore more on Frozen Dead Guy Days,click here.


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Frozen Dead Guy Days: The story behind Nederland's most famous ... - The Denver Channel

Cryonics – RationalWiki

That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die.

Cryonics is the practice of freezing[1] clinically-dead people in liquid nitrogen (N2) with the hope of future reanimation.

Scientists will admit that some sort of cryogenic preservation and revival does not provably violate known physics. But they stress that, in practical terms, freezing and reviving dead humans is so far off as to hardly be worth taking seriously; present cryonics practices are speculation at best, and quackery and pseudoscience at worst.

Nevertheless, cryonicists will accept considerable amounts of money right now for procedures based only on vague science fiction-level speculations, with no scientific evidence whatsoever that any of their present actions will help achieve their declared aims. (Cryonicists often point to presently-nonexistent "sufficiently advanced" nanotechnology or mind uploading as favored methods for revival.) They sincerely consider this an obviously sensible idea so common-sense that one would have to be stupid not to sign up.

Cryonics should not be confused with cryobiology (the study of living things at low temperatures), cryotherapy (the use of cold in medicine), cryogenics (subjecting things to cold temperatures in general) or Whole-body cryotherapy (alternative medicine for the living).

Robert Ettinger, a teacher of physics and mathematics, published The Prospect of Immortality in 1964. He then founded the Cryonics Institute and the related Immortalist Society. Ettinger was inspired by "The Jameson Satellite" by Neil R. Jones (Amazing Stories, July 1931).[2] Lots of science fiction fans and early transhumanists then seized upon the notion with tremendous enthusiasm.

Corpses were being frozen in liquid nitrogen by the early 1960s, though only for cosmetic preservation. The first person to be frozen with the aim of revival was James Bedford, frozen in early 1967. Bedford remains frozen (at Alcor) to this day.

New hope came with K. Eric Drexler's Engines of Creation, postulating nanobots as a mechanism for cell repair in 1986. That Drexlerian nanobots are utterly impossible has not affected cryonics advocates' enthusiasm for them in the slightest, and they remain a standard proposed revival mechanism.[3]

A major advance in tissue preservation came in the late 1990s with vitrification, where chemicals are added to the tissue so as to allow it to freeze as a glass rather than as ice crystals. This all but eliminated ice crystal damage, at the cost of toxicity of the chemicals.

Upon his death in 2011, Ettinger himself was stored at the Cryonics Institute in Detroit, the 106th person to be stored there. In all, about 250 people had been "preserved" as of 2015.[4] There are about 2000 living people presently signed up with Alcor or the Cryonics Institute the cryonics subculture is very small for its cultural impact.

Cryonics, in various forms, has become a theme in science fiction,[5], either as a serious plot device (The Door into Summer, the Alien tetralogy), or a source of humor (Futurama, Sleeper). Its usual job is one-way time travel, the cryonics itself being handwaved (as you are allowed to do in science fiction, though not in reality) as a pretext for one of various Rip Van Winkle scenarios.

As a fictional concept, "cryogenics" generally refers to a not-yet-invented form of suspended animation rather than present-day cryonics, in that the worst technical issue to be resolved (if at all) in the far future is either aging, or the cause of death/whatever killed you.

Timothy Leary, the famous LSD-dropper, was also famously interested in the "one in a thousand" chance of revival. He signed up with Alcor soon after it opened.[6] Eventually, the cryonicists themselves creeped him out so much[7] that he opted for cremation.[8]

Walt Disney often believed (in urban legend) to have had his head or body frozen died in December 1966, a few weeks before the first cryonic freezing process in early 1967.

Hall of Fame baseball player and all-time Red Sox great Ted Williams was frozen after he died in 2002. A nasty fight broke out between his oldest children, who had a will saying he wished to be cremated, and his youngest son John-Henry who produced an informal family agreement saying he was to be frozen. This resulted in a macabre family feud for much of the summer of 2002. Williams was eventually frozen.[9]

Cryonics enthusiasts will allow that a person is entirely dead when they reach "information-theoretic death", where the information that makes up their mind is beyond recovery.

The purpose of freezing the recently dead is to stop chemistry. This is intended to allow hypothetical future science and technology to recover the information in the frozen cells and repair them or otherwise reconstruct the person, or at least their mind. We have literally no idea how to do the revival now or how it might be done in the future but cryonicists believe that scientific and technological progress will, if sustained for a sufficient time, advance to the point where the information can be recovered and the mind restarted, in a body (for those who see cryonics as a medical procedure) or a computer running an emulator (for the transhumanists).

Most of the problems with cryonics relate to the massive physical damage caused by the freezing process. Attempts to alleviate this cause chemical damage.

Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.

Cryonics for dead humans currently consists of a ritual that many find reminiscent of those performed by practitioners of the world's major religions:

As the Society for Cryobiology put it:

The Society does, however, take the position that cadaver freezing is not science. The knowledge necessary for the revival of whole mammals following freezing and for bringing the dead to life does not currently exist and can come only from conscientious and patient research in cryobiology, biology, chemistry, and medicine.

In the US, cryonics is legally considered an extremely elaborate form of burial,[10] and cannot be performed on someone who has not been declared medically dead (i.e., "brain dead"). Once you are declared legally dead, your fellow cryonicists swoop in to preserve you as quickly as possible.

The body, or just the head, is given large doses of anti-clotting drugs, as well as being infused with cryoprotectant chemicals to allow vitrification. It is then frozen by being put into a bath of liquid nitrogen at -196C. At this temperature chemical reactions all but stop.

Long-term memory is stored in physical form in the neural network as proteins accumulated at a chemical synapse to change the strength of the interconnection between neurons. So if you freeze the brain without crystals forming, the information may not be lost. As such. Hopefully. Though we have no idea if current cryonics techniques preserve the physical and chemical structure in sufficient detail to recover the information even in principle. Samples look good, though working scientists with a strong interest in preserving the information disagree.[11][12]

Recovering the information is another matter. We have not even the start of an idea how to get it back out again. No revival method is proposed beyond "one day we will be able to do anything!" Some advocates literally propose a magic-equivalent future artificial superintelligence that will make everything better as the universal slam-dunk counterargument to all doubts.[13]

Ben Best, CEO of the Cryonics Institute, supplies in Scientific Justification of Cryonics Practice[14] a list of cryobiology findings that suggest that cryonicists might not be completely wrong; however, this paper (contrary to the promise of its title) also contains a liberal admixture of "then a miracle occurs." His assertions as to what cited papers say also vary considerably from what the cited papers' abstracts state.

Alcor Corporation calls cryonics "a scientific approach to extending human life" and compares it to heart surgery.[15] This is a gross misrepresentation of the state of both the science and technology and verges on both pseudoscience and quackery. Alcor also has a tendency to use invented pseudomedical terminology in its suspension reports.[16][17]

Keeping the head or entire body at -196C stops chemistry, but the freezing process itself causes massive physical damage to the cells. The following problems (many of which are acknowledged by cryonicists[18]) would all need to be solved to bring a frozen head or body back to life. Many would need breakthroughs not merely in engineering, but in scientific understanding itself, which we simply cannot predict.

This is the big problem. The existing cryonics facilities are charities with large operational expenses run by obsessive enthusiasts. They are small and financially shaky.[28][29] In 1979, the Chatsworth facility (Cryonics Company of California, run by Robert Nelson) ran out of money and the frozen bodies thawed.[30][31] The cryonics movement as a whole was outraged and facility operators are much more careful these days. But it's an expensive business to operate as a charity.

The more general problem is that many cryonicists are libertarians and, unsurprisingly, have proven rather bad at putting together highly social nonprofits designed well enough to work in society on timescales of decades, let alone centuries. The movement has severe and obvious financial problems the cash flows just aren't sustainable, and Alcor relies on occasional large donations from rich members to make up the deficit.[32][33]

Insurance companies are barely willing to consider cryonics. You will have to work rather hard to find someone to even sell you the policy. There are, however, cryonicist insurance agents who specialise in the area.[34]

Furthermore, Alcor are distressingly slapdash and amateur in their procedures, as per the famed case of Kim Suozzi's 2013 cryopreservation:[35]

Eliezer Yudkowsky of LessWrong signed up with the Cryonics Institute, but recommends Alcor as the "high-priced high-quality organization".[36]

Of the early frozen corpses, only James Bedford remains, due to tremendous effort on the part of his surviving relatives. Though they didn't do anything to alleviate ice crystals, so his remains are likely just broken cell mush by now.

Terry [dramatically]: Welcome to the world of tomorrow!! Lou: Why do you always have to say it that way?

There are many medical issues connected with reanimation, but it is worth pointing out that a reanimated person faces numerous non-medical issues after returning to society. These might include:

All of these could cause the person great social, not to mention psychological, problems after revival. The person may also experience an identity crisis or delusions of grandeur.

Cryonics is not considered a part of cryobiology, and cryobiologists consider cryonicists nuisances. The Society for Cryobiology banned cryonicists from membership in 1982, specifically those "misrepresenting the science of cryobiology, including any practice or application of freezing deceased persons in anticipation of their reanimation."[38] As they put it in an official statement:

The act of freezing a dead body and storing it indefinitely on the chance that some future generation may restore it to life is an act of faith, not science.

The Society's planned statement was actually considerably toned down (it originally called cryonics a "fraud") after threats of litigation from Mike Darwin of Alcor.[39]

It can be difficult to find scientific critics willing to bother detailing why they think what the cryonics industry does is silly,[40] though some will detail just why the fundamental notions of present-day cryonics practice are biologically ludicrous.[12] Mostly, scientists consider that cryonicists are failing to acknowledge the hard, grinding work needed to advance the several sciences and technologies that are prerequisites for their goals.[41] Castles in the air are a completely acceptable, indeed standard, part of turning science fiction into practical technology, but you do have to go through the brick-by-brick slog of building the foundations underneath. Or, indeed, inventing the grains of sand each brick is made of. (Some cryonicists are cryobiologists and so are personally putting in the hard slog needed to get there.)

Cryonicists, like many technologists, also frequently show arrogant ignorance of fields not their own not just sciences[42] but even directly-related medicine[43][44] leaving people in those fields disinclined to take them seriously.

William T. Jarvis, president of the National Council Against Health Fraud, said, "Cryonics might be a suitable subject for scientific research, but marketing an unproven method to the public is quackery."[45] Mostly, doctors ignore cryonics and consider it a nice, but expensive, long shot.

Demographically, cryonics advocates tend to intersect strongly with transhumanists and singularitarians: almost all well-educated, mostly male to the point where the phrase "hostile wife syndrome" is commonplace[46] mostly atheist or agnostic but with some being religious, and disproportionately involved in mathematics, computers, or physics.[47] Belief in cryonics is pretty much required on LessWrong to be accepted as "rational."[48]

Hardly any celebrities have signed up to be frozen in hopes of being brought back to life in the distant future.[49] (This may be a net win.)

Cryonicists are some of the smartest people you will ever meet and provide sterling evidence that humans are just monkeys with shiny toys, who mostly use intelligence to implement stupidity faster and better.

When arguing their case, cryonics advocates tend to conflate non-existent technologies that might someday be plausible with science-fiction-level speculation, and speak of "first, achieve the singularity" as if it were a minor detail that will just happen, rather than a huge amount of work by a huge number of people working out the many, many tiny details.

The proposals and speculations are so vague as to be pretty much unfalsifiable. Solid objection to a speculation is met with another speculation that may (but does not necessarily, or sometimes even probably) escape the problem. You will find many attempts to reverse the burden of proof and demand that you prove a given speculation isn't possible. Answering can involve trying to compress a degree in biology into a few paragraphs.[42] Most cryonicists' knowledge of biology appears severely deficient.

Cryonicists also tend to assert unsupported high probabilities for as-yet nonexistent technologies and as-yet nonexistent science.[50][51][52] Figures are derived on the basis of no evidence at all, concerning the behaviour of systems we've built nothing like and therefore have no empirical understanding of they even assert probabilities of particular as-yet unrealised scientific breakthroughs occurring. (Saying "Bayesian!" is apparently sufficient support with no further working being shown under any circumstances.) If someone gives a number or even says the word "probable," ask them to show their working.

One must also take care to make very precise queries, distinguishing between, "Is some sort of cryogenic suspension and revival not theoretically impossible with as yet unrealised future technologies?" and "Is there any evidence that what the cryonics industry is doing right now does any good at all?" Cryonics advocates who have been asked the second question tend to answer the first, at which point it is almost entirely impossible to pry a falsifiable claim out of them.

When you ask about a particularly tricky part and the answer is "but, nanobots!" take a drink. If it's "but, future nigh-magical artificial superintelligence!", down the bottle.

Cryonicists are almost all sincere and exceedingly smart people. However, they are also by and large absolute fanatics, and really believe that freezing your freshly-dead body is the best current hope of evading permanent death and that the $30200,000 this costs is an obviously sensible investment in the distant future. There is little, if any, deliberate fraud going on.

Some cryonicists considered the Chatsworth facility going broke to be due to fraud, but there's little to suggest it wasn't primarily the owner just being out of his depth.

Alcor have multiple reports of being incredibly careless with the frozen heads in their care.[53] Despite suing to get a book on the subject dropped from publication[54] and threating further legal action, their carelessness further came to light in the case of Kim Suozzi, a breathtaking saga of slapdash amateurism, particularly for an organisation that has been doing this for four decades.[35]

Cryonics enthusiasts are fond of applying a variant of Pascal's wager to cryonics[55] and saying that being a Pascal's Wager variant doesn't make their argument fallacious.[51][52][56] Ralph Merkle gives us Merkle's Matrix:

The questionable aspect here is omitting the bit where "sign up" means "spend $30,000 (at the Cryonics Institute), $80,000 (at Alcor; head-only), or $200,000 (at Alcor; whole-body) of your children's inheritance for a spot in the freezer and a bunch of completely scientifically unjustified promises from shaky organizations run by strange people who are medical incompetents." It also assumes that living at some undetermined future date is sufficiently bonum in se that it is worth spending all that money that could be used to feed starving children now.

When you freeze a steak and bring it back to edible, I'll believe it.

The basic notion of freezing and reviving an animal, e.g. a human, is far from completely implausible.

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Stayin’ Alive – The Stute

This week, lets move totechnology integration in a field that tons of people have an interest in study: biology and medicine. Everyone has a fear of dying to some degree, so lets take a look at living. How long are we actually capable of living? The maximum lifespan of a human is thought to be 125, but will it be possible to go beyond that using technology?

One method would simply be some form of advanced cell repair. During death, cells are effectively dead: they cannot function anymore. If some form of rapid cell repair can be developed, death can be prevented on the moment and in the future with each failing body part. Unsurprisingly, while we are forming more synthetic organs successfully, they are not perfect. All of them have a high chance of failure; there is no guarantee of success yet. Nanotechnology has also not progressed enough to be able to able to rapidly repair cells, nor have medical devices progressed enough to form fully authentic organs. Synthetic organs also cannot replace some functions of the body; a synthetic brain is essentially a robot in a human shell.

On a different method, a possible solution towards living longer is a brain or full body transplant. A brain transplant puts the brain of one person into the whole body of another person. While this may not be able to directly extend someone lifespan beyond normal means, it can help someone with a life-threatening disease continue their life. In their new body, they would have the same personality and the same memories, but without any of the health issues. The slight problem is that a brain transplant hasnt been accomplished yet even in test organisms such as mice. The closest thing was a head transplant involving monkeys; however, the monkey still died after a few days. Work still needs to be done on this front.

Evidently, there isnt a way to boost our lifespan (easily) via technology right now, but what about in the future? Cryonics prepares us now for that future. Cryonics is the preservation of living or recently dead humans or animals for a possible revival in the future. Cryonics focuses on preserving information in the brain, as supporters believe that the information stored within the brain is key for future revival. During cryonics, a body is drained of all liquids, filled with a sort of anti-freeze mixture, and stored at temperatures typically under negative 200 degrees Celsius in order to freeze it and prevent any information loss in the brain. From the information in the brain, a new being can be formed with all of the same information. Of course, currently, there is no way to resurrect someone who has been frozen via cryonics. Additionally, there isnt a guarantee that the futureconscious being will be the same as the one that is frozen. Would they lose their personality after their brain is not active for such a long time? In essence, they would be a newborn with lots of knowledge available to them?

Now, a discussion on boosting our lifespan wouldnt be complete without talking about the ethics involved. Obviously, reviving someone or boosting a lifespan will cost a great deal of money, and if it doesnt, it will likely be limited in some manner. For many people, overpopulation is an issue. Either way, the only people who will be able to live longer are either extremely wealthy or extremely powerful. There will be no way for the average joe to be able to live longer. It will be limited to a select few the wealthy and powerful such as Donald Trump. In addition, life preservation will not be based purely on this, but on the political agenda. If someone who is extremely wealthy dies but isnt supported by the political regime, their money may not be accepted for the life extension. Also, lets not forget about the religious opposition because it might go against Gods word. Going against the teachings of God is an issue for many people. Its one of many barriers that artificial life extension would need to pass.

Freshman Computational Science who explores the issues of integrating technology within society in "Technically Speaking" Current Outreach Chair

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Stayin' Alive - The Stute

Frozen in time: Human hibernation bet on future life-saving therapies faces obstacles – Genetic Literacy Project

Throughout popular culture, there have been cautionary tales of what happens to people who awakenaftercenturies of cryogenic preservation.

There was the 1969 science fiction moviePlanet of the Apes, which saw astronauts returning to an unrecognizable Earth, now ruled by apes. The1973 comedy film Sleeper featured Woody Allen as a Greenwich Village health food store owner who is awakened after two centuries of cryopreservation to finda dystopian world, in which he is asked to assassinate a corrupt dictator. Hesdeemed perfect for the job,because there are no records thathe ever existed. And ina 1988 episode of Star Trek The Next Generation,a businessman awakens after four centuries, expecting to find that hisnet worth has ballooned during his absence. Too his dismay, he learns that humans have cast aside little things like money.

These are, admittedly,fanciful examples of what could happen to people who are preserved through cryogenics or suspended animation.But if preservation technologiesgain the ability to preserve life for years or decades,there will be a day when weare reviving people ineras that are far differentthan those they were born in. This could bring all sorts of legal and financial complications. And how does a person whogoes to sleep for a century or more, relate togreat-great-grandchildren who are, by all appearances, the same age?

With biotechnology advancing we might be at a crossroads when people need to start considering possible scenarios to develop contingencies. The urgency for doing so surely is influenced by the current status of research and how soon we are likely to see long-term human hibernation an attractive option for people dealing with life-threateninginjuries or illnesses for which there are no current cures.

Hibernation research

A handful of research groups around the world are studying the brain pathways that enable mammals that hibernate naturally to survive, and even thrive,when core bodytemperature drops. Lower than normal core body temperature is called hypothermia and its being put to an increasing number of applications in clinical medicine. Routine clinical applications include post-cardiac arrest induced hypothermia a mildtherapeuticcoolingof patients who lose consciousness after their heart stops.

In mild hypothermia, thebody temperature is below the normal 98.6 degrees as low as86 degrees. The condition also isinduced routinely during open heart surgery. Moderate hypothermia generally refers to core temperature in the range of 68 to 86degrees. Applications using moderate hypothermia include surgery on the great vessels that carry blood into and out of the heart, and certain brain operations. Deep or profound hypothermia involves temperatures below 68degrees, and is the main strategy in a clinical study inducing suspended animation (called EPR-CAT) in victims of trauma who have lost enormous amounts of blood.

Non-hibernators, such as humans and dogs, respond with progressively worse complications when moving from mild to moderate to profound hypothermia. Consequently, clinically-relevant research in natural hibernators is aimed at triggering brain pathways in human patients to signal organ systems to react to cooling the same way thathibernators do.


The largest and most active cryonics unit is Alcor Life Extension, an Arizona-based nonprofit that currently has some 130 people in cryopreservation. Techniques for preservation have been evolving, since the company was founded in 1972. People used to be frozen. Buttoday they are vitrified solidified into a glass-like state. The goal is to preserve the molecular integrity of body cells especially in the brain and the geometry between the cells as it exists at the time that the person is declared dead. This maximizes the chances that memories in the brain will be preserved. Nobody has yet been revived, but preservation of memory is thought to be plausible for a couple of reasons. The first isthat vitrification is now being studied for preservation of donated organs, which have been thawed successfully andtransplanted into laboratory animals. Also, vitrified brains of non-human animals have been shown to preserve their microscopic anatomy.

Why is Alcor in Arizona? The main reason is that the risk of earthquakes and other natural disasters is fairly low. People opting for cryonics expect that their bodies might be in stasis for timescales measured in centuries.

As far as financial matters go, many of Alcors clients use life insurance policies to cover the cost of preservation and maintenance ($200,000 for a whole body or$80,000 for just the head). People use trust funds if they havenet worth they want to recover whenrevived in the future.

The rationale presented to those considering cryonics is that theres no guarantee they willever be revived, but that it isreasonable that theymight be. Along with chemicals called cryoprotectants, bodies getting preserved receive a host of medications. The list of the agents used is constantly evolving and continuing research is likely to reveal alternative methods that preserve organ function and cell integrity better. This means that cryopreservation is likely to work better years and decades into the future than it works now, even before getting to the milestone of having somebody revived.

Another factor that could affect the quality of preservation is how quickly Alcor begins the preservation process after declaration of death. Consequently, people who reside in Scottsdale or in the Phoenix metropolitan area may be at an advantage. This raises the issue of whether it could advantageous to begin the cooling process before a patient is declared dead. This would not be allowed in the United States just yet, but Alcor executives have mentioned on a few occasions that the company is considering how patient choice laws in different jurisdictions could impact the preservation process. Countries like the Netherlands, or even in certain US states like Oregon, have more liberal assisted suicide laws. Perhaps, this could eventually lead to a situation in which cryopreservation could begin sooner.

The chances of this happening might also be improved if research on human hibernation gets to the point where people who are medically, physiologically stable can be put into a low metabolic state that physicians have learned to reverse. In such a case, the patient would not have to depend on somefuture societylearning to reverse the preservation process. That could transformhumanhibernation intoa common procedure. Then, preservation would really be what cryonicists consider it to be already an extension of emergency medicine.

David Warmflash is an astrobiologist, physician and science writer. Follow @CosmicEvolution to read what he is saying on Twitter.

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Frozen in time: Human hibernation bet on future life-saving therapies faces obstacles - Genetic Literacy Project

Murray Ballard shoots cryonics in The Prospect of Immortality – British Journal of Photography

Patient Care Bay (Bigfoot dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen), Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. October 2006. From The Prospect of Immortality Murray Ballard

As his project goes on show at Newcastle's Side Gallery, we republish an article on Ballard's eye-opening series first printed in BJP's July 2011 Ones to Watch issue

As debut projects go, Murray Ballard could scarcely have chosen a more intriguing subject than cryonics. The practice of preserving dead bodies at very low temperatures, in the hope of bringing them back to life far in the future, is commonly thought to exist only in science fiction, where it is generally known by its technically inaccurate name of cryogenic freezing.

Yet as Ballard (no relationto his namesake, the sci-fi author JG) discovered during his five- year investigation, hundreds of people around the world have alreadyinvested in what he has calls The Prospect of Immortality.

The 27-year-old began documenting cryonicists while studying photography at the University of Brighton, after he discovered there was a group of British believers based just along the Sussex coast in Peacehaven. He was soon making much longer excursions, his work taking him to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona three times, the rival Cryonics Institute in Michigan twice, and the burgeoning Kriorus facility just outside Moscow on a further two occasions.

Portable perfusion kit. Home of Alan and Silvia Sinclair. Peacehaven, East Sussex, UK. May 2007. From The Prospect of Immortality Murray Ballard

Having worked as an assistant to Magnum photographer Mark Power for four years, Ballard is now looking at biotechnology for his first commission, which will be shown as part of the British Science Festival. He revels in the honesty that working with a large format camera allows.

Youre not saying, Look at this bit of the picture, youre saying all of it is equally as important, and all of the details are there to piece together meaning and narrative, he explains.

Power was on hand last month to formerly open Ballards first major solo exhibition at Impressions in Bradford, featuring Ballards images of the people involved in this pursuit of real-life resurrection, and the equipment to which they are entrusting their dreams of everlasting life.

Margaret Kiseleva, holding a photograph of her mother, Ludmila, KrioRus facility, Alabushevo, Moscow. September 2010. From The Prospect of Immortality Murray Ballard

The Prospect of Immortality by Murray Ballard is on show at Side Gallery from 0 March 30 April. The images in the exhibition are taken from a larger touring show, which was originally commissioned by Impressions Gallery and curated by director Anne McNeill. http://www.amber-online.commurrayballard.comBallard also published a book of the project last year with GOST Books

This textwas originally published as part of the Ones to Watch series of articles on emerging photographers in July 2011. This issue is now sold out, but other back issues can be bought

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Murray Ballard shoots cryonics in The Prospect of Immortality - British Journal of Photography

Building set to start on Australia’s first cryonics lab – Cowra Guardian

The company proposing Australia's first cryonics lab has gained approval to build in Holbrook, southern NSW, and plan to begin freezing and stories bodies next year.

Approval has been granted for the world's second cryonics facility outside the United States to be built in Holbrook.

Building is set to start now the plans have been given the tick by Greater Hume Shire Council and by next year Southern Cryonics plans to begin storing and freezing dead bodies in the expectation that in the future science will be able to bring them back to life.

Company secretary Matt Fisher and his team of four had hoped to unveil a facility in 2014 under the company name Stasis Systems, but ran into difficulties.

In the intervening years, despite there still being no scientific guarantee of revival, Australians had warmed to the idea of cryonics.

"We have had quite a lot of people express interest, perhaps a dozen at this stage, that want to sign up as clients once we are up and running," he said.

A price has not been set for the service but Mr Fisher said whole body preservation would cost $A80,000-$90,000.

The facility will have the capacity to store 40 bodies in 10 specialised stainless steel vessels.

It is hard to get a clear picture of how many people have been cryopreserved to date as there is no system of recording this information. However, there are estimated to be several hundred in the US and Russia where facilities exist.

It has been a long road, but Mr Fisher said it was essential to find an appropriately zoned site for cemetery and mortuary use, in a location with low risk of disaster and bushfire.

Safeguarding the facility was a priority, as was developing a corporate structure to survive as long as the built one.

Greater Hume Council general manager Steven Pinnuck said there were no objections to the development but to satisfy the terms of the approval, Southern Cryonics needed to seek licenses from NSW Health to hold and store remains on site.

"It is certainly a different type of activity. We are quite comfortable with it," he said.

"It's going to be in an industrial area and as it turns out, it will be almost adjacent to the local cemetery so we don't see it as being out of character with the area."

"The patient has to be declared legally dead for any cryopreservation procedures to begin," Mr Fisher said.

"The patient is put in an ice bath and medications are administered to prevent blood clotting."

Bodies are brought down to dry ice temperature (-78.5 Celsius) as a temporary phase.

"Once they get to the facility, Southern Cryonics would take over and bring that down further to liquid nitrogen temperature which is -196 Celsius."

The rule of thumb with cryonics was the faster the better and the colder the better.

The focus of cryonics is to preserve the brain to the highest fidelity so deaths with trauma to the brain or head or degenerative conditions such as dementia were problematic.

Mr Fisher said while there were known concerns which would limit the success of a possible future revival, clients would not be medically assessed by Southern Cryonics.

The elderly and others with illnesses had made inquiries but Mr Fisher said a growing number of young people were keen to know more, particularly as it was soon to be a real third end-of-life option.

Mr Fisher, a software engineer, had his father's brain frozen - or what's called neurally coded - at a facility in Sydney.

His passion for cryonics stems from the assumption that medical technology will improve to the point where people can live "in a healthy physical state in perpetuity", meaning theoretically that life expectancy would become open-ended.

"Anyone who has died in the years leading up to that point is going to miss out on the amazing opportunity of experiencing being fit and healthy for however long that they want to," he said.

"I would like to be on the other side of that transition and want everyone I know and care about to be on the other side of that transition as well."

The story Building set to start on Australia's first cryonics lab first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Building set to start on Australia's first cryonics lab - Cowra Guardian

Scientists Make Huge Breakthrough In Cryogenics – Futurism


Cryopreservation is the process of freezing organs and tissues at very low temperatures in order to preserve them. While it sounds simple in theory, only a handful of cells and tissues have survivedthis method. This is because while science has successfully developed ways to cool organs to the very low temperatures required for preservation, thawing them out has proven far more difficult. As the specimen thaws, itforms ice crystals, which can damage the tissue and render organs unusable.

Right now, the process is only a viable option for small samples, such as sperm or embryos. Previous efforts using slow warming techniques have proven to be effective on samples of that size, but havent worked forlarger tissue samples, like whole human organs. The inability to safely thaw the tissue has also precluded the theoretical concept of cryogenically preservingentire human bodies, with the intention of reanimating them later. The concept has roots in cryogenic technology, but is actually referred to as cryonics, and the scientific community generally considers it to be more science fiction than science fact at least for the time being.

A recentstudy has made a significant breakthrough which may well begin closing that gap even more. Using a new technique, scientists were able to cryopreserve human and pig samples, then successfully rewarm it without causing any damage to the tissue.

As lead researcher John Bischof from the University of Minnesota notes:

This is the first time that anyone has been able to scale up to a larger biological system and demonstrate successful, fast, and uniform warming of hundreds of degrees Celsius per minute of preserved tissue without damaging the tissue.

By using nanoparticles to heat the tissues at an equal rate, scientists were able to prevent the formation ofthose destructive ice crystals. The researchers mixed silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles in a solution and applied an external magnetic field to generate heat. The process was tested on several human and pig tissue samples, and it showed that nanowarming achieves the same speed of thawing as the use of traditional convection techniques.

One theoretical application for this discovery would be, of course, bringing cryogenic life-extension techniques out of the realm of science fiction and into reality. But were not quite there yet.

A more practical application for the technique wouldbeto safely preserve and store organs for extended periods, thus improving the logistical challenges behind organ transplantation.

According to statisticsfrom the United Network for Organ Sharing, 22 people die every dayin the US while waiting for organ transplants. Contrary to popular belief, this isnt because there is a shortage of organs being donated its because organs cannot be preserved for more than a few hours. So, while there are available organs ready to be transplanted, the time it takes to find a matching recipient and transport the organ safely to their location often exceeds the window of time in which the organ remains viable for transplant.

Over half of donated hearts and lungs are thrown out each year because they dont make it to patients in time. They can only be kept on ice for four hours, and while some organs can last longer than others without a blood supply during transport, its still not a longenough in many cases.

If only half of these discarded organs were transplanted, then it has been estimated that wait lists for these organs could be extinguished within two to three years, Bischof adds. With the help of cryopreservation technology, we may be well on our way to keeping donated organs viable for longer meaning they could be transported to patients who need them even if distance and time stands between them.

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Scientists Make Huge Breakthrough In Cryogenics - Futurism

Heart tissue cryogenics breakthrough gives hope for transplant patients – The Guardian

Freezing and rewarming sections of heart tissue successfully raises hopes for doing the same for the entire organ. Photograph: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Alamy

Scientists have succeeded in cryogenically freezing and rewarming sections of heart tissue for the first time, in an advance that could pave the way for organs to be stored for months or years.

If the technique scales up to work for entire organs and scientists predict it will it could save the lives of thousands who die each year waiting for transplants.

The work is being hailed as a major development in the field of cryopreservation as it marks the first time that scientists have been able to rapidly rewarm large tissue samples without them shattering, cracking or turning to a pulp. The US team overcame this challenge by infusing the tissue with magnetic nanoparticles, which could be excited in a magnetic field, generating a rapid and uniform burst of heat.

Kelvin Brockbank, chief executive officer of Tissue Testing Technologies in Charleston, South Carolina and a co-author, said: It is a huge landmark for me. We can actually see the road ahead for clinical use and getting tissues and organs banked and into patients.

Currently, donor organs such as hearts, livers and kidneys must be transplanted within hours because the cells begin to die as soon as the organs are cut off from a blood supply. As a result, 60% of the hearts and lungs donated for transplantation are discarded each year, because these tissues cannot be kept on ice for longer than four hours.

Recent estimates suggest that if only half of unused organs were successfully transplanted, transplant waiting lists could be eliminated within two to three years. The latest paper has been hailed as a significant step towards this goal.

Mehmet Toner, a professor of bioengineering who is working on cryopreservation at Harvard Medical School, said: Its a major breakthrough. Its going to catalyse a lot of people to try this in their laboratories. Im impressed.

Cryopreservation has been around for decades, but while it works well for red blood cells, sperm and eggs, scientists have come up against a barrier for samples with a volume larger than around one millilitre.

Previously, larger samples have been cooled successfully using a technique known as vitrification, in which the tissue is infused with a mixture of antifreeze-like chemicals and an organ preservation solution. When cooled to below -90C (-130F), the fluid becomes a glass-like solid and prevents damaging ice crystals from forming.

The real problem has been the thawing process. Unless the rewarming occurs rapidly and uniformly, cracks will appear in the tissue and tiny ice crystals suddenly expand, destroying cellular structures.

We can freeze tissue and it looks good, but then we warm it and there are major issues, said Toner.

The latest work scales up cryopreservation from one millilitre to about 50ml, and the scientists said they believe the same strategy is likely to work for larger skin transplants, sections of ovarian tissue and entire organs.

John Bischof, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota and the senior author of the study, said: We have extremely promising results and we believe that were going to be able to do it but we have not yet done it.

Brockbank and colleagues previously attempted and failed to use microwave warming to generate an even thawing. It failed dreadfully due to the development of hotspots in the tissue, he said.

In the latest paper, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team describe the new nano-warming technique. Pig heart valves and blood vessels were infused with a cryoprotectant solution mixed with iron oxide nanoparticles, coated in silicon to make them biologically inert, and the samples were cooled in liquid nitrogen to -160C (-256F).

For thawing, the sample was placed inside an electromagnetic coil, designed to generate an alternating magnetic field. As the magnetic field is flipped back and forth, the particles jiggle around inside the sample and rapidly and uniformly warm tissue at rates of 100 to 200C per minute, 10 to 100 times faster than previous methods.

In tests of their mechanical and biological properties, the tissues did not show any signs of harm, unlike control samples rewarmed slowly over ice. The researchers were also able to successfully wash away the iron oxide nanoparticles from the sample following the warming although said that further safety testing would be required before the technique could be used in patients.

The team are now testing the technique on rabbit kidneys and human allografts, which are combinations of skin, muscle and blood vessels from donors.

That will be our first trial with human tissues, said Brockbank. If that is successful, we would then progressively move to structures such as the human face for banking and for hands for banking as well as digits.

However, he added that it was difficult to put a timeline on when the developments might have a clinical impact, as this depended on regulatory approval as well as overcoming significant scientific challenges.

The scientists acknowledged that their work may attract interest from the cryonics industry, which promises to freeze the bodies or heads of clients after their death in the hope of bringing them back to life in the future, when medicine has advanced.

There is a certain intellectual connecting of the dots that takes you from the organ to the person... I could see somebody making this argument, said Bischof, but added these ambitions were not science-based as unlike with organs, the person would already be dead when frozen.

Clive Coen, professor of neuroscience at Kings College London, described the technique as ingenious. If the technique can be scaled-up to large organs such as kidneys, the contributions to the field of organ transplantation could be immense, he said. Such painstaking and careful research is to be applauded and must not be confused with wishful thinking about sub-zero storage and subsequent reanimation of a human body, as envisaged by the cryonics industry

Almost 49,000 people in Britain have had to wait for an organ transplant in the past decade and more than 6,000, including 270 children, have died before receiving the transplant they needed, NHS statistics reveal.

Heart tissue cryogenics breakthrough gives hope for transplant patients - The Guardian

Keegan Macintosh-British Columbia Guy Signs First Canadian Cryonic Contract – E Canada Now

A B.C. man who is challenging the provinces laws on the preservation of the body after death has signed a groundbreaking cryonic contract. Keegan Macintoshis believed to be the first person to sign a deal with a Canadian provider to keep his body in a state of permanent suspension.

The four-page contract between Keegan Macintosh and the Lifespan Society of B.C. is accepted to be the first run through a Canadian has marked with a neighborhood supplier to keep their body in a condition of lasting suspension.

The agreement is the most recent turn in a strange B.C. Preeminent Court confrontation over the regions Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act.

Macintoshs claim says the province is the only place on theplanet to fugitive cryonics.

The issue of cryonics increased overall consideration this month when a British judge allowed the last wishes of a 14-year-old who composed a letter before kicking the bucket of malignancy asking the court to let her mom cryogenically safeguard her body.

The decision made room for the young ladys remaining parts to be taken to an office in the U.S. to begin the conservation procedure at a cost of more than $62,000.

Various Canadians have marked cryonic safeguarding manages U.S. suppliers, however, Lifespan president Carrie Wong says the agreement with Macintosh is accepted to be the first of its kind in Canada.

Mac has altered his unique explanation of claim to mirror the marking of an agreement. Wong said the general public is currently holding up to perceive how the Crown reacts.

Wong said, If theyre really not interested, then anyone in B.C. can go into a cryonics arrangement.

As indicated by the terms of the arrangement, Lifespan will supplant Macintoshs blood with a sort of liquid catalyst to avoid ice gems framing when the body is cooled.

The general public additionally consents to suspend Macintoshs remaining parts at ultra-low temperatures.

Consequently, Macintosh will pay $30 a year.

The agreement gives a progression of capabilities around revival, beginning with the finishing date.

However, Lifespan additionally concurs that when in Lifespans best judgment, it is determined that attempting resuscitation is in the best interests of the cryopreserved member, Lifespan shall attempt to resuscitate (Macintosh).

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Keegan Macintosh-British Columbia Guy Signs First Canadian Cryonic Contract - E Canada Now

Top 5 Transhumanist Technologies With Major Implications – The Merkle

Transhumanism is one of those technologies that boggles most peoples minds. Do not be mistaken in thinking this has anything to do with being transgender, as transhumanists seek to improve their human capacities beyond what is assumed to be possible. They do so by using top-of-the-line technologies, rather than gadgets or other electronics. Most of these technologies go by unnoticed, which is why we have compiled a brief list below.

Some people may have heard of this technology before. Cryonics is a high-fidelity preservation of the human body after death. The primary reason why anyone would enter a cryogenic sleep is to anticipate a potential future revival. This technology has been widely available for some time, albeit it is rather on the expensive side. Through cryonics, it is feasible to stop cells from decaying. Moreover, the process requires no electricity to do so.

Tampering with the human bodys genes sounds rather risky, but significant advancements have been made in recent years. Gene therapy effectively replaces bad genes with good ones, which allows us to manipulate our genetic code. Scientists have discovered a way to remove genes coding for specific metabolic proteins, ensuring the host remains slim and fit at all times.

Anti-aging therapy is heavily influenced by gene therapy as well and it is believed scientists will eventually reach the longevity escape velocity soon. As a result, humans may become subject to indefinite lifespans. Whether or not that is a positive development, remains to be seen, though.

Introducing cyber enhancements to the human body remains a very risky business to this very day. Implants and other electronics can address a lot of problems our bodies are faced with. Cybernetics are designed in such a way they will be invisible to the casual observer, as they reside beneath the hosts skin. Most current bio modifications are all external, as we have covered in a previous article. Cybernetic systems will improve our everyday experience and even boost the economy as humans will be able to do more work in less time.

While a lot of people are concerned over what the future will bring in terms of robotics, self-replicating robots may be the least of our concerns right now. Replacing manual labor with robots doing the task for us seems like a no-brainer, albeit it will cause some job losses. Self-replicating robots, on the other hand, would be quite beneficial. For example, they can turn uninhabitable areas into living spaces, clean up waste generated by us humans, or even pave the way for human colonization of space.

As creepy as this concept may sound at first, mind uploading or nonbiological intelligence can be quite valuable to our society. Implementing cognitive processing on anything that is not human would be a massive breakthrough. The general public is not too keen of this concept, even though our minds are by far our greatest assets. Synthetic brains are not impossible to achieve by any means, although a lot of research is required before this can become a reality.

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Top 5 Transhumanist Technologies With Major Implications - The Merkle

‘They want to be literally machines’ : Writer Mark O’Connell on the rise of transhumanists – The Verge

The strangest place writer Mark OConnell has ever been to is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation where dead bodies are preserved in tanks filled with nitrogen, in case they can be revived with future technology. There was a floor with the stainless steel cylinders and all these bodies contained within them and corpses and severed heads, he tells The Verge. That imagery is something that I will take with me to a grave, whether thats a refrigerated cylinder or an actual grave.

OConnell, 37, visited Alcor while writing To Be a Machine, which comes out February 28th. The nonfiction book delves into the world of transhumanists, or people who want to transcend the limits of the human body using technology. Transhumanists want to be stronger and faster; they want to be cyborgs. And they want to solve the problem of death, whether by freezing their bodies through cryonics or uploading their consciousnesses. Transhumanists have been around since at least the 1980s, but have become more visible in the past decade as technology advances have made these ideas seem more feasible and less like sci-fi.

OConnell had known about transhumanists for years, but they stayed in the back of his mind until his son was born and he became more preoccupied by questions of mortality and death. I was looking for a topic that would allow me to write about these things, he says. Even when I was writing specifically about the movement, I was also writing about just how weird it is to be alive in a body thats decaying and dying.

He ended up visiting the Alcor cryonics lab, talking to researchers who want to save us from artificial intelligence, hanging around with biohackers in Pennsylvania, and following transhumanist presidential candidate Zoltan Istvan on his campaign trail. The Verge spoke to OConnell about the philosophy behind the movement, his experiences in the transhumanist world, and whether his own beliefs and hopes for humanity have changed since writing the book.

How exactly do you define transhumanism? Doctors, for example, are interested in extending human life, but you could hardly say that all doctors are transhumanists.

Right, theres a way of defining transhumanism thats so broad that youre almost just describing a scientist. There are lots of different definitions, but for me its someone who thinks that we should incorporate technology into ourselves, to use technological evolution to push forward the evolution of the human animal. These people want to not be human in a very sort of radical and thoroughgoing way. They want to be literally machines.

I can identify with wanting to not die, but I cant with wanting to live indefinitely.

Its a disparate movement with many different beliefs. For example, not all of them buy into cryonics. Its almost like talking to a Catholic who goes, I dont take communion, dont go to Mass, but Im still basically Catholic. They believe in the general principle but dont sign up for all the things along the way. [Then} you get people saying, I should really sign up for Alcor, should get the paperwork done and provide for my future almost like you talk to people of my generation who are like, I really need to get started on a pension.

Its common to be frustrated by what our bodies cant do. But its another thing to implant electronics under your skin, or plan to preserve your body after you die. What drives people who consider themselves transhumanists?

They all have a similar origin story, all came to it in a similar kind of way. When you talk about their childhoods, most of them were already obsessed with not just death, but the sort of general limitations of being human, of the frustrations of not being able to do certain things, not being able to live infinitely, not being able to explore space, not being able to think at the level they wanted. All obsessed with human limitations. And most of them shared a similar moment where they went online, they discovered that there was this whole community of people who had the same concerns and philosophies, and they became transhumanists, even though they were without knowing the name.

Theyre all largely tech people and science people. Its hugely a white male thing and it tells you a lot about privilege. Its very difficult to be concerned that youre going to die someday if youre dealing with structural racism or sexism or just feeding your family. Transhumanism seems to come from a position of privilege. Big proponents like Elon Musk have sort of conquered all the standard human problems through technology, and they have infinite amounts of money to spend.

What were some of the transhumanist ideas that seemed the strangest to you? Did any of that change after writing the book?

When I started to look into what the basic ideas were around transhumanism, the thing that I found most alienating and weird and completely speculative was the idea of becoming disembodied and uploading your brain. Its called whole brain emulation. Its the endpoint of a lot of transhumanist thought.

But then I met Randal Koene [who runs Carboncopies, a foundation that supports research on whole brain emulation]. I find him incredibly charismatic. I was really struck by the tension between what seems to be the complete insanity of what he was saying to me the madness of the idea that he might be able to eventually convert the human mind into code and talking to this normal, really smart guy who was explaining really clearly his ideas and making them seem, if not imminently achievable, quite sensible. I was quite swayed by him and in a weird way Randals work seems like some of the least crazy stuff.

Were you swayed by the overall philosophy? You mention in the book that you dont consider yourself a transhumanist. Why?

When I was with the Grindhouse biohackers in Pittsburgh, one night we were in the basement trying to envision our futures. One of them talked about wanting to become this disembodied infinitely powerful thing that would go throughout the universe and encompass everything.

When you talk to transhumanists, in one way or another, they all aspire to knowing everything and to being gods basically. And I just sort of thought, this is actually something I cant relate to at all. The idea of being that all-powerful and omnipresent, its almost indistinguishable from not existing and I cant quite justify that.

Theyd say, youve got Stockholm syndrome of the human body. But that kind of idea is very unappealing to me. I cant see why that would be your idea of your ultimate human value. I was always trying to come to grips with these ideas and come to grips with what it meant for these people to be post-human, and just wind up getting more confused about what it meant to be a human at all in the first place. I can identify with wanting to not die, but I cant with wanting to live indefinitely.

Hanging out with all these people and spending time with all these weird ideas about mechanism and human bodies forced me into a position [to identify myself] as not even a human, but as an animal, a mammal. To me, what it means to be human is inextricably bound with the condition of being a mammal, being frail and weak and loving other people for their frailty and weakness.

Speaking of limitations of the human body, what about disability? When youre so focused on transcending the human body and its limitations, does that mean denigrating disability?

Transhumanists see disability in a completely opposite way. The people I talked to said, Look, were all disabled in one way or another. For example, there was a proposal to make Los Angeles cities more wheelchair accessible. And [transhumanist presidential candidate] Zoltan Istvan wrote this bizarre, wrongheaded editorial about how this was a crazy use of public funds, which should be putting it into making all humans superhuman. What he was getting at was that being physically disabled should not be a barrier to being superhuman anyway, so whole-body prostheses should be the thing that were investing money into. A huge number of people in the disability community were horribly offended and he couldnt quite see why.

Do you think transhumanist ideas are going to gain credence and become a lot more mainstream?

I have no crystal ball, so I dont know any more about the future now than when I started looking into this. But I can see that maybe human life will change so radically in the future that all of this will come to pass. And it wont have come to pass because of transhumanists agitating for it but just because technology has this internal momentum that keeps moving, and theres nothing we can do about it.

Writing the book felt like writing about a very particular cultural moment. Its a very specific cultural phenomenon that has gained quite a foothold in Silicon Valley for reasons that seem quite obvious. My sense is that there are a lot of people out there who would never call themselves transhumanists but share a lot of these ideas about the possibilities for the human future. Silicon Valley has generated this amazing amount of money and cultural power and this sense of possibility around technology. We think we can fix anything with technology, so the idea that we would be able to solve death the human condition seems to be the natural outflow of that.

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'They want to be literally machines' : Writer Mark O'Connell on the rise of transhumanists - The Verge

Going Underground: Cheltenham author’s book about cryonics to be used in groundbreaking scheme – Gloucestershire Live

Eagle-eyed city commuters will have the chance to read a Cheltenham author's book about preserving human life on Monday.

Copies of The Husband Who Refused to Die are being hidden in and around London tube stations as part of the groundbreaking Books On the Underground initiative.

Read: There's a pub in Gloucestershire where you can buy your dog a pint

The debut novel, with its original, and topical, cryonics premise, has had a great response from readers since its launch in December, with one reviewer describing it as 'truly a one-of-a-kind read'.

Andrea Darby, a former journalist who lives near Cheltenham, said: "I'm thrilled to be part of this fantastic initiative and hope that the commuters who find my book will enjoy reading it and pass it on."

Cordelia Oxley, Director of Books on the Underground, said the aim was to get more people reading and sharing books. "Titles are left on seats, benches, station signs and around ticket areas, with finders often keen to share their free discoveries on social media.

"The Book Fairies are excited to be working with Andrea and are looking forward to hiding copies of her amazing book on the London Underground. It's sure to get a big reaction!"

Read: Foo Fighters announce Glastonbury news at secret gig last night

The Husband Who Refused to Die, which Andrea describes as 'a story of love, loss, family and friendship' is about 40-year-old mum Carrie, whose husband Dan dies unexpectedly, just a few years after he revealed his wish to be frozen.

The narrative focuses on the difficult repercussions of this wish for Carrie and her teenage daughter, not least an intrusive media, an interfering sister-in-law and a mystery person with a serious grudge.

The book is available from Waterstones in Cheltenham and Gloucester, the Suffolk Anthology bookshop, as well as from Amazon, WHSmith and other online retailers.

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Going Underground: Cheltenham author's book about cryonics to be used in groundbreaking scheme - Gloucestershire Live

50 Years Frozen: Cryonics Today – Paste Magazine

On January 12, 1967, psychology professor James Bedford died due to cancer-related natural causes. Within hours, a team of scientists filled his veins with antifreeze. They packed his body in a container full of dry ice, and in so doing made Bedford the first man ever frozen alive in the name ofwell, if not science, something that aspired to be science one day: cryonics.

On December 23rd, 2009, at 4 a.m., I listened to my neighbors play Forever Young for the fortieth time in a row. Either the partygoers had either left or the DJ had died, and any attendees were either passed out or too blitzed to notice. The song played on repeat:

Forever young, I want to be Forever young.

I aged 10 years that night, while Bedfordtucked away in a fresh liquid nitrogen bath that came complementary with his 1991 inspectionremained immortal.

What is Cryonics, for Crying out Loud? Fifty years have passed since Bedford volunteered to become the first cryogenically frozen man. And while cultural depictions sporadically crop upthink Austin Powers, Futurama and yes, Mel Gibsonin Forever Youngcryonics is often thought to belong more to the realm of science fiction than science, and to put an even finer point on it, an escapist fiction that eludes actionable reality.

Yet cryonics offers grounds just as fertile for ethics as they do the imagination. Just think: people wage fierce wars about when life begins. Cryonics twists, turns and flips that argument around to become a deeper meditation on the moment that life ends.

So when does it?

When a Body Becomes a Patient The Alcor Life Extension Foundation which preserved Bedford describes cryonics as an effort to save lives by using temperatures so cold that a person beyond help by todays medicine can be preserved for decades or centuries until a future medical technology can restore that person to full health. The Foundation tellingly describes its members as patientsnot bodies. The dewars are not coffins, they are the temporary resting place for people who will one day wake up.

Michael Hendrix, neuroscientist and assistant professor of biology at McGill University, describes how the future of cryonics rests upon the promise of new technologies in neuroscience, particularly recent work in connectomicsa field that maps the connections between neurons a detailed map of neural connections could be enough to restore a persons mind, memories and personality by uploading it into a computer simulation.

In other words, cryonics claims that a cryogenically frozen person is not dead. He or she is merely on pause, similar to the way a video game character wont age while the player fiddles through the menu screen. The cycle of life rests upon the ability of scientistsand technologyto catch up to an idea born centuries before its time.

And as far as the science of resuscitation, cryonics does not actually rely upon the preservation of the entire body (as the choice of some people to have just their heads frozen, notably MLB player Ted Williams, testifies to), but upon the ability to map out the neurological connections between the brain, lift that map and recreate it in another bodypossibly a robot, possibly something scientists and dreamers havent yet conceived.

The Grounds for Debate Arguments against cryonics often hinge upon two main points. The first is that at best, the ethical implications of the procedure show a Labradors level of devotion to the promise of science. At worst, they play upon the emotions (and pocketbooks) of the bereaved survivors, who hold out false hope for the resuscitation of their loved one, possibly derailing and even deranging the cycles of the grieving process. The second rawand undeniablefact is that the technology for making a frozen person reenter society as a whole, living human being simply does not exist.

As for arguments for it? The most simple, powerful argument of all: immortality.

In 2014, the total count of cyropreserved bodies reached 250. An estimated 1,500 people total had made arrangements for cryopreservation after their legal death. The New York Times cites nonreligious white males as the main partakers, outdoing females by a ratio of three to one. As the worlds first volunteer, Bedford received a freebie, but most cyropreservation costs at least $80,000. A Russian company, KioRus, boasts the steal at $12,000 a headliterally speaking. But costs all but disappear in the face of a successful experiment. Say someone pays $80,000 now to rejoin the living 200 years later? Forget about calculating inflation differences.

No matter what side of cryonics one comes down uponand science offers arguments for botha central idea remains, both chilling and mesmerizing, depending upon the way its turned. A successful cyropreservation would entail rebirthbut into a world wholly different than the one left behind. If James Bedford came back tomorrow, could he handle the emotionalnot to mention mentaltribulations of adjusting to a world that moved on without him? Would the forever young experience drone on like the song on that December night, an individual sentenced to the eternal return of the same song, Existence?

After my own encounter with Forever YoungI certainly hope not.

Elisia Guerena is a Brooklyn based writer, who writes about tech, travel, feminism, and anything related to inner or outer space.

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50 Years Frozen: Cryonics Today - Paste Magazine

Cryonics This Scottish author pays 50 pounds a month to preserve his brain after death – Zee News

New Delhi: Of late, the science of cryonics seems to have captivated the hearts of scientists and the public alike with some people now opting for cryopreservation after their deaths.

Cryonics is the practice or technique of deep-freezing the bodies of those who have died of a disease, in the hope of a future cure.

In a latest, an author from Scotland has started paying a research institute to preserve his brain cryogenically after his death.

As per reports, DJ MacLennan has been paying 50 pounds ( appriximately Rs 4,000) a month for the past decade to Alcor Institute in Arizona, USA, to preserve his brain in the hope that he can one day be brought back to life.

MacLennan, who lives on the Isle of Skye, has told the institute that when he dies he wants the team of volunteers to fill his body with anti-freezing liquid before plunging it into ice water. His body will then be wrapped in a polyethylene, submerged in alcohol and lowered into ice before being shipped to Arizona. The head will then be removed and frozen in liquid nitrogen before being stored.

According to MacLennan, if organs can be donated and aren't wasted anymore, brains should definitely not be wasted, instead it's the important part to store.

While the full-body procedure costs 75,000 pounds, the author from Skye, has opted for the 40,000 pounds brain freeze.

In November last year, a 14-year old girl who died of cancer became the first child to be cryogenically frozen after death in the UK.

The procedure was carried out after winning a landmark court case shortly before her death. She had written a heartbreaking letter to a judge explaining that she wanted a chance to live longer after suffering from a rare form of deadly cancer.

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Cryonics This Scottish author pays 50 pounds a month to preserve his brain after death - Zee News