Cryonics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted: March 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cryonics (often mistakenly called "cryogenics") is the practice of cryopreserving humans or animals that can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine until resuscitation may be possible in the future. The largest current practitioners are two member-owned, non-profit organizations, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, with 74 frozen patients and the Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Michigan with 75.

The process is not currently reversible. Cryonics can only be performed on humans after clinical death, and a legal determination that further medical care is not appropriate (legal death). The rationale for cryonics is that the process may be reversible in the future if performed soon enough, and that cryopreserved people may not really be dead by standards of future medicine (see information theoretic death).

Cryonics is viewed with skepticism by many scientists and doctors today. However, there is a high representation of scientists among cryonics supporters.[1] Scientific support for cryonics is based on projections of future technology, especially molecular nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Some scientists believe that future medicine[2] will enable molecular-level repair and regeneration of damaged tissues and organs decades or centuries in the future. Disease and aging are also assumed to be reversible.

The central premise of cryonics is that memory, personality, and identity are stored in the structure and chemistry of the brain. While this view is widely accepted in medicine, and brain activity is known to stop and later resume under certain conditions, it is not generally accepted that current methods preserve the brain well enough to permit revival in the future. Cryonics advocates point to studies showing that high concentrations of cryoprotectant circulated through the brain before cooling can largely prevent freezing injury, preserving the fine cell structures of the brain in which memory and identity presumably reside.[3]

To its detractors, the justification for the actual practice of cryonics is unclear, given present limitations of preservation technology. Currently cells, tissues, blood vessels, and some small animal organs can be reversibly cryopreserved. Some frogs can survive for a few months in a partially frozen state a few degrees below freezing, but this is not true cryopreservation. Cryonics advocates counter that demonstrably reversible preservation is not necessary to achieve the present-day goal of cryonics, which is preservation of basic brain information that encodes memory and personal identity. Preservation of this information is said to be sufficient to prevent information theoretic death until future repairs might be possible.

Probably the most famous cryopreserved patient is Ted Williams. The popular urban legend that Walt Disney was cryopreserved is false; he was cremated, and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. Robert A. Heinlein, who wrote enthusiastically of the concept, was cremated and his ashes distributed over the Pacific Ocean. Timothy Leary was a long-time cryonics advocate, and signed up with a major cryonics provider. He changed his mind, however, shortly before his death, and so was not cryopreserved.

Cryonics has traditionally been dismissed by mainstream cryobiology, of which it is arguably a part. The reason generally given for this dismissal is that the freezing process creates ice crystals, which some scientists have claimed damage cells and cellular structures so as to render any future repair impossible. Cryonicists have long argued, however, that the extent of this damage was greatly exaggerated by the critics, presuming that some reasonable attempt is made to perfuse the body with cryoprotectant chemicals (traditionally glycerol) that inhibit ice crystal formation.

According to cryonicists, the ice crystal damage objection became moot around the turn of the millennium, when cryobiologists Greg Fahy and Brian Wowk, of Twenty-First Century Medicine, developed major improvements in cryopreservation technology, including new cryoprotectants and new cryoprotectant mixtures, greatly improving the feasibility of vitrification, and resulting in the near-elimination of ice crystal formation in the brain. Vitrification preserves tissue in a glassy rather than frozen state. In glass, molecules do not rearrange themselves into grainy crystals as they are cooled, but instead become locked together while still randomly arranged as in a fluid, forming a "solid liquid" as the temperature falls below the glass transition temperature. Alcor Life Extension Foundation has since been researching the use of these cryoprotectants, along with a new, faster cooling method, to vitrify whole human brains (neurovitrification). The Cryonics Institute (CI), uses a vitrification solution developed by its in-house cryobiologist, Dr. Yuri Pichugin. CI has developed computer-controlled cooling boxes to ensure that cooling is rapid above Tg (glass transition temperature, solidification temperature) and slow below Tg (to reduce fracturing due to thermal stress).

Current solutions being used for vitrification are stable enough to avoid crystallization even when a vitrified brain is warmed up. This has recently allowed brains to be vitrified, warmed back up, and examined for ice damage using light and electron microscopy. No ice crystal damage was found.[4][5][6] However, if the complete circulation of the protectant in the brain is compromised, protective chemicals may not be able to reach all parts of the brain, and freezing may occur either during cooling or during rewarming. Cryonicists argue, however, that injury caused during cooling might, in the future, be repairable before the vitrified brain is warmed back up, and that damage during rewarming might be prevented by adding more cryoprotectant in the solid state, or by improving rewarming methods. But even given the best vitrification that current technology allows, rewarming still does not allow revival, even if crystallization is avoided, due to the toxic effects of the cryoprotectants. Again, however, cryonicists counter that future technology might be able to overcome this difficulty, and find a way to combat the toxicity after rewarming. If, for example, the toxicity is due to denatured proteins, those proteins could be repaired or replaced.

Some critics have speculated that because a cryonics patient has been declared legally dead, their organs must be dead, and thus unable to allow cryoprotectants to reach the majority of cells. Cryonicists respond that it has been empirically demonstrated that, so long as the cryopreservation process begins immediately after legal death is declared, the individual organs (and perhaps even the patient as a whole) remain biologically alive, and vitrification (particularly of the brain) is quite feasible. This same principle is what allows organs, such as hearts, to be transplanted, even though they come from dead donors.

Cryonics procedures cannot begin until legal pronouncement of death has occurred, and pronouncement is usually based on cessation of heartbeat (only very rarely on brain activity measurements). When the heart stops beating and blood flow ceases, ischemic damage begins. Deprived of oxygen and nutrient, cells, tissues and organs begin to deteriorate. If the heart is restarted after too many minutes have passed, the reintroduced oxygen can cause even more damage due to oxidative stress, a phenomenon known as reperfusion injury. Cryonicists try to minimize ischemic and reperfusion injury by beginning cardio-pulmonary support (much like CPR) and cooling as soon as possible after pronouncement of death. Anti-clotting agents like heparin and antioxidants may be administered. Suspended Animation, Inc is a Florida company that specializes in research into, and implementation of, optimal procedures for minimizing ischemic injury in cryonics rescue.

It is universally agreed by scientists and cryonics advocates that reversing human cryopreservation is not possible with any near-term technology.[7] Those who believe that revival may someday be possible generally look toward advanced bioengineering, molecular nanotechnology, or nanomedicine as key technologies. Revival requires repairing damage from lack of oxygen, cryoprotectant toxicity, thermal stress (fracturing), and freezing in tissues that do not successfully vitrify. In many cases extensive tissue regeneration will be necessary. Hypothetical revival scenarios generally envision repairs being performed by vast numbers of microscopic organisms or devices.[8][9][10][11] These devices would restore healthy cell structure and chemistry at the molecular level, ideally before warming. More radically, mind transfer has also been suggested as a possible revival approach if and when technology is ever developed to scan the memory contents of a preserved brain.

It has often been written that cryonics revival will be a last-in-first-out (LIFO) process. In this view, preservation methods will get progressively better until eventually they are demonstrably reversible, after which medicine will begin to reach back and revive people cryopreserved by more primitive methods. Revival of people cryopreserved by the current combination of neurovitrification and deep-cooling (technically not "freezing", as cryoprotectant inhibits ice crystallization) may require centuries, if it is possible at all.

It has been claimed that if technologies for general molecular analysis and repair are ever developed, then theoretically any damaged body could be revived. Survival would then depend on whether preserved brain information was sufficient to permit restoration of all or part of the personal identity of the original person, with amnesia being the final dividing line between life and death.

Even if cryonics were scientifically certain to work, there are social obstacles that make success uncertain. The most obvious social obstacle is the prevailing belief that cryonics cannot work, and that cryonics subjects are dead. Although a legal determination of death by contemporary medicine is necessary to implement cryonics, this determination carries with it the implication of futility. By custom and law, dead bodies are objects, not persons with rights or protections. This removal of personhood is a cultural obstacle not faced by living people with even the poorest prognosis. For this reason, cryonics advocates call cryonics subjects patients and argue that morally they shouldnt be considered dead, even though that is their status under present law.

A related question is why future society would want to care for or revive dead people. Cryonicists note that a subset of society already cares for cryonics patients, and has done so for decades. It is assumed that should revival ever become possible, that same subset of society (the advocates who maintained patients long enough for revival to become possible) would pursue revival. They also believe that a future society with technology advanced enough to reverse cryopreservation would necessarily have views of life and death different from society today. They generally reject the idea that they are trying to "raise the dead", viewing cryonics instead as a highly experimental medical procedure. It has also been suggested that future society may have an interest in revival of cryonics patients for intellectual or historical value, although cryonicists tend to argue that healing and recovering sick people is an ethical imperative regardless of value to society at large.

Neuropreservation is cryopreservation of the brain, usually within the head, with surgical removal and disposal of the rest of the body. Neuropreservation, sometimes called neuro, is one of two distinct preservation options in cryonics, the other being "whole body" preservation.

Neuropreservation is motivated by the fact that the brain is the primary repository of memory and personal identity. (For instance, spinal cord injury victims, organ transplant patients, and amputees appear to retain their personal identity.) It is also motivated by the belief that reversing any type of cryonic preservation is so difficult and complex that any future technology capable of it must by its nature be capable of generalized tissue regeneration, including regrowth of a new body around a repaired brain. Some suggested revival scenarios for whole body patients even involve discarding the original body and regenerating a new one because tissues are so badly damaged by the preservation process. These considerations, along with lower costs, easier transportation in emergencies, and the specific focus on brain preservation quality, have motivated many cryonicists to choose neuropreservation.

The advantages and disadvantages of neuropreservation are often debated among cryonics advocates. Critics of neuropreservation note that the body is a record of much life experience, including learned motor skills. While few cryonicists doubt that a revived neuro patient would be the same person, there are wider questions about how a regenerated body might feel different from the original.[12] Partly for these reasons (as well as for better public relations), the Cryonics Institute preserves only whole bodies. Some proponents of neuropreservation agree with these concerns, but still feel that lower costs and better brain preservation justify preserving only the brain. About three-quarters of the patients stored at Alcor are "neuros".

Although media sometimes report that cloning is expected to regrow new bodies, cryonics experts generally dismiss cloning as a primitive technology that will be long obsolete before any kind of revival becomes possible. Similarly, although neurosurgeon Robert J. White proved[13] that body transplants were possible in primates, transplantation is dismissed in favor of tissue regeneration as the preferred method for treating neuropreservation and other trauma in future medicine.

Costs of cryonics vary greatly, ranging from $28,000 for whole body cryopreservation by the Cryonics Institute, to $80,000 for neuropreservation by Alcor, or $150,000 for whole body cryopreservation by Alcor or the American Cryonics Society. To some extent these cost differences reflect differences in how fees are quoted. The Cryonics Institute fee doesnt include standby (a team that begins procedures at bedside), transportation costs, or funeral director expenses outside of Michigan, which must be purchased as extras. CI Members wanting Standby and Transport from cryonics professionals can contract for additional payment to the Florida-based company Suspended Animation, Inc.

While cryonics is sometimes suspected of being greatly profitable, the high expenses of doing cryonics are well documented.[14] The expenses are comparable to major transplant surgeries. The largest single expense, especially for whole body cases, is the money that must be set aside to generate interest to pay for maintenance in perpetuity.

The most common method of paying for cryonics is life insurance, which spreads the cost over many years. Cryonics advocates are quick to point out that such insurance is especially affordable for young people. It has been claimed that cryonics is affordable for the vast majority of people in the industrialized world who really want it and plan for it.

Cryonics is based on a view of dying as a process that can be stopped in the minutes, and perhaps hours, following clinical death. If death is not an event that happens suddenly when the heart stops, this raises philosophical questions about what exactly death is. In 2005 an ethics debate in the medical journal, Critical Care, noted few if any patients pronounced dead by todays physicians are in fact truly dead by any scientifically rigorous criteria.[15] Cryonics proponent Thomas Donaldson has argued that death based on cardiac arrest or resuscitation failure is a purely social construction used to justify terminating care of dying patients.[16] In this view, legal death and its aftermath are a form of euthanasia in which sick people are abandoned. Philosopher Max More suggested a distinction between death associated with circumstances and intention versus death that is absolutely irreversible.[17] Absolutely irreversible death has also been called information-theoretic death. Bioethicist James Hughes has written that increasing rights will accrue to cryonics patients as prospects for revival become clearer, noting that recovery of legally dead persons has precedent in the discovery of missing persons.[18]

Ethical and theological opinions of cryonics tend to pivot on the issue of whether cryonics is regarded as interment or medicine. If cryonics is interment, then religious beliefs about death and afterlife may come into consideration. Resuscitation may be deemed impossible by those with religious beliefs because the soul is gone, and according to most religions only God can resurrect the dead. Expensive interment is seen as a waste of resources. If cryonics is regarded as medicine, with legal death as a mere enabling mechanism, then cryonics is a long-term coma with uncertain prognosis. It is continuing to care for sick people when others have given up, and a legitimate use of resources to sustain human life. Cryonics advocates complain that theological dismissal of cryonics because it is interment is a circular argument because calling cryonics "interment" presumes that cryonics cannot work.[19] They believe future technical advances will validate their view that cryonics patients are recoverable, and therefore never really dead.

Alcor has published a vigorous Christian defense of cryonics,[20] including excerpts of a sermon by Lutheran Reverend Kay Glaesner. Noted Christian apologist John Warwick Montgomery has defended cryonics.[21] In 1969, a Roman Catholic priest consecrated the cryonics capsule of Ann DeBlasio, one of the first cryonics patients. In 2002, a Muslim cleric indicated in a media interview that cryonics would be compatible with Islam if it were medicine.

Benjamin Franklin suggested in a famous 1773 letter[22] that it might be possible to preserve human life in a suspended state for centuries. However, the modern era of cryonics began in 1962 when Michigan college physics teacher Robert Ettinger proposed in a privately published book, The Prospect of Immortality,[23] that freezing people may be a way to reach future medical technology. Even though freezing a person is apparently fatal, Ettinger argued that what appears to be fatal today may be reversible in the future. He applied the same argument to the process of dying itself, saying that the early stages of clinical death may be reversible in the future. Combining these two ideas, he suggested that freezing recently deceased people may be a way to save lives.

Slightly before Ettingers book was complete, Evan Cooper[24] (writing as Nathan Duhring) privately published a book called Immortality: Physically, Scientifically, Now that independently suggested the same idea. Cooper founded the Life Extension Society in 1965 to promote freezing people. Ettinger came to be credited as the originator of cryonics, perhaps because his book was republished by Doubleday in 1964 on recommendation of Isaac Asimov and Fred Pohl, and received more publicity. Ettinger also stayed with the movement longer. Nevertheless, cryonics historian R. Michael Perry has written Evan Cooper deserves the principal credit for forming an organized cryonics movement.[25]

The actual word cryonics was invented by Karl Werner in 1965 in conjunction with the founding of the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY) by Curtis Henderson and Saul Kent that same year. This was followed by the founding of the Cryonics Society of Michigan (CSM) and Cryonics Society of California (CSC) in 1966, and Bay Area Cryonics Society (BACS) in 1969 (renamed the American Cryonics Society, or ACS, in 1985). CSM eventually became the Immortalist Society, a non-profit affiliate of the Cryonics Institute (CI), a cryonics service organization founded by Robert Ettinger in 1976, now the second-largest cryonics organization.

Although there was at least one earlier aborted case, it is generally accepted that the first person frozen with intent of future resuscitation was Dr. James Bedford, a 73-year-old psychology professor frozen under crude conditions by CSC on January 12, 1967. The case made the cover of a limited print run of Life Magazine before the presses were stopped to report the death of three astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire instead.

Cryonics suffered a major setback in 1979 when it was discovered that nine bodies stored by CSC in a cemetery in Chatsworth, California, thawed due to depletion of funds.[26] Some of the bodies had apparently thawed years earlier without notification. The head of CSC was sued, and negative publicity slowed cryonics growth for years afterward. Of seventeen documented cryonics cases between 1967 and 1973, only James Bedford remains cryopreserved today. Strict financial controls and requirements adopted in response to the Chatsworth scandal have resulted in the successful maintenance of almost all cryonics cases since that era.

The largest cryonics organization today was established by Fred and Linda Chamberlain in 1972 as the Alcor Society for Solid State Hypothermia (ALCOR). In 1977 the name was changed to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. In 1982, the Institute for Advanced Biological Studies (IABS) founded by Mike Darwin and Steve Bridge in Indiana merged with Alcor. By combining Darwins technical and communications skills with those of medical scientist Jerry Leaf, this merger is generally regarded as a key event that allowed Alcor to attract a critical mass of knowledgeable people, eventually moving Alcor to a leading position in the field.

During the 1980s Darwin worked with UCLA cardiothoracic surgery researcher Jerry Leaf at Alcor to develop a medical model for cryonics procedures. Prior to Leaf and Darwin, cryonics preparation was little more than a mortuary procedure in which cryoprotectant chemicals were substituted for embalming fluid. Leaf and Darwin showed that CPR and medications applied immediately after cardiac arrest, followed by cardiopulmonary bypass and thoracic surgery for access to major blood vessels, could greatly reduce ischemic injury (injury caused by stopped blood flow) in cryonics patients. They pioneered the cryonics procedure now known as a standby, in which a stabilization team stands by to institute life support procedures at the bedside of a cryonics patient as soon as possible after the heart stops. While supporting blood circulation and oxygenation of cryonics patients was first proposed by Ettinger, and the Cryonics Society of Michigan had a Westinghouse Iron Heart for this purpose as early as the late 1960s, the first consistent documented use of such procedures was in the 1980s.

Cryonics received new support in the 1980s when MIT engineer Eric Drexler started publishing papers and books foreseeing the new field of molecular nanotechnology. His 1986 book, Engines of Creation, included an entire chapter on cryonics applications.[27] Cryonics advocates saw the nascent field of nanotechnology as vindication of their long held view that molecular repair of injured tissue was theoretically possible.[28]

Nanotechnology has also been the cause of controversy within the cryonics field, with some cryonics advocates arguing that sophisticated preservation methods arent necessary because nanotechnology is necessary and sufficient for cryonics to work. Critics countered that believing nanotechnology is necessary and sufficient without regard to preservation quality is more religion than science. The simultaneous advent of Leaf and Darwins medical model of cryonics, and the nanotechnology repair paradigm, polarized cryonics into two schools of thought that persist to the present day.[29] One school tends to believe that simple inexpensive procedures administered by morticians are sufficient, while the other advocates monitoring and maintaining viability by contemporary medical methods as far as possible into the procedure, with reversible suspended animation as an ultimate goal.

In the late 1980s a nexus of favorable circumstances, including technical progress, support from nanotechnology experts, and effective communications, led to a period of rapid growth, especially of Alcor. Alcors membership expanded ten-fold within a decade, with a 30% annual growth rate between 1988 and 1992.

Alcor was disrupted by political turmoil in 1993 when a group of activists left to start the CryoCare Foundation,[30] and associated for-profit companies CryoSpan, Inc. (headed by Paul Wakfer) and BioPreservation, Inc.[31] (headed by Mike Darwin). Darwin and collaborators made many technical advances during this time period, including a landmark study documenting high quality brain preservation by freezing with high concentrations of glycerol.[32] CryoCare ceased operations in 1999 when they were unable to renew their service contract with BioPreservation. CryoCares two patients stored at CryoSpan were transferred to Alcor. Several ACS patients stored at CryoSpan were transferred to CI.

There have been numerous, often transient, for-profit companies involved in cryonics. For-profit companies were often paired or affiliated with non-profit groups they served. Some of these companies, with non-profits they served in parentheses, were Cryonic Interment, Inc. (CSC), Cryo-Span Corporation (CSNY), Cryo-Care Equipment Corporation (CSC and CSNY), Manrise Corporation (Alcor), CryoVita, Inc. (Alcor), BioTransport, Inc. (Alcor), Trans Time, Inc.[33] (BACS), Soma, Inc. (IABS), CryoSpan, Inc. (CryoCare and ACS), BioPreservation, Inc. (CryoCare and ACS), Kryos, Inc. (ACS), Suspended Animation, Inc.[34] (CI, ACS, and Alcor). Only Trans Time and Suspended Animation still exist. Apparently none of the companies were ever profitable. The cryonics field seems to have largely consolidated around three non-profit groups, Alcor, Cryonics Institute (CI), and the American Cryonics Society (ACS) all deriving significant income from bequests and donations.

As research in the 1990s revealed in greater detail the damaging effects of freezing, there was a trend to use higher concentrations of glycerol cryoprotectant to prevent freezing injury. In 2001 Alcor began using vitrification (a technology borrowed from mainstream organ preservation research) in an attempt to completely prevent ice formation during cold preservation. Because vitrification technology could then only be applied to the head, heads and bodies were sometimes separated to optimize preservation of the brain, causing much public confusion.

In 2005 Alcor began applying vitrification (or attempted vitrification[35]) treatment to the whole body simultaneously without removal of the head. In the same year, the Cryonics Institute began using a new procedure in which the head was vitrified while still attached to the body, which was frozen without any cryoprotectant.[36] A year later the Cryonics Institute began perfusing the body with ethylene glycol.[37]

When the baseball star Ted Williams was cryopreserved by Alcor in 2002 a family dispute arose as to whether Ted had really wanted to be cryopreserved. Following a July, 2003 Sports Illustrated article claiming that Alcor had mishandled Ted Williams,[38][39][40] Alcor had to fight for its existence in the Arizona legislature.[41] At minimum, Alcor could have been denied use of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which could have impaired its ability to gain rapid access to cryonics patients. Despite not being responsible for Ted Williams, the media blitz resulted in the Cryonics Institute (CI) being placed under a "Cease and Desist" order by the State of Michigan for six months. Finally the Michigan government decided to regulate CI as a cemetery.

Alcor currently maintains about 75 cryonics patients in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Cryonics Institute also maintains about 75 human patients (along with about 40 pets) at its Clinton Township, Michigan facility. There are support groups in Europe, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. There is also a small cryonics facility reported to exist in Russia storing two neuropatients called KrioRus, and plans for a facility in Australia.

Procedures similar to cryonics have been featured in innumerable science fiction stories to aid space travel, or as means to transport a character from the past into the future. In addition to accomplishing whatever the character's primary task is in the future, he or she must cope with the strangeness of a new world, which may contain only traces of their previous surroundings. This prospect of alienation is often cited as a major reason for the unpopularity of cryonics.

Relatively few stories have been published concerning the primary objective and definition of cryonics, which is medical time travel. Novels with this theme include the national best-seller The First Immortal by James Halperin, The Age of the Pussyfoot by Fred Pohl, Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Charles Sheffield, Chiller by Sterling Blake (aka Gregory Benford), Ralphs Journey by David Pizer, and Formerly Brandewyne by Jude Liebermann. The novel Fiasco by Stanisaw Lem raised the question of whether a person cryopreserved for centuries and then revived with amnesia is still the same person. A 1931 short story by Neil R. Jones called The Jameson Satellite has been credited with giving Robert Ettinger the seed of the idea of cryonics when he was a teenager.

Movies featuring cryonics for medical purposes include the Woody Allen comedy, Sleeper, and the films Late for Dinner and Abre los Ojos (remade as Vanilla Sky). The Austin Powers series of films use cryonics as a humorous effect and as one of the main basis in the storyline . One of the most famous movies regarding a cryonics-like process was 1992's Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson. Although not about cryonics per se, the Ron Howard film Cocoon has been hailed by cryonics advocates as expressing the values motivating cryonics better than any other film.[42]

On television, producer David E. Kelley wrote well-researched and essentially accurate portrayals of cryonics for the T.V. shows L.A. Law (1990 episode[43]), Picket Fences (1994 episode[44]), and Boston Legal (2005 episode[45]). In each case, there was a dying plaintiff petitioning a court for the right to elective cryopreservation. The episode "The Neutral Zone" from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation also featured three cryopreserved people in an ancient spacecraft. They had legally died in the 20th century, but were viable and recoverable by 24th century technology. The 1987 episode of Miami Vice "The Big Thaw" featured a cryopreserved reggae singer whose wife wants his revival stopped so she can inherit his estate. The episode "When We Dead Awaken" of seaQuest DSV features Lieutenant James Brody's mother having been placed in cryonic stasis following a terminal infection. Cryonics was also satirized by the comedy cartoon series Futurama, in which the character, Philip J. Fry, is accidentally cryopreserved at the turn of the millennium on December 31st 1999, and revived on December 31st 2999, a thousand years later.

Comic books also feature characters that have been affected by cryonics. Jean Grey, a superheroine from Uncanny X-Men, had been revived after her body was cryonically stored due to a fatal attack from Sentinels. The future society depicted in Warren Ellis's series Transmetropolitan includes 'revivals,' that is, individuals who had been cryonically preserved in centuries past and then revived. Many revivals are psychologically unprepared for a society so radically different from the one they had known and are consequently unable to care for themselves.

Songs about cryonics include "Crionics" by Slayer (from the album Show No Mercy) and "Gelid Remains" by Demolition Hammer (from the album "Tortured Existence").

Cryonicists have been able to form cryonics societies in highly populated areas (see history section), have regular meetings, publish magazines and hold conferences. Saul Kent and Evan Cooper as well as Fred and Linda Chamberlain were active in organizing cryonics conferences in the early years of cryonics. The magazines of the cryonics organizations have also helped keep members of the cryonics community informed about events and common problems. On July 24, 1988 a Ph.D. in computer science named Kevin Brown started an electronic mailing list called CryoNet[46] that became a powerful tool of communication for the cryonics community. Numerous other mailing lists and web forums for discussing cryonics and the affairs of particular organizations have since appeared, but CryoNet remains a central point of contact for cryonicists.

Cryonicists have also had a common jargon, including their use of the words patient, death, deanimation and suspension. The phrase cryonic suspension to describe cryopreservation is falling into disfavor, partly because cryopreservation is not really suspended animation and human bodies or heads are not buoyant enough in liquid nitrogen to be suspended. As in other subcultures, some members of the community can have strong feelings about the use of "politically correct" cryonics language.

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