For The First Time Ever, a Woman in China Has Been Cryogenically Frozen – ScienceAlert

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Cryonics is the practice ofdeep-freezing recently deceased bodies(or even justthe brains of thosewho have recently died)in the hopes of one day reviving them.

It has been the subject of serious scientific exploration and study - as well as a fair share of pseudoscience, lore, and myth. Fictional accounts like Batman's Iceman, and the (untrue) rumours of Walt Disney being cryogenically frozen have cast a speculative shadow over the field of cryonics.

Butrecently, for the first time ever in China,a woman has been cryogenically frozen. Zhan Wenlian died at the age of 49 from lung cancer and her husband, Gui Junmin, "volunteered" her for the cryonic procedure.

Bothhe and his late wife wanted to donate her body to science to "give back to society." He told TheMirror UKthat hewas initially "pitched"the idea of cryonicswith it being described as a "life preservation project".

This procedure - which has Wenlian's body restingface downin 2,000 litres of liquid nitrogen - was completed at theYinfeng Biological Group in Jinan.

This project is the collaborative effortof the Yinfeng Biological Group, Qilu Hospital Shandong University and consultants fromAlcor Life Extension Foundation, a nonprofit cryonics company based in the United States.

Even with all the faith many have in the procedure, the question remains: how scientifically possible is a project like this? Is this just an experiment to allow us to better understand human biology, orcould cryonics one day become a feasible option?

Cryonics isall about timing.The bodies of the deceased arecryogenically frozenimmediately after the heartstops beating."Freezing" is a bit of a misleading term, because cryonic freezing is actually very specifically trying toavoidice crystal formation - which damages the cells of the body's tissues.

Rapid cooling, rather than freezing, is a more accuratedescription of the process.

A chemical cocktail of preservatives likeglycerol andpropandiol, in addition to antifreeze agents, are commonly used to get the body into a stable state where it won't be decaying, but also won't suffer damage from being stored at low temperatures for, conceivably, a very long time.

From there, the bodiesare given specific care that caters to the idea that death is a continuing process; one that can ultimately be reversed.

The aim of cryonic preservation would be to one day be able to thaw the bodies and reanimate them at a cellular level - preferably without too many epigenetic changes.

"I tend to believe in new and emerging technologies, so I think it will be completely possible to revive her."

With ourcurrent understanding and technology, this process of reversingdeath so completely is just not possible. The closest kind of revival we have are themoments after clinical death where patients are revived by something such as cardiac defibrillation.

Cryonics acts within this critical, albeit brief, period as well- but works within the belief that death is a grey area. More of a processrather than a definite, final, event.

Just because we haven't succeeded in reviving the dead yetdoesn't mean the field of cryonics isunnecessary or unimportant.This case inChina is a step forward for everyone researchingthe field of cryonics- and those of us who hope to benefit from advancements in it.

We may not be able to reverse death just yet,but it doesn't seem outof the realm of possibility to imagine that, withsuch wild scientific advancements underway, technology could one day allow it to be possible.

Whether or not it does in our lifetimes, this most recent development is certainly an interesting one.

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.

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For The First Time Ever, a Woman in China Has Been Cryogenically Frozen - ScienceAlert

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