Tech

Why the sci-fi dream of cryonics never dies


The environment was something of a change for Drake, who had spent the previous seven years as the Alcor Life Extension Foundation’s medical response director. Despite being a longtime leader in electronics, Alcor is still a small nonprofit. It has been freezing members’ bodies and brains, with the idea of ​​one day bringing them back to life, since 1976.

The platform, and cryonics in general, has long existed outside of mainstream acceptance. Often shunned by the scientific community, cryonics is best known for its appearances in science fiction films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. But its pursuers have embraced the dream that at some point in the future, advances in medicine will allow resuscitation and many more years on Earth. Over the decades, amazing, small developments in the technology involved, as well as famous frozen test subjects like Ted Williams, have kept hope alive. Today, nearly 200 deceased patients are frozen in Alcor’s cryogenic chambers at -196°C, including several celebrities who have paid tens of thousands of dollars for the “maybe possible” goal. revival” and finally “social reintegration”.

But Yinfeng’s recent involvement heralds a new era for electronics. With impressive financial resources, government support, and scientific staff, it is one of the few new labs focused on expanding the consumer appeal of cryonics and attempt to renew to give credence to the theory of reincarnation of human existence. Just a year after Drake became research director of Shandong Yinfeng Life Sciences Research Institute, a subsidiary of Yinfeng Biological Group that oversees the cryonics program, the institute implemented its first cryopreservation. Its storage bins currently hold about a dozen customers who are paying up to $200,000 to preserve whole bodies.

However, the field is still rooted in belief rather than any actual evidence that it works. Clive Coen, a neuroscientist and professor at King’s College London, said: ‘It’s a hopeless aspiration that reveals the appalling ignorance of biology.

Even if one day you could perfectly thaw a frozen human body, you’d still only have a warm corpse in your arms..

Cryonics typically goes like this: After a person dies, a response team begins the process of cooling the body to a low temperature and performing cardiopulmonary support to maintain blood flow to the brain and organs. organ. The body is then transferred to a cold facility, where organ preservation solution is pumped through veins before the body is submerged in liquid nitrogen. This process will begin within an hour of death – the longer the wait, the greater the damage to the body’s cells. Then, once the frozen corpse is stored in the freezer, the dead man’s hope begins.

Since its inception in the late 1960s, the field has attracted opprobrium from the scientific community, especially its more venerable cryology – the study of how freezing and low temperatures work. affect living organisms and biological materials. The Cryptographic Society even banned its members from entering the field of cryptography in the 1980s, with one former president of the society criticizing the field for being closer to “fraud than faith or science.” learn”.

In recent years, however, it has attracted the attention of a liberal techno-optimistic crowd, most of which are tech moguls dreaming of their own immortality. And a number of new startups are expanding the playing field. For instance, Tomorrow Biostasis in Berlin became the first cryonics company in Western Europe in 2019, and in early 2022, Southern Cryonics opened a facility in Australia.

Tomorrow Biostasis founder, Emil Kendziorra, said: “Many researchers are open to future, longer-term topics than they were 20 years ago or so.

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