Throughout history, people have tried to find ways to cheat death, but lately, it’s a topic that seems to be on the minds of many of Silicon Valley’s super-rich.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel are some of the tech elite who have invested millions of dollars in trying to figure out how to extend their lives.
Cryonics is a process that many people believe could help extend human life. It involves deep-freezing human remains after a person dies in the hopes that one day that person could be revived in the future.
No one has ever been resuscitated from cryonic suspension, and there is currently no technology to revive someone who is kept in a frozen chamber.
Many people think cryonic preservation involves simply freezing a person’s body, but the process is more complicated than that.
According to Dennis Kowalski, the president of the Cryonics Institute, the deep-freezing process is done in a couple of steps.
Preservation begins after a person is declared legally dead. According to Kowalski, the sooner the process begins, the better the chance of preserving the body.
First, the body is given blood thinners to prevent clotting and an antacid for stomach acids. At Cryonics Institute, a cryonics specialist, whom they call a “funeral director,” performs most of the procedures.
Then, the goal is to remove as much heat from the body as possible in order to preserve it. Kowalski said the specialist will attach an automatic CPR device to the body to keep blood flowing, and then it is placed in an ice bath to cool down.
In the early days of cryonics, bodies were placed into a “straight freeze,” meaning they were simply frozen after death. However, that may cause internal damage due to ice crystal formation.
Today, when a body arrives at a cryonics facility, it is removed from the ice bath to undergo a process called “vitrification,” meaning bodies are pumped full of an “anti-freeze solution” that was inspired by the way some animals hibernate in extremely cold temperatures, according to Kowalski.
The next step is to place the body into a large box that slowly cools it from the ice-water temperature down to the temperature of liquid nitrogen, which is -196°C (or -320°F.) Preserving the body at such a cold temperature “locks everything in a steady state,” according to Kowalski.
Finally, after the process is complete, the freezing-cold body is stored in a chamber that Kowalski compared to a “giant thermos bottle.”
The bodies are stored upside down, and additional liquid nitrogen is added to the chambers periodically to ensure they are continuously full.
Kowalski said that people who sign up for cryonics tend to be optimistic about the future of scientific innovation. Many are lovers of science fiction.
Cryonics Institute charges a $28,000 members fee for the process and storage of bodies after members die, and the fee can be arranged through a life insurance policy.
Alcor Life Extension Foundation, another US-based cryonics company, charges $200,000 for full-body storage, and $80,000 for storage of a person’s brain alone, according to Reuters.
Dr. Max More, the former CEO of Alcor, once said he plans only to store his brain, calling his body “replaceable.
Source: The Daily Mail