Cryonics comes from the Greek word o kryos which means cold. It is the process of freezing and storing human remains at low temperatures hoping that resurrection will be possible in the future. But do you know how many people have already preserved their bodies cryogenically?
As of 2014, 250 corpses had been cryogenically preserved in the United States. Approximately 1,500 people had signed up to preserve their remains. By 2016, four facilities had cryopreserved bodies: three in the United States and one in Russia.
Will Cryogenically Frozen Bodies Ever Be Resurrected?
One characteristic that distinguishes us as humans is our awareness of our mortality. For nearly as long as we’ve known that we’ll die, we’ve wondered about the possibility of resurrecting. Many religions and myths contain stories about resurrection and immortality. In recent years, many of these stories have revolved around cryonic preservation: freezing a body and then reanimating it in the future.
For most cryonicists, there are two things you’ll find. We are sci-fi lovers, obviously. We’re also optimists. 100% not possible today, we’re not at the zenith of all of our knowledge right now, and we certainly have more to learn and discover in the future.Dennis Kowalski, President of the Cryonics Institute
Cryonics aims to keep bodies in a stable, preserved state until the necessary medical technology arrives, based on the premise that science will someday find solutions to irreparable biological damage by today’s standards.
Even its most ardent supporters admit that cryonics isn’t sure; Kowalski describes it as an ambulance ride to a future hospital that may or may not exist. But he sees the field as a sort of Pascal’s wager, we’re all going to die, so if there’s even a remote chance of extending life through cryonics, there’s nothing to lose and potentially a second life to gain. (Source: Discover Magazine)
What is the Cryonic Process?
When someone who has made arrangements to have their remains cryonically-preserved is declared dead, a medical team cools the body with ice water and uses CPR and oxygen masks to keep its tissues oxygenated. The body is placed in a hermetically sealed container and flown to a cryonics facility. Freezing a cadaver is cryonics, not cryogenics; cryogenics is the science and engineering of super-low temperatures.
The body is placed on a machine that functions similarly to a heart-lung bypass machine at the cryonics facility, circulating blood and maintaining oxygenation. To minimize structural damage, they pump in a vitrification solution that works like antifreeze to keep the body’s tissues from turning to ice crystals. The body is slowly cooled to -320 °F in a liquid nitrogen vapor chamber. When the body is sufficiently chilled, it is transferred to a liquid nitrogen tank resembling a Thermos, which will remain for the foreseeable future. The bodies will be kept in these tanks until medical technology can hopefully revive them.
According to Kowalski, this future technology will face three challenges: it will need to repair the damage caused by freezing, cure whatever ailment initially killed the subject, and reverse the aging process so that the issue has a young, healthy body to enjoy in their second go-round. Kowalski’s best guess is tissue engineering and molecular nanotechnology capable of repairing and replacing damaged tissues. (Source: Discover Magazine)