Freeze a jolly good fellow
The quest for immortality goes on.
The human quest to ‘live forever’ only intensifies. The enigma of life and death gave way to many different scriptures that convince humankind of the purpose of life and promise of the same even after death. Inclination towards any faith and religion is to search for hope beyond death. Research and development on the use of a modified type of RNA to efficiently increase the length of human telomeres is about turning the internal clock. Compounds from all over the world that are believed to postpone death or slow down ageing are given the go ahead for human trials too, thereby ushering in a new era of Geroscience. To ward off, other medical conditions the underlying mechanism called ageing needs appropriate handling. Everyone seems to have the stomach for it because it’s about longevity if not immortality. Now that life expectancy is half achieved, finding the route to immortality is the in thing.
After the accomplishment of the human genome project followed by the emergence of stem cell therapy hoping a cure for all ills which also meant longevity, the idea of physical immortality began taking a good shape with
karma and rebirth being relegated to the backseat willfully. Progenitor of this idea of immortality are many. Myths, legends, scriptures and fictions project immortality as a blessing or curse or accident. Whatever are the stories and however immortality is achieved, a craving for eternal life remained at least since the beginning of recorded history. Movies aren’t an exception. Every movie on immortality has a different tone, influencing people’s perspectives on transhumanism. Just watch Anaconda: The hunt for the blood orchid and The age of Adaline, and you will find yourself striving hard to find the golden mean.
The fact behind the mummification of bodies by ancient Egyptians was to
Doctors haven’t mastered the art of reanimating a frozen corpse because they lack the knowledge. But once they start doing it, they might acquire some knowledge to master it. A layman’s doubt is how long a legally dead cryostat can live again if only that cure for his or her disease is found and animated.
aid the soul to return to the body and give it breath and life. Egyptian ceremonies that were done with a strong belief to restore all five senses to the deceased one dates back to the Pyramid Age. Christians find hope in their scriptures that promise resurrection of the dead and that they need not envision a wispy eternity where they will exist as souls forever.
Weighing MacDougall’s investigations against Iain McGilChrist’s arguments didn’t seem significant after the landmark ruling of Mr Justice Peter Jackson, first of its kind for cryogenics. Though the first person recorded to be cryogenically frozen was a 73-year-old psychologist, Dr James Bedford, who was suspended in 1967, it is believed that animation legend Walt Disney was suspended in a frozen state in 1966 and buried deep beneath the Pirates of the
Caribbean ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, awaiting the day when medical technology would be advanced enough to reanimate the animator.
Cryptofreezing or cryonics being the only hope for eternity, there are now nearly 300 cryogenically frozen individuals in the US, another 50 in Russia and many thousands signed up. True to the term, it’s a cold procedure. If cryogenic freezing can be done only after a person is declared legally dead, is the entire process and money involved worth it! Cooling the body in an ice bath, draining it of all blood to be replaced with an anti-freeze fluid and packing it in ice to be transferred to one of the three facilities where it will rest in an arctic cool bag to 110C over several hours after which it is frozen at 196C sounds tolerable but an indefinite wait at the “Patient care bay” looks like the wait for ‘The second coming'.
Doctors haven’t mastered the art of reanimating a frozen corpse because they lack the knowledge. But once they start doing it, they might acquire some knowledge to master it. A layman’s doubt is how long a legally dead cryostat can live again if only that cure for his or her disease is found and animated. Successful experiments on cryopreserved cell lines and microbes are true because the subject never died. Today’s medical criteria for “death” are incomprehensible to the layman. We haven’t forgotten that Spanish prisoner Gonzalo Montoya who woke up in the mortuary just before Autopsy, have we? Declared dead by three doctors who later had another term to justify their pronouncement, people deliberated on the right word to explain the occurrence, miracle or medical mystery.
What about the coroners in Mississippi who were surprised when a 78-yearold man began kicking against the sides of his own body bag? Another tale of a 91-year-old Polish woman waking up in a morgue, complaining of being cold and asking for hot tea to an undertaker gave people goosebumps. Legally dead but really alive! So, the point is not all patients in a cryogenic facility may be animated but few stand a chance.
From vaccines to medical equipment, research and advancements in science and medicine is all about increasing life expectancy and cryogenics has just gone an extra mile though the answer to their hope is not even on the horizon.
Idea of eternity
Looks like euthanasia will lose its appeal in affluent societies all over the world once this hype is realised. Hope the idea of eternity becomes contagious. How many more companies of the likes of Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona, the Cryonics Institute in Michigan and KrioRus, Russia will mushroom is anybody’s guess. The fact that cryogenic freezing would kill a living person, the reason behind preserving the ‘clinically dead’ sows seeds of doubt about if eternal life can be found in a cryogenic storage. As of today only a handful opt for this totally unproved long-odds
A miracle is different from research and development that leads to medical advancements. Still, cryptofreezing means different things to different people. Hopeful handfuls consider this as another sci-fi becoming real. Skeptics consider cryonics as a service that cannot be demonstrated to work being sold. Exceptional optimists imagine that whatever killed a person will somehow disappear and thus go on to believe cryostats will definitely rise again and walk the earth.
eternity, but in due course of time cemetery overcrowding may give way to cryogenic overcrowding if people try to believe in a miracle technology that might freeze or unfreeze a body without destroying it. For the impoverished lot who can’t afford such tremendous expense of cryogenics in light of the many other basic needs such as food, water, shelter and clothing, an ultimate restoration with god is the only hope. Erasing the fine line between fiction and reality is happening at an alarming pace, for good, bad or worst. Humans equip themselves with factual and scriptural support as we live out fictions. If a whole body is animated, call it ‘resurrection’ or if Dr Sergio Canavero succeeds just call it reincarnation.
A miracle is different from research and development that leads to medical advancements.
Still, cryptofreezing means different things to different people. Hopeful handfuls consider this as another scifi becoming real. Skeptics consider cryonics as a service that cannot be demonstrated to work being sold. Exceptional optimists imagine that whatever killed a person will somehow disappear and thus go on to believe cryostats will definitely rise again and walk the earth. There is nothing absurd about how Pantelis Tsolakidis argues in favour of this medicine-technology combo. Yes, ‘reasonable probability’ of coming back to life definitely sounds better than ‘no probability’. By the way, Pantelis happens to be the founder and director of Cryonics Storage Company, Australia. Somehow, reading, re-reading and trying to comprehend articles, research data and anything on cryonics force us mortals to find it fascinating.
For now, all we know is cryonics and cryostats exist because this very concept caters to our primal fear of death and desire for immortality and also because science has conquered quite a few impossibilities.
As I end this, I wonder why the King of Pop didn’t toy with this idea. I wonder, because the void he left seems to remain forever.
Every movie on immortalityhas a different tone.
Inclination towards any faith and religion is to search forhope beyond death.
The mummification of bodies by ancient Egyptians was to aid the soul to return to the body.