Freeze a jolly good fel­low

The quest for im­mor­tal­ity goes on.

Alive - - Con­tents - by Elsa Ly­cias Joel

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.

Eval­u­a­tion

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.

Science

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.

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