Death is unfathomable and terrifying. We try to stave it off with vitamins, checkups, and exercise, to diminish the awful permanence with beliefs in afterlives and miracles. For some people, that's not enough. There will be no accepting mortality for believers in cryonics, the process of preserving human bodies at low temperatures with hopes of one day reviving them.
The Atlantic's Rose Eveleth looked at the current state of cryonics surgery, talking with leaders at Alcor Life Extension Foundation. You can pay them $US200,000 to fill your recently-deceased body with antifreeze, with the goal of someday un-filling it, putting blood back in, and carrying on your merry way in the future. Or you can pay $US80,000 for just the brain. So far, 984 people have signed up with Alcor. When your body is (literally) chilling, it will be kept in a refrigerator with four other patients.
"We see it as an extension of emergency medicine," Alcor president and CEO Max More told The Atlantic.
"We're just taking over when today's medicine gives up on a patient. Think of it this way: Fifty years ago if you were walking along the street and someone keeled over in front of you and stopped breathing you would have checked them out and said they were dead and disposed of them. Today we don't do that, instead we do CPR and all kinds of things. People we thought were dead 50 years ago we now know were not. Cryonics is the same thing, we just have to stop them from getting worse and let a more advanced technology in the future fix that problem."
$200,000 is a lot of money, but it's definitely a reasonable money if it means the difference between dying and coming back to life.
There's just one problem, and it's a big one: cryonics has never successfully revived anyone after preservation. It's a new, untested field. There's an extremely good chance your pricy resurrection insurance will amount to nothing.
Also there's also a chance that by the time the medicine exists to bring a person preserved with antifreeze back to life, the world will be so unfamiliar that cryonics patients will basically be Brendan Frasier from Encino Man. And really, what kind of life is that? [The Atlantic]
Image via Alcor Life Extension Foundation