X-Message-Number: 13572
Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 16:46:31 +0400
From: Mikhail Soloviev <>
Subject: May You Freeze in Peace

[This message is an electronic version of the article 
first published in The Moscow Times Business Review, Jan. 2000,
then reprinted in The Immortalist, Jan.-Feb. 2000. 
Posted with permission. -- M.S.]

May You Freeze in Peace 

Despite skepticism and funding difficulties, researchers here 
are working on the development of cryonics services. 

by Florence Gallez 

Where will you go when your turn comes? To be buried in 
the earth's embrace? Finely ground to a powder in an ornate 
um? Or... frozen to -197 degrees Celsius in a giant liquid 
nitrogen-filled Thermos flask, in the hope of being 
resurrected to a new youthful and exciting life when medical 
advances allow it? 

Cryonics, a technique that cools down a deceased person's 
body temperature to the point where physical decay stops, is 
based on the belief that medicine will find cures to diseases 
and aging that will restore health and herald an open-ended 
life span. 

Life-suspension services appeared in the early 1960s, but are 
available only in the United States. However, they may well 
become an option for Russians in the next couple of decades 
thanks to a tiny group of Russian scientists. 

Igor Artyuhov, a medical cybernetics researcher at the 
President's Medical Center in Moscow, is convinced 
Russians will fall for the Big Freeze when economic 
conditions improve. 

"We are ready. We know the methods, the equipment is not 
a problem, it's quite cheap, compared to the United States, 
and we have highly qualified scientists. In theory, we are at 
the level of the United States. But it all depends on 
investment. In Russia right now, it's not possible to raise 
funds. If we had investors, it could happen in one year, even 
less," he said. 

Artyuhov's independent research in cryonics, which he calls 
"his hobby," focuses on the cryonic suspension of human 
organs, a procedure that could reduce the waiting lists for 
transplants, he said. 

"Take the heart of a corpse, freeze it for 100 years, then 
revive it and transplant it," he explained. Simple. However, 
he said it is not possible to complete these experiments for 
lack of funds. An appearance by Artyuhov on Russian 
television channel ORT has not helped attract investors, and 
neither has his contacting business representatives. 

Public ignorance and skepticism are another hurdle. Most 
people know little of cryonics outside of what they have seen 
in science-fiction movies. And the cryobiologist Arthur 
Rowe, who said that "believing cryonics could reanimate 
somebody who has been frozen is like believing you can turn 
hamburger back into a cow," has many followers. Artyuhov 
rejects Rowe's analogy as invalid. "Some vertebrates can 
survive freezing, but no vertebrates can survive grinding," he 

U.S. companies offering cryonics services do raise the issue 
of resuscitating patients. While on the whole their tone is 
optimistic and reassuring, they also state the facts: In short, 
the reviving part of cryonics has never been performed 
successfully on a person, human organ, or even on mice. So 
it has never been proved that it can work. Current medical 
technology cannot reverse the cellular damage caused by 
death, on which revival depends. According to experts at the 
Alcor Life Extension Foundation, it is still impossible to 
predict when cell repair capabilities will be developed. 

However, experts say there are good reasons to believe that 
medicine will eventually be able to perform cell repair. 
First, because of past breakthroughs, which were previously 
deemed impossible (cloning, for example). Then, as 
Artyuhov said, it is already possible to freeze and revive a 
few millimeters of human and animal tissue, and he said 
insects had already been successfully cryonized. Medical 
centers and sperm banks routinely freeze and revive, 
respectively, embryos and semen. 

The most credible possibilities are in the fields of cloning
and nanotechnology, a science that seeks to build 
microminiaturized "machines" that will be injected into the 
body and programmed to repair cellular damage and other 
diseases. Research in these areas is in full swing and already 
giving results. Interest in them is high, and so funding 

U.S. cryonics companies stress that they take extra care to 
ensure that they will still be in business when the time comes 
for revival. The Cryonics Institute's web page says: "We have 
a unique, proven track record of financial security and 

However, their contract procedure page includes: "Much of 
the agreement is devoted to disclaimers, limitations of 
liability, and statements that the member's estate and 
relatives will have little or no recourse if CI or its employees 
make mistakes, even through negligence. The reason is 
obvious. If we leave our organization open to a lawsuit on 
any basis whatsoever, it would not merely put our assets at 
risk, but also the lives of every patient and member. We 
simply can't take that risk." 

Fees at American cryonics centers average $30,000 to 
$150,000, depending on the procedures, infrastructure and 
whether the whole body, the head or just the brains are 
cryonized. According to the Cryonics Institute, there are no 
further charges, and "the bulk of the money is invested, and 
the return on the investment pays for ongoing care for as 
long as necessary." 

The procedure, which involves replacing the deceased's 
blood and body water with a cooling solution and agents 
that will prevent biological deterioration (cryoprotection), 
can be performed with minimal equipment widely available 
in Russia. 

"Cryonics services in Russia could be more effective than in 
the U.S.," Artyuhov said. "For a start, they would be 

Liquefied nitrogen, the gaseous element in which the patient 
is placed, is already cheap and common in the West. In 
Russia, though, it costs mere kopecks, and is widely 
produced throughout the country. For instance, both the 
Kislorodnyi factory in Balashikha in the Moscow region and 
the nearby NPO Cryogenwash enterprise produce cheap 
liquid gases and machinery used for cryonics. 

Russia's vast resources of highly qualified scientists could 
also make cryonics a cheap commodity. However, although 
there are about 100 individuals interested in cryonics in 
Russia, nobody is actively practicing it. Out of those 100, 
only 20 are exchanging information and hoping to introduce 
services in the country. A couple of them are in Moscow. 

These cryo-fans are in contact with organizations in the 
United States, such as the Arizona-based Alcor Life 
Extension Foundation and the Cryonics Institute in 
Michigan. Some have gone a step further. Yury Pichugin, a 
cryobiologist from Kharkov, Ukraine, left last January for 
the University of California at Los Angeles. 

But it is from those small ranks that bold ideas have sprung. 
Such are those of Mikhail Soloviev, a computer 
gerontologist at the N. N. Petrov Research Institute of 
Oncology in St. Petersburg, who has been interested in 
ageing since childhood. 

In his Laboratory of Cancerogenesis and Ageing, he has 
designed "Cryofarm," a project to realize inexpensive 
cryonics services in Russia. It goes as follows: In an isolated 
area in the country, set up a farm in which you build burial 
facilities for cryonics patients and gather longevity 
enthusiasts. Then, make them tend the patients and run the 
farm as a self-sustaining entity, i.e. an agricultural commune 
of sorts. 

Such a system would bring the costs down to $1,000 to 
$2,000 per person if 25 to 50 people enroll, according to 
Soloviev. These are estimates for the keeping of brains or the 
whole body, depending on the program's success. He 
estimated the costs for running the facility at $20,000 to 
$50,000, stressing that it depends on the actual conditions. 
But having both the staff and "patients" in one location 
guarantees low costs. 

"If things go right, it will happen in 10 years. In 20 years,
it's even more likely. But if we had just one really interested 
person who would invest, we could start in one year and a 
half," he said. 

The program also depends on the creation of a shareholder 
investment fund which would receive investments from 
private individuals and organizations. 

"Whether it will be through Cryofarm or something else, it's 
hard to say at this time, but it will happen," he said. 

So, Soloviev is ready, with a web site and all 

But what will happen to your dusha, or soul, in all this? Will 
it be reanimated too? According to Soloviev, we may rest in 
peace. "On the religious level, I don't see a reason that would 
prevent the 'return' of the souls," he said. "And moreover, it's 
only God and nobody else, who can reap them." 

So, where will you go?...

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