X-Message-Number: 21608
From: "aschwin de wolf" <>
Subject: Freezing your body at death
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:06:28 -0400


Freezing your body at death
by Jim Russell

We have all heard the stories of the family feud over baseball legend Ted
Williams and his reported request to be frozen at the time of his death. He
is now suspended upside down in a vat of liquid nitrogen at the Alcor Life
Extension Foundation in Scottsdale Arizona. 11 other full frozen humans, 37
frozen human heads and a few miscellaneous frozen pets accompany him. If you
would like to spend the next 30 years with Ted, you too can be frozen for 30
years for $120,000. If that's too steep for your budget, they will remove
your head and freeze just it for the bargain price of just $50,000. The
theory is that if they can undo what did you in, they probably can build you
a new body or find you a donor body.

Once you pay your dues and sign up, you will be issued a silver medical
bracelet with Alcor's toll free number to call if you are found dead.
Obviously, time is of the essence and Alcor hopes that circumstances allow
them to be at your bedside when you die in a hospital environment. The first
thing they do is pump all of your blood out and replace it with anti-freeze
(called cryoprotectant). Next they drill a hole in your head to reduce the
size of your brain. Your body is now frozen to 390 degrees below zero,
placed in a pod and lowered headfirst into a tank.

Your contract specifies that, in the event of an accidental thaw, Alcor can
remove your head and dispose of your thawed body. Every effort to keep your
head frozen will be made. Things can happen. The founder of the Cryonics
Society, Robert Nelson began freezing people in 1966. In what became known
as the "Chatsworth Incident", Nelson went broke and allowed his clients to
thaw in their underground crypt in Chatsworth, California. Police
investigations and lawsuits followed. Alcor has had to battle this bad
publicity for years.

Can it work? Even the people at Alcor are realistic about the prospect.
Michael Sherman, PhD wrote an article for Scientific American. He equated
your brain on cryonics to mushy, thawed strawberries. "Even if they find a
way to repair the cellular damage, no one has any clue how to restart the
motor." There are many different layers of cells in a human body and
freezing them all at the same time and at the same rate is impossible. Many
believe the damage caused by the freezing may prove impossible to repair.

The idea is intriguing though, isn't it? I am surprised that drowning
victims pulled from the bottom of frozen ponds after 45 minutes can be
revived. Frozen embryos are thawed successfully after years of storage.
Still, I think it will take the power of a higher being to make Ted Williams
and his 48 friends in Scottsdale go a few extra innings.

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