There's a company in Scottsdale, Arizona, that, for a small fee, will preserve your body after clinical death for decades or even centuries, they say, until a cure is found for whatever killed you. Once that happens, they will "wake" you up, apply the cure and then you can go to a ballgame or to the beach or whatever you want to do with your second life.
This sure sounds like a page out of a science fiction thriller but it's not. It's a real company with real buildings, real employees and a hundred dead people waiting to be "reborn."
According to their website, "banking of transplantable organs at low temperature is a recognized specialty of the science of cryobiology. We apply breakthroughs in organ banking research to the much more difficult problem of preserving whole people. Although cryonics is not reversible today, the eventual perfection of cryonics will be of great value to fields such as medicine and space travel."
You know, like in the science fiction space movies where the astronauts seal themselves in an air-tight capsule that preserves their body as it is for the decadeslong flight to wherever they're going.
They also say that cryonics is justified by three facts that are not well known. That life can be stopped and restarted if its basic structure is preserved. That vitrification (not freezing) can preserve biological structure very well and that methods of repairing structure at the molecular level can now be foreseen.
They will vitrify your head for $80,000 or your entire body for $200,000. They recommend taking out a life insurance policy when you're young for the amount needed and listing their company as the beneficiary. They also recommend you move to a hospital or hospice near their company in Scottsdale when you've been determined terminal so they can implement their process quickly once you're clinically dead.
The idea behind just preserving the head is that your brain is where life really is. As long as the brain still works, they can attach it to a body, any body, and you will continue to function just like you did before you died.
They specifically say there are no guarantees. They THINK this will work but no one knows for sure. In other words, it's theoretically possible but they won't know for certain until science progresses to the point where they can try to do what they think they can do.
Except for the occasional suicide victim, I don't know anyone who wants to die. Everybody wants to keep on living because no matter how strong our faith is in our particular religious philosophy, no one knows for sure what happens after you die. So the promise of everlasting life on earth would be a tremendous temptation I think to those who could afford it. You would die without really dying and when science catches up, you would be brought back to life. The logic is that you could do this over and over until life on earth literally becomes eternal, which they suggest is also possible because of scientific discoveries and advancements.
What they don't talk about on their web site is how different the world will be, even if this process works. People who died 25 years ago wouldn't know how to live in the world today with all the technology we have that didn't exist then. And technology is developing exponentially. Think about how the world is going to be 25 years from now, or 50, or as the company suggests, perhaps even centuries. If there is a day in the future where you truly can be brought back to life again, you will be "born" back into a world you do not know. It will be a world without any of your friends or family. It will be a world of superior knowledge you are deficit in. Because even if it's possible to keep the brain "alive," in a suspended state of animation, the brain won't learn new things until you're conscious once again. What would it be like to have a 2011 brain in the year 2525?
I suspect not very fulfilling. I think not very happy. I think it might even be pretty scary.
But man has always been a dreamer and a pioneer. We've never been satisfied with the status quo and have always looked for better ways of doing things and this is no different. Man has proven he can adjust to anything, regardless of how hopeless it seemed in the beginning.
Maybe we can adjust to this too.