Demand Heats Up For Putting Yourself In Deep Freeze
Australia’s first cryonic suspension facility has begun construction. Cool!
Want to live forever? I’m sorry, that’s impossible.
At least, it’s impossible at the moment. But what about in the far future, when all disease is eradicated, the aging process has been stopped, and the tedium of infinity has been completely eliminated?
That’s the appeal of cryonics, aka freezing yourself after you die to be brought back to life in the future thanks to technology that has not yet and may never be invented but hey it’s worth a try right what else am I going to do with all my money you can’t take it with you.
(Note that although the term “cryogenics” is often used interchangeably with “cryonics”, “cryogenics” actually refers to the study of very low temperatures and how materials behave in those conditions – not necessarily to freezing tissue for future reanimation. Hope that clears up any confusion.)
Unfortunately, Australians wanting to store their frozen bodies have had to ship them overseas to the US or Russia. But if you were hoping to stay cool locally, you’ll soon be able to take those plans off ice.
This month groundwork began on building the first cryonics storage facility in the southern hemisphere, in the southern NSW town of Holbrook.
The 27 founding members of Southern Cryonics have each contributed $50,000 to build the facility, and for their early adoption, they all get cryonically suspended for free.
But it’s a short-term offer – if you sign up for the big freeze after March 31 this year, you’ll be paying $150,000. And with only 40 spots in the facility, you should act now if you don’t want to be given the cold shoulder.
"People might laugh, but someone had to be a pioneer," 78-year-old founding member Ron Fielding told the ABC.
"They always laughed at people when they're going to do something [new], but I feel this is the start of another exploration.
"The way science and that are today, just ask yourself, 'why should you die?'"
Of course, you do have to be legally declared dead before the cryonics process begins. So perhaps the more pertinent question is ‘why should you begin the process of decomposition?’
Southern Cryonics chairman Peter Tsolakides described the company’s clients as “optimists”.
“We have the technology for the suspension part,” Mr Tsolakides said.
"Where the technology does not exist, very clearly, is technology and science of the future, and that is to bring people back."
So that means it’s not enough to put your head in the microwave on defrost setting.
In fact, the process of freezing the body may well cause irreparable damage to the body.
After death, the body is stabilised and slowly cooled to help preserve the brain, before being wrapped in ice and injected with an anticoagulant to stop blood clotting.
Water is then removed from the body’s cells and replaced with a glycerol-based chemical.
The body is then cooled to around minus 130 degrees Celsius before being placed upside-down in a vacuum-sealed, liquid nitrogen-filled tank, at around minus 200 degrees.
So if the body is ever able to be revived, in hundreds of years, who knows what state it will be in.
And will you be able to cope with the climate if, after several hundred years of global warming, you’re revived on a scorched Earth? You may decide you’d be better off staying in the tank.
Of course there’s the cheaper option of just freezing your head. Plus there’s the possible chance that you get your choice of robo-body after the thaw.
But if you can’t stay fresh, it’s good to know that there’s an option get yourself snap-frozen for as long as people decide it’s worth paying the power bill for.
See you in the future, peepsicles!