Questionable future of cryonics



17.12.03, the


Selected academic science the way to immortality by eliminating the causes of aging, not all satisfied. And really — when more science learns to confront death. Not the fact that I — as a person, which does not care about the interests of evolution, and which does not want to die — live to see the day of light. What to do?

Proponents of cryonics believe that they have the answer to this question. It is necessary to freeze his body after death, and patiently wait for the white descendants who carefully thawed body, revive it and will cure all ills. The most consistent opponents of cryonics believe that freezing the bodies after death, if the project is not fraudulent, then mad.

Usually the history of cryonics lead with Robert Ettinger's book, written in 1962 (in 2003 there was a Russian translation). In the "Perspectives of immortality," a graduate in physics gave a detailed account of why the body can be frozen, trying to assess the chances of success defrosting and talked about the psychological problems that may arise from the thawed in the distant future.

Ettinger can be considered precursors of science fiction, which in the 30's. last century pounced on the topic of suspended animation, as prospectors to the Klondike gold fields, and cryobiologists. Ettinger himself makes no secret of his interest in cryonics was called Neil Jones story "Jameson Satellite," published in the magazine Amazing Stories in July 1931. However Ettinger, to collate data and built a fairly coherent theory, the facade of which the port is only the inability of modern science to restore frozen organisms.

Because the book is clearly intended for the general reader, and the problems that are described in it are relevant for any length of time, the society has started an active debate. After four years in the cryo chamber was placed the first man — 73-year-old psychology professor James Bedford, for which cryostasis become the last hope to get rid of cancer. Robert Ettinger was still freezing was not engaged — his first patient went into cryo chamber ten years later. It was his mother. A year later, in anticipation of another world's first wife was frozen Ettinger. And three years ago, and it was followed by a second wife, "the father of cryonics." Himself the "father" is alive and well, even though there is already a very advanced age — he was 84.


"Serious science" critical of cryonics, from the very beginning of its existence. The reason — a healthy snobbery (wow, has come a physicist and began to teach his death) and a lot of weaknesses in the arguments cryonicists. Here is the standard quote that can be heard from Cryobiology: "the concept of cryonics has nothing to do with science. Fact that, in cryonics have some technical basis, equipment, liquid nitrogen, etc., does not make it science. To make this work , you need to solve three tasks: to make of the frozen corpse of a living person, to cure him of a disease or injury that resulted in death, and to remove the extensive damage caused to cells during freezing. And save a person. And we can not stop the degradation of the old man's personality, even in the living "(David Pegg, Cryobiology).

Proponents of cryonics claim that in 1982 cryobiological Society (cryobiologists and for the most part a very negative attitude to "the monster", which themselves have generated) decided that any Cryobiology engaged in cryonics or promotes the idea of freezing the human body, will be excluded from Society members. However, even if this is true, cryonics advocates often do not behave in the best way — access to the inner sanctum of cryonics company Alcor for a journalist is worth $ 2,000. And most importantly, the journalist signs a paper, according to which he is obliged to negotiate with the publication of the company all the materials.

Are frozen corpses (freeze living people is illegal in most countries). The body in the process of freeze damaged, and this problem has not been solved nor Ettinger, nor his chief rival — Alcor. Now based Oettinger Cryonics Institute (however, despite the name is more of a company to freeze, although scientific work here too is) running a former citizen of the USSR Yuri Pichugin, trying to develop a process of vitrification, in which the damage done to the body at the cellular level, or disappear altogether or will be minimal. This is achieved by cryoprotectants that prevent the water contained in the human body, freeze and turn to ice. The company Alcor now vitrification patients, but even the Alcor says vitrification only works when freezing of the brain — a vitreous body entirely in the company can not yet.

The bodies are kept at the temperature of liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees Celsius). It is caused primarily by economic considerations — Liquid nitrogen is one of the cheapest "source" of low temperature.

And it turns out that cryonics company receives the dead body, further destroying it in the process of freezing and stores to better times. According to the "cheap tariff plan" does not freeze the whole body, but only the brain. Common sense dictates that the likelihood of successful resuscitation in this situation is not very much.

In this case, nothing intelligible about how the resurrection Cryonicists can not say — modern science does not know how to defrost warm-blooded organisms after a long freeze. Therefore, the book Ettinger, teeming with traffic "as we learn …" and "if our descendants will be able to …", could hardly appeal to people who prefer the precise definitions and scientific research on well-defined trajectory. From this perspective, labor Ettinger definitely not scientific.

Bad image of cryonics provided and kriotsentry that appeared on the wave of interest in the science. Some of them tried to convince customers that the frozen body only need a couple of decades, driven by optimism of the 1960s (in our country, if you remember, outlined the building of communism in the early eighties). Of the rise and pricing, as each year the heirs had to unfasten kriotsentru a certain amount to their bodies active ancestors were safe and sound. Over time, it became clear that this model does not work — payments gradually became less and less, and eventually most kriotsentrov bankrupt. According to one source, most of the customers were thawed and buried the usual way, only the legendary Bedford was transported to the repository Alcor. On the other, on the contrary, almost all of the patients were transferred to the operating kriotsentry. In any case, today cryostasis is little more than a hundred people. And about a thousand waiting for their turn.

The cost of freezing vary from 28 thousand in the Cryonics Institute to 120 thousand dollars in Alcor. The cost difference is caused by the difference in production methods and the fact that virtually all the trouble Alcor after the first death of a patient takes — anywhere in the world comes tow team that takes the patient and prepares him for "transition." Based on the fact that the one-time payments for freezing are quite large, the two companies are practicing "fuzzy payments" — future patients pay for their immortality gradually, as with life insurance.

C beginning of cryonics advocates realized that the best way to draw public attention to the Cryonics is a tug on his side of famous people. Friendly remarks about celebrities cryonics repeatedly cited and wander from one article to another. Rumors that one of the centers are waiting for the resurrection of the body of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. Eventually, the fascination with celebrities cryonics has played a cruel joke. Today, Alcor is involved in a scandal that cryonics is not known since the time of its introduction.

Ted Williams for the American baseball — about the same as Lev Yashin for the Soviet football. The man is a legend. And, of course, the fact that the head of Ted Williams waits for better times in the vault of Alcor, could not cause a new surge of public interest in cryonics.

Williams died July 5, 2002, and within ten days of the scandal first erupted. Many of those who knew Ted personally, claimed that he had never intended to go into cryostasis, and the whole idea with Alcor — the handiwork of John Henry Williams, Ted's son from his first marriage. John Henry ran the family business since then, when Ted was too old to control everything yourself. To this day, nobody knows what Ted had when he signed an agreement with Alcor, but one thing is certain — he signed it. Wiggery still going on, but the fact of the authenticity of a piece of paper with the signature Williams has not yet been challenged. And the hype around Williams Alcor was just at hand, while the company has not left one of the top managers, Larry Johnson.

In August 2003, Sports Illustrated appeared sensational article "What's wrong with Ted?". If you believe the magazine, John Henry struck up with payments Alcor, and the company even joked that it would be nice to sell the body of the senior Williams on eBay or send it in a parcel to John Henry at home. But the most unpleasant that by July 2003 the head of Ted was in a poor state, even by the standards of kriotsentra. During vitrification, says Larry, Ted's skull is cracked in at least ten locations. Of course, no one told relatives and words.

The worst advertising and can not be present. The prospect of immortality achieved by freezing the body after death or brain, and so causes a lot of questions, and now it turns out that kriotsentry simply fooling customers, not caring about the safety of their bodies. Alcor immediately accused Johnson of embezzlement of property of the company, Johnson was not in debt and said that Alcor has unleashed a campaign against him and Larry procedure feared for his life — suddenly fanatics decide that without Larry the future of cryonics will be more serene (see www.freeted. com). The conflict is in full swing and say who is wrong — supposedly self-serving manager or employees kriotsentra allegedly fooled by the customers for decades — now impossible. Alcor any comments on the topic of Ted Williams and Larry Johnson does not. In fact, Alcor has never officially acknowledged that keeps the body of Ted (such information is confidential, and kriotsentry usually get off with generalities about their customers).

Cryonics and Religion

In the "Perspectives of immortality," Ettinger has devoted an entire chapter to the relationship of cryonics and religion. Generally speaking, the efforts that have made Cryonicists for reconciliation with the major religions, it would be enough to move the earth, finding a suitable lever. But all to no avail — the very essence of cryonics, the idea of achieving physical immortality is so contrary to the basic principles of any religion, that if the arguments of cryonics and able to convince someone that just confirmed atheists.
On the other hand, the cryonics very different from religion? Like most religions, it promises eternal life to his followers. As in most religions, the basic provisions of cryonics is proposed to take on faith: you have to believe that our descendants will unfreeze the body, eliminate the damage caused by the internal organs during freezing, revive, etc. and can be saved, of course, only those who have believed. The rest is waiting for oblivion.

As already stated, no reason to believe that patients will be able to revive the frozen unavailable. Maybe in time they will, but at the moment all the arguments of supporters of cryonics is different from the stories in Amazing Stories only in the absence of the plot. In this sense, attempts to assess the chances of a resurrection like the speculation of Ray Kurzweil, who in one of his books, talked at length about transferring human consciousness into a computer (mind uploading), that — whether it's feasible — brings us closer to immortality is not less than the freezing of the body. It is noteworthy that those who seized the idea of mind uploading, enjoyed discussing how to feel the soul, broken into bits and bytes, will not have a conflict of identity, if I switch the machine consciousness of a living person, would not mind killing dubbing, etc. etc. In short, anything other than the technical details of the process that would make it possible to transfer. Because it is meaningless to discuss the technical process. It yet. And no one can name at least the approximate dates the emergence of such technology.

In the same series magic word "nanotechnology". For this we have to thank Eric Drexler, who wrote "Machines of Creation" in 1986. Drexler and his friends did a great job to promote nanotechnology, but when it comes to real-world applications, is much more appropriate to start from the real achievements. Could anyone even in the early 1980s to imagine the Internet in its current form? Therefore, when supporters of cryonics (and transhumanists in general) begin to rant about that in the future there will be nanomachines that can repair the human body "on the fly", thus increasing the average life expectancy of up to 1100 years, we must understand that the predictions of your neighbor, this forecast is different only the saturation of the terms.

In addition, if we talk about the medical applications of nanotechnology is here to serve as a tool. And even if there were nanobots that can repair damaged cells, the use of them will be a little while scientists do not understand what's going on in the cell and why.


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