(Disclaimer: This article is in no way related to Vanilla Ice or the beloved 90’s song. It was just cool title that I had decided upon because alas, I am one of those wannabe cool geeks.)
What would you do if you were given the rare chance to extend your life? Would you accept it, or would you deny it? Would you watch the Twilight saga all over again just to see how immortality works? Or would you just be baffled by everything that’s going on?
These were some among the many questions running through my mind as I read about the scientific breakthrough of cryonics.
Cryonics is the science of human preservation at low temperatures. It involves freezing cadavers to extremely low temperatures so as to delay their decay, in hopes that they will be revived in the near future. Although this does sound like science fiction, there is much more modern actual science involved in the process.
The preservation process involves taking a cadaver after it is legally pronounced dead, restoring respiratory function with a resuscitator and/or an artificial lung, and treating the patient with cryoprotectant drugs such as glycerol to minimize damage from the freezing process. The body is submerged in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C, so all physiological, chemical and biological activity is arrested. It is then stored in a cryo chamber filled with liquid nitrogen and many other gases.
This cooling procedure takes approximately 2 to 3 days for whole body patients and 1 day for neuropreservation patients, where only the brain is frozen, because you couldn’t give a damn about the rest of your body and also because you consider yourself pretty smart to be freezing your brain.
The body is until the time has come where advancements in medical science have progressed enough to cure the specimen of its various ailments or bring it back to its full vigor.
However, cryopreservation his hasn’t been easy because this entire process has had its own trials and tribulations.
On one hand, you have enthusiastic go-getters, hipsters, celebrities, wannabe geeks and open minded millennials who are quite amazed and enthralled by this new age innovation. Simon Cowell, Larry King, Britney Spears, Seth McFarlane and Paris Hilton are some of the celebrities who are already interested in freezing and retaining their bodies.
There has been some heavy opposition to this cause as well. Theologists, biologists and certain religious, social and political groups around the world are rallying against it and petitioning to stop it. The real argument is amongst sceptics and evolutionary biologists, who tend to ignore the fact that this technique has been scientifically tested and proven with other animal species but find it hard to accept the possibility of revival of life in humans. It’s just common skepticism, but in a way, it is also a sort of fear. Nobody favors the concept of ‘playing god’.
Currently, cryonics is not a fully developed technique. While it is a scientific proposition which is in practice today, its feasibility in humans can only be examined using theoretical science. The theory may remain to be hypothetical regarding humans but with other organisms such as mice it has been tested and proved. This instills in us, hope for the future. If this technique succeeds, in the future we could abolish diseases, cryogenically freeze damaged organs and regenerate them back to life, and finally stop saying YOLO ‘cause it wouldn’t make sense anymore.
The way I see it, this whole plot is like one bad version of Frozen, where Elsa singlehandedly freezes her victims and tries really hard to bring them back to life but hey, we all know how that story ends.