Saccharine Irony

This site is a compilation of fluid thoughts, a collection of poetry, random glimpses of humor and tragedy, spontaneous notions of an extremely sensitive mind.

Cryonics – Death as an option November 16, 2007

Filed under: Mortality stuff — Aimee @ 1:34 pm

This is creepy news, but in the western world there are people who do not bury their dead, but preserve them in chemicals within minutes from the onset of death, so that they can resuscitate them in the future, when nanotechnology and molecular biology are already possible. Or simply put, when science finally allows us to grow back body parts we have lost through disease, or death. This process/scientific breakthrough/futuristic fiction stuff of rising from the dead is called cryonics.

But is cryonics really a viable scientific breakthrough? Can death (clinical, legal, brain, information-theoretic) really be reversed? According to the people at Alcor Life Extension Foundation, death is actually a process, not an event. Members of this foundation or cryonicists (people who are strong advocates of cryonics, or the low temperature preservation of humans and other animals that can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine until resuscitation may be possible in the future) actually allow clinically dead bodies of their loved ones to be shipped to the Life Extension facility for cryopreservation, wherein the whole body or parts of the body specifically the brain are preserved by cooling it in liquid nitrogen, or vitrification, and treated with cryoprotectants to prevent freezing.

Creepy. creepy. creepy.

If death is actually a process, then when does a person actually die? Advocates of cryonics argue that when a physician declares a patient to be dead, the patient is actually not yet dead, but that the brain has just ran out of oxygen. Which then translates to the premise that a “dead” brain can still be resuscitated through timely and proper intervention, and thus be preserved, until such time that a reversal technology is widely possible.

So is this argument just short of calling our present doctors murderers or advocates of euthanasia? Are there really people who wish to be revived at a later time (no one knows when), knowing that the world they once lived in will not be the same decades or centuries after? Is death just a disease, like cancer or diabetes and one day can be cured permanently? Does cryonics really translate to immortality, or does it merely seek to cure one human body one disease at a time and that eventually, no amount of resuscitation or cell regeneration can obstruct the human body’s death?

Meanwhile, the present day tells us another story. People die of cancer or heart disease everyday. People smoke and drink to excesses everyday, people crave for the fast life, for fast food, for an unhealthy existence. Our waters have become more contaminated, our air have become impure and rarefied. When there are people who deliberately want to kill themselves, then will cryonics be a lost case in the end? If at this point, our earth is slowly deteriorating, where shall these future immortals tread on? And do we really want to live perpetually, to be resurrected a hundred times over? For all we know, cryonics may just be another hype of our times, a scientifically structured ambition to be gods of a lesser heaven.

But then again, it may as well be the future order of things. Science has never failed to astound us, after all. If Hitler were alive today, he’d be above rejoicing.

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