Science of Life-Extension
What do you plan to have done with your mortal remains?
Many people make funeral plans long in advance of their death, recognising that death can strike at any time. Most opt for either cremation or burial, believing that their physical body has been discarded permanently.
But is this true?
Today, hospitals routinely perform operations which would have been considered impossible even a decade ago. Developments in life-extension, DNA repair, nanomedicines and nanotechnology are moving ever more swiftly, each new breakthrough standing on the shoulders of those which have gone before them. It is the demonstrated character of all the sciences that they progress exponentially.
Consequently, our future is ripe with fascinating possibilities. Many, if not all, of the diseases which currently plague mankind might be curable, even entirely preventable - just as many of the diseases which dogged our species in the past are now consigned to the pages of history.
One of these future cures might also include a remedy for aging. Research is currently being undertaken by the SENS Foundation to develop methods of reversing the effects of aging.
The SENS Foundation
SENS is an acronym for Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. This organisation is working to develop medical techniques using stem cell and molecular biology to halt and reverse the effects of aging, which they believe can be treated just like any other disease of the body.
The Chief Science Officer at the SENS Foundation is biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey (MA, PhD). The video, below, introduces his work with the SENS Foundation.
Introducing the SENS Foundation
Will you live long enough to benefit from these ground-breaking future sciences?
Some people, myself included, have legally-binding plans in place to ensure that our bodies will be be cryo-preserved. These plans include Living Wills, legal contracts, monetary provisions and advance funerary provisions. This may sound complicated but it is easier and also more economical than is popularly assumed. For example, most cryonicists plan to pay for their cryo-preservation and transportation costs via ordinary life insurance policies which cost no more than the price of a pizza once a month!
Cryonicists hope that in the future - and quite probably the non-too-distant future - the sciences of age-reversal and nanomedicine which are currently being developed will have progressed sufficiently to enable our bodies to be reanimated to a healthy condition in which we can go on to enjoy full and interesting lives.
Some also consider that it may, eventually, be possible to continue living indefinitely thanks to age reversal treatments and organic regeneration from stem cells and/or archived DNA. This would, in effect, put immortality within our reach.
Cryonics is not currently a perfected science and no-one would pretend otherwise, but new and complimentary developments are coming along constantly. Already it is possible to grow some fully-functioning organs which are intended serve as transplants. Should a cryonics patient present the need for a new liver, for example, this could be accommodated.
Reanimation after cryo-preservation has already been successfully used on human embryos which have later grown into fully healthy children. This process is a usual part of IVF treatments. Various human tissues have also been preserved then reanimated using cryonics, such as brain tissue. Reanimation has also been successful with small mammals, insects and vinegar eels
Around the world there are a number of cryonics facilities. One of these is the Cryonics Institute in Michigan, America.
The Cryonics Institute
The Cryonics Institute is a non-profit making organisation which offers cryo-preservation to its members. In association with the Immortalist Society, it publishes a quarterly magazine called Long Life.
Its facility in Michigan is a licensed cemetery.
The video below offers a brief look around the cryostats at the institute, and features a short interview with Robert Ettinger, one of the institute's founders who has since become another of its cryo-patients.
The Cryonics Institute
Cryostats at the Cryonics Institute
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation
Alcor gets its name from 'Allopathic Cryogenic Rescue' and one of the stars which make up star in the Big Dipper.
Its aims include the maintenance of all its cryo patients both current and future, and research into methods of reanimating and fully restoring these patients to health.
The organisation also offers scholarships to teens and twenties so long as they are signed to a recognised cryonics organisation. These scholarships fun flights and hotel fees for the annual meetings of their youth group.
Alcor is based in Arizona, America, and has published its own magazine, called Cryonics, since March 1981.
The Alcor Foundation
Sailing through Eternity
One of the most obstinate myths about cryo-preservation is that it is expensive. Most cryonicists fund their cryo-preservation plans via an ordinary life insurance policy which, depending on the age and health of the policy holder, need not cost any more per month than one average take-away meal.
Interest in cryonics is growing, and while not every country yet has cryo facilities it is most definitely an international movement, with self-help support groups thriving in many countries worldwide. There are also a number of online discussion boards and email newsletters available free to those with an interest in the subject.
Cryonics UK - A Talk by David Styles
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© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray
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