Introducing Cryonics: Putting Death On Ice

There is a potent thread winding its way through generations of human culture. From Ancient Egyptian rituals to Kurzweil’s Singularity, many paths have sprung up leading to the same elusive destination: immortality.

Today, as Visual Capitalist's Nick Routely notes, the concept is as popular as it’s ever been, and technological advances are giving people hope that immortality, or at very least radical life extension, may be within reach. Is modern technology advanced enough to give people a second chance through cryonics?

Today’s infographic, courtesy of Futurism, tackles our growing fascination with putting death on ice.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist


Robert C. W. Ettinger’s seminal work, The Prospect Of Immortality, detailed many of the scientific, moral, and economic implications of cryogenically freezing humans for later reanimation. It was after that book was published in 1962 that the idea of freezing one’s body after death began to take hold.

One of the most pressing questions is, even if we’re able to revive a person who has been cryogenically preserved, will the person’s memories and personality remain intact? Ettinger posits that long-term memory is stored in the brain as a long-lasting structural modification. Basically, those memories will remain, even if the brain’s “power is turned off”.


There are three main steps in the cryogenic process:

1) Immediately after a patient dies, the body is cooled with ice packs and transported to the freezing location.


2) Next, blood is drained from the patient’s body and replaced with a cryoprotectant (basically the same antifreeze solution used to transport organs destined for transplant).


3) Finally, once the body arrives at the cryonic preservation facility, the body is cooled to -196ºC (-320.8ºF) over the course of two weeks. Bodies are generally stored upside-down in a tank of liquid nitrogen.


At prices ranging from about $30,000 to $200,000, cryopreservation may sound like an option reserved for the wealthy, but many people fund the procedure by naming a cryonics company as the primary benefactor of their life insurance policy. Meanwhile, in the event of a death that doesn’t allow for preservation of the body, the money goes to secondary beneficiaries.

Even if we do eventually find a way to reanimate frozen humans, another important consideration is how those people would take care of themselves financially. That’s where a cryonics or personal revival trust comes into play. A twist on a traditional dynastic trust, this arrangement ensures that there are funds to cover costs of the cryopreservation, as well as ensure the grantor would have assets when they’re unthawed. Of course, there are risks involved beyond the slim possibility of reanimation. The legal code in hundreds of years could be vastly different than today.

If you created a trust for specific purposes in 1711, it is unlikely it would function in the same way today.


– Kris Knaplund, Law Professor, Pepperdine University


At last count, there are already 346 people in the deep freeze, with thousands more on the waiting list. As technology improves, those numbers are sure to continue rising.

Time will tell whether cryonically preserved people are able to cheat death. In the meantime? The cryonics industry is alive and well.


PocoPete Yen Cross Tue, 10/24/2017 - 02:48 Permalink… Ted Williams Head: How SI and the Mainstream Sports Media Gave John Henry Williams a Bum Rap Let us finally put to rest one myth: Ted Williams was not frozen by his evil son, John Henry Williams.That is a bit of lore cooked up by the sports media that was marching behind Sport Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci back in the day with their pitchforks and torches.They did not like the idea of their baseball hero’s head stored frozen in a milk jug waiting for its guest appearance on Futurama.With the Larry Johnson kiss-and-tell book about Alcor Life Extension Labs coming out, the pot is being stirred again about Ted Williams frozen head, and its treatment.Forget that Mr. Johnson, as COO, ran the lab, and could have cleaned up the very things that he is now lamenting... for profit.Disregard that Tom Verducci, the sports writer who began ringing the fire bell about Williams’ handling of his father’s remains at Sports Illustrated (SI) did little more than source Bobby Jo Williams-Ferrell and those friends and family who didn’t like the idea. He also did very little follow-up when the court upheld that Williams indeed did co-author this request along with the children to whom he was still speaking.The oldest and estranged daughter, Bobby Jo had a history of emotional and financial issues with her father that had caused him to remove her from his will. She had a very big axe to grind with her half-brother John Henry, and half-sister Claudia, over the disputed will of Ted Williams. In the wake of the deluge of bad press, we found John Henry Williams playing baseball in Schaumburg, Illinois for the Flyers, an indy ballclub, for a few bucks a day.Why? If he was the greedy ghoul that he was being cast as, why was he not out there selling DNA, as some of the media wags were reporting?We were the only news agency to which John Henry would grant an interview, after the press hounded him about the head and the other rumors about the labs, because we asked why he was out there playing baseball. We didn’t ask him about Ted’s head.The answer was the key to the whole thing.We found out quickly that the picture that SI was painting of the whole situation was grossly distorted.In “The Kid’s Kid“ we gave you the side of John Henry Williams that SI did not want you to see during Verducci’s march to turn the younger Williams into a blood-sucking leech, a pariah.He was a pretty simple man. Very naive about the media, and very single-minded about really getting to know the father who had largely never been part of his life until he hit thirty.John Henry Williams bonded with his father on the one level that counted for Ted: Baseball.Ted used his pull to get John Henry into the lower-levels of the Boston Red Sox organization. John Henry, even by his own admission, stunk. John Henry worked with his dad in the memorabilia business to help him out, particularly after Williams had hired a man to manage the business who had been forging signatures. John Henry gave structure to the memorabilia business, and limited his father’s appearances during his more frail periods, which actually improved the returns for Ted on the items that he personalized.Even after Ted died though, John Henry was out there working every day, hitting balls, taking instruction.Several weeks after that article, and my editorial “Is Sports Illustrated Out to Get John Henry Williams?” ran, Williams spoke to Mike Fish at SI, and affirmed what he had told us.Fish reported it as a sidebar though. His focus was a take-down of what a lousy ballplayer the scion was.John Henry, though, wasn’t trying to be a pro. He was trying to put himself, if only for a brief moment, into his father’s shoes. Baseball, for him, was communion with the Hallowed Father, not a career.In that light, Fish and the rest of the media wholly missed the story.John Henry loved his father, and honored him, even with Ted’s quirky behavior, and this pie-in-the-sky cryogenic pipe dream that the family cooked up.JHW also endured the slings and arrows that were thrown his way until he died himself, a little more than a year later. He knew what he was doing was right. That was good enough.He knew, as anyone who really knew the Splendid Splinter, that no one told Ted Williams what he could or couldn’t do, right up to the day that he died.The agreement that they made to have Ted “suspended” cyrogenically was upheld in court when Bobbie Jo tried to get a reversal.People get shot into space, and buried in their cars, and no one says boo. Ted Williams tries for his shot at immortality, and everyone is running around like Chicken Little.<snip>

In reply to by Yen Cross

PT HRClinton Tue, 10/24/2017 - 05:06 Permalink

Why die at all?  What?  You wanna be a debt slave forever????????Let me live on my terms and I may want an extension.  Otherwise, I look forward to a well-earned rest.Re "Why bother reviving and curing these rich narcissists?" :  Revive?  They're dead now.  And the cryo companies have the loot.  And the revival process is not known yet.  Maybe next year.  In the mean time, they have plenty of bodies to experiment on.  Hey!  Sometimes the power just goes off.  We tried to be careful but sometimes shit happens!  Too bad, so sad.  Minus 196???  Oh, sorry, I thought you said minus 96.  What if we wait for technology that can revive minus 96ers?As water cools, it goes through a stage where it expands, cell walls burst due to the expansion and the cells turn to mush.  I guess they just need to dehydrate the bodies first.  Have they solved that one yet?

In reply to by HRClinton

tmosley PT Tue, 10/24/2017 - 07:12 Permalink

I understand that the power has yet to go off at any of those locations, aside from one that went bankrupt.And besides, the people who go through this pricess probably won't be revived in their own bodies, but will rather be uploaded. Already being frozen will probably be a benefit to that process.

In reply to by PT

SixIsNinE tmosley Tue, 10/24/2017 - 11:01 Permalink

Dr. Timothy Leary - was famously signed up to do the cryofreeze at death, only to change his mind and opt out.

However, he did do a very funny spoof video pretending to do it.

And, his book "Design for Dying" is excellent and definitley a good read for anyone approaching end of life years - as he chronicles his last months and years after his prostate cancer was deemed incurable.

In reply to by tmosley

OverTheHedge Common_Law Tue, 10/24/2017 - 02:01 Permalink

$94 a month for everlasting telomeres?Damn! That's a good scam. You are going to need to wait YEARS to confirm that you have been robbed! Brilliant!Freezing after death is silly - your body is so buggered it died, and then you freeze it, and explode every single cell in the body, and then you expect miracle science to wake you up in 300 years, just because they are nice, and feel like it? Lots of sci-fi about this stuff, my favourite being a Lary Niven book:

In reply to by Common_Law

WernerHeisenberg Tue, 10/24/2017 - 01:09 Permalink

With ZIRP, one could wake up in the far future and be poorer than when one was frozen.  Likewise the PM stack value will be in "consolidation".  Why bother anyway, (((They))) will still be in charge.Note: The Dalai Lama said he will NOT reincarnate again.  Good decision and good advice.

Compost_Ranger Tue, 10/24/2017 - 01:11 Permalink

I visited the Alcor facility in Scottsdale last winter (long story) because I was in town for the International UFO Congress. My experience was disturbing to say the least. These transhumanist mofo's are creepy as phuck.Go read Joseph Farrell's 2011 book Transhumanism or check out the online article Everybody Freeze. Sick sh1t indeed.Yikes.

cherry picker Compost_Ranger Tue, 10/24/2017 - 01:27 Permalink

Transhuman?Like Transgender?We know transgender is a cross dresser on steroids but transhuman is what?  A human thinking he or she is an insect or other life form?Maybe it should be translife or transdead.Anyway, who in their right mind will believe someone will be interested enough to take their 1000 year old carcasses, jump start them and fix what ever made them dead to begin with?What if som trans whatever takes over the brain while dormant and it aint you anymore anyhow? 

In reply to by Compost_Ranger

HRClinton cherry picker Tue, 10/24/2017 - 03:41 Permalink

No, transhuman means that you died as a human and rose as a god. It's been done before, we are told. Someone either had the tech 2000 years ago, or they made up one hell of a story to sell.Unless you believe in Ancient (Space) Aliens -- which is more plausible than Church fairy tales for adults -- then the only other explanation is that it was all made up. BTW, this concept of a rejuvenation chamber was also used in the Kurt Russell movie Star Gate.

In reply to by cherry picker

Memedada HRClinton Tue, 10/24/2017 - 04:43 Permalink

/* Style Definitions */
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Transhuman is what comes next (trans=after/beyond). No life form has ever existed indefinitely. All races develops into something else over time. The question is: what will come after homo sapiens? Will evolution takes us on a new path or will technology? Will we become cyborgs next? Or will we be totally replaced by AI – so the human race was just a facilitator of the next ruling race/entity. Transhuman is not becoming “godlike” – it could just as well be that humans transform into a lesser role in nature. Personally I don’t have much “faith” in the human race and don’t think the universe will weep when we’re done destroying ourselves.

In reply to by HRClinton

Manipuflation Tue, 10/24/2017 - 01:28 Permalink

AGM will take this idea out.  You can bet Hillary will try this but is a cold creature to start with.  It creates a lot of CO2 to keep those deep freezers going.No, you are dead anyway.  Deal with it.

taggaroonie Tue, 10/24/2017 - 02:08 Permalink

The freezing process would have to be done under such pressures that the freezing water would not crystallise and therefore damage cell structures - practically impossible.It would also have to preserve the brain's neuro network which harbours consciousness and becomes unrevivable after 10 minutes without oxygen. 

Miner taggaroonie Tue, 10/24/2017 - 11:16 Permalink

>> It would also have to preserve the brain's neuro network which harbours consciousness and becomes unrevivable after 10 minutes without oxygen.You are off by more than an order of magnitude.  There are victims of sudden immersion hypothermia that have been revived and recovered after more than three hours.Cryonicists know that the technology doesn't work today.  They are banking on the hope that a future technology, probably nanotechnology, will be able to repair the original cause of their death, ischemic damage, and freezing damage.  Cryonics buys you time; not a guarantee.

In reply to by taggaroonie

PocoPete Tue, 10/24/2017 - 02:27 Permalink

https(colon)//newatlas(dot)com/iron-nanoparticles-organs-deep-freeze/48212/According to researchers at the University of Minnesota (UM), over 60 percent of the hearts and lungs donated for transplantation every year need to be disposed of because they can't be stored on ice for longer than four hours. While deep-freezing techniques exist to preserve organs for longer period of times (cryopreservation), they get damaged when being reheated. The UM researchers believe they've solved this problem thanks to tiny microscopic particles.The process of vitrification involves cooling biological materials to temperatures of between -160 and -196 degrees Celsius. The rapid cooling of tissue to these temperatures along with a cryopreservative causes the tissue to enter a glass-like state without damaging ice forming. While this has proven a successful preservation method, when it's time to bring the tissue out of the deep-freeze, current convection-based warming techniques cause it to heat unevenly, which makes different parts of the tissue expand at different rates and can lead to tears and cracks. Speed and even heating are the keys to preventing this from happening.According to the UM researchers, current methods can only warm small volumes of tissue measuring about 1 ml. Their new method can heat samples up to 80 ml and it can heat them at the rate of more than 130 degrees Celsius per minute.The method involves placing silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles in the cryopreservative before the the tissue is cooled. Then, when it's time to rewarm the tissue, the particles are beamed with electromagnetic waves which causes them to heat up, effectively meaning there are thousands of heaters surrounding the tissue warming up rapidly and at the same time.The researchers demonstrated the effectiveness of the technique on fibroblasts (connective tissue found in animals), and on pig arteries and heart tissue. Compared to sample tissues that were rewarmed slowly over ice, the new technique showed no signs of harm to the test material.<snip>

prmths2 PocoPete Tue, 10/24/2017 - 03:13 Permalink

Even if the mechanical damage due to phase change can be dealt with, the accumulating damage due to the decay of radioisotopes is a problem. About six carbon-14 atoms per second in an average person's DNA experience beta decay. Tritium, and potassium isotopes are also decaying. A living body is able to repair a lot of the damage as it happens. A person frozen for decades is going to have quite a backlog of damage.

In reply to by PocoPete

DaveA Tue, 10/24/2017 - 02:22 Permalink

If other animals can freeze solid and survive, you need to first figure out how they do it so your customers' brains don't turn into frozen mush. I have no interest in this technology until they can freeze a monkey and revive it.

Another problem is maintenance costs, which were supposed to be covered by putting $200,000 in a bank account and collecting the interest. Welcome to ZIRP, suckers.

Miner DaveA Tue, 10/24/2017 - 11:28 Permalink

>>Welcome to ZIRP, suckers.This IS a huge problem, and I'm my Cryonics provider's (Cryonics Institute) financials carefully.  They are, so far, successfully funding their operations costs from operational revenue only (membership dues and new patients).  As of the last financial report, 1/3 of the operational revenue plus additional revenue from bequests and investment proceeds are currently being added to the investment fund.  They are doing okay.It helps that most of the employees and board members have family under care there, and all are signed up for cryonics in the future.

In reply to by DaveA

ItsAllBollocks Tue, 10/24/2017 - 03:01 Permalink

... so what's new? Walt Disney has been on ice for decades now. I suspect many other 33deg Masons and 0.1 percenters have done or will be doing the same thing.You don't really think we got rid of rockeyfeller that easy do you?

Fourth Horseman Tue, 10/24/2017 - 03:13 Permalink

The one thing not thought of by these dolts....

Who is going to fund their revival? It's not going to be done for free...

Another case of idiots not thinking ahead and wasting their money.

Debugas Tue, 10/24/2017 - 04:35 Permalink

there is another way of "freezing" - launch a rocket around the sun with the speed as close to the speed of light as possible - relativistic time dilation would stop aging