Cryonics story text (was Re: META doo-dah)

From: Tiberius Gracchus (
Date: Mon Jul 23 2001 - 21:19:33 MDT

On Mon, 23 Jul 2001 22:25:32 EDT, you wrote
Roll on, Roll on, EvMick....(text of Cryonics over dead geeks bodies'
appended below.....)

>In a message dated 2/18/2001 12:33:34 AM Central Standard Time,
>> Rather than emailing the complete text of newspaper articles, as
>> is the common practice, I encourage everybody to
>> email URLs and brief excerpts instead.
>I disagree....i prefer the complete text.
>Why?.......because I'm cutoff from the internet for all practicle
> only.
>So the URL's wouldnt do me much good....mayhap there are other poor souls in
>similar dire straits?
>Sioux Falls Sd.

 Cryonics Over Dead Geeks' Bodies
By Michelle Delio

2:00 a.m. July 20, 2001 PDT

 Many geeks will survive death and go on to a glorious future --
assuming that medical science figures out a way to defrost and
reanimate them.

According to a new book, The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession and
the Everlasting Dead, techies make up a large percentage of those who
have signed up for cryonic suspension, an experimental procedure used
to preserve legally dead bodies in the hopes that future medical
breakthroughs will allow them to be brought back to life.

See also:
Discuss this story on
Being Dead and In a Good Mood
Brain Dead Means Dead
Crazy, Sexy, Cool and Geeky
Internet Rich, Morally Bankrupt
Discover more Net Culture

Those who have opted for cryonic suspension will be packed in ice as
soon as they die. Soon after, their body fluids will be replaced with
a glycerin-based solution that acts as a kind of anti-freeze.

Their flesh will be cooled with liquid nitrogen to minus-320 degrees
Fahrenheit, and their bodies will then be placed in a large metal
cooler called a cryostat, where they will await the medical
breakthrough that will allow them to return to life.

Heather Pringle, author of The Mummy Congress, said she was surprised
to find out how many tech-savvy people intend to end their days as

Pringle's book examines the long history of humans' efforts to
preserve their mortal remains.

When she began to research the chapter on modern mummification, she
visited cryogenic labs, expecting to find that the client list would
include "your new-age crowd, people with strange ideas about the body
and soul and maybe with bizarre beliefs about immortality and
eternity. Kind of a well-heeled version of the folks who believe Elvis

But Pringle said that when she really thought about it, geeks on ice
made perfect sense.

"The Silicon Valley crowd has an enormous faith in technology and the
science of progress," she said. "They believe that you can conquer
just about any problem if you throw enough money and technology after
it -- so why not immortality?"

Pringle also noted that "unlike many of us," tech-oriented people
actually welcome the future and wouldn't mind living in it.

Pringle said she loves the image of entire warehouses stacked full of
hackers, programmers and engineers, but thinks it is highly unlikely
that the super-cooled techies will ever be defrosted and rebooted.

"The technological problems in doing this seem just staggering to me,
particularly for people who go the economy-class route, having only
their heads preserved," Pringle said.

"To bring back to full functioning something as complex as a brain,
and then to graft it back on to a body, just seems horrifically

But Ralph Merkle, a nanotechnology researcher who maintains a Web page
on cryonics, said the correct scientific answer to the question "does
cryonics work?" is neither yes nor no. "The clinical trials are in
progress," Merkle said. "Come back in a century and we'll give you a
reliable answer."

Merkle is also a member of the board of directors at Alcor, a cryonic
suspension facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the three cryonic
suspension facilities in the United States.

Alcor has recently adopted new suspension protocols, which vitrify
rather than freeze. Freezing produces ice, the crystalline form of
water. Vitrifying cools water, but does not produce ice so the water
molecules remain disordered and in a non-crystalline form, Merkle

This process also uses new cryoprotectants and ice blockers to
eliminate ice damage to the body's systems.

Merkle firmly believes that current suspension methods can preserve
the structures in the human brain that encode long-term memory and


Cryonics Over Dead Geeks' Bodies
2:00 a.m. July 20, 2001 PDT

(page 2)
"The synapses are still there, the neurons are still there, the
dendrites are still there -- all present and accounted for. Thus, at
some point in the future, a medical technology based on a mature
nanotechnology should be able to restore good health with memory and
personality intact," Merkle said.

Merkle maintains a rather impressive list on his website of computer
scientists, software developers and other tech professionals who have
signed up for cryonic suspension.

The key to cryonics' eventual success is nanotechnology, manipulating
materials on an atomic or molecular scale, according to most techies
who are interested in cryonic suspension.

"Current medical science does not have the tools to fix damage that
occurs at the cellular and molecular level, and damage to these
systems is the cause of vast majority of fatal illnesses," said Paul
Jones, a programmer planning to sign on for cryonic suspension of his

"I fully expect to wake up some day, a few hundred years from now,
whole and healthy and alive," Jones said.

Jones, who lives in Ontario, said that "with the current exchange rate
for Canadian dollars" he can't afford to have his entire body

At Alcor, cryonic suspension of a whole body costs $120,000;
neurosuspension (just the head) costs $50,000. Alcor also charges a
one-time, "lifetime membership" payment of $20,000, which can be paid
off at the rate of $100 a month for 20 years for a total of $24,000.

Transtime "recommends" that people provide a minimum of $150,000 for
whole-body suspension. Part of this sum pays for the initial costs of
the suspension. The balance is placed in a trust fund, with the income
used to pay the continued cost of maintaining you in suspension.
Transtime can do neurosuspensions but does not promote the option.

Transtime also charges a yearly fee of $96 for membership, with the
price halved to $48 for other family members.

The Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Michigan, charges $28,000
for a full-body suspension, along with a one-time payment of $1,250.
The Cryonics Institute does not do neurosuspension.

Pringle wonders if the dot-com bust will cause people to put their
suspension plans on ice instead of their bodies.

"Cryogenics is incredibly pricey, and when the financial bottom has
just fallen out of your world, you are likely to put your plans for
the afterlife on hold."

But Merkle said that interest in cryonics doesn't vary according to
short-term fluctuations in the stock market.

"Most people pay for cryonics with a life insurance policy which pays
the fee to the suspension facility upon the death of the policy
holder. A ... life insurance policy for someone in good health might
be only $200 per year," Merkle said.

"So cryonics is within the reach of most people, the primary issue
being whether or not you want to do it."

About 90 people in the United Stated are already in suspension, with
hundreds more signed on for the service.

Pringle wonders what people of the future will think about our
civilization when they break open all those canisters containing
nerds' bodies and heads.

"Instead of preserving the finest physical specimens of 21st-century
humanity -- the athletic, the attractive, the physically fit, the
Adonis and Venus de Milo types whose bodies are so well deserving of
eternity - we seem to be conserving geeks with taped-up glasses and
bad haircuts, people whose idea of dinner ranges only a little further
than Frito-Lays, Cheetos and Jolt," Pringle said.

"What a warped view the 40th century will have of the rest of us."

Pringle hastens to add that her husband is a software programmer.

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