Weird health

9th October 1998 at 01:00
Cold comfort for those who lament life's brevity.

Do you want to live for ever? Immortality may be an impossibility for the time being but some optimistic souls say it won't always be so. Cryonics - putting corpses in a deep freeze until such time as medicine finds a way of thawing them back to life - is a favourite plot of science fiction movies.

But growing numbers of people are pinning their hopes on this life after life, even though scientists put the chance of success - like the thermometer readings on their coffins - at considerably less than zero.

Eternity doesn't come cheap either. If you thought funerals were expensive consider this: a full body freeze costs around Pounds 100,000, while the budget conscious can opt for the head-only option, a snip at Pounds 40,000. Life assurance is the most popular way of paying for the procedure, and several dozen Britons have signed up with cryonics companies, opting for refrigeration over cremation.

Here's how it works. As soon as possible after death, your blood is replaced with "cryoprotective" chemicals - a kind of human anti-freeze - and your body temperature slowly lowered until you are ready to be stored in a sealed container of liquid nitrogen at -196xC.

That's the easy part. The difficult bit is the defrosting. Freezing ruptures the body's cells, and even experiments to thaw and restart the organs of previously healthy animals have failed. But one way forward might involve development of microscopic robots that travel through the body repairing the damage. Cloning and body part replication have also given cryonicists hope that one day they may have the last laugh.

But would they remember it? The most precious human commodity - the mind - can't be put in a box and frozen. So anyone waking up in 2098 with a headache and a bit of a chill might find any memory of their previous existence, like the ice in last night's GT, has simply melted away.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now