Sunday, July 31, 2011

Robert Ettinger Snap-Frozen at 92

Robert Ettinger, a physics teacher and science fiction writer who kicked off the cryonics movement, died on July 23 in Michigan. He was 92. "We're obviously sad," said his son David, but "we were able to freeze him under optimum conditions, so he's got another chance." Robert Ettinger is widely considered the father of the cryonics movement, whose supporters believe they can attain immortality by quick-freezing their bodies at death in anticipation of a future revival.

Mr Ettinger's body now lives in a vat of liquid nitrogen at a nondescript building outside Detroit, home to over 100 of his fellow immortalists - including his mother and two wives - who are waiting for revival. Mr Ettinger envisioned that he would remain in a period of frozen stasis for decades - or centuries - however long it would take doctors, equipped with the technology of the future, to thaw him out and restore him to good health. "Our patients are not truly dead in any fundamental sense," he told the New Yorker magazine in 2010.

He described a world in which people would become nobler and more responsible as they grappled with the reality of living forever - what he dubbed the Freezer Era. And if the earth became too crowded with all those immortal humans: "The people could simply agree to share the available space in shifts," he wrote, "going into suspended animation from time to time to make room for others." ~ Washington Post, Jul 25


George Patsourakos said...

The cryonics movement is a "dreamworld" for those believing in it, because frozen dead bodies cannot come back to life -- regardless of medical discoveries in the future.

It is also contrary to Christianity and other religions, which consider it to be heresy.

Luke said...

Nonsense, George. Do your homework.

Cryonics is not a matter of "freezing" -- it is about avoiding ice formation. The resulting solid form is more akin to glass than ice. Much of the brain is still viable at the point where it happens if practiced under ideal conditions (e.g. immediately after the heart stops). A small amount of ice does still form due to slow perfusion in certain areas of the brain, but it is not as dangerous because there is still partial cryoprotection.

Despite the idea being around and well known for over half a century, there have been no claims from organized religions that cryonics is heresy. Jehovah's Witnesses have proclaimed that it won't work because the root cause of death and aging is beyond the realm of science. (Bear in mind that this is an organization which also claims that life-saving blood transfusions are an abomination.) Imagine the audacity of religion if it were to go around casually proclaiming that scientific possibilities are heretical to consider.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Luke, attempts to sustain life beyond natural death are not accepted by the Orthodox and I believe that George is Orthodox.