We live in this Advanced Digital Age, where we witness ground-breaking and unbelievable inventions, discoveries, and phenomenal scientific advances that are sometimes hard to believe. If you have a subscription to Spectrum TV Bundles, you would have witnessed those enlightening documentaries on channels like Nat Geo, about the amazing discoveries and inventions that science is making each day. Cryogenics and Cryonics are also the next new mind-boggling discoveries that scientist are expecting a lot from. You may remember the revolutionary concept from the Hollywood movies like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), Sleeper (1973), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Vanilla Sky (2001). Well, as far as pure fiction is concerned, even interstellar migration is possible, but is it practically possible to bring frozen bodies back to life?
We need to see the whole thing in detail and figure out if it is really possible and has any contributions to offer for the future. Generally, we all are aware that Cryogenics offers the terminally ill and elderly a hope of returning to life by freezing their bodies. However, it is not as simple as that. In this blog post, we will discuss this in detail.
Difference between Cryonics and Cryogenics
A lot of people think that Cryonics and Cryogenics are essentially one and the same thing. So, we will start off by clarifying that Cryonics and Cryogenics are not the same things. Cryogenics is NOT body freezing. Body freezing is Cryonics. Also, not cryogenics deal with tremendously low temperatures, and has no obvious connection with cryonics. However, they belong to the same branch of physics and are often used alternatively. The belief that a human’s body or parts of the body could be frozen at the time of death and stored safely in a vessel (cryogenic) in hope of bringing them back to life.
Although this very belief sounds untenable and weak, let’s figure out how can it contribute to the future if it actually happens, since there is science behind this very idea. If you want to remember the definition, here you go:
- Cryogenics– The study of the effects that different materials (Animate or inanimate) under extremely low temperature.
- Cryonics– The technique of freezing and storing human bodies in the hopes of reviving them one day. This technology is currently practiced but is still in its early stages.
It’s best to never confuse both the terms. But know that Cryonics is a field related to Cryogenics.
The History of Cryogenics/Cryonics
Do you that the first human who was frozen cryogenically was a psychologist and was 73-years old (Dr. James Bedford) and sources say that his body is still in a good form in Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Will humans be able to revive frozen bodies back to life is a question that still needs to be answered. To comprehend the concept and technology behind cryonics, you need to consider the instance of someone who fell into an icy lake and stayed immersed in the cold water before he was finally rescued. Do you wonder that how did they survive? Well, here is the science. Icy water kept his body in suspended animation while slowing down his brain function and metabolism to an extent that there was almost no oxygen. This is exactly the technique that is being followed in the mind-blowing technology of Cryonics. But obviously, it is different than falling into the cold lake. Here are a few things that you should know:
- It is illegal to execute Cryonic suspension on people who are alive.
- The process can only be performed on legally dead people. To elaborate further, their heart has stopped beating.
- According to scientists, legally dead and completely dead are two different states, and later means ceasing of all brain functions. Legal death occurs just when the heart stops pumping but there are still brain functions at the cellular level and Cryonics revolves around preserving that little brain activity, in an attempt to resuscitate the person in the future.
Has It Been Successful?
There are actually dozens of people who have been preserved and stored in Cryonic suspensions. Ted Williams, a baseball legend is one of them. Currently, around 300 people, in three facilities in the United States and Russia, that are reeling in this cusp of plain oblivion. But no one has yet been revived from that icy slumber, as the technology to do so doesn’t exist as yet.
Critics believe that cryonics companies are only luring in people for money since it is an expensive process and they are unable to deliver the expected result of immortality or a second life, whatever you call it. Scientists accept that the reviving frozen people are not expected in near future. But if it becomes successful, the future of humans will completely change, for better or for worse. Only time can decide!
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