Human Cryogenics Comes Closer to Reality with “Glassy Water”

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Science has long been drawn to the idea of human cryogenics – preserving a human by freezing him in such a way that he can be thawed out later, good as new.

Both scientists and science fiction authors have long mulled the possibilities associated with freezing a person, leaving them in a kind of suspended animation for a long time, and then unfreezing them back to life.

Already, companies are offering human cryogenic services whereby you can freeze your whole body or (for the budget conscious) just the head until some future time.

The theory is that, eventually, whatever ails you — be it illness or simply the decrepitude of aging — will be curable. At that time, the custodians of your body will be directed to thaw it out.

You may be wondering why someone would freeze just their head. After all, one’s quality-of-life would be somewhat restricted without the torso. The theory is that recent accomplishments in re-growing body parts of mice (salamanders naturally do it) will someday be extended to people.

Why freeze a damaged or aged body when you can wake up to a brand-new perfect one? Apart from recent successes with the cloning of body parts, proponents of nanotechnology argue that within 20 years or so it will be possible to design microscopic machines that scour your body for defects. When these “nano bots” find such defects, they will instantly correct them, thereby restoring your physiology to that of a vital 20-year-old.

In addition to the potential medical benefits, those who believe that we can never surpass the speed of light believe that human cryogenics suspension may hold the answer to deep space travel.

Under this scenario, a team of explorers or even a group of colonists would be frozen early in their journey from Earth. Upon arrival in the destination star system, the ship’s computer systems and robotics with thaw out the people, ready for their new life.

From an investment standpoint, I’m far more interested in the medical applications of human cryogenics than the space travel ones. They are, pardon the pun, a lot closer to hand.

So, what does the new research say to us about this possibility? ScienceDaily reports that recent findings at the University of Helsinki support the possibility of cryopreservation without formation of ice crystals. If true, this would be a crucial development in human cryogenics because it’s formation of the ice crystals that ruptures delicate cell membranes.

Surprisingly, the report declares that water is “still one of the least understood of all liquids despite a century of intensive study.” Dr. Anatoli Bogdan of University of Helsinki has focused his research upon an exotic form of water called “glassy water.”

Published in the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Dr. Bogdan’s research found that by slowly super cooling glassy water it could be reduced to cryonic temperatures without formation of ice crystals.

Dr. Bogdan commented, “It may seem fantastic, but the fact that in aqueous solution, [the] water component can be slowly supercooled to the glassy state and warmed back without the crystallization implies that, in principle, if the suitable cyroprotectant is created, cells in plants and living matter could withstand a large supercooling and survive.”

Even though I’m a technology optimist, I don’t expect to see commercial human cryogenic applications of this new technology in the next one or two years. First, the work needs to be translated into lower organisms such as mice. If they can be supercooled and restored, it will make front-page headlines.

Even after successful test with mice, human tests would require FDA protocols and would take years to identify test subjects and run the experiment. One delaying factor would be the nature of the technology itself: Since it can only be ethically applied to people who have terminal disease, they cannot be thawed out until the disease has been cured.

Bottom line: I expect human cryogenics to have great significance in about 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching for the law of unintended consequences to kick in — some bright researcher may come up with a shorter-term animal-based application that has big dollar signs associated with it.

Jonathan Kolber
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

The Daily Reckoning
The Daily Reckoning offers an independent and critical perspective on the Australian and global investment markets. Slightly offbeat and far from institutional, The Daily Reckoning delivers you straight-forward, humorous, and useful investment insights from a world wide network of analysts, contrarians, and successful investors. Founded in 1999, The Daily Reckoning is published in 7 countries with a worldwide readership of almost 1 million people.
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19 Comments on "Human Cryogenics Comes Closer to Reality with “Glassy Water”"

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Hector Gonzalez
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I think the study of Cryogenics is brilliant and I apluad the effort of scientists that are trying the issue. What I do know though, is that the body of an animal can not be compared to a human one. Also to expierment this on a human being without knowing the results is going to be very dangerous. One thing that everyone is forgetting that imperfection will always be present. The only one that can bring perfection back is god and no one on earth will ever have gods power to do such a thing. So my conclusion is that… Read more »
Tanner
Guest

God unfortunately has contributed nothing to the advancement of technology. The notion that we should “leave it up to god” actually will do nothing but impede our technological advancements. It is determination and hard work that has lead humans to many advancements that were thought impossible. Imagine explaining the idea of 3-D to a 2-D object, doesn’t work out too well. Science will do as it’s always done and trample over those who doubt it.

Tanner
Guest

Oh… “the body of a human can’t be compared to a human one”? Someone forgot to tell this fellar that humans are mammals… we’re warm blooded ‘animals’. Humans have tested on animals for centuries.

Andrew
Guest

Hi,
I would like to see in my life time some huge advancement like the subject of freezing humans to prolong life or a cure to cancer or humans to evolve to a longer living body and time travel. Going through some old photos I would give anything to beable to meet some of my relatives who died before I was born.No one will admit that Aliens Exist.
My conncern is any huge discovery will not be released to the general public and kept secret.

E.T.
Guest

someone seriously just said aliens. lol!

Rayna
Guest

This stuff is prety cool. Im out here for a school project and cryogenics is so interesting…. and wierd to think i could die and come back to life one day. Thenk you

shane
Guest

Hi, to those of us who have seen combat and were injured, losing apart of our mobility and lively hood would praise this technology.
Thinking that we could be frozen and awaken when medical technology has caught up and with possibilities can restore our lives to a more whole state with out the disabilities that plauges us, is a true god send.

petermcuk
Guest
The problem with this is that while you are waiting for the technology to revive and cure you those you love are ageing and dying in ‘real time’ Also, the big problem with space travel is that once you get beyond a certain point communications become impractical. Imagine having a conversation with even a 20 minute gap between question and reply. As for (inevitable) technical problems – these would have to be solved without reference to the team on earth. Finally, the new Toby Litt book explores the idea that a ship travelling to a distant destination could be overtaken… Read more »
karma
Guest
its a great idea but come on lets be real huh.it would be very nice to wake up 20 to 40 years from now but what will happen to my knowledge,type of civilisation i followed and plenty other things since i’ll be waiting to be thawed out things would change and i would be completely lost when i wake up.is the temperture maintained where i’ll be frozen?what happens if the machine breaks and i start melting?oh gosh i could go on and on.i think this project should be closely looked and thought about from all angles it be dangerous at… Read more »
John Marx
Guest
I’ve always been fascinated by cloning, cryogenics or anything that the mind can conceive. Our dreams are stepping stones to a future reality. It’s been proven countless times. In order to solve a problem a goal-minded group of people must look for any given solution from all angles. My take on the success of crygenics is this: As soon as a human body is shut down, frozen or forced to suspend any natural functions; i.e. suspending it’s temporal function, the natural response of our core eternal being is to escape what has ceased to be of use. Death occurs. Strangely,… Read more »
devaddy
Guest

There are other questions. What is suspended animation? What is memory and how much of it is left when not stimulated for 20-30 years? If reincarnation is a true phenomenon, how long does it take? If a soul is reborn to another life before a person is reawakened, when they do awake, what is to become of the soul being in more than 1 place at the same time?

Chris
Guest
While I certainly man no disrespect to anyone or their religion, some of us seem to forget that religion in and of itself, was created, by man, and is therefore fallible. I would most definitely like to think that there is a God, much of what we “know” about religion was written by our forefathers. With so many different versions of “God” and religion in this world, how are we to know which is correct, and which are not? I bring this up only to point out that we have zero FACTUAL knowledge of the “soul” or a great number… Read more »
Great Journey
Guest
Excellent point i am also interested in the thought of cryogenic suspension and cloning. And i also wish to see what future mankind has for itself, but ultimately god’s decides whether we live or die this i believe to be the worlds one and only truth. whether your religious and scientific you must always to battle with death. but what i think is that both the big bang and god’s creation myth both have merit. in the beginning there was darkness but the compacted energy burst into the big bang or when god breathed life into the universe creating the… Read more »
John B.
Guest

Let’s for the sake of argument say that the technology worked and 100 years later you are revived and cured of your ailments. Assuming of course that the political structure of that time allows it. What about all the people you loved? Are you going to take your entire family with you? Or will you wake up and realize that you are alone? What about the psychological toll of learning of the fate of all your children and grandchildren? The sense of guilt and selfishness may be too overwhelming to bear. Or maybe not.

nv
Guest

Comment by John B. on 28 July 2010:

“What about the psychological toll of learning of the fate of all your children and grandchildren?”

John, can you imagine waking up one day and realising that you were conceived by two married men? Whoa!

I’d much rather have the fates of children and grandchildren on my mind, take the good with the bad.

Biker
Guest

John B (good name for a single-masted sailboat, BTW):
“100 years later you are revived and cured of your ailments.”

And no problems, whatsoever, John…
All the B-B-B-Baby Boomers gone!~
And where is Generation Why?
Migrated to Where-Pigs-Fly!~ :)

Alex Bass
Guest
Karma being “frozen” is no more deadly then Walking through the down town of any large city, you can die at work, and you can also fall down the stairs and die. If you are you are Verified “frozen” you will die anyway if there is life then there is death. All living things die and you you wont just thaw out you’ll not even wake up because if you take out the chemical that Verifies you then you don’t wake up and it don’t matter. Think of it if you live to be 100 years old and your kids… Read more »
RDSouth
Guest
Looking forward to this in my lifetime. Everybody wants to live forever, but it is impractical. Cryo is closer and more feasible for universal hope. Someone commented on memory. Much of memory is chemical–the ions and neurotransmitters present in neurons. If a mental state is repeated or held long enough it has time to get set in stone as it were–ion channel populations change and axons grow new connections. This latter kind might survive freezing, so your core self would still exist, and things you know very well, but you would probably lose memories with weaker connections. Also I am… Read more »
Donald Turner
Guest
My name is Donald Turner (ddontstop@yahoo.com), and I have an earned Ph.D. from a major Baptist University. I will answer any practical theological question arising from my comments if said inquiry is sent to the above email address. My field of expertise is Theology or God-study (theo-God and ology-study) as the term itself states. I stumbled upon this website for nothing less than pure entertainment, and I was in no way disappointed. All scriptural quotations are from the AV1611 English Bible. All other quotations are from this website. To begin, there are few things that I enjoy more than a… Read more »
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