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

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Comments

  1. 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 its a great try for humans to try to save some years on the human body but all efforts will be exhausted due to the lack of power and mental capacity of imperfect humans trying to make something work that only a perfect source can do, which is god. Im not trying to put down the idea im just letting know the true facts.

    Thank You

    Hector Gonzalez
    November 7, 2007
    Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply
  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

    Reply
  5. someone seriously just said aliens. lol!

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  6. 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

    Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply
  8. 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 by another vessel which has the advantage of new technology developed since the original ship left earth.

    Fascinating subject!

    petermcuk
    May 7, 2009
    Reply
  9. 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 apart from being great.

    Reply
  10. 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, this does not apply to animals, insects or mammals. The solution here lies with finding the equinox between ones spirit (or soul) leaving the body, keeping the brain and heart functioning, however slow and suspending the rest of the extremities at a level where cells will not start dying.
    Perfect cryo stasis is not possible for a human being, but at best a slowing down of the ageing process in a state of deep sleep can occur up to about 85%. In addition, an electrical pulse, much like a diffribulator for a heart-attack victim must be applied to the brain and heart intermittantly to remind the spirit (or soul) not to evacuate. That should suffice for a trip to Mars and back. Our brain solely function by electrical pulses, so I can imagine that the scientists designing these brain and heart “reminder-to-keep-working” diffribulators had better know there maths. I’ve been electrocuted into a near-death experience before. Not nice. Imagine having to endure that on a six month space flight without being able to wake up and scream your pain and surprise to the world.
    As for cloning; who cares? My morals are flexible on that issue. You can clone flesh at your own peril. It’s been done. The mind reals at what slips between the cracks of a copy, but the question is; are we cloning for organ harvesting, missing body parts, to build an army like in ‘Star Wars – The clone wars?’ or does some reckless scientist want to be published legally? Go ahead! Clone to your hearts content Mr. Scientist, but if that clone thinks and reasons, displaying all the five human characteristic senses, as well as a 6th sense, then you have extended your family and you must raise him or her to be a son or a daughter. Any questions? What was that? Overpopulation? What can I say except ‘I told you so.’

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  11. 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?

    Reply
  12. 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 of other theological ideas and beliefs. There are always potential dangers to everything we do, be it simply driving to the store for milk and eggs, or searching for the answers to defeating viruses and cancer. While i certainly don’t believe “God” would care very much for the idea of us becoming immortal, I am simply unable to believe that He would have issue with us using science and technology to preserve life, to restore or give the gift of “normal” bodily function to those injured or born with defect, or to allow us to reach for the stars that have so long seemed just out of reach. So many things through the ages have been believed to be impossible, and yet, time and time again, human ingenuity and perseverance have allowed us to find the doors to our dreams. If there truly is a God, and He can forgive us our trespass into his domains, then may He allow us to find the door to this dream as well.

    Reply
  13. 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 heavens the stars, galaxies, planets, and many other mysterious entities. The crab nebula fueled by the energy of the big bang created the sun, 9 planets, and a precious jewel called earth. The sun gave birth to bacteria which evolved into both plant and animal life eventually gave birth to man kind and so on and in the universe death has always been there but in death a new life is born which will pass on like his forefathers have….oh sorry i like philosophy but my point is you can prolong it as much as you can but all things that live must come an end.

    just my opinion though.

    Great Journey
    February 17, 2010
    Reply
  14. 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.

    Reply
  15. 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.

    Reply
  16. 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!~ :)

    Reply
  17. 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 live to be 70 years old , Assuming you had your kids at 20, you’d still see your kids die and what if your grand kids die before your kids then you still out lived your family and who cares about 2 men being married whats that got to do with this if they are trained then i don’t care if they are taking care on my Verified body then its even better don’t put religion into science unless its needed because Tanner has a point if it was up to religion then a lot of the medical advancements would not be around yet because remember most of the countries involved in cryogenics contain more then one view of the human sole and no disrespect to Anyone but religion is not real because there is no prof of a “god” or “higher beings” but prof that humans are a factor of evolution first from Darwens theory of evolution. Yes, some emotions are going to be there but newtons law is in affect For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction this is a law of gravity but in a mortals mind most the time it goes for everything down to your thoughts and cells for example you stab someone they bleed negative reaction. think of people like shane i would rather him walk again then stop the research of Cryo tech.because religion is less important then his mobility because “god” wont cure things because if he could then my leg would be still perfect i can still walk ,unlike too many of our service personal, i will one day lose my knee to were i cant walk no more but cryo tech. might come in need one day do to we have screwed up the planet with our cars, factories, ect. all of it needed but all of it could better and if you really think of it if you was to help the research you’d somehow one day maybe save a life and clinical death is different then scientific death to a biologist of modern skill you are dead wen your brain is worthless wen you cant be brought back to life and to a further note cryogenics wont bring back those that weren’t verified they are just dead and you can be dead for 7 seconds before damages start and only like 4 min before your gone for good unless your body temp. is around the temp. of a ice cube then you got 18 times longer so it goes from 4 min to 72 min or a hour and 2 min it take around a hour to get you ready for the “cooling” of the body down to -192 degrees Celsius after the verification liquid has replaced your blood so that your blood cells don’t explode and you die from not having any cells needed to live.

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  18. 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 pessimistic in that I figure the most expensive possible method will be what gets developed. Look at cancer. They’re milking that for all the money possible rather than doing basic research to kill it. Maybe I’m paranoid, but that may be related to the problem of universal immortality being an overpopulation issue and limited immortality being a fairness issue, because a cure for cancer is essentially a cure for death, since you can do all kinds of stuff to rejuvenate but it all causes cancer. Also, why not make ice caverns under a mile of Antarctic glacier for storage of cryogenically frozen people. Maybe not ultra low temp, but way cheap, except treaties prohibit use of Antarctica by anyone for anything, just like most of space. Talk about a luddite effect; that stuff needs to change.

    Reply
  19. 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 chilling (okay, pun intended) science fiction tale. Even better is Sci-Fi involving cryonics. Even better still is Sci-Fi with cryonics and a dash of cloning. Since these are extremely broad topics I will dispense with the cloning aspect in the first paragraph that follows and respond to a variety of comments made by others thereafter.

    To begin, the cloning of a human, although completely illegal and banned by virtually all of the even remotely civilized governments of the world, has likely already occurred in a variety of private labs scattered around this orb. The cloning of animals is boring history. There is no reason to believe that the same process would not produce a human since literally nothing is being created anew. Some scientist or doctor hopped up on pride and driven by his/her over inflated ego simply combines the basic building blocks of life – acquired from a living source – and nine months later, a human baby is born. But note, he/she started with the parts and design that God Himself created and, I might add, patented. Nothing new was created in the biblical sense. While I could go on, and in a separate work I might, manipulating DNA and cells is within man’s grasp. Making DNA and cells is not within man’s grasp, now will it ever be within his enfeebled, greedy reach. This is God’s domain.

    NOW THEN, ON TO CRYONICS…

    Jonathan Kolber included the following comments/quotes in his original work, “…the report declares that water is ‘still one of the least understood of all liquids despite a century of intensive study.’”
    And
    “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.”

    Now herein is a marvelous thing, the brightest (okay, self-proclaimed) and most brilliant minds on the planet finally admit that they have little understanding of the liquid that covers 2/3 of this same planet. This could be a problem. Next, we find “the law of unintended consequences”; while science is always quick to charge God, or in His absence (their viewpoint), the religious community with unleashing a variety of horrors on mankind, we should note that God created a perfect planet without death or suffering. It was man who rebelled against God and created death and destruction. (See Bible, Genesis Chapters 1-5) From this rebellion and with sin now completely out of control, man again seeks to rebel against God and overthrow death itself, yet he intends to do so on his own terms. And this is to be accomplished by man – who does not understand that clear, refreshing, tasty liquid that covers most of the planet. Interesting. Even more interesting is that while all of this is going on, under the cloak of darkness it is absolutely certain that other scientists are plotting and planning on transforming this new pending cryonics technology into the most devastating of weapons. And, it will be called an unintended consequence.

    My favorite comments were by Tanner, “God unfortunately has contributed nothing to the advancement of technology.”
    What a statement! God – who needs no introduction (Bible, Exodus 3:14) – created a perfect disease free planet that would have lasted forever, if that is not technology, then what is? The fact that man broke the perfect planet and himself in the process does not require God to give us a new one or instructions for fixing the broken one, for no doubt, man would quickly break that one too. Sin is our nature; sin goes hand in hand with destruction and death that, by the way, cryonics hopes to avoid rather than to simply repent to God as He expects and deserves. In fact, God is owed the most profound of apologies by man in general and scientists in particular.

    But even better, Tanner adds, “Science will do as it’s always done and trample over those who doubt it.” If there is a genuine road block to the growth of technology it is the scientific community itself. Darwin’s work of 150 years ago entitled, On The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (I bet you did not even know the complete title of the book), has paralyzed growth in any practical related field because – although Darwin’s theories have repeatedly been proven wrong – the work as a whole is politically pleasing to a world ready to accept absolutely anything but a real God that demands obedience. Yes Tanner, science will do as it’s always done and trample over the Truth because it goes against the heart and soul of modern science. And that goal is what? The uncontrollable desire to receive a paycheck while offering nothing in return. (Note, my use of the term science refers, typically, to the modern scientific community.)

    If there are any universal constants outside of God’s words, as recorded in the Bible, it is that one, science is always first wrong; two, science later accidently stumbles over the Truth that was already in plain sight and being ignored; and three, science then claims to have never been wrong in the first place. Please note a case in point, the Bible stated clearly that the earth was round more than two thousand years before science stumbled upon this simple fact (Bible, Isaiah 40:22, fear not, look it up). And to offer equal time, what did science say? “Beyond these seas, there be dragons.” Mr. Scientist, take some knowledge. Talk to a granny who reads her Bible.

    Nonetheless, even within the main article and among the variety of comments added, there are some who either intentionally or accidently did – in fact – stumble over the Truth. Humans and animals are not the same things. While there are similarities, i.e., most have eyes, a variety of limbs, and a variety of senses, that is where the similarities end. Man is infinitely more advanced than any animal. Freezing an animal and re-animating him (I really love the Sci-Fi flicks !) is interminably easier than accomplishing the same thing with a human.

    Therefore, please note that man is a tri-partite being. He has a body, a soul, and a spirit; the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:21 “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” The context is the death of the body and the disposition of the spirit. The spirit of man goes up; the spirit of the beast goes down, and for the animal, that is the end of it. On the other hand, for man that is not the end of anything. As to the soul, Luke 16:19-31 teaches that there are but two possibilities either Paradise or Hell, and herein the problem lays. Upon the death of the body the soul either awakens in a literal Hell of fire and brimstone or it is transported by angels to Paradise. Rather than scoff and laugh, find your grandmother’s Bible and look it up (Feel free to use the index if necessary.).

    Entire books have been written on these subjects so I will not beleaguer the point herein. Humans and animals are not the same thing, nor will the response be the same as this work of cryonics continues forward. Under the most ideal of conditions, yes an animal may be re-animated. In Scripture, there are accounts of humans being re-animated but these were direct supernatural acts empowered by God the Creator. So let us then be clear, God Himself separates the three distinct parts of man – body, soul, and spirit – and God can, when He so chooses, reassemble and reanimate them.

    Chris notes,
    “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.” Sorry Chris, but you could not be more wrong. If religion and related phenomena are the subjects being addressed, why not go to the Textbook on such matters to find the Truth? God said in the Bible in James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” As this is the biblical definition of the term religion, no one else’s opinion matters. In fact, even the most unrepentant, rebellious scientist could be religious if he followed these two simply steps, “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
    And
    “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 of other theological ideas and beliefs.” Sorry Chris, but you are wrong yet again. We have an entire error-free Book that explains (1) every facet of God’s relationship to us, (2) the soul and its purpose, (3) the spirit, and (4) a whole host of other theological areas of thought. This Book is called the Bible; it is available for about $4.00 or, if times are hard, there are many churches that simply give them away for free. Take some knowledge.
    And
    “While i certainly don’t believe ‘God’ would care very much for the idea of us becoming immortal…” Really, really sorry to have to do this again, but Chris, you are wrong again. Eternal life is exactly what God wants for you. In fact, He wants it so bad that His own Son Jesus Christ died for you so that you could have eternal life. At least get a New Testament (KJVersion), and look into it, you might find that all of this Sci-Fi stuff is just that… entertainment.

    Now then, I have tried to be brief, and I am aware that the original posting was several years old, but it is rare to find such confusion over such a simple subject. Therefore, I offer my apologies for being lengthy.

    Donald Turner
    November 27, 2013
    Reply

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