You could freeze your head when you die to see what the future is like
Whenever most of us think about what will happen after death, we normally imagine ourselves living the good life in heaven or being reincarnated as a lazy housecat or an intellectual genius who cures cancer and has the body of a Hemsworth. What we didn't see happening is our body being transported to a cryonics facility and our head cut off and left to float in a tank of liquid nitrogen for hundreds of years to come.
As monstrous as this sounds, some scientists are naming it as a miracle procedure that fights off death. Known as cryonics, freezing your head when you die is said to be a way to preserve your personality, intellect and memories so that you can come back to life at a later date - when experts advance medical science enough to figure out exactly how to resurrect people, of course.
At the moment, the process of freezing a head or a whole body - known as cryopreservation - begins once a body has been declared legally dead by medical professionals. The procedure is initiated within two to 15 minutes of the heart stopping and starts with the body being packed in ice and injected with chemicals in order to reduce blood clotting. It is then cooled to just above 0°C, after which the blood is replaced with a solution to preserve the organs. Soon after, another solution is injected to stop ice crystals from forming in organs and tissues, and the body is cooled to -130°C, placed in a container and finally lowered into a tank of liquid nitrogen at -196°C.
While many will shudder in despair, revolted by the very thought, others will have only one question: how much do I have to fork out to live forever? The answer is, maybe less than you thought! Reportedly, one UK company, Stem Protect, believes that the cost of the procedure will drop rapidly over the next decade to just £5,000 ($6,572) for 250 years of being frozen.
At the moment, there are three facilities around the world that offer full head, body and other forms of cryopreservation; the cheapest price comes from Russian based KrioRus, which advertises "neuropreservation" for £10,000 ($13,145) and freezes just the brain. However, Nottingham-based firm Stem Protect believes that costs could drop by more than half, amazingly in just five to ten years time.
Speaking to MailOnline in October 2017, company spokesperson Mark Hall, told all about how he expected the price to decrease in coming years, saying:
"While we’re not at the point yet where we can bring someone back to life from this procedure, we believe it’s just around the corner. 'We don’t yet know what the emotional impact would be of bringing someone back to life this way even when we are physically able to do it. That’s not a question for science but for us as human beings, and it’s a question we might not be able to answer until the first person is brought back to life after being frozen. It's a service we could offer today, just not at that price.
"It would probably cost around £50,000 to £75,000 ($65,000 to $100,000). It's a bit like Moore's law, technology improves over time, and as more and more facilities are built it will get cheaper and cheaper. I think in a few years it will be possible to have whole warehouses that are one giant facility, although you wouldn't want to walk through them. That would significantly reduce the price."
If he is, in fact, correct, it highlights that fact that this unique process could become a common practice in society. Soon enough, you could be the weird one if you opted for being thrown into the ground or burned in a big oven. As it stands at the moment though, the idea of hanging out in a tank of liquid nitrogen for a couple hundred years is one that many are not yet comfortable with.
For instance, when 23-year-old Kim Suozzi was told by doctors that she had Glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer, the St Louis resident decided to take things into her own hands and set out to raise the $70,000 needed to have her head placed in cryonic preservation, admitting that "the only thing that I can think to make me feel a little more at ease with my death is to secure cryopreservation plans on the off-chance that they figure out how to revive people in the future." However, she underestimated just how disturbing the experience would be for her family.
Perhaps the most difficult thing for Suozzi's mother, Jane, to accept was that her daughter would only be freezing her head and not her entire body. Heavily religious, Jane said back in January 2013: "It was explained to me that the cyropreservation was more successful if it was just the head. I can't tell you why, I just know what they are really after is the brain. I worked real hard on reconciling it with my personal faith and trying to be okay with it, and I am okay with it."
While you sit back and contemplate whether you personally would be comfortable with the procedure, there's actually no need to worry too much. Obviously, it's likely that it could be hundreds of years before experts discover the secret to resurrection and it's also likely that they never will. Not to mention, some medical experts have cast massive doubt over the freezing process, claiming that cells will be damaged during freezing, being turned to "mush" and therefore unable to be converted back to living tissue, any more than you can turn a scrambled egg back into a raw one.
So, the chances are that you can take your sweet time on this one - there's no real rush on deciding whether you want to live to see the year 2267 or beyond. But, hey, if you do decide to freeze yourself into the future, pop back to see us sometime. Surely they'll have time travel by that time, right?