Cryonics – the use of low temperature to preserve bodies no longer maintainable by contemporary medicine, with the hope of later resuscitation – is far from a new idea. The practice goes back at least to 1967, when James Bedford was cryo-preserved by the Cryonics Society of California. But the technology has progressed tremendously since then, with organizations like Alcor and the Cryonics Institute making use of advanced techniques for preserving cryonics patients with less and less damage, increasing the odds of eventual successful resuscitation. Most exciting has been the development of vitrification, which allows the preservation of the body in a special glassy state, avoiding the damage ensuing from the traditional freezing process. And millions of dollars are being spent to keep the science and practice of cryopreservation moving forward.
If you're interested to learn more about this technology – with a view toward contributing to the science or practice, or maybe being cryo-preserved yourself – you may be interested in the Suspended Animation Conference being held later this year in South Florida. During May 20-22 2011 cryonics scientists and enthusiasts from around the world will gather at the Hyatt in Fort Lauderdale to learn about and advance the state of the art. Speakers will include cryonics pioneers such as Dr. Steve Harris, Dr. Brian Wowk, Dr. Greg Fahy, Dr. Ralph Merkle and more.
Furthermore, after the conference presentations, attendees will get the chance to visit Suspended Animation Inc.'s nearby laboratory and witness cryo-preservation technology first hand. Unlike Alcor and the Cryonics Institute, which handle both preservation and storage of patients, Suspended Animation focuses only on the first stage, getting the patient's body effectively vitrified; storage must then be handled by a separate organization (such as Alcor or CI). The concept is that this more specialized focus will allow Suspended Animation to truly excel at their task.
I have to disclose a certain bias here: I myself am signed up for cryo-preservation via Alcor, in the unhappy event that my quest for non-cryonic immortality doesn't pan out. I don't particularly want to have my body frozen – I'd rather keep breathing, or get directly uploaded into a robot or some such. But, to put it crudely, freezing seems more hopeful than rotting! If you think this sounds sensible you may wish to head to Fort Lauderdale to hear more details. And if you think it sounds crazy, hey, maybe you should check it out anyway, just in the spirit of open-mindedness. South Florida's quite pleasant in the late spring!
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