Oxford Academics Cryopreservation: Why Are Professors Having Their Heads Frozen?
Three Oxford University Institute academics are opting for cryogenic preservation after they die, in the hopes of one day being brought back to life.
Two of the Oxford academics, Nick Bostrom, professor of philosophy at the Future of Humanity Institute, and Anders Sandberg, one of Bostrom's co-researchers, are paying the Alcor Life Extension Foundation outside of Phoenix, Ariz., to detach and deep-freeze their heads after they die. The third Oxford academic, Bostrom and Sandberg's colleague Stuart Armstrong, will have his entire body frozen.
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The entire body deep-freeze cryopreservation costs about $200,000, and will be undertaken at the Cryonics Institute in Michigan.
"It costs me [about $39] a month in premiums to cover the cost of getting cryo-preserved, and that seems a good bet," Armstrong told The Independent. "It's a lot cheaper than joining a gym, which is most people's way of trying to prolong life."
Armstrong even plans to take out policies for his wife and their unborn daughter.
"If you picture the world in, say, 200 years, when reanimation is possible, it will probably be a wonderful place. I want to sign up the baby so she has the same chance."
Cryonics has often been cast in popular culture as the province of kooks and cranks. (For the record, the oft-related tale about Walt Disney being cryonically preserved is totally false.) But the Oxford academics, with physics and neuroscience backgrounds, may lend some credibility to the idea of being cryopreserved. Bostrom has even been listed on Foreign Policy magazine's list of 100 Global Thinkers.
"Look back at what has happened over the past 100 years, and how many features of today's world somebody from 1913 would have failed to anticipate," Bostrom said. "The more uncertain you are about the future, the more it makes sense to keep your options alive -- for example, by trying to preserve as much as possible of the information content in your brain, rather than throwing it away."
When the Oxford academics die, a machine will continue to pump blood into the body. It will be cooled, and the blood stream will be infused with preservatives and anti-freeze.
The frozen heads of the two Oxford academics will be pumped with antifreeze chemicals and preserved in liquid nitrogen at negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
The plan is that one day, a disembodied head attached to a computer would be able to function. Some also believe that frozen heads will be able to be reattached to bodies.
As Alan Sinclair, a cryonics advocate in England told the Daily Mail, the procedures are a "leap of faith, but a leap of faith in science."
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