Cryonics is the science and industry of preserving the physical structure of the mind on death, indefinitely preventing its decay through low-temperature storage. At some point future technology will be capable of restoring a preserved individual to active life - and given what we know about aging and the pace of development in biotechnology, it is likely that this will be long past the point at which degenerative aging is cured, and complete control over growth, disease, and regeneration is achieved. Those are arguably easier challenges than that of restoring a vitrified brain into a new body. The difficulty is irrelevant if you can wait for decades or centuries, of course. Time is on the side of the cryopreserved provided that the institutions of cryonics continue for the long term.
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation is one of the small number of cryonics providers, a long-term venture dating back four decades to the early days in which cryonics moved from overambitious amateur venture to a more professional medical undertaking. If you take a look at the Alcor News blog, you'll find a link to a recent Nova video segment that didn't run on air, but can be viewed online:
Since 1972, a company called Alcor has been preserving legally dead people at very low temperatures. The hope is that, in the future, scientists will be able to revive these "patients," giving them a chance for eternal life. It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but host David Pogue met with Alcor president and CEO Max More to tour the facility and learn about the field of "cryonics."
NARRATOR: Near the hot desert just outside of Phoenix, Arizona is a company called Alcor. Despite the high temperature outside, within, over 100 human bodies are being preserved at very low temperatures. Host David Pogue met with the president and CEO Max More to learn about the field of cryonics.
DAVID POGUE: So who's in this gallery here?
MAX MORE: These are some of our patients. We call them patients because we don't regard them as dead people. The idea is that what we call death today is somewhat of an arbitrary line. Really it's today's doctors giving up and saying, "There's nothing more I can do for this person and I'm letting them go." What we're doing is we're saying, "Let's not quit there. Let's give the future a chance to bring these patients back."
As it turns out Alcor has a YouTube channel these days. I shouldn't be at all surprised - any organization of any size either has a channel or should have a channel, with YouTube or a similar service. It's an obvious step when it comes to outreach and education, provided your budget rises to at least the modest level required to produce informative videos of a suitable quality. So if you take a look you'll find a brace of videos from the Alcor 40 conference held last year, as well as a series of FAQ videos to explain cryonics and its role in medicine. For example:
In this in-depth analysis of Cryonics, Alcor President, Max More, explores how Cryonics is, in fact, simply an extension of critical care medicine.