The January 25 issue of the New Yorker features an amusing article about cryopreservation of bodies, a.k.a. cryogenics or cryonics. The article doesn’t so much shed light on the science of this controversial procedure; but rather, it spotlights Robert C.W. Ettinger, one of the founders of the cryonics movement.
The ninety-one year old Ettinger gives journalist Jill Lepore a tour of his Cryonics Institute, about 20 miles northeast of Detroit. Ettinger is matter-of-fact as he dodders around the facility and explains the processes and pitfalls of cryopreservation. Ettinger’s two wives and his mother are frozen at the Institute as part of the current total of 883 members, not including the 64 pets also in cryostasis. Several pictures are here from the Immorality Institute’s forum page.
In his youth, Ettinger was a reader and writer of science fiction which informed his interest in and ultimately his career choice as a cryonicist. And indeed, he has an interesting take on what the future holds. Regarding the idea that if no one ever dies, won’t there be too many people on the planet? Ettinger posits:
The people could simply agree to share the available space in shifts and could “go into suspended animation from time to time to make room for others.” There will be no childbirth. Fetuses will be incubated in jars. Essentially, motherhood will be abolished. Then too, eugenics will help keep the birthrate down, and deformed babies could be frozen against the day that someone might actually want them.”
If you wish to learn more about Mr. Ettinger’s postulations, visit your local library or retailer and take a gander at some of his books:
Prospect of Immortality (2005)
Man into Superman (2005)
Youniverse: Toward a Self-Centered Philosophy of Immortalism and Cryonics (2009)