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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Would you choose to be frozen after death?
One lucky New Scientist reader will win the chance to have their body frozen after death in the hope of being brought back to life in the future.
On dying, the competition winner will be taken to the Cryonics Institute in Michigan, US and immersed in liquid nitrogen at minus 196 degrees centigrade.
The magazine promises to "heal and revive" the winner's body once medical technology has become sophisticated enough.
People are paying around £28,000 to undergo the process even though genetic experts are skeptical about bringing frozen dead bodies back to life.
If the competition winner does lose their nerve, New Scientist is giving them the option to cash the treatment in and take a Hawaiian holiday instead.
Would you like your body to be frozen? How do you imagine it will be to come back to life decades from now?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Chris W, UK
How can you bring the dead back to life? It's akin to alchemists' centuries-long search for a way to make gold out of metal. It's not going to happen.
At death the immaterial element of man - the spirit or soul - leaves the body. Surely no-one really believes we are only material. So even if you could preserve the body, how could you put the soul back into it and make it alive again?
No thanks. Just waking up in the morning is confusing enough, let alone waking up after 100 years. As someone else said, I'd rather go to Hawaii.
If New Scientist wants to promote serious discussion, there are so very many REAL topics they could have highlighted. Promoting a company that makes patently ludicrous claims is hardly the way to encourage public discourse about the sciences.
I think people are missing the point a bit. New Scientist is not running this promotion because it says cryonics will work. The magazine is quite frank about the fact that the science behind cryonics is extremely fringe. What it has done is get us all talking about science. As someone who failed every science exam in the book, this kind of debate has really ignited my interest in matters of a scientific nature.
What's the problem with you guys? A few hundred years ago people thought that earth was flat, flying was impossible, etc. Look at the way science and technology has been progressing the last 100 years, its practically exponential. In fact I feel that the person who will be resuscitated would be surprised to wake up just 20-30 years from now. Guys have an open mind why have fixed notions?
Student accommodation can achieve the same, for about half the cost...
Seriously though - in a consumer society this is just the latest greed; greed for the amount of time you get here. Each year I get more sickened by the society I live in.
Suppose I woke in 100 years' time and found that EastEnders was still on the telly. No thanks, I couldn't take the chance.
Rebecca Southwell, UK
A person's life in my opinion, is only a sum of those people who have touched it. Why would I want to come back in hundreds of years when all of those people that have made my life what it is are gone?
What a complete waste of money! There's more important things that the money and scientists could be working on.
The people who run this "service" prey on people's ignorance of some basic physics. During the freezing process, it is inevitable that ice crystals will grow, permanently damaging nerve and brain cells and therefore destroying the established connections that are used for memory. Even if the cells are repaired by "miracle future science", the information the pathways carried would be permanently lost. The patient's body may (perhaps) be revived in the future, but the individual personality and knowledge would be gone.
I drink shandy and am a tax inspector, therefore I do not believe in new age medical treatments either now or in the future. Use the freezer for storing pizzas, not your granny.
Imagine waking up and everyone you had ever known and loved died at least 100 years ago. It would be quite lonely I would imagine.
The only possible use for freezing, thawing and reviving humans would be in long range space exploration. Why would people of the future want to revive us? They will have enough people and will be well ahead of any possible contribution we could make.
No thank you, one lifetime of working and bringing up a family is enough for me.
What have you got to lose (apart from £28,000)? I'm very dubious, but then it's no less fantastic than the promises of organised religions.
Dave, Kent, UK
So now we are to continue abusing the earth's resources even after death. Is there a time limit on this, or are thousands of years of energy to be wasted keeping a single body frozen? I hope they keep paying the electricity bill!
Mortality is a gift.
After I die, I fully expect to come back to life - in Heaven.
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