By Dr. Gary L. Deel, Ph.D., J.D. and Dr. Brian Burnes, Ph.D.
Preface: This article is intended as a casual introduction to the scientific theories behind cryonics for the layperson.
Questions of Life and Death
Here’s a question: If you could live forever, would you want to? And if your answer is “yes,” what price would you be willing to pay for immortality?
These are questions over which mankind has pontificated for eons. The idea of “cheating” death intrigues us. Many fear dying. Others look at death as a sad but unavoidable discontinuation of all of the investments we make throughout our lives, including our careers, our families, and our general purpose while we’re alive. Think of all we could accomplish in the aggregate, if we could only continue on without limits.
To date, dreams of immortality have been just that — fantasies that even the very best in medical science cannot yet bring to fruition. We’ve written previously about how something like immortality might one day be possible through an exploitation of Einstein’s time dilation — but if such a thing is possible at all, it certainly isn’t within the reach with today’s technology. Still, what if there was another way — a currently accessible way — to evade death?
Why Do We Die?
Causes of death among humans obviously vary widely. Some of us meet our unfortunate and untimely demise through terrible accidents such as car crashes, slips and falls, and other fatal incidents. A small number of us are deliberately murdered by other humans or eaten by wildlife.
Many, many others will die from diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other afflictions to vital organs. According to the CDC, disease accounts for a majority of the top 12 leading causes of death in the United States.
Still, many people will be fortunate enough to live to a reasonably old age such that when they do die, the circumstances are generally described as death by “natural causes.” But what does that term actually mean?
Surely we don’t mean that these people are supposed to die when they die. No, what is generally meant by the term “natural causes” is that, as we age and…