August 11, 1990

Frozen Fool

Mausoleum, n. The final and funniest folly of the rich.

Ambrose Bierce

Sorry Ambrose, mausoleums are nothing! Now, for a much larger sum of money, it's possible for a rich person to get his body frozen for posterity. There is even a man, with an incurable brain tumor, who wanted his head frozen and then removed before he died, so that his great brain could be preserved for posterity. It's a a very expensive and complicated way of committing suicide. Oh well; everyone to his own taste. The man is a mathematician and it sounds like just the kind of morbid joke that a mathematician would pull. As a joke, it's great. If he's serious, he deserves to get his head frozen. So do the swindlers who are doing the freezing.

How long is posterity? It's as long as the promoters who started the project can continue to extract money from the suckers. Then, like old frozen fish, the bodies will be consigned to an incinerator --excuse me, a crematorium. Maybe our civilization will have progressed to the point where the bodies would be be converted to dog food, as was a mammoth found frozen in Russia. No, they didn't can it, but the sled dogs did eat some of it; or so it was reported.

Will those people be prosecuted for taking money under false pretenses? Not in this country. If someone is eager to get fleeced, he's considered fair game for any con artist.

The company that does this fool-freezing job is "non profit". Does that mean that it doesn't make money? No, it means that expenditures equal income. There are no stockholders. Of course, one of those expenses is a salary for the director. You can bet your sweet bippy that it's substantial. It may not be the eight million that Charles Hurwitz gets, but I'll bet it exceeds $200,000 per year.

I had quite a bit of experience with cryonics. One of the things that I did was to maintain a tumor bank. A tumor bank is like a sperm bank, except that what is frozen are transplantable mouse cancers. It was a way to keep these tumors preserved in case they were needed for experimentation later on. Where are those "valuable" tumors now? Who knows?

Will it someday be possible to freeze a whole animal and then revive it? Yes, it may someday be possible, just as tumors, skin, corneas, sperm and other bits of tissue are frozen and used at a later date. Is it at all likely in the foreseeable future? Not very!

There are many more problems with freezing a whole animal. One problem is controlling the rate of freezing. In keeping cells alive, controlled slow freezing works better than flash freezing, even though flash freezing works better for freezing fish. Another problem is getting a chemical like glycerin to the cells before they die. The chemical prevents ice crystals from forming inside the cells and killing them. Another problem is restoring blood and lymph circulation. Much remains to be done on the treatment of frostbite, which is a much simpler problem.

Just suppose that it were possible to revive a frozen person; why would anyone want to revive those frozen idiots, except to prove that it can be done? You wouldn't really have to revive one of those to prove that it could be done. You could do that with a mouse; and if that isn't enough, with a cat.If the frozen and thawed pussy could still catch a mouse, you've succeeded. Then, you could forget it. Like proving that you can eat more pizza than anyone else --what's the point?

Why would anyone want to freeze people except for the money?

Why do people climb mountains? The answer, they tell me, is "because it's there!"

That reminds me of a shtick that the late Jerry Colona used:

Colona: "I'm going to climb, and climb and climb that mountain, until I get to the top!"

Straight man: And what will you do when you get to the top?"

Colona: "Spit, of course!"

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