The science and ethics of cryonics

thesciencereport

“Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of people who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that resuscitation and restoration to full health may be possible in the far future.”

The practice of cryonics was brought to my attention recently, after I heard about the story of a 14 year old girl who won the right to be cryogenically frozen after she died of cancer. In a letter written before she died, she wrote ‘I think being cryogenically preserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up… I want to have this chance. This is my wish.’

But does cryonics really work? Can people who choose to be preserved be, one day, brought back to life? At first thought, the answer is no – when cells are frozen, the water content in them freezes and expands, breaking the cell membrane. If the cells were to be defrosted, they…

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