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Adventures in Cryonics

Date: 08-22-14
Host: George Noory
Guests: Bob Nelson

One of the pioneers of cryonics, Bob Nelson, discussed the science behind the theory that people can be frozen immediately after death and brought back to life at some later date. It is possible to suspend life and resuscitate it, he said, citing the Siberian salamander which can remain frozen in a block of ice for several years, and upon thawing, walk off as if nothing happened. Nelson briefly described the ideal process for freezing a person. As soon as the heart stops the body is covered with ice to lower metabolism, blood is removed and replaced with biological antifreeze to keep cell damage to a minimum, and then the temperature of the body is lowered to 320 degrees below zero, he explained.

Freezing essentially stops time, Nelson continued. He talked about his work in 1967 putting the first man, a retired psychology professor at Glendale College in California, into cryonic suspension. Nelson admitted that it was unlikely this patient could ever be resuscitated given the state of freezing techniques at that time. "I think the science and technology of cryonics is very sound now," he said, noting that the odds of reanimating the 300 people currently in suspension at the Cryonic Institute is much greater today. The cost of cryonic suspension is around $28,000, he estimated, pointing out that it only costs the company $100/year to maintain a frozen body.

Nelson shared the story of Marie Sweet, a champion of cryonics and the first woman to be cryonically suspended. Although Sweet's body was discovered nearly 48 hours after she had passed the decision was made to put her into suspension, he reported. Nelson spoke about freezing a 7-year-old Canadian girl with a rare deadly tumor for which there was no cure. Today this disease is completely treatable, so when the technology is developed to resuscitate frozen patients this girl can be cured, he suggested. He was joined in the second hour by his co-authors on Freezing People Is (Not) Easy, Kenneth Bly and Sally Magana. Bly commented on the errors Nelson made trying to keep people frozen and the lawsuit that resulted when some patients were inadvertently thawed.

The final hour of the show was devoted to Open Lines.

News segment guests: Craig Hulet / Peter Davenport

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