Freezing the human body for the future is a common setting in science fiction works. In reality, although there is no Captain America super serum, "Frozen Man" actually already exists. They also hope to break the shackles of time, replace the "stop" button of life with a "pause" button, and resurrect one day in the future.
Of course, the frozen man is definitely not installed in the freezer layer of the refrigerator (Doge), nor is it lying on the seabed like the US team, but is installed in a liquid nitrogen tank like the one below.
The temperature of the liquid nitrogen is controlled at about minus 196°C. Inside the jars are complete human bodies, as well as individual heads (yes). The owners of these bodies and heads feel that technology in thirty or fifty years' time may be advanced enough to bring them back to life. So you might as well plan ahead and save yourself first, even if you only save your head, there is hope:
Because people die within 4 to 6 minutes of clinical death, brain cells do not die out in large numbers. If it can really be "resurrected" in the distant future, it would be nice to have a new body or robot.
However, although there were frozen people in 1966, it is a pity that more than 50 years have passed, and they have not yet had the opportunity to wait to be reborn, and some are even worse.
Status of the first batch of frozen people
The concept of cryonics was formally proposed in 1962, and experiments were soon started. The earliest preservation method was to first cool the body with dry ice and then place it in a Dewar flask filled with liquid nitrogen. In order to better preserve the head and make it the coldest and most stable, the person will be placed upside down.
Although there is a vacuum protective layer on the outside of the bottle, the liquid nitrogen may eventually vaporize due to the transfer of room temperature, so it needs to be replenished at regular intervals.
The world's first cryonics case was a middle-aged woman from Los Angeles. Her body was placed directly into a liquid nitrogen bottle after 2 months of embalming. But a year later, her relatives took her away to live in peace.
Immediately afterward, the world's first frozen man was arranged: James Bedford, an American rich man who was unwilling to die of cancer. Why do you say he is the first? The main reason is that the processing method is more scientific. James Bedford was frozen immediately after his death, and the blood was drawn and perfused with cryoprotective fluid.
The man in charge of freezing James Bedford was named Nelson, and he had "taken a lot of orders" back and forth and made a lot of frozen people. But one of the three bottles had malfunctioned, and when Nelson opened it, he found the people inside had thawed.
Another father had Nelson freeze his six-year-old son, and the father kept and maintained the bottle himself. Perhaps because of the rapidity of the freezing, the boy's body, unfortunately, cracked open and was thawed and buried. For various reasons, including his own irresponsibility, among the frozen people handled by Nelson, except for James Bedford, all failed, and he was finally declared bankrupt.
In another place, in a cemetery in New Jersey, USA, someone was also doing this business, but it was basically "annihilated" - mainly because the bottle used was poorly designed and the vacuum layer did not work, causing the body to be repeatedly Freeze and thaw, stick to the wall of the bottle. Horribly, staff had to wear ventilators to scrape the wreck out and bury it.
In addition to the above reasons, some cryopreserved people ultimately failed because their family members repented and were unwilling to pay for maintenance, or the cryopreservation was ordered to stop by the court against the will of the deceased. As mentioned earlier, James Bedford was the only one of the earliest frozen individuals (before 1973) to survive, mainly because he had been carefully maintained by his family.
About 15 years later, James Bedford was taken over by the founders of Alcor and is still in the freezer to this day (scheduled to thaw in 2017). Founded in 1972, Alcor is one of the world's leading cryonics companies. Alcor has developed professional processes and equipment to do this. It charges $200,000 (about 1.35 million yuan) for whole body freezing and only $80,000 (about 540,000 yuan) for freezing the brain. So far, a total of 200+ customers have been frozen.
Is it true science or a black joke?
Although hundreds of people around the world have been cryonics and thousands have signed post-mortem freezing agreements, the technology has sparked a lot of controversies. Some argue that cryohuman technology is just a strange intersection of scientific thinking and wishful thinking.
It is scientific because humans have mastered the technology of cryopreserving embryos and small tissues; it is mysterious because the human body is much more complex than a single tissue and embryo, and the scene of freezing a corpse is somewhat terrifying.
There are indeed bears, snakes, frogs, and other animals in nature that can hibernate. During this period, their breathing, metabolism, and heart rate will slow down, and their body temperature will sometimes even drop to the same as the outside temperature. When the spring flowers bloom, they are back to life again. But we all know that people cannot hibernate. Because compared with hibernating animals, the human body lacks some functions:
The human heart responds to calcium contractions. Below a certain temperature, the heart cannot remove excess calcium. Too much calcium can lead to cardiac arrest. Specifically, when the core temperature falls below 28°C, the heart stops working; while the hearts of hibernating animals can continue to beat even at 1°C.
In addition, the human body is particularly difficult to preserve because our heads are (mostly) structurally fragile, and organs like the heart cannot be cryopreserved. Without oxygen at room temperature, the brain dies within minutes. While the body may be reactivated, "alive" people tend to be in a permanent vegetative state.
Although the current freezing technology is much more advanced, under the laws of nature, the tissues and organs of the body will rapidly decompose and deteriorate after death, and even change during freezing. This can be reminiscent of the food in the freezer layer of the refrigerator, which will go bad after a long time. And if you want to "resurrection", you need to thaw in addition to the freezing process, which is also a very difficult problem.
Just as Alcor discovered by chance, on the surface, these frozen people only had some cracks in their skin. Once the thawing is completed, the situation becomes quite bad - the flesh is cracked from the skin to the internal organs, bones, blood vessels, intestines, hearts and other organs are broken and broken... basically, nothing is intact. One of them thawed more slowly and had fewer cracks, but ultimately the internal organs were the most damaged. (The picture is too bloody, so I won't put it here)
At the time, Alcor said: Repairing these damages may require very, very advanced medical technology at the molecular level. This makes the cryoman's hope of coming back to life even more remote.
Speaking of which, emergency freezing to save living organisms is more reliable**. The therapy, dubbed Cryonic, is expected to buy patients more time for surgery. In 1999, someone drained the dog's blood, poured it into a cold, salty liquid, and changed it back to warm blood an hour later.
In 2006, a Japanese named Mitsutaka Uchikoshi was killed on the mountain. The low temperature made him "sleep". After lying there for 24 days, he was found and taken to the hospital. Later, he miraculously survived without any sequelae.
In 2016, doctors at the University of Maryland began researching emergency freezing to save the lives of people with knife or gunshot wounds. Because of the rapid blood loss, these patients go into cardiac arrest, leaving the surgeon only a few minutes to stop the bleeding and get the heartbeat back as quickly as possible. In this case, the patient survival rate is only between 2% and 5%. So researchers hope to slow down the process of metabolism by freezing to buy more time for surgery.
Since 2019, 10 patients have received cryosurgery. The researchers used ice-cold saline to keep the body temperature below 10°C, allowing the human body to enter a "sleep" state.
However, the full results of the trial will not be released until 2023.
There are 12 frozen people in China
Over the years, there have also been frozen people in our country, the youngest of whom is only 13 years old. The first case of the frozen person in my country is children's literature writer Du Hong, who is also one of the editors of "Three-Body Problem". Du Hong died of illness in 2015, and her head was saved by Alcor's income at a cost of 120,000 US dollars (about 810,000 yuan). The family signed an agreement with Alcor, hoping that 50 years from now, science and technology could thaw her head and recreate her body to bring her back to life.
In 2017, my country has the first local freezing person Zhan Wenlian. Researchers at Shandong Yinfeng Institute of Life Sciences are in charge of freezing her body. While the future of cryopreservation is unclear, as mentioned earlier, techniques for cryopreserving embryos and small tissues are already available. The world's longest human frozen-age embryo has a record of 28 years: it has been frozen since 1992, thawed in 2020, and finally turned into a cute baby girl.
It's true that freezing embryos is not the same thing as freezing people, but technology is constantly evolving. Some advanced ideas seem mysterious now, but maybe one day in the future, they will really be realized. Just like when Verne wrote about the Nautilus at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, no one knew what a submarine was; today, manned submarines have become something everyone knows. Perhaps in the movie, the scene where the American team was resurrected after being frozen at the bottom of the sea for 70 years could also be brought into reality in the future.