Meet Dennis Kowalski, president of the Cryonics Institute in Michigan. A man who helps ensure that you’re chilled out about death. In fact, that you’re well below freezing. He cryonically preserves humans in refrigerators at temperatures of -196°C, until the technology has been developed to bring them back to life.
Why should I trust him? Because around 180 refrigerated humans have done so already. Because more people are signing up each year. And because, frankly, what’s your alternative? Like Pascal’s wager, says Kowalski, cryonics is a very “rational thing to do”.
How much does it cost? The Cryonics Institute charges $28,000 per person. Most pay for it using insurance, which makes it, as Kowalski puts it, “potentially life insurance, as advertised”.
“Potentially”? Yes. Kowalski offers “no guarantees” that you’ll be resurrected. Though it’s unlikely many customers will complain.
Any discounts? Buy one, get one freeze perhaps? Absolutely. The Cryonics Institute offers family discounts. Other centres allow you to do a “neuro” and freeze only your brain. Which (despite obvious drawbacks) can save you an arm and a leg. As it were.
What happens to your corpse after death? Cryonics companies tend to avoid the word “corpse”, says Kowalski, because it “kind of has negative connotations”. So too does “death”. They prefer “patients” and “cases” instead. Kowalski describes cryonics as “an ambulance ride to the future”.
How does it work? Much like an ambulance ride, a new case usually starts with a phone call. As the automated voice message at one cryonics company puts it, “If you’re reporting the death or near death of a…member, please press 2 now.”
And then? Then it’s complicated. In short, picture yourself as a freshly landed fish. You are popped into an ice bath, packed in more ice then transported to the cryonics centre of your choice where various complex processes are performed, including injecting antifreeze into the veins. Then you just chill out, for a year or perhaps a thousand, until pointy heads in the future work out how to revive you. And hopefully heal whatever you died from in the first place. A man dies but once, said Shakespeare, who clearly didn’t have the right insurance.
Is there any evidence that you won’t just end up as food for worms? Glad you mentioned them. Nematode worms have been chilled to -196°C then brought back to squirming life.
Who else will be joining you in this glorious afterlife? Numerous celebrities have expressed an interest in becoming human popsicles, including television host Larry King, the futurologist Ray Kurzweil and Simon Cowell. As if death weren’t bad enough already.•