Imaginary Conversation - Cryonic Suspension © Copyright Gina Miller May 31, 2003
Nikolai1-A man who recently signed up for cryonic suspension.
Bertrand2 - A man who believes that death is inevitable.
Nikolai I signed up for cryonic suspension.
Bertrand Cryonic suspension?
Nikolai Yes, you know, after I die, they come and get me and store me in liquid nitrogen until they can bring me back to life. It's the main part of a practice called cryonics, after kryos, the Greek word meaning extreme cold. People get preserved this way, at low temperature, or cryopreserved.
Bertrand Have they brought anyone back yet?
Bertrand Then how do you know it's going to work?
Nikolai I don't, but if it doesn't work, I'll just still be dead, so I have nothing to lose. If there is a 0.1% chance that it might work, even those are better odds than the 100% chance of staying dead I would have if I was buried or cremated.
Bertrand That's creepy, your body floating around for who knows how long.
Nikolai Well, that's not really what I want to do. I'd rather live forever from right now, here in this lifetime. But if our lives are not able to be extended while I am alive, I'll use cryonic suspension as a back up plan.
Bertrand You won't go to heaven, I look forward to seeing my family members up there when I die!
Nikolai I hope you do see them. But, I want to live, here on earth or maybe somewhere else in the universe, there are so many things I could do if I had all of the time in the world to do them.
Bertrand But what about your soul? Where is your soul when you are in that tank?
Nikolai My soul is contained within the physical construct of my brain. This is where my memories are stored, and my personality has been cultivated.
Bertrand What if your memories don't come back?
Nikolai That's a good question. What we know now about the brain, would not be enough to understand how memories work, there is a possibility that I would be rebuilt using my own DNA, but that my memories would be wiped out. This is why brain research is so important, to understand the brain would help to preserve it's contents. I hope that in the future, this will be possible. When the need arises, though, I'll take what preservation is available.
Bertrand If you were revived without your memories, you would be like a baby, and have no understanding of the world. You would have to learn everything over again.
Nikolai That's a risk that I am willing to take. What if in the process of reanimation my memories are restored? Since we haven't revived anyone, we don't know if memories will be restorable. Technology will have to be really advanced for cryonic revivals to happen at all, though, which means that technology in general should be far advanced beyond present levels. This raises hopes that methods of recovering memories will have been developed, along with everything else.
Bertrand What about what you would wake up to? You would have no friends or family?
Nikolai While my family members do not share my vision of the future and are not signed up I have friends that I have made throughout this process that do share my same vision and you can bet they intend to be there, too..
Bertrand Yes, I suppose so, but what else will be there? You don't know what the world will be like, it could be an ugly future, you wouldn't know how things work, that would be scary.
Nikolai I look forward to the future. I have considered the future greatly, which is advisable if you are aiming for an extended life span or in my case immortality. Waking up to the future would be a great adventure.
Bertrand It could be a bad adventure!
Nikolai It could be, you are right, but tomorrow could hold a bad adventure for me too. There is no way to tell the future from a minute from now to 100 years from now.
Bertrand I don't know, when my time comes, it's my time to go. I wouldn't want to live that long anyway.
Nikolai Why not? What if tomorrow was your time to come, would you want to die?
Bertrand No, but it's not my decision. Fate decides. Everything happens for a reason.
Nikolai I understand that we need to believe that, to make sense of it all. Even if it's true, though, you never know what "fate" may have decided-maybe it's decided very differently than you think. In any case, as I get older I realize I never have enough time, there are never enough hours in the day. I predict that with the given life span, I will not have accomplished everything I want to.
Bertrand That's just more reason to appreciate the time we do have, and make the most of it.
Nikolai I can appreciate that, if I only live in this lifetime, or longer. That's a good attitude to have. Since I appreciate life, I would like to continue to for as long as I can.
1. The name Nikolai is borrowed from a real man, Nikolai Fedorov (1829-1903), who began thinking about how one could be returned from death by using science.
2. The name Bertrand is borrowed from a real man, Bertrand Russell a British philosopher who so strongly believed that death can not be avoided he suggests acceptance.
These characters comments are strictly fiction and have no relation to words spoken by the names by which the characters have borrowed.