Santa baby, slip cryonic preservation under the tree

I found this curious New Scientist article from 1995 where Phil Bagnall recalled someone suggesting cryonic preservation as a Christmas gift:

WHAT to buy my nearest and dearest this Christmas? I spent weeks worrying about it until someone suggested the gift of cryonic preservation. Not just yet, you understand, but after she’s passed on. In the meantime, I could start a fund to help pay for the gift.

It did seem like a good idea. After all, we have spent a blissful 15 years together, so why shouldn’t she find love in the 23rd century? It was only after I did a little research that I began to have some nagging doubts.

Cryonics, in case you’re wondering, is the science of freezing someone in the hope that they can be revived at a later date. In the US it can cost between $40 000 and $140 000 and so is considerably more expensive than a conventional funeral in Britain. So only about 1000 people worldwide have expressed a serious desire to be cryonically preserved.

Even so, if you decide freezing is for you you will probably be in good company – though I’d better not mention anyone by name. And the people offering a cryonic service won’t say who they have on their books, or should I say in their flasks. Freezing a body is far from easy. Ice crystals form inside the body’s cells and become quite large and jagged, often puncturing delicate membranes causing cells to collapse. Salts build up and the acid-alkaline ratio changes, throwing the whole biological system into chaos.

I wouldn’t dare suggest this to anyone for fear of a frosty reception. Apropos of nothing, I don’t think I need any joke books for Christmas.

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