Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alcore Life Extension

Today I did a bit of research on the Alcore Life Extension Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Scottsdale, AZ (an upscale community near Phoenix) that for 20 some odd years has been freezing bodies in ten foot tall steel tanks. Well, technically "freezing" is not what is done.

First a person must be declared legally dead. At that point the Alcore team moves in, artificially maintaining circulation and respiration to ensure "brain viability" until the "patient" can be cooled safely. Medical personnel (doctors?) attach the patient's large blood vessels to a perfusion machine which slowly replaces the blood with a chemical that will protect the cells and tissues from rupturing as they are cooled over the next four days. At that point they will be submerged in a tank of liquid nitrogen. Technically this is called "vitrification" which is solidification without freezing. Even though the... um... patient will be held at at a temperature of 320 degrees below freezing, they are not considered to be "frozen."

There are two options for those who hope to cheat death at Alcore: whole body patients, which are placed head first into the tanks (in case there is loss of liquid nitrogen from spillage or evaporation -- the head will be the last to be uncovered) and "neuro" patients. These are the, um, heads only.

Yes, in some cases the head is removed from the body and submerged in the liquid nitrogen by itself, on the assumption, I guess, that in time technology will figure out how to grow the rest of the body onto the head. The funny thing is that there is no clear reference to the fact that there are just heads in the tanks on the Alcore page, just this euphemistic "neuro patient".

Going the head only route costs about half as much as the whole body preservation, but at $50,000+ it's still a lot. There are now about 79 patients at the facility in Scottsdale and about 700 others who are signed up as members. Beyond the generally bizarre nature of it all (and my need for technical details for a scene I was writing), what I found interesting was the exercise in faith here. Faith in technology. Hope that this will give the people a second chance at life. In fact, one couple took out memberships not only for themselves but for their three young children. The oldest girl when asked if she wanted to be "frozen" said yes. It was better to "have a chance" than to have no chance at all.

I would guess these folks do not know Jesus as their savior. It's a bit astonishing to contemplate how vastly different my viewpoint is from someone who would go to Alcore. And I feel bad for them. No one has ever been defrosted. Alcore's chief administrative executive admitted they wouldn't be pulling anyone out of the tanks until they could cure the diseases that had killed them (to say nothing of the problem of regenerating the lost bodies on those "neuro patients").

Many in the medical field think there is no chance whatsoever of bringing people out of the deep freeze and back from the dead. It's purely a speculative technology, which is technobabble for "faith" -- faith in man's technology instead of God's omniscience and omnipotence and love and grace and mercy and provision... Faith that somehow someone is going to figure out how to fix everything still wrong with this whole system, and when they do, that the person's soul is going to still be there, having hung around for in some cases, 20 years. Or maybe they don't believe in a soul. But whatever --even if it all works, they'd still be in the same old fallen bodies, riddled with the sin nature. But they probably don't believe in any of that either.

Personally, I am looking forward to the new vastly upgraded model of human body to be distributed at the Resurrection. So upgraded it's not even the same species. I'm especially looking forward to it as I begin to age. :-)

Anyway, that research gave me a lot of stuff for my scene and I'm calling Ch 23 done. I have three scenes I'm considering next. What order should they be done in, and should they all even be done? One in particular I'm thinking of scrapping. Another is very vague -- I have no idea what is going to happen in it, which makes it hard to decide what order it should come in.

But that's for tomorrow.