Heads Down, Feet Up Layout: Cryogenics Facility at Holbrook Looks ‘Very Tempting’ Near Opening | Western magazine

His view is that it could be as little as 100 years before revival is possible “but no one really knows”.

In some warehouse in NSW the dead will soon be stored, heads bowed, feet up, awaiting resurrection.

The building in Holbrook, Riverina, offers no outside clue that it could one day house dozens of bodies – people who paid to be preserved in hopes of scientific breakthroughs that could bring them back to life.

The full body cryonic suspension activity is not cheap, but is about to be offered in Australia for the first time under a strict no-warranty and no-refund policy. These conditions seem prudent given the horrific events that unfolded in California in 1979, when cryonics pioneer Bob Nelson quietly walked away from a facility less than 10 years after it opened.

The former TV repairman ran out of money to pay for liquid nitrogen deliveries and nine bodies that should have been kept indefinitely were left to rot and liquefy. Nelson later wrote a memoir titled, Freezing people is (not) easy.

Peter Tsolakides, a retired marketer, is president and one of the founders and directors of Southern Cryonics, the nonprofit company behind the Holbrook facility.

He says a lot has changed since the Nelson debacle, citing US organization Alcor, which turns 50 this year. The Arizona-based “life extension foundation” says it has 191 “patients” in its care and a membership base of around 1,500.

The NSW site is small in comparison. The first stage can only accommodate 40 bodies, but with the addition of several warehouses that could reach 600 in the distant future.

Mr. Tsolakides says Southern Cryonics has 34 founding members who each made initial cash payments between $50,000 and $70,000 for a second life. The founder is among them.

Once the site is up and running – a milestone that would be very soon – the company will start taking in newcomers, but they will have to pay $150,000 to be stored in liquid nitrogen indefinitely.

It’s a head-down, feet-up arrangement, a guarantee to maximize the chances of brain preservation in the event of an escape from the double-walled containers that can each hold four bodies.

Mr Tsolakides agrees that this is a significant sum of money, but as Southern Cryonics says on its website, people need to remember that they are “buying an experimental treatment that saves lives, not expensive funerals.

Southern Cryonics tells newcomers to fund their suspensions by purchasing life insurance policies naming the company as the beneficiary, mirroring the funding model used by Alcor in the United States. Given what happened to Nelson’s Vault, financial longevity is a primary concern.

Mr Tsolakides says most of the fees people pay will go into low-risk investments, so there is enough money to keep Southern Cryonics alive and the bodies preserved “almost forever”.

He says the pooled investment funds will be run independently of Southern Cryonics, although those arrangements have not been finalized because no one in the program has died yet.

INNOVATIVE: This rather nondescript building in Holbrook is set to house bodies as part of Australia's first cryonics program operated by Southern Cryonics.

INNOVATIVE: This rather nondescript building in Holbrook is set to house bodies as part of Australia’s first cryonics program operated by Southern Cryonics.

In the event that things do not go as planned, Southern Cryonics has offered assurances to the NSW health authorities and the local council, who both view the Holbrook site as a burial site.

“The first is, and this is not our preferred case, to respectfully bury the people in it,” Mr Tsolakides said.

“It’s not great but that’s what we would do and…it was accepted.”

It has not been possible to speak to any of the people who have already paid their suspensions or verify the claims made about the services available to them. Mr. Tsolakides says those involved are usually very private people.

Max More is a philosopher and futurist who joined Alcor in 1986, at the age of 22. At the time, the organization had fewer than 70 members.

He thinks Mr Tsolakides is being a little pessimistic when he talks about having to store people safely for about 250 years.

His view is that it could be as little as 100 years before rebirth is possible “but no one really knows”.

Skeptics say the idea that humans can be successfully preserved and then reanimated with their memories and sense of self intact is pie in the sky.

RMIT cryobiology expert Gary Bryant recently said Cosmos magazine, the concept of successfully preserving a human body, with all its cellular complexity, was “essentially science fiction” because researchers were currently unable to cryogenically preserve even a simple organ.

Mr More accepts that many people dismiss cryonics as fanciful or believe it’s a scam, but he says future advances in technology are unknowable.

“It’s funny when people say, ‘oh, we’re a scam, get-rich-quick organization’. It’s hilarious because it’s the hardest thing to sell to people. They have to think about their own death, they have to make all these arrangements, there’s all this documentation and then we explain to people all the reasons why it might not work, so that’s the hardest thing to get people to sign.

He says supporters accept that people’s understanding of death is unclear.

“Before about 1960, if you stopped breathing and your heart stopped beating, we would just say ‘well, they’re dead’ and put our hands up. Today we do CPR and defibrillation and often get them back .

“In cryonics, we tend to think that you’re not really dead in terms of irreversibility until your brain structure has been so badly damaged that there’s no way – even in principle – that some technology can fix it.

“Otherwise, you’re not really dead. You’re in an uncertain state…a sort of in-between.”


This story Second shot at life, or pure science fiction? Anyway, it’s on our doorstep first appeared on The Border Mail.

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