How deep-cooling experts want to defeat the grim reaper

How deep-cooling experts want to defeat the grim reaper

If everything goes as planned for klaus sames, he will one day be hanging upside down in a stainless steel holder in america.

In his veins there will no longer be blood, but a glassy substance interspersed with forest preservatives. And the body of the emeritus professor will be enveloped in liquid nitrogen. Temperature: minus 196 degrees celsius. "And it will be until they revive me," says 79-year-old geriatric researcher. "In 100, 200 or more years, until science has reached that point."

The professor with the chin-length hair still enjoys good health in his adopted bavarian hometown of senden. The grim reaper should be patient: "i like life, i read a lot and i like to hike."But most of sames’ work is in cryonics, the cryogenic preservation of organisms, organs and whole organisms.

The father of cryonics, u.S. Physicist robert ettinger, achieved fame in 1962 with his book "the prospect of immortality": according to ettinger, the dead could be given a new lease of life in the distant future if they were quickly cooled down to cryogenic temperatures. Not a few people found it worth a try. Cost: up to $200,000 (170,000 euros). Result: open.

Around 250 dead people – cryonicists call them patients – are "slumbering" in containers at two american non-profit institutes, among them several germans. About 50 such modern mummies are also said to be in a russian facility. This is not permitted in germany. It makes sense that the heads of cryopreserved animals are always at the bottom: if there is not enough nitrogen, the tubes should be damaged rather than the brain.

Ettinger was put in a nitrogen container in 2011 after his death at the age of 92 in the cryonics institute he founded in detroit (michigan), his two wives were also frozen. "Some people wonder," says sames with a wink, "what might happen if you thawed out their spouses at the same time."

Sames, born in 1939 in kassel, first studied theology. "That’s when i realized i wasn’t going to heaven." He turned to medicine, became an anatomist and geriatric researcher. The doctor has been deeply involved in cryonics since his retirement.

The fact that cryonicists are only a small group of enthusiasts – "probably one in a million" – doesn’t keep the professor away from the subject at all. Nor criticism or ridicule. For example, the sneer of u.S. Biologist arthur rowe: "believing that cryonicists can revive someone is like believing that you can turn a hamburger into a cow again."

But the saying lies decades back. Since then, cryonics – although not recognized as a science – has developed just as much as reproductive medicine, for example. Cryonicists point out that there are thousands of people today who have been created from frozen embryos.

In fact, embryos and fertilized eggs have been stored in liquid nitrogen at minus 196 degrees for years. "The method has survived," says professor katharina hancke, an expert in endocrinology and reproductive medicine at ulm university hospital. She is not a cryonicist, but at least "relatively confident" that science could one day master the complex processes of freezing and thawing human bodies. "Nevertheless, the question remains whether it is possible to resuscitate the dead at all."

Sames says that this is only conceivable with bodies that are frozen quickly and professionally after cardiac arrest. He trains the procedures in the voluntary "ulm cryonics emergency team. According to sames, the small group of like-minded people includes an embalmer, a cardio technician, a nurse as well as physicians and a long-established mortician from ulm.

"Today, we have reached the point where we can provide a complete cryonics supply right up to transport to detroit," says the professor. "But our project needed urgent demand, we are looking for sponsors and premises."In addition to pumps, hoses, surgical equipment, surgical instruments and medications, the equipment now also includes computer watches. One of them wears sames on her arm all the time. "When my heart stops, it alerts the others."

The procedure is similar to that of the cryonics institute, where sames has secured a place in the "ambulance to the future" for 30,000 euros: the team arrives with 60 kilograms of ice. The blood is pumped out of the body and replaced with antifreeze. The "patient" is injected with drugs that protect cell membranes and prevent blood coagulation. It is flown to detroit in dry ice (- 78 degrees), where it is cooled down to minus 196 degrees and stored.

When the second life could begin is completely unclear. So far, every attempt at thawing has led to destruction. Ice crystals, the formation of which is almost impossible to prevent, was pulverized tissue, the toxic components of the antifreeze were poisoning the body. "Someday this will be controllable," believes sames. "I’m already looking forward to the many books i won’t be able to read in my first lifetime."


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