Udayavni Special

BRAIN MATTERS: Immortal Brain


Team Udayavani, Apr 30, 2018, 7:35 PM IST

Recently I was reading a very interesting article in a British news portal ‘Daily Mail’ on how scientists from National Institute of Polar Research in Tokyo revived tardigrade or ‘water bear’ collected 30 years ago in the Antarctic. Tardigrades are eight-legged water dwelling micro animals also known as water bears, or moss piglets. The most astonishing fact was that these two frozen water bears, on being revived after 30 long years, laid around 19 eggs – 14 of them successfully hatched.

As I was reading this article, a thought crossed my mind as to why the same experiment cannot be done on dead humans and revive them.  This technique should be of help to mankind if we can revive great intellectuals who have contributed immensely towards humanity and have made this earth a better place to live.

I was flabbergasted to know that there is an organization that not only thought about this, but also have been working on this since 1972. Alcor Life Extension Foundation, often referred to as Alcor, is a non-profit organization based out of USA.  Alcor works toward preservation of human corpses in liquid nitrogen with a hope of restoring them to full health when hypothetical new technology is developed in the future. As of January 2017, Alcor had more than 149 human bodies in a deep freeze that halts their biological decay- a technique called as Cryopreservation.

Now you might be wondering how cryopreservation works. It’s simple:

•Anyone who is interested in preserving their body, to be revived in a distant future need to sign a life insurance to fund their cryopreservation. Then upon his or her legal death, Alcor is informed about it and they dispatch a team immediately to manage the body.

•The said team transfers the body to ice bath immediately and then around 16 different chemicals are applied to the entire body to protect the cells as the body temperature starts going down.

•In the next process, the body is cooled by computer-controlled fans circulating nitrogen gas at extremely low temperature.  The aim is to cool all the body parts below -124 degrees centigrade to avoid any ice formation. The entire process takes about three hours and later this vitrified body is cooled further to -196 degrees centigrade for next two weeks.

•At the end of this procedure, the body is lowered into giant stainless-steel cylinder with ultra-cooled nitrogen liquid called Dewars.

The members of Alcor are fully aware that technology to revive them may never get developed, but they still prefer to gamble with it as they see a chance to live all over again with the same body and same brain with good memories, insights and learnings. They are of the belief that death comes when the heart stops working, so why discard the brain too, which over a period has gained very valuable life experiences?

– Prakash Prabhu
[ Mr.Prakash Prabhu works for The Manipal Group as a Senior HR Manager with over 15 years of corporate experience. He has been the lead writer and contributor to CHIRP magazine.(An intra-Manipal group monthly employee magazine) An avid reader who devours one book after another, Mr.Prabhu is also a certified handwriting analyst.]

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