Monday, April 7, 2014

Is it just science fiction or a look into the future

Is it just science fiction or a look into the future
By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
Science fiction captured my interest early in life with television programs like “Star Trek” and “Twilight Zone” along with the works of Jules Vern’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “Around the World in Eighty Days.”
I was fascinated with seeing the science and invention predicted by early fiction writers come true in real life.
Current television programming is filled with the science fiction genre with shows like “Under the Dome,” “Intelligence,” “Person of Interest,” “The Walking Dead,” “Intelligence,” “Resurrection” and many more. The more you know about science, the more you can understand and enjoy these programs.
When I was teaching, I liked to entice my students to read by finding unusual stories. One that stands out in my memory was about a new area of science called cryonics. The main character awoke in the future having had himself frozen in hopes that he could be brought back to life when a cure for the disease that killed him had been found.
In anticipation of his awakening, he had deposited $10,000 in a bank account. Thinking that the interest he would have gained would make him a wealthy man when he returned to life, he was proud of his farsightedness. He immediately drew his money out of the bank and then caught a taxi to the nearest realtor’s office to buy a house. When he got out of the cab, the driver said, “That will be $2,000.” Shocked, he realized inflation had made him a poor man in his new world.
Cryogenics is the study of what occurs when materials are frozen at extremely low temperatures. Cryonics is the technique by which human bodies can be stored and later revived. People who believe in the validity of the process are experiencing the modern version of the search for the fountain of youth.
There are people who have paid for their future ticket to Mars and there are those who have paid from $28,000 to $200,000 to have themselves preserved for a life in the future. More than 200 bodies have been stored, and 1,000 have already paid for their preservation after death.
Before one undergoes the procedure, he must be pronounced legally dead which means that the heart must have stopped beating. These scientists believe that there is a difference between legally dead and totally dead in that some cellular brain function remains.
At the time of death, a cryonics team stabilizes the body with oxygen and blood while it is transported to a cryonic facility. There the body is put through a process called vitrification, deep cooling without freezing. Sixty percent of the water in the body is replaced with protective chemicals as the temperature is lowered to -202 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ted Williams, the famous baseball player, is among those who are awaiting revival. Urban legend places Walt Disney among the frozen, but that is not true. Cryobiologists have predicted the first revival attempts might happen around 2040.
After the winter we’ve had… no thanks!


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