Joining in today’s episode is Dennis Kowalski, president of the Cryonics Institute to talk about cryogenics, and the process of cryonics, along with the glowing future of humankind with Jason Hartman.

Key Takeaways

01:09 – Cryonics has people in state of preservation that can last for decades, or even centuries until future medical technology can revive them.

03:38 – Vitrification is much like molasses on a cold day, it locks structures into place and helps preserved patients bodies.

05:25 –  Much like in the past, legally dead might not be consider legally dead in the future. And the process of preserving patients.

09:47 –  In an unlikely case that cryostats have a leak, the head will be last to dethaw. While body repair can be possible from even one cell. Personality repair without the brain is not.

11:56 –  Cryonics can wait a long time for technology advances to bring people back, but people like Ray Kurzweil believes the technology is moving quickly enough that what will happen in hundred years might actually be in twenty years.   

17:06 –  Nobody has ever showed that the laws of physics makes cryonics impossible, and if you pay close attention, there are verifications of cryonics concepts.

20:20 – www.cryonics.org/ has phone numbers and a lot more information.

21:00 –  There will always be people arguing over new sciences, but as more people benefit from those sciences and it becomes common acceptable practice; they’ll be a lot less.

23:10 –  Most likely because of Dolly the sheep, one does not hear too much on human cloning or cloning in general.

25:20 – Cryonics Institute member has been funding money for people to look for ways to freeze complex organs like kidneys in liquid nitrogen temperatures in-order for better transplant purposes.

Mentioned in this episode

The Law of Accelerating Returns by Ray Kurzwei

Dolly the sheep

Tweetables

Science is going to freeze and revive an animal, and when that happens cryonics will be undeniable for most people to disbelieve.

As seen with Dolly the sheep, cloning is not yet perfected. 

Intro:

Welcome to The Longevity Show. Informing listeners on important aspects on health, wealth and happiness to insure you live life to its fullest with fascinating interviews with top authors and gurus of the field. Along with the latest news in the science and technology of longevity. We’re going to reveal expert advice and amazing secrets of living a longer, happier life. And now here’s your host Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman:

It’s my pleasure to welcome Dennis Kowalski to the show. He is president of the Cryonics Institute, and if you’re not familiar with www.cryonics.org/ you will be more after this interview. What a fascinating area and he’s coming just today from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dennis welcome, how are you?

Dennis Kowalski:

Very good, your self?

Jason:

Good, good, well it’s pleasure to have you on and talk about this subject which is bordering on science fiction and science fact we’ll drill down and see where the state of cryonics or cryogenics is today. First, of all tell us what is cryogenics?

Dennis:

Well, a lot of people call it cryogenics, cryogenics is a freezing of substances. Cryonics is specifically an effort to save human life by using cryogenic temperatures to hold people in state of preservation for decades, or possibly even centuries until future medical technology can restore that person to full health.

Jason:

That’s amazing, we’ve all seen this in movies, and I’m sure we’ve all been fascinated by it. But it’s something that is really happening right?

Dennis:

That’s correct. However we’ve been doing it since 1976 actually. And, we’ve got approximately a hundred and twenty-five people frozen correct and ninety-five pets; with over two-thousand people signed up worldwide.

Jason:

Wow, that’s amazing, the thing I’ve always heard of and I know very little about the science, so please enlighten me here. I’ve heard that it’s not too hard to freeze people, waking them up is the problem and bring them out of the cryonics state, right? That’s the challenge. Has that been done yet?

Dennis:

No, that actually is the whole premise of what we’re doing. We don’t have the technology to cure aging, disease, or even reverse the minimum, we can minimize the damage from freezing, but there is damage that is done from freezing. These technologies don’t exist yet, we envision they will exist at some point. What we done currently through is we’ve reach a point where we feel confident that we’re saving people’s DNA and cerebral structure with the correct amount of fidelity that there will be something to work with in the future and hopefully they will be able to bring these people back.

Jason:

Amazing, so I guess the problem is, I’ve understood it, is that the body is made up of, what, seventy-five percent water, and when water freeze it actually changes in a way that it can not be restore to its original form. Is that the challenge here?

Dennis:

It’s one our challenges, there’s crystallization that happens when an ice cube gets cold beyond a certain point. You get ice crystals what we attempt to do is use something called Vitrification-

Jason:

Say that again, that word. What is it?

Dennis:

Vitrification.

Jason:

What’s that? Vitrification?

Dennis:

Vitrification. Essentially it’s adding high concentration of chemicals called cryoprotectants to the persons tissue so that they can cool temperatures little or no ice formation everything gets, it’s kind of like if you can think of molasses on a cold day, doesn’t crystallize it just gets slower, and slower, until it just locks itself into place structural. So what we do is we attempt to coagulate the persons vascular system, very similar to kidney dialysis, and we push out the blood and water, and push into these cryoprotectants and biology agents that are very similar to what’s used when they freeze embryos or they’re looking at for freezing human organs and what not. And, we’ve looked at these slices of human brain tissue not human brain tissue, but animal brain tissue under microscopes and they look very well preserved structural and the hope is that some day, some future perhaps molecular nanotechnologies or some other science that’s yet to be developed, will be able to take these people and revive them.

Jason:

So, there are hundred and twenty-five people that your company has frozen, and I assume you’ve frozen their entire body right?

Dennis:

That is correct.

Jason:

Okay, now how do they go about doing this? Are they all on their deathbed when they’re frozen? Or are they healthy and fine, and they just say, “Hey, just think it’s a good day to be frozen” [Laughs] I know I’m being cavalier about that. But how do they decide?

Dennis:

Certainly you have to be legally deceased for this to take place, we stress legally deceased does not mean you’re necessary dead; there’s so many definitions of what it means to be dead or alive. If you can consider this a hundred and fifty years ago if your heart stopped that was it, you were dead, but today we use CPR, and cardiac defibrillators, and advanced medical, and we can restart your heart; so, you’re not so dead after all; because of advances in technology. So in a hundred and fifty years from now, what is commonly thought of as legally dead probably won’t be considerably legally dead in the future and that’s, I guess, what we’re betting on. So typically a person has, there are typically three ways you would pass on, one will be maybe, some sort of imminent death maybe you’ve contract cancer or something like that, and you know that you’re going to die a hostile or a hostile situation that provides a little bit of notice for a stand by emergency medical team to get on scene and right at the moment of pronouncement they put the person into kind of an ice water bath and continuing with some CPR, and some other medications, and prepare you for transportation to the Cryonics Institute. Where at that point we do blood wash-up and we put these vitrification concentration cryoprotectants into the person. Once we get the concentration up to where we feel that the tissue will safe enough to cool on further, we cool them over a period of four or five days in a computerized cooling box, and slowly bring them down to liquid nitrogen temperatures, and then we store them in the liquid nitrogen cryostats. Essentially they’re very large thermos bottles they’re not dependent on refrigeration or anything like that, and they’re basically sitting in liquid nitrogen at negative 321 degrees Fahrenheit perpetually, and all we do is top up the liquid nitrogen. The containers are insulated extremely well, takes months before we actually need to top them off, but we top them off weekly nonetheless, and measurement them daily, physically to make sure. We’ve been doing so since 1976.

Jason:

Wow.

Dennis:

Never had a problem.

Jason:

What I’ve always wondered, is what if the power goes out and these bodies unthaw prematurely, but I guess that’s not a concern, right?

Dennis:

No, I mean power outage is certainly, you know, we’ve got generators and backup equipment. But the actual cryostats and patients are not dependent on energy of any sort.

Jason:

Where is this facility?

Dennis:

Clinton Township, Michigan. It’s a suburb in northern terrain.

Jason:

And why there?

Dennis:

That just happens to be where the founder of the organization, Robert Ettinger he was a physics professor, taught physics down there and that’s where his location was; and it seemed like a sensible enough place.

Jason:

So these thermoses, like in the movies we’ve seen them they’re glass and you can see the body inside, I suppose it’s not like that, right? In real life, right? [Laughs]

Dennis:

No, no, that is Hollywood. A lot of misconceptions out there. Flashing with thermal insulators [Laughs]

Jason:

Yeah, I would think so too cause it would reach too much of the temperature. I’m just kind of morbidly curious, I guess about [Laughs] the physical part of it. Are they lying flat? Or are they vertical? They’re flat probably, right?

Dennis:

Well, it depends, most of our newer cryostats are all vertical so that patients are actually, you’d think they’re standing up, but they’re actually upside down inverted, and there’s a reason for that because in the possible case of catastrophe leak or if we ran out of liquid nitrogen, which is, again that never happens since 1936.

Jason:

You’d want the head to thaw last.

Dennis:

Head last because the brain is the central of our personality, thoughts, and all that. Even if, think about this, even if one cell out of trillions survives the process of legal death, of aging, of whatever killed you if you will, of liquid nitrogen, even one cell that’s enough information to clone people with today’s  technology believe it or not with today’s technology. Now we’ve haven’t done that, but we can do that now. So you can only image what we could do with just one cell, the DNA from one cell. We can repair a whole person, but the one thing we can’t repair or replace is your mind, and your mind is, according to the best neuroscientists is all the synapse and connections of your mind. So that the million dollar question is, are we saving people with your brains with enough fidelity to actually save that personality of who they are.

Jason:

Yeah, right.

Dennis:

And we believe we are.

Jason:

That sort of begs the question. Does the person or even one cell of that person is even need to be frozen won’t the DNA just survive anyway? I’ve heard about cases, cold cases where they’ve exhume corpses from graves, and check their DNA and things like that. Does it need to be frozen? What’s the difference?

Dennis:

Well, certainly if you could just extract DNA. DNA is seems to be a lot hardier than your whole cerebral.

Jason:

Oh yeah, I would certainly agree with that.

Dennis:

But if I made a clone of you that would be nothing more than a biology twin of you. That really, who you are, is all your thoughts.

Jason:

Is the consciousness. Yeah, right.

Dennis:

It’s all of that, to the best of our knowledge is somehow encoded within your brain and the fidelity of your brain certainly is not going to last without liquid nitrogen.

Jason:

Right, right, so what are you thinking in terms of the time frame here? Is there any estimate that’s somewhat reliable as to when the technology will be good enough to bring these people back to life?

Dennis:

Well, the great thing about cryonics we can wait a very long time, nothing much happens at liquid nitrogen temperatures. It could take-

Jason:

Fair enough.

Dennis:

-structural stay the same for a thousand years. But there is, I don’t know, personally I’ve heard estimates as early as thirty, forty years from people like Ray Kurzweil who talk about The Law of Accelerating Returns and who talk about Moore’s laws; in which case they talk about how everything is speeding up. Technological advances are accelerating expansively and what seems what it could be on the horizon two, three hundred years, might only be twenty or thirty years. Are you familiar with Moore’s law? And laws of accelerating?

Jason:

Yeah, the every eighteen months and the obsolete of circuits and so forth.

Dennis:

In computers, yeah, and if computers are running everything as far as the medical industry and chemical industry and all the other fields of science. Everything is based on computers and if computers amount of transistors and chip are doubling every year and the technology is speeding up expansively, so should the all other technologies. So that’s a very optimistic point of view. The other point of view is we’ve got thousands of years, a very conservative point of view is we’ve got thousands of years to wait. I’m kind of in the middle of maybe a hundred, a couple of hundred years. If we can stay around that long, if we can last that long.

Jason:

What a concept, whoa [Laughs] Well go ahead.

Dennis:

Well, we’re setup financially to try last indefinitely. We take all of our, there are membership dues, I guess, to be cryopreserved with us. It’s one of the most affordable and inexpensive on the market for twenty-eight thousand dollars. Now a small portion of it actually goes into the vitrification of freezing the patient. A large portion of that goes into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, physical gold, different investments that sits in kind of a trust fund and the interest on that is what feeds our overhead perpetually, it pays for our taxes, and our electricity, and for the workers who take care of the patients and what not. And to effectively run indefinitely.

Jason:

Yeah, okay, so that’s what I was going to ask you, how much does it cost. So, I guess, the answer is twenty-eight thousand dollars?

Dennis:

Twenty-eight thousand for us and it runs all the way up to highest two-hundred thousand million. That I’ve heard of.

Jason:

Now what would be the difference of someone wants to be frozen in a cryogenics state, it would be twenty-eight thousand or up to two-hundred thousand? Why is there a difference?

Dennis:

There are other organizations that do what we do for-

Jason:

Oh, okay, right, right.

Dennis:

-We’re currently the most inexpensive on the market.

Jason:

So, you change twenty-eight thousand, right?

Dennis:

That is correct.

Jason:

Okay, wow. And how much for pets?

Dennis:

I think it goes by the size of the pet. That’s one of the things that you’d have to check up on our website or by calling our operations manager, Zawacki runs a little calculation to figure out how much space and liquid nitrogen that is going to displace and people come up with a number.

Jason:

Yeah, very interesting. I’m wondering, what do the families do when someone opts for this freezing process? It’s sort of an odd thing. I wonder if there’s closure for them. Do they have a funeral? I suppose everybody just does it differently. [Laughs]

Dennis:

Yeah, you are correct. Some people have insist in their wills that they plan on being brought back, and they don’t want any money to go to funeral or anything like that. And there is other people who understand that funerals are not just for them, it is for the family, and it is for closure, so they go through a kind of like funeral service, if you will, and they provide that for the family and friends. And you never know, this is an on going experiment, there’s no guarantee that is going to work. So if it doesn’t work it’s just one form of interment, if it does work than that’s a great thing. We’ll look back in the past and say, “Wowly, wonder why more people didn’t do it” You know?

Jason:

Yeah.

Dennis:

Yeah. The funerals that’s left up to the people, if they really want to do them, depends on their assets and financial situation.

Jason:

Un huh. So these hundred and twenty-five, and I love how you called them patients, you don’t call them bodies or [Laughs] dead people, or anything. You called them patients, right?

Dennis:

That is correct. We consider them patients.

Jason:

Yeah, that’s fantastic. So that is optimistic title, for sure. Is there any chance that maybe the technology will never be there to bring them back?

Dennis:

Absolutely-

Jason:

Maybe this is just the law of physics that this can never be done.

Dennis:

Well, that maybe the case, but nobody out there has be able to show that it is impossible or that somehow it violates the laws of physics. If anything over the last twenty-five, thirty years bit by bit, piece by piece, people are struggling to come to the realization that it does make sense, and there is a lot of things going on in the world, if you pay really close attention that are actually vindicating and validating the concept of cryonics. The adamant of molecular nanotechnology, stem cells regenerative. Now they’ve got three dimensional biological printers that can print out certain organ for people. It’s just amazing.

Jason:

That’s amazing. Three printing is amazing from just a normal material perspective, but when it’s applied to biology and the medical community, maybe we can print a kidney. That’s just incredible.

Dennis:

Out of your own stem cells.

Jason:

Yeah, so it may well be possible. We’re getting closer, aren’t we.

Dennis:

And there’s only one way to find out. We like to say that this basically an experiment in the most literal sense of the word, and you have to ask yourself, would you rather be in the experimental group or the control group. We’ve got a lot of data on what happens to the control group, whether you’re buried or cremated. We don’t know whole lot with what is going happen with the experimental group. We’ve got, it’s implied, there’s a lot of deductive reasoning that shows that this sounds like it’s going to work, and it seems like it make sense. We’re doing everything right, so far. And it’s just a matter of science to catch up.

Jason:

Yeah, right.

Dennis:

More likely when rather than if.

Jason:

Uh huh, really amazing. So can you talk about any of your patients, the hundred and twenty-five people that may be joining us in the future?

Dennis:

Well, I can give you some generalizations. As we consider them patients, and consider everything about them private in the same sense of you wouldn’t really talk about someone’s private medical records, but some of our members actually have come out publicly, they want to get out there, for instant the founder, I can tell you a little about him, he was world-war two combat hero and he was a physics professor. And we’ve got members who are doctors, lawyers, Mensa geniuses, accountants, you know, not typically the people that are going to be woo in by some cardboard cult science or some sort of scam, if you will; we’ve got some really sharp people. And everything we do is public record as far as, not the patient records, but our finances all of that is public record, you can look in, and see where we spend every dollar of our money, and how we invest it, and we’ve been like that since 1976.

Jason:

Yeah, very good. Give out your website if you would.

Dennis:

The website is www.cryonic.org and on that website you will find plucker of information. There’s phone numbers and there’s whole lot more information that I couldn’t possibly hit on.

Jason:

Has anybody threatened your organization or doctors, I guess, doctors is the right word. Saying that you’re playing god or threatening to vandalize the facility, or anything like that? I just kind of thought that was interesting. I’d assume there’s some contingent of people out there, who are anti-science and we always have that.

Dennis:

Sure, certainly there’s always kind of a one-eye movement that’s always going on, and some of the same arguments I heard from people are, “You’re playing god” similar to the same arguments you’ve might of heard prior to the first heart transplant or organ transplants, and as more, more people survive and benefit from those transplants then it becomes more common, more acceptable practice, and you don’t hear so much of the playing god thing. I think cryonics is kind of one of those things where it makes sense and if you look into it, and you really do your homework you’ll see that it makes perfect sense. However, there is so much tradition involved in the whole depth process most people don’t even want to address it. A lot of people, what is it, over half of the people don’t even have wills setup because people don’t want to address death and because of the whole taboo of the subject. It’s kind of little out there and off, and hard for people to grasp. But I do believe that some point that science is going to maybe freeze and revive an animal, and when that happens it will be undeniable for most people and I think will be more accepted possibility. But if you look into the news and if you follow what’s going on in science you’ll see that bit by bit, piece by piece. We’re being vindicated and validated in our beliefs.

Jason:

Very interesting. One last question for you unfortunately this one may be something that you don’t know about because this is not your exact field. But you did mention cloning and it got me thinking about Dolly the lamb who was cloned, of course, several years back, and or the sheep, and what happened? Does cloning work or not? Didn’t that animal die prematurely? I’ve never really heard what happened there. Do you know by any chance?

Dennis:

Well, again I’m not an expert at all-

Jason:

Yeah, don’t expect you to be. I just thought, maybe.

Dennis:

But in my basic laymans understanding of what went on there. Is in-order to get Dolly the clone, they had to do it over and over, many times, and the process of cloning is still very technically challenging, and in-order to that the host DNA and inject to the cell. A lot of times they do damage to the whole cell and a lot of the embryonic sheep were mutated or had all kinds of problems. So, of course, for that reason since it’s not perfected, nobody wants to do that with humans and then you hear all these laws being made, banning human cloning. That makes good sense because it’s not perfected yet. At some point when they do perfected it or make it much safer I believe the world might reconsider human cloning. I don’t know exactly what the applications of that will be or what not, but ethical that is why we don’t hear too much more of Dolly or the human cloning. However, we are capable of doing that. It’s just the matter of giving our ducks in a row and learning the procedures better. Again, becoming more technologically advanced so we can do some of these things. But the prove and principle is there.

Jason:

Actually one more question. Have any other ancillary or advances come out of the Cryonics Institute or Cryogenics in general, slowing the rates of cancer, for example, by using some of this technology, or is it just all or nothing? Either freeze the person and you wait for the technology to come in the future. Or are there any ancillary things that have been discovered or created.

Dennis:

Well, it’s funny you ask that. One of our members, who also is investment adviser and attorney on the side, he started a prize in which, kind of like the XPRIZE where he is funding money for any group or scientist who could freeze whole organs down in liquid nitrogen temperatures in-order to transplant them. So, if he would spin off of that, would mean we could bank organs much longer for organ donation and that also could spin off of that, is if you can freeze tissues, you could freeze organs, if you can freeze organs, you can freeze organism. So, our hope is that, baby steps along the way if we can prove that. I mean we can already store tissues indefinitely in liquid nitrogen and we do so with sperm, and embryo, and eggs, and our skin tissues, and what not. But to do a whole complex organ something like a kidney and to be able to transplant that would be hugely beneficial to people who use transplants. So, we are looking at that, we’re working on. There are organ companies that have look at our cryoprotectants solutions and trying to look at ways of using those to better facilitate organ donor transplantation for humans.

Jason:

Very interesting, very interesting. Well, Dennis I hope that technology continues to march forward and march forward quickly. This is fascinating it’s not just science fiction. I wish you the best of luck, and really look forward to hearing a lot more. Dennis Kowalski, Cryonics Institute and the website is

www.cryonics.org/ and thank you so much for joining us today.

Dennis:

Thanks for having me.

Outro:

This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.hartmanmedia.com or email [email protected] Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network Inc. exclusively.

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