Robert Ettinger, the father of Cryonics, passed on July 23rd. For details on the cryonic process Ettinger scientifically proved possible (which involves slowly freezing the body, followed by suspension in a container of liquid nitrogen), click here.
Life brings themes into our lives, and for me, Cryonics is one of them.
First, I’m a young girl in the Detroit area, reading a lot of local news coverage about Cryonics. This is because Robert Ettinger studied at Wayne State University and then opened the Cryonics Institute in the Detroit metropolitan area. I spend my childhood thinking I would be “frozen” because traditional burial did not appeal to me. I head off to college out of state and realize Cryonics is not as well known or understood as I’d assumed growing up.
Fast forward decades later, and I’m sitting at a picnic table under the Redwoods in Shoup Park, eating ice cream with five physicists (one of whom is a good friend of mine). I’m introduced to Ralph Merkle, chair of nanotechnology at Singularity University and a director at Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a premier U.S. cryonics provider. The party I have joined belongs to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
I learn Cryonics is made affordable through life insurance policies. We discuss molecular nanotechnology, which is the process of assembling atoms to build and repair—enabling cryonics to become the reality of the future. I also learn that once nanotechnology is fully developed and employed, people will no longer die. These implications are unfathomably wide and thrilling…
When I wiki Ralph Merkle, I learn he has accomplished many smart things in his life, including the invention of Merkle Trees, or Hash Trees, a structure of computer data summarizing information. As we sit under the towering Redwoods, the man who conceived Hash Trees explains how nanotechnology will enable us to build absolutely everything in our world, from people to trees. I’m aware that science fiction writers glean fodder from discourse with scientists, but this isn’t fiction: it’s reality. As he discusses this science, I gaze at the Redwood branches and feel overwhelmed, almost daunted, by such a concept made so real.
Thankfully for me, Ralph Merkle has an innate ability to explain complex concepts in a completely accessible way. I offer you his wonderful layman’s explanation of nanotechnology, so you, too, may begin to grasp these exciting future realities.
Robert Ettinger passed a natural death and is now frozen, waiting for technology to catch up with his discovery.