The Real Fate of Cryogenically Frozen Corpses.

As I’ve already mentioned, there is a Star Trek: TNG episode that deals with cryogenically frozen dead people, more or less from our time period, being brought to life in the 24th century. The work is purely fictional, of course. But it is an interesting study in the matter. As you will recall, if you watched the episode, Capt. Picard is ambivalent about bringing this frozen corpses back to life. In fact, he questions whether crewman Data shouldn’t have just left them as they were.

This got me to thinking: what is the most likely outcome for corpses cryogenically frozen today? Think of all the possibilities. Will the companies go out of business and just discard the corpses? And if they make it to the future, what is the likelihood anyone then will want to reanimate them? I know there are alot of possibilities to consider here. But I really do want to hear all of your input on this :slight_smile: . In fact, though I know it is just a pipe dream now, I might seriously consider this option some day. No fooling.

Thank you in advance to all who reply :slight_smile:

The bodies will eventually be discarded. What else would one do with them? It’s virtually certain that they cannot be revived - when ice forms in cells, it expands and tears everything to shreds. The tissue may still be human-shaped, but on the cellular level, everything is totally and irrevocably wrecked. These people will never, ever be revived.

At best, I can see the bodies serving as some future medical researcher’s source for tissue samples.

That particular NextGen episode was mildly interesting in the sense that though it had the usual preachy sanctimony often levelled at us grubby 20th-century types, it was the 20th-century guy who pointed Picard’s cluelessness re: the Romulans.

There’s always the hope for reconstruction via advanced nanotechnology or scanning the preserved brain and running the reconstructed mind on a computer. It’ll take something that impressive to restore these people if it can be done at all. Which is why some have just the head preserved; it’s cheaper, and arguably if you have the tech to bring them back, you can build/grow a new body. The point really is more about preserving the data that makes them what they were.

As for the likelihood of any of this happening ? I don’t know, although I consider it fairly likely to be possible. But I’m absolutely certain that it’s far, far more likely we will be able to restore a frozen, preserved brain, than we will be able to restore a person from a pile of ash or grave dirt. And it’s not like you have a lot to lose.

I imagine if any get revived, it’ll be by some far-future hobbyist, and not a company or gov’t.

Quite possibly. Or scientists proving it could be done. Or some charitable group. Or even some rich atheist making a point, “See ? SECULAR resurrection works ! Ha !”

I actually know a couple of people who are signed up to be a head in a jar. The are pretty realistic about their prospects, but they figure it’s better than the alternative :dubious:

Larry Niven has written a number of great stories about this possibility. The cells are destroyed, no hope there. But in his fantasy, the memories and personality can be revived to some degree, even if the body cannot. The frozen person’s personality can be imprinted on a donor body: for example, someone who had his memory and personality wiped because of multiple felony convictions. All very far fetched of course. The interesting twist is that the “corpsicle” has no legal rights of any kind. They can only earn their way toward citizenship through hard labor.

Check out his short story, “Rammer.”


It’s just a scam. Create a corporation to run the operation. Collect the money. Milk the corporation dry with officers’ salaries and bonuses. Put the corporation into bankruptcy. Dispose of bodies.

Which was later expanded into the book “A World out of Time”

Maybe they can have a Fire Sale.

Step 1: Freeze Body or Head
Step 2: Ice crystals form while the corpsicle rests in its frozen tomb.
Step 3: Thaw Body in 500 years to sell mushy Human slurpies to the CHUDs
Step 4: Profit!!!

Uhhh the google add says Undo Circumcision Damage: The your-skin cone will make you supple and sensitive like uncut men… {{{{Chills}}}}
This thread cannot be going anywhere good.

Only way I see (fanwanking here more than anything else, understand) to revive them is via nanobots which are able to go into the body and repair everything.

There’s his Gil the ARM stories too, where the corpsicles are viable, but get used as sources of spare parts in his effortless organ transplantation future. “Wake up a piece at a time.”

Realistically? As descendants balk at paying fees to keep Granpa Ted’s head in liquid nitrogen and companies go bankrupt, the bodies will be returned to next of kin or buried in potter’s fields.

Plus, that episode contained the phrase, “low-milage pit woofies”!

I know we’ve debated/talked about this before, but even IF a person’s memories and personality can be recorded and then imprinted in a new body, the original person is dead. Their consciousness has ended. They have ceased to be. They’ve shuffled off this mortal coil; they’ve gone to meet their maker. They’re EX-people.

Or to put it another way


I doubt technology today is good enough to preserve the information in the brain, even. What you have to lose, for most people, is the money your heirs would get. And the chance that you, one of zillions of corpsicles, will not be welcome in the future.

An SF story that predates anything by Niven is Clifford Simak’s Why Call Them Back From Heaven?.

Jim B - if you want information on cryonics I suggest you go to the source rather than ask people here. The Cryonics Institute website has a very lengthy FAQ that addresses all your questions.

Cryogenic resurrection is indeed currently a pipedream, but cryogenic suspension is very real and has been happening for over 40 years. Given the exponential nature of scientific and medical development I don’t see any reason to think that cryogenic resurrection will not be possible one day (and maybe not as far into the future as we think).

I would never limit the far, far future but I think that the chances that a large percentage of these corpses reaching the point that this is possible is tiny. I too vote that 95% of these bodies will eventually be buried in a common grave or cremated on orders of a Bankruptcy Court. Maybe Walt in SPace Mountain and 1 or 2 lucky other Companies might make it :wink:

I expect that eventually there will be a better, less damaging preservative and those people will be revived first (this is the premise of Chiller a book by Sterling Blake - not the Wes Craven movie about cryogenics of the same name). Add to that the fact that I believe people will be living unimaginably long by the end of this century, I don’t see reviving a few thousand popciles will be much of a priority - … maybe until/unless AI wants some humans to baby

Vanilla Sky (link Spoilers) also takes on this theme

I don’t see why not; extreme cold’s good at preserving things.

Well, that’s your opinion. Other people feel differently.