By Robin Cottle - November 5, 2021
Many people throughout human history have had the seemingly-impossible ambition of living forever. But now we live in the most scientifically advanced period in mankind's time on Earth – and immortality might not be the pipe dream it always has been up to now.
Thanks to a select few companies, that dream could become a reality, and it may not break the bank as much as members of the public might think.
The firm Alcor, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, markets themselves as the world leader in cryonics, the process of freezing a body after death to later be brought back to life.
Corpses and brains are frozen in liquid nitrogen after legal death with the hope of being resurrected and restoring them to full health in the event some technology allows humans to be brought back to life in the future.
A full body preservation at Alcor costs a staggering $200,000, with annual costs totalling $705 per year after the person's death. $80,000 for a neuro-patient, where they just have their brain preserved.
But according to the company's British CEO Max More, the procedure is actually quite affordable for the majority.
He said "Most people think: 'I don't have $80,000 or $200,000 lying around,' but neither did I when I signed up.
"I signed up as a student in England, quite poor. Almost everyone, well the vast majority of our members pay through life insurance.
"They just make Alcor the beneficiary, you just pay standard monthly for life insurance.
"So for the vast majority of people, it's actually quite affordable. If you can afford to go out to Starbucks every couple of days for a coffee, you can afford cryonics."
Alcor currently has 1,379 members, including 184 patients who have died and whose corpses have been subject to cryonic processes.
Membership are $660 per year for the first family member, with an almost 50% discount for every subsequent relative over the age of 18.
It costs $96 per year for relatives under the age of 18, while members can even have their pets preserved in a bid to maintain their full family when technology allows it.
Alcor says patients can be preserved for an indefinite period of time until technology allows patients to be revived.
The company is confident memories will be preserved through cryonic preservation, and research on worms suggests this could be the case.
Commenting on the incredibly findings in the 2015 study, Mr More's wife, Natasha Vita-More - who is a researcher for Alcor - said: "This is the first evidence of preservation of memory after cryopreservation.
"Further research on larger organisms with more complex nervous systems could prove to be beneficial to the issue of cryopreservation, including, specifically, memory retention after reviving."
The company was founded by Fred and Linda Chamberlain in 1972, initially in California, after Fred's fragile father had a stroke. He died in 1976 and made history as the first neuropreservation patient ever. Fred himself died on March 22, 2012, and is cryopreserved at Alcor.
Despite a growing profile, the industry is extremely controversial and has attracted criticism from scientists.
Although a popular theme in science fiction films, it has never been possible to successfully revive a human or any mammal - and such a procedure is likely to be a long way off.
Mr More said: "To me cryonics is just an extension of critical care medicine. 50 years ago people who keeled over, and the heart stopped beating, there's nothing at all that could be done for them.
"Today we routinely bring these people back to life. But 50 years from now the standard may change again because of changing technology.
"We're pointing out that what you call dead is not a sharp line. It changes over time depending on your level of technology and expertise.
"Our job is to stop you getting worse. To preserve you and let the future have a shot at bringing you back.
"It just means you don't want to die, you enjoy living. Why would you not do that?
"You'd have open-heart surgery or experimental cancer treatment, why wouldn't you do cryonics?