For anyone who
has seen the movie "Austin Powers," one of the most memorable scenes
was Mike Myers being brought back to life after 30 years of being cryogenically
frozen. Many people, especially Robert Ettinger, have wondered if this could
actually happen at some point in the future.
Ettinger, also known as the "father
of cryonics," died July 23, 2011 at the age of 92. He had spent much
of his life advocating the freezing of the dead in hopes of bringing them back
to life one day.
His passion for cryonics began after he was
severely wounded during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Ettinger spent
a lot of time in hospitals, where a bone graft surgery saved his legs. This
sparked his enthusiasm for preserving life through technology.
In 1964, Ettinger wrote a book called "The
Prospect of Immortality," which introduced the idea of cryonics. Then, in
1976, he founded the Cryonics Institute. His mother, Rhea Ettinger, was the
first to be frozen in the institute in 1977. He has also frozen his two wives,
Elaine and Mae.
"If civilization endures, medical science
should eventually be able to repair almost any damage to the human body,
damage and senile debility or other cause of death," wrote
Ettinger. "No matter what kills us, whether old age or disease, and even
if freezing techniques are still crude when we die, sooner or later our friends
of the future should be equal to the task of reviving and curing us."
The Cryonics Institute has 900 members, and it
charges $28,000 to prepare a body and store it in liquid nitrogen at
minus-321 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite ridicule, Ettinger continued devoting his
life to cryonics and its possibilities.
Ettinger died after weeks of poor health in his
home in Clinton Township, Michigan, which is a suburb of Detroit. His body
became the 106th to be placed in the Cryonics Institute.
"My father devoted himself to doing what he
could to enable his family, his friends and others to come back and live
again," said David Ettinger. "Whether he will achieve that, nobody
knows at this point, but we think he has a good shot."