The central problem of cryonics is a bit like Fermat's Last Theorem -- easy to understand for a child, but hard to solve: how to freeze water without making it expand and break cells. So, let’s be bold — what about a $10bn cryonics prize to a team that freezes a mouse brain, keeps it under a cryogenic temperature (below −180°C) for 24 hours, and then brings back the mouse to life?
We're getting there
In 2016, Kenneth Hayworth’s Brain Preservation Foundation awarded its one-time Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize to an organization called 21CM for successfully freezing a rabbit brain in “near-perfect” condition, with the cell membranes, synapses, and intracellular structures intact. According to Hayworth, this is the first time a cryopreservation was provably able to protect everything associated with learning and memory.
The idea was to “use glutaraldehyde-based fixative, then slowly perfuse increasing concentrations of ethylene glycol over several hours in a manner similar to techniques used for whole organ cryopreservation. Once 65% w/v ethylene glycol was reached, vitrify brains at −135 °C for indefinite long-term storage.” (link).
And this actually worked, so there’s a reason to believe that by thinking in analogies, we could come up with less aggressive chemicals to ensure brain preservation in-vivo.
This number small. Roughly 150,000 die every day, and insurance puts human life value approximately at $8.5 million each. If only 1200 lives were saved, this would pay off the prize. If anything, the probability of this event to happen in a year in the next few years is so small, that expected loss is accordingly, perhaps billions of times smaller than $10bn, so what do we have to lose?
Even if your organization could insure that, it’s a global problem that matters to all. Insurance industry could cooperate on pooling resources, and marketing the prize. It’s a simple problem to think about, most kids of the world would be able to think about, because they can understand water expansion upon freezing, and a brilliant idea could come from anywhere in the world.
Would you like to see this happening? Forward the idea!