It is really hard for a biological entity to survive through the ages. When trying to extend one’s life, the natural world seems to be entirely against us. However, there may be a way to live without biology—a kind of “life beyond life.”
Here, we enter the realm of the posthuman, an entity that isn’t really living in the traditional sense of the word, but it isn’t really gone either. And it all comes down to the brain.
In the 21st Century Medicine laboratories in Fontana, California, scientists are working on this “life beyond life” by attempting to preserve a brain’s connectome. In short, this is a comprehensive diagram of all our neural synaptic connections—your memories and thoughts, your feelings and all that makes you you.
This medical research company specializes in the cryopreservation of human organs and tissues using cryoprotectants (antifreeze). And they are working on a pretty big project.
In 2009, the facility’s chief research scientist Gregory M. Fahy published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Organogenesi. In it, he documents how his team successfully transplanted a rewarmed rabbit kidney after it had been cryoprotected and frozen to −135 degrees Celsius through the process of vitrification (in this process, instead of freezing, molecules start to move slower and slower as they cool. At temperatures below -100° C, molecules become locked in place and a solid is formed. Water that becomes solid without freezing is said to be “vitrified”).
So, is there hope that we could do something similar with our brains?