Exploring what lies beyond the end of existence
“What is dead may never die” – House Greyjoy
Death can be simply defined as the conversion of a human life back to their non-existence form. We do believe that when a person is not responding to any form of stimulus from the outside world, that person is considered to be dead. However, clinical death is not the same as what we commonly perceive as death.
In a case where people were “revived” is because their brain is still active despite their heart and breathing had ceased. People having cardiac arrest often perceived as irreversibly dead, however in many cases they can be successfully brought back alive.
So it is only when the brain activity stops, then you are perceived as clinically dead, in which no one has ever been “revived” from this stage of complete cessation. Therefore, clinical death may be as well defined as the state of complete lack of brain activity, which is also referred as the point of no return.
But this has led to some theories and assumes that if the brain is left alive and intact, it should be able to be re-activated after a period. As stated before that no one has ever returned from complete brain cessation, it is theoretically believed that if the brain is saved before it enters the stage of complete cessation and preserved, this could be a method of “medical revival” of a dead person.
This mere plausibility then creates the idea of preserving the brain by putting a body of a person on ice with hopes that the body can be unfrozen and resurrected in the future, a procedure known as cryonics.
Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie via Unsplash
The cases of Cryonics
The first person who was cryopreserved after clinical death was Dr. James Bedford, an American who died in 1967 of cancer and was subsequently frozen. His body remains preserved at subzero temperature in a cryocapsule to the present day at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
After 24 years of cryopreservation in liquid nitrogen, his body was evaluated. Although there was no sign of life, an interesting observation was recorded where there was a presence of bright red object underneath the skin, indicating the presence of haemoglobin in the red blood. Over a thousand more individuals has since plan on joining Bedford on this cryonic procedure.
Small microscopic animal had demonstrated that they are capable to be frozen, unfrozen and revived such as nematodes (C. elegans). Larger animals such as mammals like ourselves are definitely more complex and remain a challenge in the advance of cryonic procedure.
Some animals had managed to proceed one step further than human. In 2016, scientists successfully perform cryonics on a rabbit brain. They managed to freeze a rabbit brain and restored it to near-perfect condition. However the main issue persists, which is revival.
Image by T Sea via Flickr
The challenges that lie ahead
While cryopreservation is regarded as the most plausible method of escaping death, it is also effective in achieving death.
This is because all recorded cases of cryopreservation are conducted on a person that was already dead and no record has ever been performed on an alive person. Cryopreservation is highly detrimental, because the process of submerging a person body in a subzero temperature will most likely to cause the bones inside to fracture.
In the case of a dead person, bone fracturation does not do anything to the body itself, but doing so to a live person can be very harmful as it can damage the organs inside, thereby potentially killing the person.
One positive thing to take from this scenario is that a dead body can remain in the cryocapsule for a long time without any deterioration. But still, any procedure that allows an individual to avoid death is very unlikely, at least it cannot be done today.
Perhaps if you are an Avatar that controls 4 elements, or if we somehow managed to discover the serum that was injected to Captain America, humans are stuck to their pathetic mortal bodies, cruelly filled with pain and suffering leading ultimately to death.