Cryonics pioneer frozen at 92

The idea of freezing human beings in the hope of bringing them back to life in decades to come has given scores of science fiction writers licence to come up with ever more unlikely storylines.

Now Robert Ettinger, the man who almost single-handedly persuaded hundreds of people that the practice of cryonics was very much plausible - including his own mother and two wives - is putting his theory to the test himself, having died at the age of 92.

A physics teacher at Wayne State University, Michigan, Ettinger's love of sci-fi books and his amazement at the quality of his medical treatment during World War II inspired him to write about people being resurrected after freezing in a 1948 short story.

In the years to come he began to think about such a possibility more seriously, culminating in the the publication of his manifesto on the practice, The Prospect of Immortality, in 1964.

Cryonics did not have to wait much longer for its first patient, however, with the freezing of Dr James Bedford three years later.

In 1976 Ettinger founded his own facility, the Cryonics Institute. And there, in the 650sq m warehouse on an industrial estate in Clinton Township, Michigan, his body was on Sunday placed in liquid nitrogen at -196C alongside 105 others that have been preserved.

There is, of course, no way of reviving these bodies with contemporary technology, but the followers of Ettinger are confident medical advances will one day make this possible.

- Independent

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