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Cryonics (from Greek kryos- meaning icy cold) is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. Cryopreservation of people or large animals is not reversible with current technology. The stated rationale for cryonics is that people who are considered dead by current legal or medical definitions may not necessarily be dead according to the more stringent information-theoretic definition of death. It is proposed that cryopreserved people might someday be recovered by using highly advanced future technology.
A patient being prepared for Cryo Preservation
The future repair technologies assumed by cryonics are still hypothetical and not widely known or recognized. Responding to skepticism from scientists such as Steve Jones, an open letter supporting cryonics was written and signed by currently 62 scientists. As of 2010, only around 200 people have undergone the procedure since it was first proposed in 1962.. In the United States, cryonics can only be legally performed on humans after they have been pronounced legally dead as otherwise it would count as murder orassisted suicide.
Premises of cryonics
A central premise of cryonics is that long-term memory, personality, and identity are stored in durable cell structures and patterns within the brain that do not require continuous brain activity to survive. This premise is generally accepted in medicine; it is known that under certain conditions the brain can stop functioning and still later recover with retention of long-term memory. Additional scientific premises of cryonics are that
(1) Brain structures encoding personality and long-term memory persist for some time after clinical death,
(2) These structures are preserved by cryopreservation, and
(3) Future technologies that could restore encoded memories to functional expression in a healed person are theoretically possible
Neuropreservation is cryopreservation of the brain, often within the head, with surgical removal and disposal (usually cremation) of the rest of the body. Neuropreservation, sometimes called “neuro,” is one of two distinct preservation options in cryonics, the other being "whole body" preservation.