Science & Technology

On This Day in History…


James Bedford became the first person to be cryonically frozen:

Although there was at least one earlier aborted case, it is generally accepted that the first person frozen with intent of future resuscitation was Dr. James Bedford, a 73-year-old psychology professor frozen under crude conditions by CSC on January 12, 1967. The case made the cover of a limited print run of Life Magazine before the presses were stopped to report the death of three astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire instead.

Cryonics suffered a major setback in 1979 when it was discovered that nine bodies stored by CSC in a cemetery in Chatsworth, California, thawed due to depletion of funds. Some of the bodies had apparently thawed years earlier without notification. The head of CSC was sued, and negative publicity slowed cryonics growth for years afterward. Of seventeen documented cryonics cases between 1967 and 1973, only James Bedford remains cryopreserved today.

Bedford won't get many benefits for being an early guinea pig anytime soon:

It has often been written that cryonics revival will be a last-in-first-out (LIFO) process. In this view, preservation methods will get progressively better until eventually they are demonstrably reversible, after which medicine will begin to reach back and revive people cryopreserved by more primitive methods. Revival of people cryopreserved by the current combination of neurovitrification and deep-cooling (technically not "freezing", as cryoprotectant inhibits ice crystallization) may require centuries, if it is possible at all.

See you in 2507, Jim.