Since his death in 2002, baseball legend Ted Williams has been stored in a 10-foot-tall, stainless steel container at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona, the world's largest cryonics facility. His head is reportedly being stored in a separate container.
But the story doesn't end there. After his death, the famous slugger became embroiled in a rather bizarre custody battle. His daughter, Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, fought in court to get her father's body back so that she could have him cremated and his ashes sprinkled over the Florida Keys, which she claims was his wish. She accused her half-brother John-Henry Williams of wanting to preserve their father's body so that he could cash in on his famous DNA. But John Henry and his sister Claudia said they had signed a pact with their father in 2000 promising to have all of their remains frozen. The three siblings finally reached a settlement: Ted Williams was allowed to stay where he was, and John-Henry promised not to sell any of his father's DNA.
Has Anyone Been Preserved Using Cryonics?
Dozens of people are being stored in cryonic facilities. Probably the most famous of them is baseball legend Ted Williams (see below). But no one has actually been revived, because the technology to do so still does not exist.
Critics say companies that perform cryonics are simply bilking people out of their money with the promise of an immortality they cannot deliver. Even scientists who perform cryonics say they haven't successfully revived anyone -- and don't expect to be able to do so in the near future. One of the problems is that, if the warming process isn't done at exactly the right speed, the cells could turn to ice and shatter.
Even though people in cryonic suspension haven't yet been revived, living organisms can be -- and have been -- brought back from a dead or near-dead state. Defibrillators and CPR bring accident and heart attack victims back from the dead on an almost daily basis. Neurosurgeons often cool patients' bodies so they can operate on aneurysms -- enlarged blood vessels in the brain -- without damaging or rupturing them. Human embryos that are frozen in fertility clinics, defrosted and implanted in a mother's uterus grow into perfectly normal human beings.
Cryobiologists are hopeful that a new technology called nanotechnology will make revival a reality someday. Nanotechnology uses microscopic machines to manipulate single atoms -- the tiniest units of an organism -- to build or repair virtually anything, including human cells and tissues. The hope is that, one day, nanotechnology will repair not only the cellular damage caused by the freezing process, but also the damage caused by aging and disease. Some cryobiologists predict that the first cryonic revival might occur somewhere around the year 2040.