According to a juicy bit of celebrity gossip, Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow is considering having her body preserved with cryonics in the event of her death. In case you don’t know what cryonics is, here’s an official explanation from the very official-sounding Cryonics Institute:
“The concept of cryonics was introduced in 1962 by the Founder of the Cryonics Institute, Robert Ettinger, in his landmark book ‘The Prospect of Immortality.’ Cryonics involves cooling a recently deceased person to liquid nitrogen temperatures in order to keep the body preserved indefinitely. Our goal is to keep the patient preserved until future science is able to repair or replace vital tissues and ultimately revive the patient. It might seem like an impossible goal to ‘revive’ a ‘dead’ person. However, ‘dying’ is a process rather than an event. A majority of the body’s tissues remain intact at a cellular level even after the heart stops beating. The goal of cryonics is to halt that process as quickly as possible after legal death, giving future physicians the best possible chance of reviving the patient. This may include repairing or replacing damaged tissues and even entire organs using advanced computer, nanotechology and medical equipment and procedures.”
Gwyneth is not the only celebrity who’s contemplating the cryonics option. Kanye and Kim are rumored to be interested, too.
By far the most famous celebrity to actually undergo the cryonics procedure is Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams, widely considered to be the greatest hitter who ever played the game. Sports Illustrated ran an investigative story about it, which was summarized as follows by CBS News:
“Ted Williams was decapitated by surgeons at the cryonics company where his body is suspended in liquid nitrogen, and several samples of his DNA are missing, Sports Illustrated reported… After Williams died July 5, 2002, his body was taken by private jet to the company in Scottsdale, Ariz. There, Williams’ body was separated from his head in a procedure called neuroseparation, according to the magazine. The operation was completed and Williams’ head and body were preserved separately. The head is stored in a steel can filled with liquid nitrogen. It has been shaved, drilled with holes and accidentally cracked 10 times, the magazine said. Williams’ body stands upright in a 9-foot tall cylindrical steel tank, also filled with liquid nitrogen.“
Another famous case of celebrity cryonics involves Timothy Leary, the psychedelic drug-taking guru of the 1960s, whose famous slogan was “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.” After being diagnosed with terminal cancer in the 1990s, Leary signed up to have his head frozen for the future, referring to it happily as “Hi-tech designer dying.”
However, he had a falling out with his cryonics provider before he had a chance to die, and ended up not being frozen. Instead, he decided to make a video of himself committing suicide, and then upload it to the internet after his death. Matt Drudge took an online poll about it, asking: “Should Timothy Leary air his suicide on the internet?” 472 respondents said yes, 432 said no.
As for Gwyneth, what say you? Do you think she should become a Paltrow Popsicle?