Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘amputation saw

Another Cold Morning

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‘People Who Think Life Is a Pretty Good Thing and That More Life Is Better’

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Hixon leads me through the cryonics process. Once your body has been safely transported to Alcor, it is perfused with antifreeze-like cryoprotectants, and you are cooled to -230 degrees Fahrenheit. In preparation for your long-term suspension, your temperature is gradually brought farther down, to that of liquid nitrogen, -320 degrees (chilled too quickly, you’d shatter like an NBA backboard). Finally, you are moved into one of Alcor’s dewars, the reinforced stainless-steel tanks named after Sir James Dewar of the scotch-producing dynasty. There you will wait out the years until the glorious flowering of science brings you back.

Who wants to live forever?

As I make my way to the stark white operating theater, I stumble upon a room with a large machine that bears a big saw-toothed wheel, the teeth pointing up and down in a fairly ragged and aggressive display of tear-apart force. Is this the decapitator, I wonder? No. It’s a huge mixer, a kind of gargantuan Hamilton Beach they use to blend the cryoprotectant. When I ask Hixon to show me the cephalic isolator, he smiles and sighs gently, used to the media’s fixation on the “yuck factor.” He takes me into a supply room, opens a cabinet and takes out an ordinary handsaw wrapped in blue surgical paper and labeled with a handwritten note: AMPUTATION SAW. It all comes down to this, after all. The back-and-forth motion of a preindustrial tool, powered by that most primitive of devices: the human arm.

“But a scalpel’s just as good,” he tells me

To be honest I’m having second thoughts.