If you’re at a dinner party, and you start telling people that when you die, you want to have your body put on ice in the hope of a future revival … yeah, you’ll probably get some weird looks. Cryonics, the procedure of freezing and (maybe, potentially) resurrecting people, is a controversial subject. Sure, getting frozen didn’t kill Mr. Freeze, but he’s a fictional character. Not to mention, the whole process kinda turned him into a supervillain. Oops.
In real life, the science behind cryonics is a lot more mysterious, but the allure of eternal life is hard to deny, and a number of rich, powerful celebrities have already signed the dotted line. Maybe we’ll still be alive one day when these folks start raiding banks with freeze guns.
Larry King wants to be as immortal as people think he is
Larry King has been around so long, won so many awards, and had so many ex-wives that by this point, he already seems immortal. However, as seen in the
Conan interview above, the Kingster wants to take his immortality to the next level. On many occasions, the world’s most famous television and radio host has made it clear that he seriously intends to have his body cryogenically frozen when he dies, with the hope that he may one day be revived. According to People, he explained that this gamble is, simply enough, “the only hedging of a bet.”
Why is King so hot on this (rather cold) idea? In his own words, he doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Based on this assumption, King figures that freezing himself is an opportunity to have some extra time, a second chance at life — and if it doesn’t work out, well hey, he’s already dead anyway. Who knows, maybe one day in the year 2275, there’ll be a new broadcast of Larry King Live where the TV host interacts with alien mantises and intelligent robots, a la Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.
Peter Thiel is taking the vampire approach
As both the cofounder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel is the Silicon Valley billionaire who bankrolled a lot of your online endeavors today, for better or worse. Despite possessing mountains of money, Thiel still has to deal with the same old mortality problem regular people face, and he’s not happy about it. Not surprisingly, his response is to fund potential pathways to eternal life. That’s why he signed up with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the biggest name in cryonics, and has agreed to have his body get frozen when — or if — he ever happens to die, according to The Telegraph.
Thiel’s bid for immortality doesn’t end there, however. If you thought billion-dollar projects couldn’t get any weirder, Vanity Fair reports Thiel is also highly interested in parabiosis, a procedure that, in part, attempts to reverse aging by transfusing blood from a younger individual into an older one. Between the suspended animation attempts of cryonics and the blood transfusions of parabiosis, it certainly sounds like the world is creeping ever closer to real-life vampires.
Simon Cowell has harsh words for future musicians
Apparently not content to merely critique the musical performances of others in the present day, the most famous reality TV judge of our time wants to bring his sardonic commentary to the future as well. In an interview with GQ, Cowell confirmed the longstanding rumors that he wishes to have his body cryogenically frozen whenever he bites the bullet. Cowell reasons that cryonics is “an insurance policy. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. If it does work, I’ll be happy.”
In an interview with Jay Leno , alongside fellow X Factor judge Britney Spears, Cowell again explained his desire to get cold and icy, ensuring that no one will ever think he’s just kidding around. It’s worth noting that Britney Spears did not comment on the matter. Even though tabloid rumors have swirled for years regarding Spears’ supposed desire to undergo the iciest funeral treatment of all, she herself has never made any actual statements indicating she’d be interested.
Ray Kurzweil will never die, but just in case…
There’s probably no futurist as well-known or oft-quoted as Ray Kurzweil, whose name is celebrated by geeks everywhere, probably including geeks in other worlds, dimensions, and universes. Kurzweil is an inventor, a computer scientist, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Singularity is Near, and the director of engineering at Google who foresaw inventions like smartphones and the cloud years before they became realities, according to Quartz .
So yeah, when this guy seems interested in cryonics, you should probably take note. In an interview with
Wired, Kurzweil confirmed that he’s signed on with Alcor to have his body cryogenically preserved after death. Kurzweil predicts the technology will exist to revive people from their icy states in a startlingly short 50 years or less. True to form, Kurzweil has also speculated on the potential downsides of cryonics, such as the fear that he would be awoken prematurely, and potentially be trapped in a sort of “locked-in” state. Perhaps for these reasons, cryonics is only Kurzweil’s second choice: His primary goal is simply to not die at all.
David Pizer wants to bring his dogs along for the ride
Considering the high cost of having your body frozen (or even just your head!), it’s no surprise that most of the people signing up are on the wealthier end of the spectrum. Alongside actors, baseball players, and leading engineers, there’s at least one politician who has enrolled himself for the frost treatment: David Pizer, the businessman, TV spokesman, and Arizona resort owner who challenged John McCain’s U.S. Senate seat in the 2016 Republican primary, according to AZ Central.
David and his wife, Judi, worked to boost Alcor in 2006, and Pizer had signed on with an early cryonics company in the ’80s. He isn’t totally psyched about the idea, having once stated, “I would rather take an anti-aging pill than have to do this,” but nonetheless, the couple also plans to cryogenically freeze their beloved dog companions. They’ve also planned extensively for their potential return, setting aside money in a so-called “Personal Revival Trust” which will accumulate interest during the couple’s decades (or centuries) of suspension. So, if they do come back, they could be some of the wealthiest people on the planet. Either way, beating death is one of Pizer’s biggest goals. “As long as we still have to die someday, the main reason for living now should be to kill death,” he said.
Dr. Aubrey de Grey claims Hollywood has cryonics all wrong
Though his amazing beard should be enough to earn worldwide acclaim, Cambridge University geneticist and transhumanist Dr. Aubrey De Grey is probably most famous for his often-repeated quote, “The first person to live to 1,000 might be 60 already.” In a 2015 Reddit AMA summarized by Life Mag , the heralded Lord of Longevity took this notion a step further, claiming that any 10-year-old living today has a 90 percent chance of achieving “practical immortality.” Hopefully, all these real-life immortals won’t wield swords or constantly be bombarded with electricity.
Jokes aside, Dr. de Grey is serious about what he does, and believes strongly that such anti-aging technology should preserve all classes of people, not just the bourgeoisie. However, according to The Verge, he’s another famous person to add to the list of identified Alcor customers, though he’s only signed up to freeze his head, not his whole body. Dr. de Grey defended cryonics in his Reddit AMA, stating that the negative public perception of cryonics is due to sci-fi movies, and not the actual science itself. If de Grey does get frozen and revived someday, let’s hope his beard is no less magnificent.
Seth MacFarlane is game for getting frozen (if he hasn’t been frozen already…)
We don’t have to question whether Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is a sci-fi fan, considering his live action series The Orville is clearly intended as a love letter to the original 1960s Star Trek. Maybe those sci-fi roots are why MacFarlane is so intrigued by the idea of cryonics: in the above interview with that other famous cryonics enthusiast, Larry King, MacFarlane expressed that “we share the same desire.” King even suggested that he and MacFarlane should get “frozen together.” Now, considering this is Seth MacFarlane we’re talking about, it’s entirely possible he was joking. But he certainly seems genuine about it, for much the same reasons as King. He also doesn’t believe in an afterlife (or at least, doesn’t appear to), and doesn’t see anything to lose.
Of course, according to one popular “theory” on
CollegeHumor, MacFarlane already was frozen—back in the 1960s—thus explaining his frequent pop culture references (trying to prove he’s a contemporary man), his 1950s swing singer voice, all those “old-fashioned” misogynistic jokes he made at the Oscars, and the fact that Stewie is based on Rex Harrison, who starred in My Fair Lady in 1964. So, if this theory were true, it’d explain MacFarlane’s interest in going icy: he’s done it before, and it worked out fine, so what’s the big deal?
Larry Flynt hopes cryonics may heal him
Once one of the most powerful people in the adult entertainment industry, Larry Flynt is mostly recognized as the publisher of Hustler Magazine . He also has occasionally dabbled in politics, briefly running for president against Ronald Reagan in 1983, and then running for California governor in the 2003 recall election, according to CNN, as the self-proclaimed “Smut-Peddler Who Cares.”
And … yes, he also signed up with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, according to People. Both Flynt and his wife, Althea, enlisted themselves for cryogenic preservation in the 1980s, after Althea was diagnosed with AIDS, with the hope being she could be awakened if an HIV remedy were discovered in the future. However, the proper procedure for cryonics requires careful timing when it comes to a person’s physical state at the time of death, and Althea was unable to be frozen after a nurse discovered her dead body drowned in a bathtub. However, the 2004 book Mothermelters: The Inside Story of Cryonics and the Dora Kent Homicide, by police chief Alan Kunzman, confirmed that Flynt is still a member of Alcor today, and that the Foundation hopes to not only revive him, but also allow him to walk again. Currently, Flynt has been paralyzed since a gunshot wound in 1978, according to Atlanta Magazine.
Curtis Lovell II wants to pull off the greatest magic trick ever
Though you might not necessarily know the name of magician and escape artist Curtis Lovell II, there’s a good chance you’ve seen his work. He has appeared on TV numerous times, whether he was cutting Paris Hilton in half on The Simple Life , doing tricks on on Gene Simmons Family Jewels, publicly challenging fellow magician David Blaine to a duel, or strutting his stuff in an opening act for Larry King, according to Arts and Entertainment Magazine. However, as documented in a
2006 press release, Lovell hopes to one day pull off his greatest magic trick of all: resurrection, via cryogenic freezing.
That year, Lovell joined the American Cryonics Society and enlisted his team to ensure that if he ever dies during one his dangerous stunts, such as being buried alive or escaping the so-called “Cube of Death,” his body will be whisked away, properly preserved, and put on ice, presumably so he can finish the stunt in another century or so. Maybe Larry King gave him the idea?
Who needs a body? Max More is only freezing his brain
Now, we reach the big man himself. Max More might not have the star power of the other celebrities here, but as the president and CEO of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, he’s the man who controls the fate of almost all of them … well, presuming this whole cryonics experiment actually works out, anyway.
It’d be pretty ridiculous if the man in charge of Alcor didn’t have his own plan to get frozen, but don’t worry. According to the BBC, Max More has his sights set on an even more ambitious goal. While some people are freezing their whole bodies, and some opt to only freeze their head, More has set his sights on the next level: “neuropreservation,” a procedure that freezes only his brain, and nothing but the brain. He feels that preserving the rest of his body won’t be necessary. Based on this, it’s clear More believes strongly in the technological advances of the future, stating that, “I figure the future is a pretty decent place to be, so I want to be there. I want to keep living and enjoying and producing.”