SERGIYEV POSAD, Russia (Reuters) – When Alexei Voronenkov’s 70-year-old mother died, he paid to freeze his brain and store it in the hope that advances in science may one day bring it back to life.
It is one of 71 human brains and corpses, which the Russian company KrioRus calls its “patients,” floating in liquid nitrogen in one of the several-meter-high vats in a corrugated metal shed on the outskirts of Moscow.
They are stored at -196 degrees Celsius (-320.8 ° F) in order to protect them against deterioration, although there is currently no evidence that science can revive the dead.
“I did this because we were very close and I think it is the only opportunity for us to see each other in the future,” said Voronenkov, who intends to undergo the procedure, known as cryonics, when he dies.
The head of the Pseudoscience Commission of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Evgeny Alexandrov, described cryonics as “an exclusively commercial company that has no scientific basis,” in comments to the Izvestia newspaper.
It is “a fantasy that speculates on people’s hopes of rising from the dead and dreams of eternal life,” the newspaper said.
Valeriya Udalova, director of KrioRus who froze her dog when she died in 2008, said that humanity is likely to develop technology to revive dead people in the future, but that there is no guarantee of such technology.
KrioRus says that hundreds of potential clients from almost 20 countries have signed up for their service after death.
It costs $ 36,000 for the whole body and $ 15,000 for the brain only for Russians, who earn average monthly salaries of $ 760, according to official statistics. Prices are slightly higher for non-Russians.
The company says it is the only one in Russia and the surrounding region. Created in 2005, it has at least two competitors in the United States, where the practice goes back even further.
Voronenkov said he put his hopes in science. “I hope that one day it will reach a level where we can produce artificial bodies and organs to create an artificial body in which my mother’s brain can be integrated.”
The director of KrioRus, Udalova, argues that those who pay to keep the remains of their relatives are showing how much they love them.
“They try to bring hope,” he said. “What can we do for our dying relatives or for those we love? A good funeral, a photo album, ”he said. “They go further, demonstrating their love even more.”
Report by Dmitriy Turlyun; Written by Tom Balmforth; Edition by Philippa Fletcher