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AZ Tech Beat | October 17, 2019

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Bitcoin pioneer and ALS patient to be frozen in Arizona desert

Bitcoin pioneer and ALS patient to be frozen in Arizona desert
Alyssa Lee

After participating in the first Bitcoin transaction back in 2009, Hal Finney became an early adopter of an even more far-reaching scientific frontier: Human cryopreservation.

alcor cryo surgery 2

While the masses are dumping buckets of ice on their heads to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and Bitcoin devotees are booking vacations and flying to space, the renowned cryptographer and ALS patient chose to use his stash of cryptocurrency to have his body frozen so he can visit the future, Wired reported.

Through cryopreservation, Finney’s body will be frozen in state that he will supposedly be able to wake up decades or centuries later after a cure for ALS has been developed.

alcor frozen chamber 1Having been paralyzed during his 5-year battle with ALS, Finney was taken off life support at Paradise Valley Hospital in Phoenix on Thursday, the New York Times reported. He was 58 years old.

His body was then transported to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a cryonics firm located in Scottsdale, Arizona, where it underwent a series of processes to be prepped for preservation, according to Wired.

After his blood was removed and replaced with a collection of chemicals specifically designed to prevent ice crystal formation that would destroy his cell membranes, his body will be lowered to a temperature of -320 degrees Fahrenheit over the next few days at Alcor.

Once ready, it will be stored in an aluminum pod inside a tank filled with 450 liters of liquid nitrogen, according to Wire.  The entire process was designed to keep Finney in a state of near-complete suspended animation, or commonly known as an induced hypothermia.

“That’s where he’ll remain until such time as we have technologies to repair the problems he had such as ALS and the aging process,” Max More, Alcor’s president and CEO, told Wired. “And then we can bring Hal back happy and whole again.”

A life in the future doesn’t come cheap. First-time members at Alcor will find themselves paying yearly fees of about $770.

When it comes time to preserving the person, costs can range from $80,000 to preserve the brain — known as neurocryopreservation — and up to $200,000 to preserve the entire body.

As of July 31, Alcor had 988 members and 126 patients, people who have already gone through the process of neuro or whole body cryopreservation.

Alcor members range from extinguished professors to CEOs, including John Schloendorn of Gene and Cell Technologies and, unsurprisingly, Alcor’s own More.

More has been a member since 1986 and has opted for neuropreservation, the BBC reported.

“I figure the future is a pretty decent place to be, so I want to be there,” he told BCC. “I want to keep living and enjoying and producing.”

Graphics courtesy of Alcor and Wikia