Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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20-Jun-2006

Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society

Fresh frozen people?

Here's a bright idea right out of science fiction: When people are dying from diseases that we cannot treat today, why not freeze those people? Years from now, cures may be available for their diseases. We could unthaw the people, and bring them back to life. Then doctors could cure their diseases.

There actually is a field devoted to freezing people. It is called cryonics (cry-on-iks). In fact, a few people have had their bodies frozen in the hope of coming back to life in the future!

Maybe you have heard about the great baseball player Ted Williams. When he died in 2002, his body was frozen. It has been stored in a special freezer at a cryonics company in Arizona (www.alcor.org).

So far, freezing people and bringing them back to life has happened only in science fiction stories. In real life, however, freezing people and bringing them back to life presents a big problem -- ice crystals form inside cells. Those sharp ice crystals (http://www.freenaturepictures.com/assets/images/medres/icecrystals1.jpg) damage and kill the cells.

A new scientific study, however, suggests that freezing and reviving people could be possible many years from now. It was done by University of Helsinki researcher Anatoli Bogdan, Ph.D. Dr. Bogdan found evidence that body parts and whole bodies might be frozen slowly, in a way that keeps ice crystals from forming.

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Scientists write about their discoveries in scientific journals. These special magazines are read by other scientists. Dr. Bogdan wrote about his discovery in the July 6 issue of one ACS journal. It is the ACS Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

This journal is published by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The ACS publishes 34 scientific journals. It is the world's biggest scientific organization.

More than 158,000 scientists are members of the ACS. Members of the ACS discover new medicines and other solutions to the world's problems. Their work helps make our lives longer, healthier and happier.

-- Michael Woods

This release is a young readers' version of ACS news release #14060. The online version of the research paper cited above was initially published June 6 on the journal's Web site and is scheduled for the July 6 print edition. Journalists can arrange access to this site by sending an e-mail to newsroom@acs.org or calling the contact person for this release.