I state my conviction that Musk will achieve the aforementioned statement if he applies a thousandth of his wealth and a fraction of his determination, already proven in the manufacture and sales of the electric car (TESLA); in reusable space rockets (Space X); in the colonization of Mars and everything else Musk is involved in, as on his biography, written by Ashlee Vance, demonstrates: — “ Elon Musk: How the billionaire CEO of Space X and Tesla is shaping our …”. Please read, in the present text, my justification for this prediction.
To praise a billionaire is always suspect. I am not exempt from this suspicion, because I have a personal interest in Cryonics. For those unfamiliar, Cryogenics is the branch of science that studies the effect of intense cold on matter, either live or dead. Cryonics is specific. It means the use of Cryogenics on human beings suffering from an incurable disease - or very attached to life – and would like to freeze indefinitely until the medicine of the future can find a cure their disease, or increase their longevity and mental capacity. This is because it is impossible to predict the advancements in the fields of science and technology in forthcoming years. Even more impossible is to imagine what the Earth will be like two hundred years from now, a tic in the history of humanity. Stem cells will certainly rebuild important organs, refraining from transplants and its inherent rejection issues.
I wrote a novel, “ Cryonics ” in 2005, without advertising and distribution of the printed book — I was in a hurry, kind of old — emphasizing that humanity would take a huge leap into the future if it could achieve the technical feat of freezing a person, practically “ killing her”, to “wake her up” years later. ki
When I was writing that book, I thought only of people with incurable diseases who after being thawed would be cured by the medicine of the future. Freezing is easy. Unfreezing — alive and well — is the problem. Cancer was my main concern. I have not thought about the colonization of Mars because back in 2005 this hypothesis seemed unthinkable. Only marginally did I consider the use of freezing for very remote space travel.
Few, I imagine approved of the “dismal” main theme of my novel, invoking religious reasons: — “It's ridiculous! So the soul is also frozen and then returns to the body!? How to freeze something immaterial?!” — or worried about overpopulation. There was, as there still is, a kind of taboo in the mere hypothesis, apparently impossible and grotesque. In addition, there was the fact that until now it had not been possible to thaw alive, a human being — or any dead mammal—after days, let alone after months or years. I recently read news that some frogs and insects in arctic regions come back to life in spring. Check it out, because there is a lot of difference between a man and an insect.
The idea of Cryogenics applied to humans — still dormant, discouraged, but not completely forgotten, because some great scientist , or “visionary” entrepreneur, with imagination, stubbornness, courage — and enough money — has not yet emerged capable of unfreezing, alive, a human being.
I have never accepted the doctor's passivity when he realizes that the patient's heart has stopped beating. It is true that some years ago, there has been a modest micro “resuscitator” similar to an iron —, which, at times, manages by means of a violent shock, to bring back to life a person who has just died. There was — pardon the black humor — a temporary “death” of seconds. But if the defibrillator had not been there, his death would have been final.
Reading, in e-book, the aforementioned biography of Elon Musk, I was excited about the possibility of Rusk getting involved in Cryonics because extraplanetary travel, even limited to the solar system — Mars, Venus, Moon and, who knows, other celestial bodies — , depend on the normal lifespan of astronauts, human beings, of limited physical and psychological resistance for long confinements. “Sleeping” frozen, they would be able to mentally endure a waiting span of months and perhaps years in long space travels, driven by solar or atomic energy.
One will object that Elon Musk has so far only been interested in other subjects: physics, mechanics, robotics, the internet, cars, rockets, finance ( PayPal ), astronomy, administrative innovations and business challenges, there is no reason to expect him to get involved in a subject so different, biological, “medical”, as is the case with Cryonics .
It turns out that Musk, fortunately — for all of us — likes to try the very thing that has not been tried yet. He was born that way, as his biographer shows. If he fails, once, twice, or more, in some experiments his obstinacy increases even further. His first Falcon rockets failed. Instead of giving up, as would be deemed “normal”, he redoubled his efforts. Suffice to mention here — proving the success of his persistence — that his Big Falcon Rocket is 68.3 meters high and weighs hundreds of tons, according to the book. How can one manage to build a maneuverable rocket with such weight? Airplanes have wings, which support themselves in the air. Rockets do not have wings, they only rely on their own explosions. And how to design them to land in the right place? After the space flight, the rocket returns to Earth and lands vertically on a floating platform; at sea, or on the original launch pad. In the final part of the book, already mentioned, there is a photo of one of its rockets that show the technological gigantism of this “Hawk” that weighs “almost 500 tons”, in the author's words.
Who supervises, personally and in detail, a work of this magnitude? Musk himself. This fellow is, of course, a “visionary”, and mankind advances faster because of visionaries who, when also courageous, accept tremendous personal risks with trial, error and success. Being “visionary” just imagining or writing books is easy. It is very different to actually create artifacts, companies and systems that can take the visionary to prison, death, bankruptcy or misery. If it were not for Johannes Gutenberg, who designed and built the first printing press to incorporate movable type and mechanized inking — considered the most important invention of the second millennium — books would still be hand-made, one by one. Civilization owes him a lot.
If Elon Musk manages to unfreeze someone, to its previous form, he will also enter the history of human progress. There is nothing more innovative, “revolutionary” than that. It will affect, unintentionally, even religions since the “resurrected” will be able to tell what he “saw” the other side. A much more remarkable feat than making super-powerful and controllable rockets in their flight and landing. Rockets existed before him, but much inferior. Robert Goddard, American who died in 1945, was the father of rockets. And let's not forget Werner von Braun a German, whose unique talent was used by Nazis and Americans. They were mere flying bombs.
In addition to the aforementioned accomplishments, Musk is the founder and CEO of Neuralink, which studies the human brain. Ultimately, it is the brain the main problem in Cryonics. An unfrozen brain, or inadequately thawed, becomes useless in a few minutes, hence the option of some eccentrics to just freeze their own head because it is cheaper. Nothing for Musk is uninteresting if it has any practical use, now or in the future. When a difficulty arises, he becomes obsessed, brooding over the problem until he finds a solution.
Precocious geniuses but the one that impressed me the most was that of Elon Musk, because his curiosity is boundless and requires knowledge of subjects that didn't even exist decades ago, available to previous geniuses. His biography is similar to that of Thomas Edison, a autodidact genius who did not just invent the electric light bulb. He registered more than a thousand patents and had as his motto not to give up. This is also the philosophy of Musk, who never gave up despite almost going bankrupt several times.
If the reader feels I am exaggerating, please read his biography, mentioned in the beginning of this article. His biographer has spent a couple of years researching Musk's life and he does not seem to be a billionaire's kiss-ass and not always in agreement with his subject's line of thinking. The book, for the average reader — who knows little about engines — could be less detailed about mechanical and financial problems, but it may be of interest to mechanical engineers and young entrepreneurs of startups, electric vehicles and rockets. And when I say rockets, I remember that they carry spy, communication and weather satellites.
Of course, as of this date — July 2022 — the possibility of the total extinction of the human species is very remote. Even in the event of a dreadful nuclear conflict, perhaps triggered by an accidentally fired missile — the “immediate strike” — involving the US, Russia, Ukraine, the European Union, China, and the remaining countries, it is clear that the human species will not disappear instantly. It will only go back to an almost savage condition, perhaps gradually disappearing from a widespread radiation.
Danger of sudden death could occur if Earth is struck by a huge meteor, or asteroid, if not destroyed before it reaches our planet. Or in case of malfunction of the sun itself. With no time to prepare an escape of a few hundred humans to Mars, the human species could in fact disappear. This is a cause of concern to the controversial inventor, summarized here. However, if he gathers and heads some twenty or thirty brilliant minds on the planet – physicists, chemists, doctors of various specialties – with exclusive dedication, I am sure they will be able, without much delay, to freeze and thaw, in the right way, any human being. Surely this feat will be less complicated and expensive than colonizing Mars. It will also be necessary, of course, to change the legislation in the definition of “death” and the freedom of the person to decide what to do with his own body and life.
To reiterate, Elon Musk is a gifted visionary, with a peculiar tendency to accomplish what to everyone seems impossible, or too far away. Reading his biography I was reminded of Thomas A. Edison, who attended public school for only three months, but being very naughty, was frowned upon by the teacher. He preferred to drop out and was educated by his mother. He became famous for having invented the electric light bulb and, according to him to have carried out 1,200 experiments to discover a filament, a conductor of electricity, which would not burn easily with a resistance to the passage of electricity, emitting light. He registered 1,033 patents. As a boy, he kept inventing incessantly.
The same phenomenon of precocity occurred with Elon Rusk , who, seeing something “stuck”, malfunctioning, immediately began to imagine a solution to give it speed and functionality. Knowing that the gasoline-powered car is polluting, he decided to manufacture the electric car intending over time to democratize its use. For this one, it needed special batteries and distribution across the country. He invented and continued to improve them. One invention led to another and as he mastered physics and the internet, finance and sales techniques, he managed to create Tesla, the largest electric car manufacturer in the world.
I will not proceed with its accomplishments. Read his biography and if you are still interested in freezing people, read my novel, in e-book: “ Cryonics ”, subtitled “the first Brazilian novel about human freezing”. It is available on Amazon.com
Please do not mix Cryonics with any religion, thinking that this technique — if successful — will defy “divine designs”. On the contrary. I imagine that God wants human beings to live happy and healthy lives, not to die “before time”. That is why there are the Holy Houses of Mercy. Believers, seriously ill, or injured, or their families, pray — with the support of priests — even asking for miracles. Is penicillin a bad thing, an invention of the devil? If the Pope were sick, on the verge of death, would it be an offense against God to pray for his healing? If that were the case, all Medicine would be cursed, for pretending to “compete” with the power of God.
There is no reason to reject Cryonics , if it gets too far advanced, allowing eccentric millionaires — with successive freezing and using stem cells — to live 120, 150, or more years, forming a dictatorial “elite” dominating enraged masses with so much inequality. Even if the medicine of the future manages to manipulate stem cells creating new neurons, youthful skin, and other restorations, it is presumable that future scientists and governments will have enough sense not to use Cryonics as a Frankenstein factory. It will just be a new therapy, not the pursuit of physical immortality—a bad idea for an already overcrowded planet.
Today, it is not just cancer that frightens humanity. The increase in longevity is no longer so rewarding. Alzheimer's disease sours the joy of living long. What is the point of reaching 90 or 100 years if the person is half-blind, deaf, amnesiac, unable to handle a cell phone or recognize family members?
A few special innovative talents could add two or three decades of lucidity. They would hasten the advance of civilization. Men like Einstein, Edison, and several others scientists would deserve this privilege, not for the enjoyment of idleness, but for the sake of productivity and the good of humanity.
Trees that bear beautiful fruit for a longer period deserve better care from the farmer. I do not know what is Elon Musk’s though on this.
Attention: I wrote this article in Portuguese and then tried to translate it with the help of Google Translate, because my knowledge of English is limited. The translation was instantaneous and practically perfect, like "guessing" what's in my head. I don't know how a "machine" can translate so quickly and intelligently. I only changed the version in those details where my style was really a bit confusing. Congratulations, therefore, to Google.
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Francisco Cesar Pinheiro Rodrigues