Medical Time Travel
vitrification will require fundamental new knowledge of
mechanisms of cryoprotectant toxicity, and means to inter-
vene in those mechanisms.
If reversible vitrification of humans is developed in future
decades, what would be the application of this suspended
animation? Space travel is sometimes suggested as an applica-
tion, but time travel specifically, medical time travel seems
more likely to be the primary application. People, especially
young people dying of diseases expected to be treatable in
future years would be most motivated to try new suspended
animation technologies. Governments would probably not
even allow anyone but dying people to undergo such an
extreme process, especially in the early days. Applications like
space travel would come much later.
Medical time travel, by definition, involves technologi-
cal anticipation. Sometimes this anticipation goes beyond
just cures for disease. After all, if people are cryopreserved
in anticipation of future cures, what about future cures for
imperfections of the preservation process itself? As the medi-
cal prospect of reversible suspended animation draws nearer,
the temptation to cut this corner will become stronger.
In fact, some people are already cutting this corner very wide.
In 1964, with the science of cryobiology still in its infancy,
Robert Ettinger proposed freezing recently deceased per-
sons until science could resuscitate them.  The proposal
assumed that the cause of death, the early stages of clinical
death, and crude preservation would all be reversible in the
future. Even aging was to be reversed. This proposal was made
in absence of any detailed knowledge of the effects of stopped
blood flow or freezing on the human body. The proposal later
came to be known as cryonics.
Cryonics was clever in that it circumvented legal obstacles
to cryopreserving people by operating on the other side of
the legal dividing line of death. However 40 years later, as