On Bedford Day, Remembering the Lost Cryonauts

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Cryogenator, Jan 13, 2024.

  1. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I wish it were possible, from this instance, to invent a method of embalming drowned persons, in such a manner that they might be recalled to life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America an hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, the being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country!

    ~ Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), April 1773

    On January 12, 1967, Dr. James Hiram Bedford became the first human cryopreserved shortly after clinical death. Although Sarah Gilbert was frozen almost a year before him on April 22, 1966, she was kept at just above freezing in a morgue refrigerator for the first two months after her clinical death, and her relatives chose to thaw and bury her within a year. Thus, Bedford is considered the first true cryonaut, and some cryonicists celebrate his suspension on this day each year.

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    Bedford reportedly said that he had little hope of reanimation for himself but hoped his suspension would help advance science to the point that future generations could be suspended and reanimated. Indeed, human cryopreservation has evolved significantly since then, particularly with the introduction of vitrification to replace freezing in 2000 (as well as with the ongoing development of intermediate temperature storage).

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    In addition to being the first true cryonaut and one of only two current cryonauts born in the 1800s (the other being the Alcor Life Extension Foundation's first patient, Army veteran Frederick Rockwell Chamberlain II, father of Alcor cofounder and Navy veteran Frederick Rockwell Chamberlain III), Dr. Bedford is the only surviving cryonaut from the tumultuous early years of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Over more than half a century, over 650 people (making cryonauts about as rare as astronauts) have been cryopreserved... but 26 of them have been tragically lost:

    • Sarah Gilbert
      (d. ~Feb 1966, f. Apr 22, t. within a year)
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    • Marie Phelps-Sweet, 74
      (d. Aug 26-27, 1967, t. by the end of 1971)
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    • Louis Tom Nisco, 78
      (d. Sep 7, 1967, by the end of 1971)
      [​IMG]

    • Eva Schulman
      (d. late 1967 or early 1968, t. soon after)

    • Helen Kline
      (d. May 1968, by the end of 1971)
      [​IMG]

    • Donald Kester, Sr.
      (d. Jul 1968, t. ~1 year later)
      [​IMG]

    • Steven J. Mandell, 24
      (d. Jul 28, 1968, t. by May 1979)
      [​IMG]

    • Russ Stanley
      (d. Sep 6, 1968, by the end of 1971)
      [​IMG]

    • Andrew F. Mihok, 48
      (d. Nov 19, 1968, t. ~Dec 5, 1968)
      [​IMG]

    • Ann DeBlasio, 43
      (d. Jan 3, 1969, t. Jul 1980)
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    • Paul M. Hurst, Sr., 62
      (d. 1969, t. 1974)
      [​IMG]

    • Herman Greenberg
      (d. 1970, t. after Nov 1973)
      [​IMG]

    • Mildred Harris, 55
      (d. Sep 20, 1970, t. by May 1979)
      [​IMG]

    • Geneviève Marie Ann de la Poterie, 8
      (d. Jan 25, 1972, t. by May 1979)
      [​IMG]

    • Dorothy B. Labin, 51
      (d. Nov, 13 1972, t. Jul 1980)

    • Clara Adelaide Weidmann Dostal, 61
      (d. Dec 10, 1972, t. Nov 1974)
      [​IMG]

    • Michael Baburka, Sr., 62
      (d. Apr 10, 1974, t. after Oct 1977)

    • Sam Porter, 6
      (d. Oct 1974, t. by May 1979)

    • Pedro Ledesma
      (d. ~Sep 1975, f. Jul 1976, t. by May 1979)

    • Samuel Berkowitz, 76
      (d. Jul 16, 1978, t. Oct 1983)

    • Monique Leroy Martinot, 49
      (d. Feb 25, 1984, t. 2006)
      [​IMG]

    • Cynthia Anne Moore Pilgeram, 60
      (d. May 9, 1990, t. 1994)

    • Al Campbell
      (d. ~Feb 1994, t. a few months later)

    • Raymond Martinot, 80
      (d. Feb 22, 2002, t. 2006)
      [​IMG]

    • Alcor Patient A-2172
      (d. May 19, 2005, t. May 27, 2005)

    • Bina Majumdar, 87
      (d. Apr 7, 2015, t. April 5 2018)
    d. = deanimated
    f. = frozen (noted if a delay of a month or more is known)
    t. = thawed

    The suspensions of Phelps-Sweet, Nisco, Kline, Mandell, Stanley, Harris, de la Poterie, Porter, and Ledesma failed in the infamous Chatsworth disaster. (Additionally, Gaylord Harris, husband of Mildred, had been exhumed from his grave in Iowa and shipped to the facility for a suspension which was never performed.)

    DeBlasio and Labin were lost due to a cryotube failure resulting from rough handling at the Cryonics Society of New York in July of 1980.

    The Martinots and Majumdar were not professionally stored in cryotubes filled with liquid nitrogen, but in freezers by relatives until they were unable to keep them frozen any longer.

    Pilgeram was cryopreserved by her grieving husband but was thawed by court order four years later after her sister found a will in which Pilgeram stated she desired burial. Similarly, A-2172 was thawed after only a week when his family changed their mind.

    Various others were reclaimed by their families for burial due to no longer believing in the possibility of reanimation or no longer wanting or being able to make payments. This led to the introduction of the universal requirement that prospective cryonauts fund their indefinite maintenance (almost always through life insurance, which makes cryopreservation accessible to almost everyone in the developed world) prior to deanimation (clinical death) by providing enough money to be invested in a nonprofit irrevocable trust which generates sufficient interest for what will likely be centuries of cryostasis. (Fortunately, liquid nitrogen is ten times cheaper than milk and can literally be made out of thin air, since the atmosphere is 78% nitrogen.) This policy, along with the development of a relatively mature industry, has completely eliminated suspension failures except in the handful of attempts at private storage and the unique cases of Cynthia Pilgeram being found to have not wanted cryopreservation and A-2172's family changing their mind a week after his suspension.

    Although Bredo Olsen Morstøl (1900-1989) was moved back into liquid nitrogen in August 2023, I think he's almost certainly infotheoretically dead due to his body temperature fluctuating wildly during three decades in dry ice, meaning he is most likely a 27th lost cryonaut. He never should have been removed from liquid nitrogen at Trans Time, where he was for the first four years of his suspension.

    There are also three people (or three bodies) interred in permafrost by the Cryonics Society of Canada from 1989 to 1991 because they couldn't afford cryopreservation. F. Marden was interred in Inuvik, Canada in 1989. Two anonymous Europeans followed in Yellowknife, Alaska in 1990 and 1991. In 1989, Ben Best and Douglas Skrecky made the case for permafrost interment in "The Permafrost Papers." If these three individuals are still viable at all (which to me seems very unlikely at best, frankly), they are slowly deteriorating as they are not below the glass transition. Consequently, cryonicist Alex Noyle advocates for moving them into liquid nitrogen as soon as possible, though there's no indication that anyone capable of doing so is moving to make it happen. These three odd, virtually unknown cases thus might be considered "suspension failures in progress," because the more decades pass, the less likely their reanimation becomes—assuming they were ever viable to begin with (which, again, does seem very unlikely to me).

    We must also acknowledge that many among the approximately 625 people currently in cryostasis at thirteen facilities around the world were poorly—if not very poorly—preserved relative to what was possible at the times of their deanimations, and many may be irretrievably lost. According to a 2012 metanalysis by biostasis pioneer Mike Darwin, over half of Alcor and over ninety-five percent of Cryonics Institute patients up until then were suspended after at least fifteen minutes of warm ischemic time (with 39% of patients suffering six to twenty-four hours and thirteen percent suffering a day or more in Alcor's case and far worse in CI's).

    In 2022, cryobiologist Aschwin de Wolf's presentation at Alcor's semicentennial provided a starkly honest look at the poor track record of suspensions over the past half century and suggestions on how to improve standby, stabilization, and transport (SST) so that more future cryonauts can receive suspensions as excellent or better than Stephen Coles', which used experimental intermediate temperature storage deployed immediately after clinical death to achieve unprecedented preservation of neurosynaptic structure as revealed by ultra-high-resolution electron microscopy of a biopsy taken from his vitrified brain.





    Although reanimation from centuries of stasis as seen in science fiction remains distant, we can now reanimate vitriified rat kidneys and have reanimated humans kept at just above freezing for up to two hours without any blood in their bodies, and, as the signatories of the Scientists' Open Letter on Cryonics, Stephen Wolfram, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, George Church, David Chalmers, and many other luminaries have said, there is reason to believe that at least some people currently in cryostasis have at least a nonzero chance of being fully restored to youth and health in the distant future. I've planned to become a cryonaut ever since I saw Ted Williams on the news when I was kid. I was amazed by the sudden discovery that "Han Solo in carbonite could be real." I'm fascinated by the possibilities of meeting people from as far back as 130 years into the past (if Bedford can be reanimated) and of traveling to the 24th century or beyond in a subjective instant.

    Echoing the perspective I heard Kim Suozzi express at Alcor's fortieth anniversary in 2012—three months before she succumbed to glioblastoma multiforme at 23 and was cryopreserved—I realize it's a longshot, but I have nothing to lose in taking it. This Bedford Day, I salute her, Dr. Bedford, and the 650 or so others who have gone before me.





    Biostasis: the medical final frontier. These are the voyages of the Timeship Interchronos. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new times; to seek out new science and new technologies; to coldly go where no one has gone before!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2024
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  2. Haggis and tatties

    Haggis and tatties Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, i mean what did any of them have to lose at that point, and funny enough, the more people that do it the more the odds increase of it working for someone at some point. :eek:
     
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  3. publiusr

    publiusr Admiral Admiral

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    Prehoda had a nice book on the subject:
    https://www.abebooks.com/first-edit...Research-Possibility-Allow-Man/22664020086/bd

    Terms like “torpor” and “biolation” are used for artificial hibernation, where you don’t have to worry about ice crystal knives from cryogenics—or crazy spouses;
    https://slate.com/technology/2021/09/cryonics-dead-bodies-russia-frozen-kriorus.html

    Breaking Bad—on ice!

    The only (accidental) cryonaut to survive was Jean Hilliard…but her genetics may have made her the Henrietta Lacks of cryo-preservation…a one-off.

    I consider the cryogenically preserved just to be perfect mummies for the time being.

    I wonder if the fearsome visage of Raymond Martinot above might be the inspiration behind the character of Ralph Offenhouse as played by Peter Mark Richmond in TNG’s “The Neutral Zone?”

    Corpse-cycle
    https://metro.co.uk/2024/01/24/inside-deep-freeze-ambulance-brits-go-life-death-20164112/

    More:
    https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2024/02/16/to-the-stars-with-human-crews/
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2024
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  4. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, that's one of the earliest texts on suspended animation research—I'm impressed that you know of it! Although Prehoda assisted with Bedford's cryopreservation, he wasn't a cryonicist himself and died in 2009.
    I've read a few articles proposing torpor for interplanetary travel over the past several years but had never encountered "biolation." I see only one relevant result for that term on Google; do you know of any others? Was this term coined within the last several years? Interesting.

    Two hours of suspended animation just above freezing is the current state of the art.
    Vitrification can greatly reduce or even eliminate ice crystallization. With extremely advanced artificial intelligence and nanorepair mechanisms potentially enabling precise inference of past states, frozen cryonauts might be retrievable, but vitrified cryonauts have a much better chance and would require less repair. Intermediate temperature storage can further reduce damage by minimizing fracturing.
    Indeed... the split between Danila and Valeria was disastrous.
    Though she appeared to be "frozen solid," her core body temperature remained well above freezing. She couldn't have survived otherwise. Others have survived similar conditions.
    For the time being, yes... but cryostasis below the glass transition stops deterioration altogether rather than merely slowing it significantly as dry ice does or slightly as water ice does. After centuries or even millennia in cryostasis, cryonauts would remain exactly as they were the moment their suspension began, so although they are certainly irreversibly dead according to current and near future medicine, they may not be according to the medical science of the distant future.

    I highly recommend Greg Fahy's discussion of an ideal cryopreservation case from which a neural biopsy was taken and examined by an electron microscope, revealing excellent cellular preservation. The M22 cryoprotectant solution which Greg and his team at 21st Century Medicine developed is used both in human cryopreservation and the mainstream organ preservation research which has enabled the recovery of rat kidneys from vitrification without damage. Greg makes a strong case for current cryopreservation protocols being potentially sufficient for identity preservation. As one of the world's leading cryobiologists, his expert opinion deserves serious consideration.

    I view biostasis as the ultimate extension of experimental medicine.

    When you're terminally ill, even an infinitesimal chance of being restored to full health is better than none. Also, preservation is much easier than reanimation, so reanimation will come long after survivable preservation; it would be far better to eventually discover that we began preserving people too early rather than not early enough.
    Ha! I hadn't considered that!

    I find "The Neutral Zone" tonally inconsistent because it mocks cryonics as a "late twentieth century fad" for people who "feared dying" while also depicting it as a successful endeavour (and not for the first time!), and also because emergency suspended animation could have saved the lives of so many we see die onscreen (all in the name of dramatic tension, of course). Star Trek is written by and for people who dream of a better future, so why mock those who try to actually reach a better future? Almost all of the cryonicists I know anticipate (and look forward to) adapting to a very different world if reanimated rather than stubbornly attempting to recreate the past in the future. We tend to be a lot more like Gillian Taylor or Rain Robinson than Ralph Offenhouse or Sonny Clemonds.

    Realistically, the future is going to be the inverse of the Federation in some major ways: instead of rapidly expanding across a galaxy already teeming with intelligent life but bizarrely eschewing almost all human enhancement and lifespan extension, we'll slowly expand across the Solar System but will rapidly enhance our mental and physical abilities and tremendously extend our healthspans and lifespans over the next several centuries.

    I've always thought that 67-year-old DeForest Kelley in 1987 should have played 137-year-old Leonard McCoy in 2364 without the bad old man makeup as that would've been truer to the far more significant progress in medicine which will almost certainly have been achieved by the late 24th century. Depicting McCoy as confused, decrepit, and seemingly near death at 137 implies that nearly four centuries from the episode's original broadcast, medicine has managed to increase human lifespans only a couple decades beyond the natural limit. I think we can do better than that by 2364—and that doing so will have profoundly transformative social and economic benefits. I'm glad they later chose to bring James Doohan and Mark Lenard back sans exaggerated geriatric theatre (even though they did use transporter stasis and superior alien biology to explain it).

    Cryonicist Max More positively excoriated "The Neutral Zone" in Cryonics Magazine after it first aired back in 1988:
     
  5. publiusr

    publiusr Admiral Admiral

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    The craft they were on looked better as a comm-relay. Any future remaster needs to have a Musk/SpaceX craft.

    I forget where I first heard the term “biolation.” Maybe from SciAm…I seem to recall a big problem being oxygen.

    You need to flood the body with it for respiration of course—but eliminate as much as you can before freezing.
    https://phys.org/news/2023-03-oxygen-cells-tissues.html

    I have this sneaking suspicion that, instead of freezing the body as it is—the hibernaut will have to be vivisected in order to get at everything.

    In popular culture
    https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/27/arts/television/true-detective-corpsicle-frozen-bodies.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2024
  6. Haggis and tatties

    Haggis and tatties Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well the only real part of a human you need is the brain, so who knows, maybe at some point brain transplants and cloning will be a thing, so clone your old body so you do not need to worry about rejection, then grow it quickly, then pop your brain into the new body, and bingo!!!!!, but of course you now have a new cloned body but your brain is still aging, so a new set of problems. Ha
     
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  7. SithHappens

    SithHappens Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    On a over populated planet I can't see the benefit of bringing people back
     
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  8. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    "On an overpopulated planet, I can't see the benefit of bringing people back with CPR. We should let people suffocate so as to reduce overpopulation."

    "On an overpopulated planet, I can't see the benefit of feeding the hungry. We should let people starve so as to reduce overpopulation."

    "On an overpopulated planet, I can't see the benefit of treating cancer. We should let cancer go untreated so as to reduce overpopulation."

    I'm not responsible for others' excessive reproduction and have no obligation to forego any medical care that might extend my life because others have had too many children (I have no children myself). Kim Suozzi had no obligation to die at 23 to make way for others, and if she's ever reanimated, the world won't be any worse off.

    The number of cryonauts (under 700) and future cryonauts like myself (currently around 5,000) won't appreciably contribute to overpopulation at all. Reanimation will probably require at least two or three centuries if it ever happens at all (which it may not), and by that time, I expect much more advanced energy, manufacturing, and agriculture plus the beginnings of interplanetary industry will have significantly mitigated if not solved overpopulation. Also, the global population is currently projected to decline after 2100.
     
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  9. publiusr

    publiusr Admiral Admiral

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  10. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    "The year is 1972. Popeyes has just opened, and they have some groovy, far out, and tasty fried chicken. Unfortunately, it will be over fifty years until they will offer chicken wings. Sweet ‘n‘ spicy, ghost pepper, signature hot, honey BBQ, roasted garlic parmesan. Crispy, juicy, and still decades away from your early seventies taste buds. Faced with this mouthwatering quandary, what would you do? How could you ensure that you would be around to taste these modern marvels? Well, for one man, the answer was simple. He cryogenically froze himself. And now, the world knows his story. This is that man’s journey to loving that chicken, and those chicken wings, from Popeyes. Of course, for you, the wait is over, too. Because Popeyes finally has wings. What a time to be alive."

     
  11. Serveaux

    Serveaux Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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  12. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Why, they might have been reanimated in the 24th century, of course! :)

    "The Neutral Zone" is bizarrely tonally inconsistent for dismissing cryostasis as a fad yet clearly showing it was a success. The ability to place people in suspended animation would be tremendously useful for space travel and emergency medicine. If every ship had an emergency stasis chamber, Scotty wouldn't've had to jury rig a pattern buffer into one at great risk. The real 24th century won't have superluminal travel across a galaxy teeming with intelligent aliens, but it could have perfected suspended animation technology and significantly extended healthy lifespans.
     
  13. Serveaux

    Serveaux Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    I just enjoy Picard's question in juxtaposition with the use of the term "tragedy" to describe the loss of frozen corpses.
     
  14. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    It's a tragedy because had they remained in cryostasis, they might have been restored to healthy, youthful life one day.

    Picard says "they were already dead" because he doesn't understand (because the writers didn't understand and didn't want to understand) the difference between clinical death (which is already reversible), biological death (which may be reversible someday), and infotheoretic death (which is physically impossible to reverse).

    In our universe, current cryonauts are clinically and biologically but perhaps not infotheoretically dead.

    In Picard's universe, humanity had perfected cryogenic suspended animation in the late twentieth century (no doubt as one of many trickledown effects of the vast acceleration precipitated by the Starling paradox), so the cryonauts he encountered weren't even biologically dead, just clinically dead.
     
  15. Michael

    Michael Good Bad Influence Moderator

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    What makes you say the bolded part with such confidence? How can you possibly claim to know what they did and didn’t want to understand? :confused:
     
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  16. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I know that they didn't want to understand because they called cryonics a "fad" which died out in the 21st century and because they dismissed the cryonauts as "already dead" when they weren't. They could've called a cryonics organization and learned a lot in an hour or less.
     
  17. Michael

    Michael Good Bad Influence Moderator

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    I’m not sure how that would tell you definitively what they did or didn’t want to understand. They were writing a piece of fiction that was meant to entertain first and foremost, not inform about the then-current state of real world cryonics. And as has been noted, the episode did show the technology to work after all, despite what the characters state they think to know about its history. So I don’t see where the problem is or why that would lead you to believe they willfully tried to stay ignorant on the subject.
     
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  18. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Quite. Picard was demonstrated to be flat-out wrong, indeed arrogant, simply because of this (not to mention other things besides, which are off-topic).
     
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  19. Cryogenator

    Cryogenator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Explicitly dismissing cryonics as a "fad" for people who "feared death" ("it terrified them!") which died out in the 21st century reveals that the writers clearly thought poorly of real cryonics and weren't interested in learning even the basics. That line wouldn't've been written otherwise. I don't mean that they "willfully tried to stay ignorant," but rather that they simply didn't care. Less than one in a million people currently plan to be cryopreserved because the technology is so primitive and unproven, but in the show's universe, reanimation had already been achieved by the 1980s. There's no way such powerful technology would be abandoned as a "fad." Many of the deaths seen throughout the franchise could have been prevented if suspended animation remained in widespread use. Medical technology in general is unrealistically unadvanced in Star Trek.

    However, the admirable compassion and patience shown to the three cryonauts by all (even Picard) throughout the episode, their generally sympathetic portrayal, and Riker's closing wish to spend more time with them go a long way toward canceling out the silly "fad" remark.

    Another issue which I don't think even any offscreen media ever explored is how the satellite travelled an interstellar distance at sublight speed in three centuries. The original script supposedly has Data mention that some alien force must have moved it for an unknown reason. Another mystery is why one capsule was empty...
     
  20. Michael

    Michael Good Bad Influence Moderator

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    What an author writes in their text or has their characters say ≠ what an author necessarily really knows or thinks. I'm honestly just a little bothered by the idea that they must be ignorant about what the facts are about something or they wouldn't be writing something else about that thing. But okay.

    My guess would be that they just wanted to emphasize how cryonics was an old, abandoned technology to them, since they have suspended animation by way of stasis fields and similar tech. It’s a bit like someone today would call steam engines a 19th century “fad”, because we have more advanced technology today. That doesn’t mean steam engines didn’t work or were worthless.
     
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