Modern-Day Search for the Fountain of Youth

There are a few options if you're thinking about chilling out in the afterlife. The American Cryonics Society in Cupertino, Calif., which opened in 1969, is the oldest cyronics facility. The Cryonics Institute, in Clinton Township, Mich., touts itself as the cheapest ("the most affordable prices available anywhere," the group crows on its Web site) at $28,000 for a full-body freeze.

And Alcor, located in Scottsdale, Ariz., is home to the most famous "patient" -- baseball legend Ted Williams, whose head and body are frozen in separate vats, as Sports Illustrated revealed in 2003. Alcor's prices are steep -- about $80,000 to preserve just the head, and $150,000 for the whole body.

Mainstream biologists and cryobiologists shudder at the concept of cryonic suspension. "What they are pursuing is not science, and they are banned from membership in our bylaws," John Bischof, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota and an official of the Society for Cryobiology, told the Chicago Tribune recently.

Nanotechnology and Robotics -- The future is upon us, according to inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. His most recent book, "The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology," envisions a future where humans and technology merge, making us super-intelligent half-machines with the ability to live almost forever.

It sounds like science fiction, but Kurzweil, an MIT graduate, argues that the "singularity" -- when technology will advance beyond our ability to comprehend it -- will happen around 2045.

As part of the "singularity," nanotechnology will have evolved such that tiny robots operating on a molecular level will swim through our bloodstream, repairing our damaged organs and cleaning up diseases.

Also during the "singularity," artificial intelligence will become so advanced we won't know whether we are interacting with a computer or another person. We may also have the ability to transcend our bodies, or "hardware," altogether, according to Kurzweil, and live forever as non-biological entities -- essentially living virtually as "software."

Not everyone is thrilled about living forever in a "Blade Runner"-like future. In his 2003 book "Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age," environmentalist Bill McKibben says that too much tinkering with technology makes us less and less human.

"Immortality may give us a world in which there is less meaning in life rather than more," McKibben told the San Francisco Chronicle recently.

But just in case you are looking forward to Kurzweil's vision of eternal life, you don't have to wait until 2045 and hope the singularity occurs. Kurweil and Terry Grossman, M.D., the author of "The Baby Boomers' Guide to Living Forever," have started a company called Ray & Terry's Longevity Products, selling a host of nutritional supplements.

For just $33.95, you can begin your quest for a longer life with their premier product, the Supreme Chocolate Meal Replacement System, a low-calorie, high-nutrient shake mix. And if you're really serious about living longer, you can buy a dozen containers of the shake mix and save 25 percent.

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