In China, a woman was cooled to 196 degrees below zero in liquid nitrogen for the first time. Scientists hope to be able to thaw her if lung cancer can be cured.
2000 liters of liquid nitrogen forms the grave of the Chinese Zhan Wenlia. She is the first in her country to allow scientists to freeze her body.
She hoped that one day science will be so advanced that it can be brought to life and that the lung cancer that has become fatal can be cured.
Brain lives on
Zhan is not the only one. A few hundred Americans have already had their bodies stored in liquid nitrogen, but none of them has yet been brought to life.
This 'cryopreservation' is based on the fact that the enzymes that break down our bodies after death are inactive at very low temperatures.
Companies offering the procedure try to cool the cells of the organs as quickly as possible, even before the decomposition process begins.
As soon as the heart stops beating, the cryotechnicians start supplying the brain cells with oxygen to prevent them from dying. The brain can be active for a few minutes after the heart has stopped.
Cells can fall apart
Cryotechnicians inject a chemical cocktail of preservatives into the veins. Substances such as glycerol ensure that no ice crystals form in the organs.
Bodies are not simply immersed in the liquid nitrogen, otherwise the moisture in the cells would freeze and expand, causing the cells to burst.
First the body, which is filled with protective chemicals, is cooled to around 130 degrees below zero. The cryotechnicians then lower it - head down - into a huge metal tank with liquid nitrogen.
It took 55 hours to cool the cells in Zhan's body to -196 ° C, the temperature at which it is now stored.