October 2, 2009

What the cryogenics lab people did with Ted Williams's frozen, severed head.

"In 'Frozen,' Larry Johnson, a former exec at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., ... writes that in July 2002, shortly after the Red Sox slugger died at age 83, technicians with no medical certification gleefully photographed and used crude equipment to decapitate the majors' last .400 hitter.... Johnson writes that holes were drilled in Williams' severed head for the insertion of microphones, then frozen in liquid nitrogen while Alcor employees recorded the sounds of Williams' brain cracking 16 times as temperatures dropped to -321 degrees Fahrenheit. Johnson writes that the head was balanced on an empty can of Bumble Bee tuna to keep it from sticking to the bottom of its case. Johnson describes watching as another Alcor employee removed Williams' head from the freezer with a stick, and tried to dislodge the tuna can by swinging at it with a monkey wrench. The technician... missed the can with several swings of the wrench and smacked Williams' head directly, spraying 'tiny pieces of frozen head' around the room...."

May your dreams of immortality be non-corporeal.

39 comments:

AllenS said...

Oh, God!

EDH said...

Johnson writes that the head was balanced on an empty can of Bumble Bee tuna to keep it from sticking to the bottom of its case. Johnson describes watching as another Alcor employee removed Williams' head from the freezer with a stick, and tried to dislodge the tuna can by swinging at it with a monkey wrench. The technician... missed the can with several swings of the wrench and smacked Williams' head directly, spraying 'tiny pieces of frozen head' around the room...."

Maybe they should rename the company Albacore?

wv-"blessup" = when someone who confesses to God that he's never done anything wrong and adds "my, don't you look good for a deity of your age" (see also Edwards, John)

MadisonMan said...

Ugh.

This should spark interest in the book. God help them if it's true.

rhhardin said...

Obviously he's gotten somebody else's fate by mistake.

Drew W said...

Wow, it always seemed to work so well on Futurama.

alan markus said...

I remember when my daughter was small and she expressed concerns about eating tuna with bees in it. We got past that, but I must admit I'll hesitate a little bit when I grab whatever brand is on sale. And, no, she never thought chickens were raised in the ocean.

Loved the Futurama reference - so true!

ironrailsironweights said...

Swinging at it with a monkey wrench? Idiot, he should have honored the Splendid Splinter's legacy by using a baseball bat.

Peter

Ignorance is Bliss said...

You can have my Bumble Bee tuna when you pry it from my cold, dead, head.

Fred4Pres said...

Motherfucking Yankees Fans.

Ted, you shall be... avenged.

MayBee said...

Reminds me of a This American Life story about the beginnings of the cryogenics movement.

Act One. You’re as Cold as Ice.

In the late 1960s, a California TV repairman named Bob Nelson joined a group of enthusiasts who believed they could cheat death with a new technology called cryonics. But freezing dead people so scientists can reanimate them in the future is a lot harder than it sounds. Harder still was admitting to the family members of people Bob had frozen that he'd screwed up. Sam Shaw reports

Bissage said...

They are more than welcome to freeze my severed head with liquid nitrogen, and to shatter it with a hammer, but my eyes have to be open, and they have to do it in front of a fifth grade science class, or it’s no deal.

Synova said...

This guy was an executive at the company...

So my question is...

Was he responsible for the stick, the tuna can, or the monkey wrench?

jr565 said...

You'd think that cyrogenics labs would use equipment other than tuna cans to balance heads that they've just cut off. Theres no such thing as a head balancer in the cyrogenic world?It sounds very haphazard.
:"Crap, Ted's arm just fell down quick Jim get me some duct cape and a stapler."

What's even funnier about this whole scenario, is suppose they do find a way to restore people cyrogenically. That does help poor Ted much unless they can simultaneously find a way to reattach a severed head to his body not to mention uncrack (!) his brain.

"Ms. Williams. We've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, we've come along way in our techniques to restore people to life. The bad news -well we had to chop off his head and crack his brain when we were storing his corpse. So though we could still bring back to life, as people can't live without a head attached, he'd still be dead. Our bad. Let's put him back in storage and once we figure out how to reattach heads we'll then thaw him out"

William said...

Within one or two hundred years it will be possible to to translate all the quirks and algorithms of the individual personality into a computer program. (OK, four or five hundred for Michael Jackson.) We will eventually live forvever but on silicon chips, not in heaven.......Tough luck for us. We might be the last generation to be actually dead dead.

AllenS said...

Cryogenics is used for a time when future generations learn how to revive them.

So, let's say that they're able to revive him at a later date. When Ted wakes us and finds out that someone hit him in the mouth with a monkey wrench, he'll probably mumble, "WTF?"

Lem said...

All told, I think the family rift is the tragedy here..

jr565 said...

AllenS wrote:
So, let's say that they're able to revive him at a later date. When Ted wakes us and finds out that someone hit him in the mouth with a monkey wrench, he'll probably mumble, "WTF?"


If he wakes up it will be with brain damage that would make Terry Shiavo's look pale in comparison. So I doubt he'd be getting out any words. Maybe some drooling. And then the issue would be, like Schiavo, we shouldn't keep this person alive as they are functionally dead and their life has no value. So poor Ted, after having his brain shattered and his head cut off is brought back to life as a vegetable, only to be killed again because as a vegetable society has no use for him and thinks he should be put down.

MadisonMan said...

When Ted wakes us and finds out that someone hit him in the mouth with a monkey wrench, he'll probably mumble, "WTF?"

And then someone will have to tell him that the Wisconsin Tourism Foundation changed its acronym, and that shock'll put him right back into a coma.

Original Mike said...

Is today's theme "Brain Dead"?

miller said...

What's the purpose of bringing back to life an 83-year-old former athlete?

David said...

Ted Williams and my father in law were fishing buddies. I was a big Williams fan even before I met him, and more so after. He was a somewhat insecure guy who knew that he was a genius at one particular thing--hitting a baseball. Williams struggled with many demons, was a major league asshole at times and came to a rather pathetic end. But he was an amazing truly amazing ballplayer who had a good heart and helped a lot of young kids who had serious medical problems.

I would like to take a wrench to the person who did this during their lifetime. Nothing fatal, mind you, just a lot of well deserved pain.

alan markus said...

....What's the purpose of bringing back to life an 83-year-old former athlete?....

To put to rest the notion that Obamacare is going to kill your grandma?

"You will have better insurance than now! It's going to be so good, you will want to thaw out grandpa and put him on the plan"

Oligonicella said...

William --

"We will eventually live forvever but on silicon chips, not in heaven......"

Nope. A recorded algorithm of your 'persona' will continue to operate. Not quite the same thing.

If you want to know what happens when a head is thawed from its cyrogenic sleep, take out a frozen steak and thaw. Then prepare a slide and examine the burst cells.

Scott said...

Alcor proves there is a right way and a wrong way to get ahead...

kynefski said...

MayBee references a This American Life piece on this stuff. Is that the same as what David Rakoff included in Don't Get Too Comfortable? Rakoff coined a nice term for those of us who reject cryogenic life extension on principle: Dustafarian.

Ann Althouse said...

The Don't Get Too Comfortable thing is different, even though Rakoff appears in that episode. He's just one of several regulars riffing on that William Carlos William poems about the plums.

Revenant said...

I don't quite get the concern about "no medical certification". So far as modern medicine is concerned, the guy is dead forever. There is no medically approved way to remove a head for later revivification.

traditionalguy said...

Wow! That's what I call a real death panel at work. Turn in your heads you sick people and become immortal. Raising a dead person from the grave three days after burial is above these guys Pay Grade. However, I believe that there is a best seller available to explain the way to Eternal Life.

Revenant said...

However, I believe that there is a best seller available to explain the way to Eternal Life.

True, but it hasn't been confirmed to actually work. :)

AllenS said...

Nothing says dead, like removing the head.

SMGalbraith said...

Abraham Zapruder wanted to destroy his film; or at least keep it locked away forever from the public.

He had terrifying nightmares that it would be shown across the country in theaters with the headlines, "See JFK's Head Explode!"

Poor man.

Stephen Snell said...

Let's also remember that Ted Williams was a decorated Marine Corps pilot who served during WW2 and Korea.

His son, well, no comment.

Given Ted's fishing prowess, maybe the tuna can was appropriate (within a horribly inappropriate context). Someone should also e-mail this to the White House fishy patrol.

wv: finessen - when the waiter clears your plate in Alsace-Lorrain.

blake said...

I guess they weren't true believers.

wv: droastra

Dr. Oastra is here to cryogenically preserve your soul.

Jason said...

Well, if something as big as a head came floating straight down the middle of the strike zone, or was propped up on a tuna can about waist high, I'll bet old Ted would have taken a swing at it, too.

AllenS said...

You're a cold man, Jason.

blake said...

But not as cold as Ted, eh?

wv: redbat

lol

just

lol

Jason said...

Read Williams' own autobiography, and The Science of Hitting. Ted himself attributed his success largely to the fact that he took more batting practice, and more batting practice SWINGS, than any other hitter. He'd do it with anything... broomsticks, rolled up newspapers, anything.

Read Carl Yazsrzemski's autobiography, in which he describes Ted as a hitting coach.

I'm not just making stuff up here. Williams was a relentless batting practice fanatic.

pbuxton said...

GAH! Althouse! Stop turning entire, 500 word paras into links! That is SO annoying!

hope's hopes said...

Gosh. It reminds me of a horror flick.