Matthew Sullivan working on a prototype operating table | Suspended Animation, Boytan Beach, Florida, USA 2010

Matthew Sullivan working on a prototype operating table | Suspended Animation, Boytan Beach, Florida, USA 2010

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Photographer Murray Ballard says he expected a cryonics facility to look like something out of a sci-fi movie scene. But when he first walked into a lab in Phoenix, Arizona, it looked more like an industrial warehouse than a high-tech research facility.

Ballard says he was intrigued by the contrast between such an ambitious endeavor — freezing bodies after death in the hopes of reviving them in the future — and the somewhat unremarkable architecture and equipment.

The science on cryonics is still, for obvious reasons, unclear. "There's research that's being done with the liver, where a human liver has been taken down to cryonic temperatures and then has been successfully thawed out and doesn't show any signs of being damaged," Ballard says. "But, of course, we're all very aware that a liver is a very distant organism to a brain in a human being."

And no one, he says, is more aware of that than the scientists who are working on cryonics. "After doing this project for six years, cryonicists are actually pretty skeptical themselves," Ballard says. "The cryonicist's answer is, 'If I want to live forever, I stand a much better chance if I'm cryonically preserved than if I do if I am buried or cremated.'"

Regardless of the chances of cryonics working, Ballard says, "I feel like my job is really to put this subject out there for discussion and thought, and to kind of question it and inspire a conversation around it. I'm not really trying to predict how likely it is that this will work."

This photo slideshow was originally published by PRI's To the Best of Our Knowledge in collaboration with FlakPhoto, an independent photo/arts collaborative that promotes the discovery of photographic image-makers from around the world.

Patient #2 | KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia 2010

Patient #2 | KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia 2010

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Andy Zawacki, Chief Operations Officer | Cryonics Institute, Clinton Township, Detroit, Michigan, USA 2010

Andy Zawacki, Chief Operations Officer | Cryonics Institute, Clinton Township, Detroit, Michigan, USA 2010

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Practice dummy, Cryonics UK standby team training | Tim’s house, Sheffield, UK 2010

Practice dummy, Cryonics UK standby team training | Tim’s house, Sheffield, UK 2010

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Cryostat, which stores the head of the first cryonics patient in Russia, Lidia Fedorenko, and many DNA samples | KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia 2010

Cryostat, which stores the head of the first cryonics patient in Russia, Lidia Fedorenko, and many DNA samples | KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia 2010

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Cryostat | KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia 2010

Cryostat | KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia 2010

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Operating room | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2006

Operating room | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2006

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Patient Care Bay (dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen) | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. 2006

Patient Care Bay (dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen) | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. 2006

Credit:

Murry Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

LN2 vapor extractor and thermo-coupling device (during patient cool-down) | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2007

LN2 vapor extractor and thermo-coupling device (during patient cool-down) | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2007

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtest of FlakPhoto

Portable perfusion kit | Alan and Silvia Sinclair’s house, Peacehaven, East Sussex, UK 2007

Portable perfusion kit | Alan and Silvia Sinclair’s house, Peacehaven, East Sussex, UK 2007

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Frank, standby team training | Alan and Silvia Sinclair’s house, Peacehaven, East Sussex, UK 2007

Frank, standby team training | Alan and Silvia Sinclair’s house, Peacehaven, East Sussex, UK 2007

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Experiment #1 | Alexander’s laboratory, Voronezh, Russia 2009

Experiment #1 | Alexander’s laboratory, Voronezh, Russia 2009

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Neuro-patient storage | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2007

Neuro-patient storage | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2007

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Patient storage | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2009

Patient storage | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2009

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

Aaron Drake, Medical Response Director | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2009

Aaron Drake, Medical Response Director | Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA 2009

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

John, a prospective patient, recording a video testimony | Terasem Movement Inc. Melbourne Beach, Florida, USA 2010

John, a prospective patient, recording a video testimony | Terasem Movement Inc. Melbourne Beach, Florida, USA 2010

Credit:

Murray Ballard/Courtesy of FlakPhoto

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