Captain Oates Rescue Fund
"I am just going outside and may be some time"
This may seem a crazy idea, but I think it has some merit. It is said that no person is dead until they are "warm and dead". By that principle and in consideration of the well-recorded history, and in view of the continuing advancement of the science of Cryonics, I consider that Captain Oates may be still alive, in a realistic way, in the fullness of time, provided history unfolds properly. I'll explain.
I've been running this website www.zyra.org.uk for some years now, and it makes some money, and I have the eccentric idea that when I die I wish to be frozen in liquid nitrogen, in hopes of coming back in the future. This is a scientific approach to resurrection. To give myself the best chance of survival into the future, I intend to be frozen while alive, in a few years time, and if that's not possible, then at least to be frozen just after my death. Cryonics gives a chance of coming back to life in the future. There's no certainty, but from a rational perspective it is a lot better than cremation or burial.
It often seems a shame that great characters from history are lost and can not be brought back. What plays would Shakespeare have written had he been alive today? And wouldn't Galileo have been chuffed to find that his view of the cosmos was right and the Catholic Church was wrong?
Now, to Captain Oates. To recap on history, here's briefly what happened:
In 1911, Captain Scott and his brave team of Antarctic explorers set forth on their epic trek to the South Pole. As everyone knows, Antarctica is a shockingly cold place, and to visit the South Pole in the early 20th Century would have been like going to the Moon! After much hardship, the team arrived at the South Pole, only to discover that they were not first, and that Roald Amundsen and his team had been there 35 days earlier. This did not exactly boost team morale, and the return journey was not great. Progress was slow through the appalling blizzards, and Captain Oates was wounded and lagged behind. He begged the others leave him, but they would not. In the end, in a desperate attempt to save his team mates, Captain Oates sacrificed himself. He said "I am just going outside and may be some time" and he walked out into the driving snow, never to be seen again. The others knew he was walking to his death, but there was nothing they could do about it, and besides, he had left his boots. Even the bold self-sacrifice of Captain Oates did not save the others, and they were found frozen solid in their tent by other explorers. However, the story can now be told as Captain Scott kept a diary which you can download at www.gutenberg.org/etext/11579 which is part of Gutenberg. Anyway, with it being 1912, the tradition at the time was to repatriate and bury the dead. Stories differ on what happened, and according to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Falcon_Scott , the bodies of Scott and his companions were buried in Antarctica, and were not melted. Note that cryonic recovery is only possible if the bodies have been kept frozen, not repatriated. It may be that the bodies are still preserved in the Antarctic ice. See quote at end of this page.
However, the body of Captain Oates was never found. Now maybe this is fortunate for him, because, provided his body is not found for a good while yet, it's unlikely to be thawed out and destroyed. Maybe it will be discovered some time in the future, at which time it may be considered that Cryonics is really quite a good idea. So then, provided someone can pay for the cryonic suspension, and for the frozen body of Captain Oates to be shipped to a cryonics freezing facility, it could be KEPT FROZEN until such time as technology has advanced to the level where the frozen dead can be brought back to life!
So, here's what I propose: A fund be set up, and people who are interested in the potential future resurrection of a great polar explorer of the early 20th Century, contribute to the fund, and modern explorers be made aware of the existence and intentions of that fund. Then, if the body of Captain Oates is discovered, a sensible reward be donated to the finder, and the body be shipped, still frozen, to a cryonics facility, to be frozen in liquid nitrogen until the technology of nanotechnology catches up to being able to recover and rescue the frozen dead.
The reason I am suggesting the rescue and revival of Captain Oates is not merely because he was a heroic character, but also because his body has most likely been kept frozen all this time. He won't have been eaten by penguins, and even though conditions in Antarctica aren't ideal for cryopreservation, there's a good chance that the frosted neurons in his brain will be intact.
Admittedly there are ethical considerations, for example his family of noble English gentry might be a bit uneasy about the idea of Cryonics and the future physical restoration of their long-lost ancestor. Plus, he may be a bit surprised at coming back to life in a future which would be a bit of a culture-shock. However, saving someone's life, especially when they died such a long time ago, surely has the trump card in terms of ethics!
There is an interesting irony to all this, because Captain Oates did not say "I'm going out of this tent to kill myself so you can all have an earthly hope of a chance to get back alive"; he said, in a remarkable style, "I am just going outside and may be some time", which if taken literally would mean that he was going outside and might possibly return at some future time. Cryonics might make that a realistic truth, and upon waking up he might say "I didn't mean it literally, you know".
At the time of writing this (2009), the cost of a cryo-preservation was quoted as $28,000 by the Cryonics Institute, and we can guess that the cost of shipping a body in ice is going to be a few thousand dollars. Plus, there's the question of a finder's reward.
In case you are wondering where to donate, please bear in mind I do not currently have any intentions of being the Treasurer of the fund. Maybe some of the Cryonics companies would be able to do that? Or what about the Captain Oates Museum? (linked off the page of Museums). Maybe someone will have to set up an offshore fund, or a charitable fund, etc. This must be done so we can be sure the money is SAFE.
Whatever happens, we must also make sure the body is not thawed out. Take a look at Cryonics and Human Rights
Other sources of information about Captain Oates:
www.gutenberg.org/etext/11579 - Captain Scott's diary
www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk - Gilbert White's House and the Oates Museum
In the business of preservation of Antarctic Heritage, different people have different ideas on what counts as "preservation", but in the end, life is more important than specimens or replacement copies.
Save the Huts - was http://www.savethehuts.com
Rescue involves the recovery of life. This may not be possible right now, but in the future, Cryonics may work, but it needs to be paid for now.
Incidentally, you are reading this page at Zyra's website, a source of various interesting information about a wide variety of ideas.
Those Wikipedia quotes: The bodies of Scott and his companions were discovered by a search party on 12 November 1912 and their records retrieved. Their final camp became their tomb; a high cairn of snow was erected over it, topped by a roughly fashioned cross. ... A century of storms and snow have covered the cairn and tent, which are now encased in the Ross Ice Shelf as it inches towards the Ross Sea. In 2001 glaciologist Charles R. Bentley estimated that the tent with the bodies was under about 75 feet (23 m) of ice and about 30 miles (48 km) from the point where they died; he speculated that in about 275 years the bodies would reach the Ross Sea, and perhaps float away inside an iceberg.
It is also stated that the body of Captain Oates has not been found.
The thing is, if someone has died of cold, or has been frozen very soon after death through other means, and the body has been kept frozen, there is a possibility of resurrection by scientific means. It may seem a strange idea, but that's the thing with Cryonics