Everybody knows the story of the RMS Titanic. On April 15, 1912, the ship sunk in icy waters carrying 1,514 people. Not enough lifeboats were onboard, and when the first rescue ship arrived 90 minutes later, most of the passengers had perished.
It’s common knowledge that 28-degree water will kill people in short order. What’s only beginning to become known, however, is that it’s possible to bring them back to life after they’ve been pronounced dead. Since the Titanic sunk and movies have been made about it, a sea change has occurred, so to speak, in our understanding of death and the brain. We now know that cold preserves brain cells.
“As a result,” says intensive care physician and near-death expert Sam Parnia, “hypothermia is now commonly advocated as a form of treatment for this purpose. Furthermore, we know the transition from reversible to irreversible death also depends on many other factors, but if someone’s body temperature drops after death, the speed by which the cells reach the point of irreversible damage and death slows down considerably.”
The upshot? “Today we would not necessarily have declared those people dead,” says Parnia. He believes that a team of highly trained physicians could have returned them to life.
The implications are obviously dramatic and far-reaching. “We simply don’t have all the answers,” he says. “But we do know that the once held philosophical idea that there is no way back after death is not accurate and that there is a significant period of time after death in which it is fully reversible. The goalposts have moved, and we don’t know where the science will take us. Perhaps we should define death not by some arbitrary physical point or moment linked to a specific physiological change in the configuration of certain cells whether in the brain or otherwise but in terms of when a person’s consciousness, mind, psyche and soul—the self—have been lost forever and cannot be retrieved.”
These ideas are at the core of the online course The Intelligent Optimist will host on three Wednesdays in May (May 8, 15 and 22) with Parnia and two colleagues, former cardiologist and near-death researcher Pim van Lommel and Eben Alexander, a physician who wrote about his own near-death experience in the recent New York Times bestseller Proof of Heaven.
The course is sure to be controversial, advancing new ideas about the characteristics of the afterlife based on Alexander’s experiences, Van Lommel’s interviews and Parnia’s research and the potential impact of this growing awareness on our everyday lives.
What is the relationship between spirit and the body? And how does the stunning new evidence of the survival of consciousness beyond death in the field of near-death studies impact our everyday lives? Find out at this controversial, first-time summit with some of the leading voices in the field. Learn more: http://theoptimist.com/events-courses/courses/life-goes-on
Life Goes On: A Life-and-Death Panel Discussion
Bestselling Author Eben Alexander and Near-Death Experts Sam Parnia and Pim van Lommel
Hosted by The Intelligent Optimist (formerly Ode magazine)
Dates: Wednesdays, May 8, 15 and 22
Time: 11 a.m. – 12:30pm PDT
Price: $125 Early Bird, $150 after April 15
Learn more by clicking here.