While most of us are content to pass on our legacies in the form of an ethical will, legacy letter, personal history book or some sort of audio or visual medium, for others that's not enough.
You may recall the family squabble that developed a few years back when baseball great Ted Williams died, leaving instructions to have his body frozen by a Scottsdale, Ariz., cryonics firm, presumably to be brought back to life when science finds a means for doing so. After writer Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide in 2005, his cremated remains were mixed with gunpowder and stuffed into fireworks for a colorful celebration at his Colorado ranch.
Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claimed recently to have mixed his father's ashes with cocaine before snorting it (he later said it was just a joke). And the ashes of Star Trek actor James Doohan, Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and some 200 others were to be launched into space this month.
Back on earth, John Stevenson, a retired aerospace engineer in Gold Canyon, Ariz., has developed a Graveside Memory Capsule. This weather-protected capsule, inconspicuously mounted at a grave site, contains a digital history of the departed, accessible by anyone with a laptop and USB cable.
It's becoming increasingly common for human remains to be preserved in other materials, such as ceramics. British product designer Nadine Jarvis has taken it a bit farther. She can take the ashes of a person and transform the carbon into 240 small pencils, "a lifetime supply of pencils for those left behind."
If you'd rather put your carbon to a more elegant use, you can contact the folks at LifeGem. They'll take your ashes, purify them, heat them and press them. After about 24 weeks, your descendants will have a diamond suitable for mounting.
There are other ways to keep your memory alive. There's a neat list of 10 of them at Cabinet of Wonders.