"Vitreous" means "glassy," which in turn, in materials technology, means solid-seeming but without the characteristic crystalline structure of typical solids. (Over long periods of time, glass can sag or run like tar.) If there are crystals (ice) they are relatively few or/and small, so there is little if any mechanical damage from ice.

Last year Fred Chamberlain announced that "Vitrification is here!" (Some, but not all, of the more recent Alcor publications have been more cautious.) Alcor has adopted a "vitrification" procedure for neuros. They mean well and they thought their change was based on good reasons. However, the results have not actually been evaluated after testing with animals, so any optimism is based on partial and indirect evidence--testing of different organs under different conditions at different temperatures.

I'm not sure how closely readers on this list follow U.S. developments, but any impression that Alcor or anyone else will offer "vitrification" any time soon, either in the UK or US, is mistaken.

The main sponsors of The Door Into Summer proposal (TDIS), with close ties both to Alcor and 21 CM, have said repeatedly and recently that Alcor's current procedures are not satisfactory, and that even the new TDIS does not expect to offer vitrification until after at least about a year, which time they will need to develop their procedure and demonstrate its effectiveness, after heavy additional investment. [Click on the illustration for details of the book. It is an uncanny coincidence that Heinlein placed a cryonics facility in Riverside, California, years before Alcor was even thought of. Heinlein was not interested in cryopreservation, and took the choice of annihilation instead. - webmaster]

They have mentioned a figure of $40,000 for vitrification in Florida, either neuro or whole body. They also hope to develop a traveling team, which would be available at some further undetermined cost.

The TDIS people have said they plan to make their equipment, procedures, training, and licensing available to all cryonics organizations equally. If it appears to offer an advantage to our members, over our own procedures as these develop from our own research, then CI may accept this offer and provide TDIS-type services on our own premises. But none of this is in the immediate future, for anyone anywhere.

CI members are free, now or later, to choose initial preparation by someone else, followed by storage at CI. (Of course we need to be informed of any such arrangement, to make sure there is no conflict or linkage between contracts.)

If the TDIS procedure requires storage at a higher temperature, CI will provide that too, either with new designs we have on the boards or with commercial units. The cost of that remains to be determined, but will almost certainly be lower than available anywhere else.

As for the neuro angle, CI does not expect to offer it ourselves, but if a member has a funded CI contract and we receive only his head, prepared by another organization, we will accept that, subject as always to the safeguards in the CI contract and if there is no conflict with the contract the member has with the other organization. But again, for the near future, TDIS expects to price neuros and whole bodies the same $40,000 in Florida, an undetermined higher amount elsewhere if their traveling team materializes. (The CI fee and transportation of course must be added.) Therefore, for the moment at least, there is no clear material advantage to a CI member to choose neuro TDIS over whole-body TDIS, when TDIS becomes ready to operate.

The basic common-sense guidelines are clear enough:

  1. If you value continued or renewed life enough, you will make cryopreservation arrangements of some kind with no unnecessay delay. It's not a huge expense for most people, and you can always change your mind--but you can't change your mind if you die without arrangements.

  2. If you think one type of procedure is superior, by however little, you will choose that, if you can afford it and if there are no other considerations. (In practice, there are many other considerations.)

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society