Volume 3 no 28. First published August 1991. ISSN applied for.
I've Laughed and Loved in the Summertime Bob Brakeman
Early Cryonics Book re-Issued
Pre-mortem Biostasis Douglas Skrecky
Death Insurance Douglas Skrecky
Cheap Growth Hormone Yvan Bozzonetti
Points from the Press Yvan Bozzonetti
Letters Bob Brakeman's articles, Good news on Freeze Drying
Periastron on Mummification
Health Now - Freeze Later Brian Haines
By Bob Brakeman
If the conspiracy theorists weren't so busy trying to prove that no one in human history died a natural death (they were all murdered by Them), they could take care of more important business, such as explaining why, during the 1950s, there were two George Hamiltons floating around show business. Furthermore, both were extremely similar people---young, southern, tall, handsome, articulate and popular within the industry. One George Hamilton was famous for his tan and for hanging around Lynda Bird Johnson while her father was endeavouring to slaughter, in Vietnam, all the 18 year old males in the US. The other George Hamilton was actually George Hamilton IV, and he was one of the original rock and roll gods. George Hamilton IV is the one who matters, for purposes of this article (the one who matters, period, come to think of it).
George Hamilton IV came out of Winston-Salem North Carolina to record such teen anthems as A Rose and a Baby Ruth and Why Don't They Understand, in the late fifties and early sixties. When the first-generation rockers were annihilated with the coming of the English Invasion in 1964, G.H.4 drifted into country music. He had a second successful career there, and in 1971 he wrote and recorded Dirty Old Man, for RCA Records. It was a big country hit and also did a little damage on the pop chart. Musically it was a midtempo semi-ballad - but it's the lyrics which interest us here.
The ideological content of Dirty Old Man features two things of interest to almost anyone, plus a couple of items of special importance to immortalists.
The general-interest thoughts are
(A) the touching, sad fact of the old man being rejected and laughed at, and
(B) the impact of the fact that the rejection is due to nothing more than age-bigotry.
Age-bigotry is pretty much the last "acceptable" one, and an ironic component of it is showcased in Dirty Old Man: many of those who are most violently anti-old are the young who themselves are often subject to age discrimination.
Those are the things that made the song a hit, but for immortalists there's even more there.
The main part of the "more" deals with something which has often made it hard to recruit very young people into cryonics:
They're so young that they cannot imagine themselves old - let alone dead. Because their own elderly years seem incomprehensibly far away, they can't and won't try to imagine how those years might feel when they arrive and anyone too stuck in a youthful mindset to imagine being old is certainly not going to relate to his own mortality, and so he/she is a bad bet for cryonics. Although there are exceptions (I myself recently brought a 26 year old1 into cryonics), it is a general rule that the people who take death most seriously are those who are chronologically closest to it, and the lack of empathy for the aged shown by the boys in Dirty Old Man is a showcase for how removed from those subjects most young people feel. Because most young people cannot psychologically feel close to aging and death issues, the only people among them who are good bets for cryonics are those who are ultra-rationalists, because, unlike the average person, they vote with their intellect, not with their feelings. That this tendency of the young to not take aging, death, and cryonics
seriously goes on from generation to generation is suggested in the song itself: The man currently being laughed at by kids who think they'll never be old once himself "Never thought that I'd get very old". None of that means that young prospects should be ignored in cryonics recruiting, but it certainly suggests that, in a world of scarce resources, we should apportion our finite resources in a way which directs most of our attention toward people who take life and death issues seriously - and that will tend to mean people who are "grey and wrinkled" rather than "young and full of fun". (Those wishing to point out that many people who are grey and wrinkled are also full of fun should send their hate letters to my literary agent, who has instructions on what to do with them.)
Something else of interest to immortalists is suggested by the line "I remember it well", and is made even clearer by the version of the song often performed live by George Hamilton IV. After he describes his younger years and says "I remember it well", the singer adds, as an aside, "seems like yesterday". The fact that the old man's "80 summers" have passed so quickly helps make two intellectual points.
(A)The young boys' next "50 years or so" are going to pass just as quickly - which only intensifies their stupidity and shortsightedness in not taking life, death and aging issues seriously right now.
(B)The reason that, as humans like to say, "time seems to pass so quickly", is that the time allotted for the conventional lifespan is so ridiculously short that what's happening is not that time is speeding - it's that time is moving at a "normal" pace, but because there is such a ludicrously small amount of it, it seems to speed by.
That is the subject of another article in this series, but here this much can be said: geologic time is the only time, and when the average human lifespan is contrasted with the 16 billion year age of the universe, only the morally and mentally dead will fail to see that the current human lifespan is a joke/atrocity/horror, and that it badly needs fixing, through cryonics and other immortalist technologies. That "fixing" is a big job, but laughing and loving for endless summertimes to come is incentive enough to do it.
1 The story of Steve Luckyx and the other dozen and a half people we've brought into immortalism over the years is being told gradually in articles in life extension magazines, most recently The Saga of Charley Amlin. [Longevity Report 27]
2 [Editorial note] What Mr Brakeman says about human lifespan in relation to the age of the universe is horribly correct, but the speed of time as perceived by humans is more than that. Because this world is so rich in opportunities, there is more input to each person than he can clear before the next input arrives. An engineering solution would be to have a universe where intelligences perceive time as having two directions instead of one, and communicate via a common time stream. The other dimension is used to live their daily lives, so that there are never the frustrating events of missed opportunities or impossible synchronicities. In such a universe it would be impossible ever to be late or not be ready for an event.
The professions solve this problem in a slightly different way - they steal time from their clients. Doctors make "block appointments" so that their patients have to wait, never the doctor. Lawyers make people attend court all at once, and witnesses often have to wait days before they are called. The writer is aware of a case where a witness to a criminal event, who was sufficiently publicly spirited (or stupid, depending on your viewpoint) to report it, was made to wait several hours in a small room with the defendant when the case came to trial
Bob Brakeman, the author of more than 2000 articles on Immortalism and Public Affairs, resides in Malibu, California.
Early Cryonics Book Re-issued
The Society for Venturism has reprinted a book, Immortality, Physically, Scientifically, Now by Evan Cooper, writing under the pen name of Nathan During. (Enduring = N. During = Nathan During). They believe it to be the first detailed, nonfictional presentation of the hypotheses that freezing the newly deceased might lead to their eventual reanimation and restoration to health - what is now known as the cryonics thesis. Originally published in 1962, the book was never produced in quantity and remains a rarity today. (Current printing:100 copies.) Although overshadowed by Robert Ettinger's The Prospect of Immortality, it contains significant independent thinking on such issues as the informational basis of identity, and the elimination of death and the automation of labour in future society. It is softcover, 5" x 8", 110 pages, indexed, and is available directly from the Society for Venturism, PO Box 458, Wrightwood, CA92397, USA, for $11.95.
A cornerstone of the cryonics movement is the belief that molecular repair machines will one day be developed that would be capable of both reversing the brain deterioration which occurs after death as well as repair freezing induced damage and thereby make reanimation of "corpsicles" possible. However, such "nanotechnology" may take such a long time to develop that cryonic suspension under liquid nitrogen for the required length of time may not be financially feasible. Fortunately there does exist one -- and only one -- alternative preservation technology which would not require the development of nanotechnology for successful resuscitation to be effected. This is premortem anhydrobiotic biostasis.
Freezing of intracellular water is invariably fatal even to animals which are highly freeze tolerant.1 By comparison desiccation tolerant organisms can survive years of complete desiccation to be revived after this period by the mere addition of water. Brine shrimp eggs or "sea monkeys" as they are popularly known is a good example of an organism capable of extended periods of anhydrobiotic biostasis. The secret to surviving desiccation is now known to involve the stabilization of dry proteins by nonreducing sugars such as trehalose or sucrose.2
Although human mummies retain some cellular detail over thousands of years this degree of preservation alone will not be sufficient to enable resuscitation to take place. No damage beyond the capability of the body's own cellular repair machinery to fix can be allowed to occur if resuscitation is to take place in the foreseeable future. Fortunately the brain damage which occurs after death can be avoided by simply instituting anhydrobiotic biostasis before death occurs. The deterioration which takes place in dried tissues over time can also be virtually halted if oxygen and light are excluded from contact with the tissue.3 This deterioration might be completely halted if nontoxic chemical means of preservation are also employed. Diethylhydroxylamine is 100 times as powerful an antioxidant as the BHT commonly used in packaging food. Even trace doses of this substance can completely abolish all lipid peroxidation. Is it nontoxic? When fed on a long term basis to mice it slightly increased their lifespan.4
The procedure for instituting anhydrobiotic biostasis is as follows:
1. The body temperature of the still living terminally ill patient is reduced.
2. The blood supply is then replaced by sugar saturated blood. Body temperature is again lowered, breath stops and the entire body vitrifies as the sugar solidifies.
4. The corpse is then gradually air dried to produce a "mummy".
5. The mummy is placed in an anaerobic or oxygen free environment for long term storage.
The method used for reviving such a mummy is as follows:
1. Add water and a perfectly preserved sugar vitrified corpse reappears.
2. This corpse is then infused with oxygen.
3. The corpse is warmed up and the blood supply is replaced by fresh blood.
4. The heart is started, etc.
5. The patient thanks his doctor for reviving him.
Sounds simple? Sounds too good to be true? I thought so till I completed a considerable amount of research looking for reasons why mammals could not be successfully revived from anhydrobiotic biostasis with current medical technology -- but found nothing. As far as I am aware of if an animal such as a rabbit were to be placed in an anhydrobiotic state it could be revived -- even now.
Biostasis in science fiction movies always used a form of cryonics. In practice a special form of mummification may be the actual method used in the future for inducing biostasis. Frozen bodies may look good. Even embalmed bodies look good. However if resuscitation is the goal we may have to settle for poor looks, but excellent preservation.
1. Life in a Frozen State: Adaptive Strategies for Natural Freeze Tolerance in Amphibians and Reptiles: American Journal of Physiology Vol. 258 R559-R568 1990
2. Long-Term Preservation of Dried Phosphofructokinase by Sugars and Sugar/Zinc Mixtures: Cryobiology Vol.25 372-376 1988
3. Degradation of Functional Integrity During Long-Term Storage of a Freeze-Dried Biological Membrane: Cryobiology Vol.22 119-127 1985
4. Increase in Life Expectancy for Mice Fed Diethylhydroxylamine (DEHA): Journal of Gerontology 674-680 Vol.42 No.6 1987
Canadian Cryonics News Editor's Comments
Mr. Skrecky is far more pessimistic about how long it will take nanotechnology to become feasible for cell repair than are cryonicists -- I've seen him estimate a thousand years. In light of the mapping of the human genome within 15 years and the current progress of genetic engineering, I find his estimate outrageous. The cost of liquid nitrogen should not be a problem either, as long as the patient in suspension has a capital fund which has enough annual interest to
1 pay for maintenance costs and
2 build principal to keep ahead of inflation.
Nonetheless, Mr. Skrecky's studies and insight are welcome, there are far too few people looking for workable alternatives to cryonics suspension. I would, however, add some cautionary notes:
(1) Air-drying takes a long time. It took the Smithsonian Institute 6 months to freeze-dry an alligator. Nitrogen-gas drying would be safer than air-drying, because if oxygen permeates dried tissue it will do much "rusting" damage.
(2) Dehydration of biological tissues forces proteins and enzymes (formerly floating in water) into physical contact, with resultant cross-linking. I am sceptical that sugar can adequately prevent this from happening and suspect that nanotechnology would still be required to reanimate Mr. Skrecky's patients.
The rationale for life insurance is well known. When you die your dependents receive money. This helps THEM. What about you? Instead of being cremated your body could be placed in biostasis so that YOU could be revived at a later date. Death insurance is for those who are reluctant to take the plunge into the hereafter, with the prospect of an afterlife being only heresy. Considering the alternative the choice in favour of biostasis does not require much soul searching. The only question is price. If the price of life insurance was too high few would buy this product. The same is true of death insurance and its high price explains why few have considered it in the past. However a move away from liquid nitrogen biostasis would result in greatly lowered costs and enable death insurance to be priced much more competitively.
The standard procedure followed upon death is for the body to be embalmed. Provided a high quality of embalming fluid is used shortly after death even the finest details of cellular structure will be preserved. Although it is not widely appreciated the fixatives contained in embalming fluid do not destroy tissue structure. Instead they cause the molecules in the cells to bond to each other or cross link so that they become highly resistant to all deteriorative changes. A high quality but cost effective embalming fluid can be formulated by adding very small amounts of glutaraldehyde and sodium periodate to the cheap formaldehyde based embalming solutions commonly used by morticians.1 When it comes time for you to be revived the fixatives themselves can be removed and the crosslinks between molecules broken. Current biomedical technology has partially reversed the effects induced by fixatives by using enzymes such as trypsin and pepsin to dissolve some of the crosslinks.2
Embalming is good for a quick "fix" to preserve the body after death but by itself will not be able to preserve bodily structures for the centuries which must pass before reanimation technology can be developed and perfected. The major cause of deterioration in embalmed tissue is hydrolysis and so desiccation of the embalmed corpse is a prerequisite for long term biostasis. Even without the use of fixatives ancient corpses desiccated in the desert have been found to retain some cellular detail over thousands of years.
Biostasis does not have to be very expensive. Provided a somewhat more expensive embalming fluid is used and the coffin is packed with desiccant before being shipped to a desert cemetery, it is entirely possible that an extremely low cost bid for immortality can be mounted for only a few thousand dollars over standard internment costs. Ridiculous? When reanimation technology is eventually developed the first place that will be searched for possible subjects will be in deserts. This search will be inevitable because with the technology at hand to give (hopefully) you a new life, you would no longer be dead in the eyes of the law. With some individuals demanding that their loved ones be brought back from biostasis the legislation of such a law is itself inevitable. Provided it is on record that care was taken in preparing a corpse for its long journey to the future such a corpse will be given a high priority in the line up for the use of such technology.
However it is important to realize that even embalmed corpses will quickly lose their cellular detail if buried locally. In addition to hydrolysis and microbial decomposition the freezing and thawing that the corpses will be subjected to will ease neuronal circuitry in just a few years. Except for in deserts and the permafrost in northern areas no attempt will ever be made to unearth corpses. There would simply be no point.
For an additional fee biostasis can be made virtually perfect. The main cause of deterioration in desiccated tissue is oxidation. If an embalmed & desiccated corpse is sealed against oxygen it will remain inert for a very long time. For instance an insect which was partially embalmed, mummified and encased in amber still showed some cellular detail in soft tissues after 40 million years! *3 A cost effective means for adding protection from oxygen would be to desiccate the corpse after the funeral with a high capacity dehumidifier in a small sealed room. With the warm dry air output of the dehumidifier blowing directly onto the corpse, it would become mummified in fairly short order. After desiccation is completed an oxygen/water barrier can be created by encasing the mummy in wax.
For those willing to invest yet more funds in death insurance in a small steel coffin or "time machine" could be built to house the wax encased mummy. The result would then be encased in concrete at the grave site. which itself might be located deep in the permafrost. The advantage of permafrost burial is that whatever traces of moisture are still left in the mummy would be frozen and the sterile permafrost itself would act as an additional barrier to oxygen. At depths of over 20 feet in the permafrost temperature does not vary with the seasons and is dependent only on long term temperature trends occurring over centuries. As this temperature is well below freezing in extreme northerly latitudes it will not melt even if the current global warming trend continues in the future.
A wise man coined the phrase "if anything can go wrong -- it will". However even making due allowance for Murphy's law biostasis can be made virtually foolproof if sufficient funds are invested. Far from being a desperate last ditch effort on the part of the terminally ill patient to "save" his life, investing in biostasis is in fact an unexpectedly reliable means for insuring a second chance at life. A corpse that is embalmed, mummified and even frozen will preserve neuronal structures not just for centuries but for millennia. No matter how long it takes to develop reanimation technology biostasis can insure that a corpse will "survive" till such technology exists. The tombstone might read the usual Born in 19**, Died in 20**, but in place of RIP we would see instead *PLACED IN BIOSTASIS*. It just might pay to advertise.
1 Fixation, Fine Structure and Immunostaining for Neuropeptides: Perfusion Versus Immersion of the Neurendrocrine Hypothalamus: The Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry 389-398 Vol.34 No.3 1986
2 Immunohistochemical Analysis of Formaldehyde and Trypsin or Pepsin treated Material: Acta Histochem. 251-260 Vol.63 1978
3 Ultrastructure of 40 Million Year Old Insect Tissue: Science 1241-1242 Vol.215 1982
My subject here holds in two words: growth hormone. That product is a protein, a chain of amino-acids produced by specialised cells in the brain. Young people produce a lot of it. For adults, synthesis reduces and then stops in advanced age. Some time, growth hormone production does not stop, a condition known as "acromegaly". Such people have more larger muscles, large hands and big nose. Indeed, growth hormone develops muscular systems and promotes cartilage expansion (nose and bone tips are made of cartilage).
Many age related problems may be traced to growth hormone deficit: Muscular reduction and cartilage erosion, giving the painful and bone deforming arthritis. Now, growth hormone medication looks very promising for most, if not all elderly persons. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money: $10,000 per year at least and needs one or more injections per day. If you have the will and the money, use it right now if you are 50 or more. What I suggest is a way around the problem, to get cheap and convenient growth hormone benefits.
Look first at the cost: The product comes from the biotechnology industry: growth hormone genes have been inserted in bacteria. These small bugs produce the wanted hormone and discard it in the "growing medium soup". Filtering and centrifugation allow to recover the hormonal product.
Now, assume we accept a slightly different growth hormone from animals. In the preceding case, the synthesizing gene comes from the human species, even if the final product is assembled in a bacterium. Non human growth hormone will be slightly less efficient and so we need more of it for a given result. This is not a particular problem if cost is low. More worrying: here may be a long term allergy effect. This is known with animal's insulin for diabetics. After five to ten years, we can need growth hormone from another species. No problem: we can get hundreds or more source species.
What they are? Simply insect pupae. At this development level, insects produce huge growth hormone quantity. Well, this is not a purified product and we cannot inject smashed insects into the blood stream. We need to take it by the mouth. So we turn to the second problem.
As all proteins, growth hormone is denatured and broken in the stomach. No surprise, that organ function is to digest carbohydrates and proteins. To solve the question, we turn to the similar one faced by insulin. The answer was elaborated at the Jerusalem Hadassan Hospital, some years ago. To protect a protein from digestive activity, add to it chick peas or derivative of soyabeans (my reference: New Scientist, 25 Feb. 1988, n 1601, P. 36 . It does not give more details. Can any reader work on the subject and ask for more information on the product and its commercial source ?).
When proteins get to the intestine, a second product needs to open the way towards the blood steam throughout the organ wall. This may be done by a detergent. Unfortunately, most of them are very toxic. Two solutions: Use citric acid from citrus or biliary salt, a common pharmaceutical product. Alternatively, you can expand your own biliary salt production with some plants such fumet.
The full recipé looks as a old magic potion: If you are old, feeble and suffer articular pain, then eat insect pupae with chick peas and two citrus juice every day.
The key factor now, is to produce insects. This was done on a large scale a century ago with silkworms. Anybody with a spare room can do the same today. Fish tank closed by fine mesh grid is a simple and affordable setting to start with.
I am sorry, I have no room to start this activity, I am only a buyer of the final product. If you can produce insect pupae, I can put them in freeze dried form and manage to sell them: write to me. This may be a not too time consuming a job with a £20 - 30,000 year return, think about it!
Undertaking insects raising:
The first step is to get eggs or larvae. Cut sticks and put them in bundles in a forest. Freshly cut plants are good for insects, as they lay eggs in such materials. Recover your wood at the end of autumn, or best at winter end. Cut them and store in bags. Cover the bags surface with opaque material except for the opening. Open each bag every day, you get a lot of arachnids, destroy them, if not they eat the valuable eggs. After some weeks insect larvae start to migrate to the opening. Put the wood in a fish tank (without water except for a damp sponge!). Apples or bananas are good food for adult insects, fresh wood allow them to laid eggs of the next generation. If you do not want do all of that, I can send you address of insect seller. (That cost more than a bundle in a forest!). If you go to the producer side, recall: I am a buyer!
Broadly speaking, we can break the ageing problem into 3 parts:
1. The organ ageing, we see it in cancers, atherosclerosis, muscular reduction generated by growth hormone deficit, and so on.
2. The cellular programmed limited reproduction capability. This is an evolutionary trait, evolved mostly as a defense against cancers.
3. The molecular ageing with two domains: proteins denaturation and genetic destruction.
Here, I look briefly at the last domain. DNA molecules are not as stable we can think at first. Simple body temperature may render it unfit for information storage in only one day. We can live only with heavy control and restoring systems. There are many such systems in each cell. They are highly reliable and powerful, unfortunately, they consume a lot of energy. Each cell must live with a defined energy budget to sustain itself, reproduce and repair. Some cells may use more on one subject than others. Selecting high DNA repairing cells may be interesting. In a first step, we do not look at such specialised effects. Only energetic budget growth matters. Cells produce energy mostly from glucose in specialised organelles: the mitochondria.
The first step is to get glucose in the cell. This is ordered by the insulin hormone. Diabetic condition reflects a lack of insulin or an inefficiency of it. If glucose enter the cells, its concentration level diminish in the blood: A good thing because blood glucose level appears positively linked to heart diseases. Even "normal" levels may be harmful in the long run, so boosting insulin production may be beneficial even in normal people.
A simple way to do so is to use a Pavlov's conditioning system: eat a very acid product during each meal. There are more efficient methods resting on pharmaceutical products, this is not our concern here.
The key to cell energy boosting is to multiply mitochondria. Antibiotics and coffee are bad things for them. Never extend antibiotic medication beyond three weeks, the mitochondria's reproduction duration cycle.
To get the best of them, you need to furnish some basic element in the glucose "burning" loop, the Krebs' cycle. Some products here are simply transformed and finally regenerated. If we boost the supply of these catalysts, more glucose breaking opportunities appear. The most convenient product here is simply citric acid.
A way to develop the cell's mitochondria population asks for "spare parts importation". This looks an efficient way to lover reproduction cost in mitochondria. The cytochrome energy transporter protein chain appears as the most costly part. If we can introduce it in the blood, some molecules find their way in the cell. That function benefits largely of some protein carriers, unfortunately these products are often associated with highly toxic molecules such diphtheric toxin. Who known a way around?
To introduce proteins in the blood is not a problem for us: use chick peas and biliary salts for example. Now, where to find high cytochrome concentrates? A first source looks simple: eat cells with many mitochondria in them; more simply eat liver steaks. Unfortunately, that organ stocks all poisonous products in the body. With current animal feeding methods, that may become somewhat harmful in the long run.
A more efficient way to get cytochromes is to trade mitochondria for green plants' chloroplast. Spinach leaves have plenty of them. These intracellular organelles work as a mitochondrion. The only difference comes from the primary energy source. First we understand with biochemistry why it run and second, we can optimise and perfect it. Eat spinach with chicks peas and citrus juice two time a week, you can get twenty years free.
Do not hope for drug-like flash effects from that. To get something you need to wait for some mitochondria generations, say two or three months. More energy for cells translates in general health condition, not a psychological artificial paradise, do not wait too much of that if you are seeking a drug!
Pearson and Shaw suggest an easier and more palatable method to get growth hormone in Life Extension - A Practical Scientific Approach. We sell this for £11.20, post paid.
However if any reader has any comments, they would be gratefully received. As before, Mr Bozzonetti sent his contribution on a 5 ¼" disk, which enabled me to spell check and edit it with ease.
The Silicon Retina (M.A. Mahowald & C. Mead, Scientific American May 1991, P.40-46.) A silicon chip works as a retina. Three of the five cell levels of a natural retina are simulated. Next steps: a 500 X 500 pixels retina and binocular vision.
Comments: The retina is the only part of the central nervous system readily observable up to now, so it is simpler to reproduce in electronic systems.
The Oldest DNA in the World (J. Johnson, New Scientist 11th May 1991, P. 44-48.) DNA from chloroplast magnolia leafs was recovered by E. Goldenberg at Riverside. The leaves were fossilised in sediments 20 millions of years ago. The long DNA conservation is attributed to high pressure in the bed rock.
Comments: We know from biochemistry some pressure effects, for example it protects centriole and tubulin fibre in cells, even at low temperature. Now, it seems to be an efficient gene conservator even at room temperature. What about room temperature "cryonics" with chemical protectants and undersea pressure?
Tailored molecules could lead to protein chip (New Scientist 18th May 1991, P. 24) S. Sligar produces green haemoglobin as an exercise in light control of protein structures. He can fix any protein on a defined substrate, such as gold or silicon, an essential step in producing molecular electronic devices.
The Insulin Connection (Discover, April 1991, vol.12, N4, P.16) Progesterone hormone, a component of the contraceptive pill, produces a buildup in cell's insulin receptors. So, it lower glucose blood level, gives more energy to cells and exacerbate cancer proliferation if here is some malignant cells.
Comment: Is this hormonal effect linked to the greater longevity in the "feeble sex"? Lower blood glucose protects against cardio-vascular problems and more energy for cells imply more energy to maintain DNA. Do we need to prescribe The Pill for elderly?
Editorial Comment: What is meant be "feeble sex"? Women are not as strong as men, but they have better resistance to disease, live longer (as stated) and often have greater stamina than men.
The Brainiest Cells Alive (P. Radetsky, Discover, April 1991, P.82-90) Human neuron cells reproduce in the lab. This allows testing of new pharmaceutical products and neurological models, to produce neuromediators such as dopamine against Parkinson's disease or acetylcholine against Alzheimer syndrome. More: this opens the way to neurological graft, a badly needed technology in brain tumour surgery.
Comment: Neurons organise themselves in the petri dish as in a small brain. The retina is no longer the only brain sample we can see in action and study or duplicate electronically.
From Mr Brian W. Haines
I look forward to my copy of the Longevity Report. But this time my heart sank, it looked as though it should be renamed The Brakeman Report. Perhaps they all speak like that in California, to me it's frenetic gobbledygook.
Of course I do get the paper free [no you don't, you pay by way of sending articles - ed] which means I should not complain I suppose. However I believe content is important, not just a paper for the sake of it. We get so much junk mail through the letter box one has to be selective in what one reads. Fortunately there were some good articles in the report, although I did struggle a bit with a paragraph that started with "If there is some readers with opening in NMR". And I liked the newspaper cuttings. Which led me on to the idea of doing a little article myself with the aid of my word processor, Thesaurus, grammar checker and dictionary, all of which I recommend to some of the contributors.
From Prof. R.C.W. Ettinger: June 12, 1991
A few comments on Longevity Report 27:
First Mr. Bozzonetti on freeze-drying:
I'm puzzled by a couple of his statements, and would like to get documentation if possible. First, he says liquid nitrogen is corrosive, destroying pumps, pipes and vessels within ten years. To begin with, nitrogen gas in the atmosphere is not noticeably corrosive to most materials, and the cold liquid should be less so. Cryostats do not contain pumps, so I don't know why those were mentioned; nor do cryostats ordinarily contain pipes, although some of the CI (cylindrical HSSV) designs have an entry "pipe" of epoxy fibreglass. But there is no sign of any problem, and some of the commercial aluminum and stainless steel cryostats have been in use more than ten years.
The commercial units do require maintenance, including periodic baking to harden the vacuum, and the seals are somewhat fragile with respect to shocks; but I know of no reason to think their aluminum or stainless steel, or our epoxy fibreglass, will deteriorate in contact with liquid nitrogen, unless there is excessive rapid temperature cycling.)
The effect of internal and external radiation on bodies in cryostasis has been studied by several people, who generally concluded it is not serious over decades or even centuries. If Mr. Bozzonetti has different figures, I'd like to see the details.
All the talk about recovering the brain's information leaves it unclear whether Mr. Bozzonetti is looking for repair or for "uploading."
Obviously the main argument against freeze-drying is just that recovery after freeze-drying has not been nearly as successful as after freezing; it shifts the odds unfavourably.
Also, it is not clear yet what the initial cost might be - certainly it will be greater than for ordinary cryonic suspension; hence it is not clear how much can be saved overall. A freeze-dry unit will require an inner space, which can be evacuated, for the body; an intermediate space for the liquid nitrogen, if that is the temperature used; and an outer space for the insulation. All told, a triple shell, rather than a double shell - expensive to build and relatively expensive to operate (for several months?).
But unless I misunderstand, the editorial comment about possible deterioration of the body during freeze drying is misdirected. In the protocols I have seen, the body is cooled relatively quickly, then dried at liquid nitrogen temperature, so the only appreciable deterioration would be from the effect of drying.
Serious investigation of the freeze-dry option is one of the many Cryonics Institute projects for the future.
On Mr. Brakeman's friends' private storage:
Mr. Brakeman has often commented on the shortcomings of all the existing public cryonics organizations. As far as the Cryonics Institute is concerned, we have repeatedly invited him to present criticisms/proposals for consideration by the membership and the directors, but he has not seen fit to do so. We have repeatedly commented that sufficiently wealthy and sufficiently energetic people could indeed undertake private cryonic suspension, and might feel the disadvantages of going it alone are offset by the safety of the low profile. But we could not really understand why such people would not also (even if anonymously) give some support to public cryonics, for many obvious reasons - a friendlier climate, faster technical progress, etc.
On Mr. Brakeman's fear of aging:
First, he is dead right in implying that part of our P.R. effort should include a brutal attack on the hypocritical complacency promoted by the establishment, "growing old gracefully" and all that malarkey. Growing old is rough at best, debilitating and humiliating, and an intolerable nightmare at worst.
Mae and I are a good bit older than Mr. Brakeman. We're not exactly "scared," and we still enjoy life - partly because of the hope of cryonics - but it's a constant battle, with more and more effort required just to hold our own. And we are not going to hold still for nature to take its course.
One of the ironies of the mortalists is that they not only refuse to try to defeat death, but they also fail to embrace it when that becomes desirable (because of an intolerable quality of life). I'm digressing, but I think immortalists should support the Hemlock Society (voluntary euthanasia), because that may help us deanimate under circumstances of our own choosing, if we want to be frozen before the last siege of suffering and expense.
Thomas Donaldson has said that, if he does not get court sanction for freezing before natural death, he will starve himself to death (if his brain tumour is progressing too much). I would want the option to deanimate and be frozen simply to avoid the misery and expense of the last downhill slide. Now, suicide is not against the law in Michigan. (Assisting someone else to commit suicide can be legally hazardous, however.) The problem is autopsy.
All right, why not just announce that I will commit suicide, and invite the coroner to be on hand. Let him satisfy himself that I am mentally competent, and no one is helping me; the cause of death will not be in doubt, and there should be no need for autopsy. Of course, a hostile coroner could just refuse to forgo autopsy (unless a court would forbid that) but who knows?
I hasten to add, let our friends not worry about any imminent plans. Mae and I expect to be active and get a lot of fun out of life for at least a few more years. If all those nutritional supplements do their job, maybe those years will stretch. But time lurches on, and we are made of very cheap materials.
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Periastron's Tears of Laughter at Mummification
Dr Thomas Donaldson's policy of printing everything sent to his science newsletter Periastron received its first real test in an article by Douglas Skrecky on Mummification as an alternative to cryonic suspension. This is the process sometimes referred to as morphostasis, or locking atoms in place chemically.
Mr Skrecky mentions viability problems with cryonics and suggests that they'd be solved by mummification and storage in titanium caskets. The advantages of his process would be that no maintenance would be required, less cost would lead to less financial interest in disturbing arrangements, and less risk of loss through abandonment.
Dr Donaldson wonders whether to laugh or cry, and points out that the ideas rely on no experiments, by Mr Skrecky or others, to verify that tissue can be fixed for long periods by mummification. He likens the concept to science fiction, whereas cryonics is based upon more solid reasoning.
Also in this issue of Periastron there is a good crop of articles about the brain, ranging from location of memory, though recovering brain tissue from ischemia, to two items on neurons. The articles suggest that it may be easier to recover memories from suspended patients than was first thought. There are also two articles on nanotechnology.
Periastron PO Box 2365, Sunnyvale, California 94087. Subscriptions cost $2.50 per issue. If you pay for many issues in advance, you avoid any possible price rises. If the newsletter does not continue for any reason, unused subscriptions will be refunded with interest!
I am continuing to publish articles on alternatives to cryonics because of two reasons:
1. Something may appear one day which cryonicists and non-cryonics may agree is better. Indeed, combinations of these ideas may merge into a viable process.
2. By publishing these ideas and cryonicists' rebuttals to them, the time of cryonics officials is not spent in private correspondence on these matters.
Front Page Story:
It has been suggested many times that Cornwall is a place where people with no imagination "bury" themselves to waste their time sunbathing "communing with nature" or surfing their days away.
Past history, however reveals that a very different sort of person lives in this land. One such example is Richard Trevithick, who is famous for his invention of the high-pressure steam engine. He also invented the paddle wheel for steam-boats, and proposed ideas for linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by rail, draining Holland. He originated the idea of a tunnel under the Thames at Rotherhide.
Many of the front covers on paper editions use the artwork of Mr Bob Acton, who is famous for his local "walk books". This time, we presented his drawing of Richard Trevithick's cottage, now owned by the National Trust and let on a residential tenancy.
These books describe circular walks that can be made in Cornwall, from a couple of miles up to seven or eight miles in length. The books describe points of interest along the walks, and provide sketches and photographs. As this issue will be arriving in August, it may be pertinent to remind readers who may be considering holidaying in Cornwall of the titles available, which include: A View from Carn Marth £2.50, A View from St Agnes Beacon £2.75, Around the Fal £2.70, Around the Helford, £2.95, Around Newquay, £2.70, A View from Carn Brea £2.95, Around the River Fowey, £2.95, Around Padstow, £3.30 The books are available by post from Landfall Publications, Landfall, Penpol, Devoran, Truro TR3 6NW. 40p post for one book, 25p each for subsequent ones.
Health now - freeze later.
by Brian W. Haines Claims Consultant, International Lawyer
On balance I do not think I mind much what happens to my body after I am dead. If I can arrange to die during a snow storm, or topple down a crevasse in Antarctica then I shall do so, secure in the knowledge that by the time I can be unfrozen they might have found a way to resuscitate me. My only worry will be whether I would be worth reviving, acid stomach, pains in the back, hair falling out and warts on my feet.1
Would they at the same time have revived Lenin? It rather worries me that perhaps during his long period of hibernation his brain has not been working upon a new map of social progress and I would be plunged back into a world that was going to re-live all the great mistakes of the first part of the century. It has been my experience, and I think that of everyone else, that no one learns from the mistakes of history. People do not grow older and wiser, they grow older and more intolerant. It is common knowledge all old people have tales to tell of the glorious golden age that has passed, things were better years ago, life was much easier years ago, people were more friendly years ago, the food was more tasty years ago. I could go on just how wonderful it used to be. Funny thing now I come to think of it life was a lot more fun when I was young.2
And there are the economic considerations. Suppose a Van Gogh were resuscitated, he would surely start painting away at his Sun Flowers especially when he sees they command 43 million pounds a time. And what would the Art World have to say to that. Of one thing you can be sure, no-one is going to shout for joy, now everyone can have a real original masterpiece; they will start to complain about loss of quality or some other excuse to try to keep the price up of the early paintings. He would still be a one eared Vincent, unless medical advances have moved to the point of growing spare parts in cultures. And if that could be done, well I should imagine the full freezing process would be unnecessary. All you would need is a culture plate of your essential genes to be stored.3
This is what attracts me to the freeze dry system. It has the merit of cheapness and simplicity. If it doesn't work then nothing has been lost. Storage doesn't depend upon a very problematic company maintenance contract. It is very akin to natural mummification. Natural methods appeal to me because they seem to be in harmony with the life system as a whole.
Whether we believe in life after death or not, or whether we believe no one ever dies, I think we all have to admit that the way life has evolved on this planet is a methodology of truly amazing model organisation.4 Everything seems to fit together so well it seems it must be either random chance whereby pieces have slotted together to build this picture we see, or it is the work of some supra-intelligent entity. Either way we seem to find ready to hand in nature some ready made solution to maintaining the life process. Natural remedies are ready made and to be preferred because they fit the system.
The first step has to be a healthy body, and one would hope a healthy mind. There is a practical reason for this. To achieve health and fitness here and now gives considerable benefits for the present life. It is quite useless abusing your body now in the vain hope that in about fifty or a hundred years science will be able to cure the degeneration that has occurred in the vital organs.
When Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame was asked if life was worth living he replied "It depends on the liver". He never spoke a truer word. Of a certainty you will be able to have a liver transplant, a heart transplant, a lung transplant and so forth but what sort of a state is your body in if these things become material to your life. Life may begin at forty for you, but I think every-one should be thinking about it long before then.
The means to good health are all around us. We do not need complex new chemical combinations. The side effects of these could be time bombs in later life or in that hazy future of medical longevity. All the reports of active centogenarians are of people who lived lives long before the discovery of anything more lethal than aspirin. And many of the older reports were of peasants who lived lives free of the stress of city life and smoke filled streets. One book of the 1850's lists literally hundreds of people who have lived well beyond a hundred years, every one of whom worked on the land and lived the simple life. It is difficult to accept the age of one hundred and sixty five for one active man without thinking it was in reality father and son, but that still meant they averaged over eighty years apiece in a period when history has it forty was regarded as old.
Pills and potions do not substitute for a properly regulated life-style. It sounds old fashioned to say plenty of fresh air and exercise, but that is just what kept the real old-timers up to the mark not the lounging around in front of the television.
Labour saving does not mean life saving. In many respects the whole of life is a task of repetitive monotony. Getting up in the morning, getting dressed, eating, cooking, building a home. Food has been reduced to a commodity of commerce. The preparation of food has become an industry in itself. Nothing is as basic as eating and drinking, except possibly sex. Yet all these have been turned into specialised areas of work with all their own battery of personnel emphasising the dangers awaiting the unwary.
Good clean wholesome food no longer is good enough. It must be processed, packaged and decorated. Cooking is not a matter of enjoyment, it is a burden to be eased with ready made meals full of preservatives, colourings, flavourings and grandiose advertising campaigns. The attack is on the mind, eat the wrong product and you are branded a pariah. Added supplements show the natural product to be deficient. Water is not be trusted unless it comes out of a bottle at £3.00 a gallon. You must learn the sex act from books and professional advisers. Child bearing capacity in a woman is measured in relation to the school leaving age and social conditions. At every turn stress and worry are introduced to the Western world to doubt the organisation of the natural system.
What can be the sense in believing a new and better world awaits people in a hundred years time if in the here and now people are so beset with problems of their own devising? What sort of life is it to live and work under such conditions to produce the money to bury oneself in a pot of liquid nitrogen?
Three quarters of the world are starving. This is no exaggeration. Country after country is involved in an armed struggle most of the time. Simply open your news paper, put on the television; there is no country that is free from this mad pursuit of nationalism and training for war.5 Everyone everywhere seems determined to follow an assault course of self destruction. Am I free myself from sin? Of course not, I use a car, eat adulterated foods, drink wine, and generally conduct myself like the rest of people in society. But I am aware. I do try to avoid the worst of the excesses. I question the claims of advertisements, politicians, self appointed saviours of the universe. I prefer the simple to the exotic, I work sufficiently to maintain myself and no more. When I have enough I stop. Above all I do not covert my neighbour's goods, or his job or his wife.
I would like to be free of migraine, colds, flue, ringing in the ears, acid stomach, piles and pains in my feet. No fad will cure these, I have tried them all. No modern wonder drug removes the lines on my face, puts the spring back into my stride and returns the colour to my hair. I tried those too and they don't work. But I have found after a great deal of experimentation that unadulterated food, a simple diet, a solid bed and reasonable exercise that the ills and chills, and the chronic problems of aging are relieved to such an extent people actually comment upon how well I look.
Much as I advocate this course of simplicity, I am very aware too many people are so conditioned to another and more complex life style, they need to learn how to undo the knots. All I can suggest is live now stop worrying about later.
I like this article, but I do feel that I need to add some comments as to the facts behind the cryonics movement which clearly are misunderstood by Mr Haines, and also to add my own twopennyworth on nationalism.
1. No one is going to revive cryonics patients with all their old ills. They will be revived as fit and active people at the peak of their lives, and they will remain that way for all eternity or for as long as they chose.
Mr Haines' thought pattern is understandable, as many surgical procedures available under the National Health and privately cost a great deal of money and require a great deal of suffering and endurance on part of the patient, all for a few extra years of often low quality life, frequently supported by mechanical prostheses to replace whatever limb or organ was removed. No wonder people don't want to be frozen if that is all they expect to wake up to. However the technology that is required to unfreeze people is also capable of restoring them to the peak of life, and keeping them that way for ever, and indeed the two actions will be merged into one.
2. It is a natural editing process of memory to edit out the bad things. This is necessary to keep people from becoming too depressed. A sensible analysis shows that the lot of the common man is improving by leaps and bounds with the progress in technology. Of course there are backslidings, such as with weapons, and inappropriate surgery as mentioned above. Also, the articulate people of bygone ages in the main were rich, and therefore one tends to read about the lives of rich people in the past and fall into the trap of subconsciously believing that everyone lived like that. Even if you also read of poor people, you probably read about more rich people than poor people and therefore the balance of your assessment of the past is biassed.
3. No, you would not be revived purely from a gene or DNA sample. The program and data would be lost. It has been suggested that cryonicists may take hair samples with roots of loved ones so that they can regrow similar people in the future, as companions, but these will still be new people as they will only contain genetic similarity with the originals. Of course the genetic part of their personalities will be preserved, but that is all. My guess is that the similarity of personality will be slight, because anyone brought up under the ideal conditions of the future will not have the disadvantages of current educational methods and will be different, and probably far better people. But this is not a reason for the termination of people now alive by denying them the right to cryonic suspension!
4. Complexity can be misleading. If someone was confronted with the Mandelbrot Set, and shown its order and complexity, and told that it can be magnified for ever and no end to the detail could ever be found, and was unaware of fractal mathematics, and was told that it was the creation of God, then he could draw the same conclusions.
5. I believe that one day people will come to regard nationalism and patriotism as another form of the phenomena that we rightly abhor and call racialism.
Ginkgo Biloba Tree in Cornwall
When the garden at Polgwynne was opened to the public it was with some surprise that I found an old specimen of the Ginkgo Biloba tree taking pride of place. The tree, a female, was planted around 1820 and now has a girth of 12 feet 5 inches and a height of 62 feet. It is claimed to be the largest and oldest female Ginkgo Biloba in Britain.
Regular readers will recall that Steve Gallant drew our attention to the benefits of extracts from Ginkgo Biloba in an article in Longevity Report 18.
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