Volume 3 no 30. First published December 1991. ISSN 0964-5659.
Medical Ethics Brian Haines
Letters Insects, Time, Freedom to smoke others' lungs
Periastron on Freezing Damage
Anti Death Ethics in Strange Places Bob Brakeman
Immortality - Liberty's Final Frontier David Nicholas
(not available in Web issue)
The Freezer, The Furnace, and The Grave Steve Whitrow
One Chasmosaurus, Please Yvan Bozzonetti
Comments on Freeze Drying and Related Topics R.C.W. Ettinger
High Speed Desiccation Douglas Skrecky
by Brian Haines
Recently I was pronounced dead. It is quite a blow I can assure you. It probably happens to people all the time, but it was the first time I have had the experience. Luckily I had to hand some excellent medication called "corpse reviver" and that stuff really works, I was back up on my feet in no time. Pity the poor souls who do not catch their condition in time, they are either bound for the bonfire or the earth closet.
Of course this is all not quite so serious, I came back from an extended holiday in Italy to find my name-sake had died and every-one thought it was me because my telephone answering machine was off. Such are the benefits of modern technology. It was sad because I knew the chap and of course in the fullness of time it will be my turn at the gate.
All this is a very long introduction to things that arose in conversation during a long ride on the Rome express. After a day and a half on a train you get to know your companions quite well and conversation drifts over many subjects. The topic of the moment was the disastrous state of emergency for travellers at the present time, especially in Italy where theft is rife.
The worst horror story was of someone in Spain. He got in with a crowd of local people who seemed very friendly and went on a drinking spree. He woke up in the local Park feeling a bit weak. He rubbed his hand down has back to discover a neat wound beautifully stitched up. Later he found out he was minus a kidney.
Now that story seems incredible. How could such a thing happen in a country like Spain, surely the surgeon would know a drunk man could not have consented. But just think for a moment, wasn't it in London that the scandal of kidney removals from people who had not consented first broke? My companions swore the story was true. The sad thing is with the money and the technology it probably was true. It is not just travellers cheques you will have to worry about losing, it will lungs, liver, hearts, eyes and goodness knows what parts of the body will be in demand. Remember how in " Les Misérables" the girl lost her teeth? It is no new trade this idea of organ transplants.
Suppose I had really been dead and had gone in for head preservation. Whose body would I be matched up with when the time came? What would be the temptations to look for a really good body by some short cut medical super-market with some fantastic special price offers? There are already problems with the cosmetic surgery people who rook the public left and right. Can you imagine the pressure upon the already non too scrupulous surgeons when faced with tempting offers to bring back some loved one in perfect form?
The medical profession does not have a good record for integrity. I myself have been threatened many times with the certainty of paralysis if I did not have some expensive operation. Surgeons have wanted to break holes into my head, cut pieces off my ribs, pull the nerves out of my arms, chip my knee caps off and so forth. I am not exaggerating here, I come out in a cold sweat sometimes when I realise how near I have come to being permanently crippled by the attentions of the medical profession.
All these thoughts came back to me in Florence (Firenza to the travellers) when I read a very interesting notice stuck on a pillar box. It said "Do you realise AIDS can be cured easily and simply with cheap alternative medicines. It is only the greed of the medical profession and the combined interests of the drug Companies that prevents the real truth from being known. The drug Companies and the medical profession are looking for colossal returns upon this disease. If simple remedies are available then the profits are not available".
There was no address given so unfortunately I could not follow up this rather interesting piece of publicity. On the other hand I have a great deal of sympathy with the point of view expressed here. I have long been of the opinion that the diseases that afflict humans are not so resistant that only expensive modern research can find solutions to them. Penicillin was hailed as the great breakthrough that defeated many of the scourges of past generations, the initial treatments were very expensive. Film buffs will recall the story of Harry Lime and the "Third Man" which was about the racketeering that went on just at the end of the Second World War. And yet an old country remedy of mouldy bread, and another of certain lichens to be found on trees has been shown to be naturally produced penicillin and has always been available and known for generations. But there was no money in it and still today it is hard to find any Doctor who believes in the alternative.
It is an interesting fact that despite the enormous sums expended each year upon drugs, the real advances in human health have come by way of improved living conditions and not in forms of treatments. All drugs have done is to alleviate the abuses of unhealthy living practices, the use of nicotine, alcohol and drugs themselves. It is an odd commentary upon 20th Century living that we need more and more sophisticated drugs to cure the effects of indulgence in unhealthy lifestyles. Very little money is put into health maintenance, it goes into sickness after the event for the benefit of the drug companies. A cycle of profit at both ends of the spectrum. The motive is not healthy people but healthy balance sheets.
The question is whether the medical establishment is as bad as this. Is it corrupt, looking only to self aggrandizement and profit, has it lost direction? This can be answered this way from personal experience. Some years ago I had a case in Court in which the crucial part of the claim concerned the time and means whereby my client had contracted cancer. In support of the claim I found a Senior Surgeon who had spent over 25 years collating the causes of cancer and expressed himself willing to come and give evidence on behalf of my client based upon his discoveries of the statistical probability that Cancer must necessarily result from the injury my client had received. On the day of the trial my witness telephoned me to say he would not attend Court. His reason was simple, he had been warned by the authorities that if he came out with such simple solutions his hospital would loose all funding in relation to Cancer research and treatment. Apparently, according to him, Cancer research is such big business with so much money involved, any suggestion that expensive drugs were not the answer would ruin a lucrative trade. He was not prepared to take the risk of losing his job or the hospital funding.
Think for a moment of another issue. This might be controversial. It is the story of bottled water. Is there anything more absurd than purchasing bottles of water at prices in excess of the cost of say petrol, when water comes out of the tap virtually free? In Evian, one of the centres of bottled water production, the waters of Evian flow freely from the mountain side, in the centre of the town the spring is open and free for all. Yet even in Evian people purchase the bottled water in the local super-market. Such is the power of advertising and the impact of the medical profession which has decreed all public water supplies to be of inferior quality. Make no mistake about it, the boom in concern about water has come from a combination of medical claims and big business. In Britain the effect has been to force a public sale of the public water authorities to private business interests. This was the biggest and most successful dishonest dealing between the medical profession and big business this century. Water was not bad, nor suspect and in any event no-one ever suffered a fraction of the harm from drinking from a public water supply that they did, and still do from drinking tea, coffee, fizzy lemonade, beer and all the other hundred and one drinks manufactured by the food industry with the use of standard water to sell in the market stores.
Being dead is not going to be a safe option given the low standards of ethics of the medical profession. The cowboys will be operating in this sector long before the successful rejuvenation of bodies in cryonic suspension is achieved. Health concerns us all. We all want good health and a long life. So far as I am aware anyone who can offer the dream of eternal youth will be a welcome guest at all times, I cannot believe anyone would turn down the chance to turn back the clock and start again. There is money in rejuvenation, where there is money there is corruption, greed and dishonesty.
On a personal note I can believe in cheap natural alternatives to all the expensive drug therapies. In particular I am drawn to the growth hormone system mentioned by Y. Bozzonetti. A diet of spinach, chick peas and oranges for hormone replacement is well worth trying. For a long time I have reasoned that there must occur in nature combinations of foods that produce the same results as synthesised drugs because nature is one vast laboratory in which complex organisms have already been produced.
Some where out there in the fields and hedgerows is a plant which will have the capacity to help my hair to regrow, another that holds the key to my deteriorating body condition. Foods are not merely for producing energy, but to enable the body to repair itself and halt decay. Of course the medical profession having become a business instead of a vocation, with the profit motive very much the base of activity, cannot be expected any longer to provide the answers I require. All that can be said now is that we must be aware of the suspect nature of any medical pronouncements that are linked to expensive research. And even more wary of the claims by the medical establishment of the altruistic motives of the practitioners. In short we are going to need a new philosophical structure to society before we can make further advances in the preservation of human life.
from Mr Yvan Bozzonetti
May I write to your Swiss reader? If he reads French, I can send him a lot of published information about insects. I have enough matter on the subject to write a second article.
In Longevity Report 28 page 3, you included an editorial note on the subject of time. Some years ago I have superficially studied a theory with 99 dimensions of time. It was interesting because proton mass may be deduced from general relativity in a simple way. At the start, that theory rests on the idea of time as tangent dimension(s). I have an idea for some experiments set up to control it. Maybe if I have the time and money one day to buy high speed photomultipliers I shall return to it. Space behaved as if it included not a whole number of dimensions. In some respects, gravitational lensing in astrophysical objects may be seen as two dimensional time. On a more practical side, a link between brain and computer may be a simpler solution to time shortages.
Even simpler: buy time from other people. This is the only demonstrated time machine I know. Well, your multi-times hope looks not totally out of reach! I think it is best to leave this subject now to another time.
Thanks for your notes on 99 dimensional time. Buying time from other people is fine if you have developed a system for making large amounts of money for very little of your time. I am always trying new ventures, the latest being a locally based lonely hearts club (a sheet giving names and box numbers of people wishing to meet others of the opposite sex) using some novel ideas. If the venture is a success, I plan to offer franchises around the world. It is the franchises that will make me the real money!
Possibly world wide disarmament may give rise to a large amount of military surplus electronic equipment coming onto the market, as it did at the end of the last war. This could well yield a source of cheap high speed photomultipliers. If the space in which we live does not have a whole number of dimensions, then clearly we live in a fractal! But what I say is this: there must be an infinite number of dimensions available as an abstract concept. The only thing that is relevant is whether our universe has any length other than zero in dimensions higher than four. If not, can we construct projections into higher dimensions from three? A useful exercise is to imagine "flatlanders", ie two dimensional beings, trying to venture into the third. Of course one would have to consider them as having a unit of constant thickness in their flat world.
Of course, any reader may write to any contributor. First send your letter to the contributor c/o Longevity Report, and we will forward it. If the other reader wishes to reply, then it is up to them.
From Mr Brian Blair-Giles
Thank you very much for including my article on the European Cryonics Conference (Longevity Report 24) and my letter about my books (Longevity Report 27), for which, however I have received no order.
I have reduced the price of A Collection of Brian Blair-Giles' Century of Poems for Centuries from £15 to £10.
I have 60 coloured slides with commentary paragraphs on Cryonics for £42. They are suitable for illustrated lectures. If you charge £10 per lecture, the slides soon pay for themselves. They include a 100 million year old skeleton of an ant preserved in amber, and an Arctic beetle which survives 6 months at -125oF by secreting glycerol each year.
(Address: Norbury Hall, 55, Craignish Avenue, Norbury, London SW16 4HW.)
Form Mr Chris Tame
Yes, do please reprint the article Immortality Liberty's Final Frontier in Longevity Report. We would greatly appreciate it if you would advise readers that the full address of the Libertarian Alliance is 1, Russell Chambers The Piazza Covent Garden London, WC2E 8AA, and that the subscription rate is £10 per year ($20 for USA subscribers).
One of my other activities is being the Director of FOREST (Freedom Association for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), although I am a non-smoker myself. Because of my connection to this issue (based on the civil libertarian aspects of the question, we don't challenge the existence of health risks associated with smoking) I have become particularly interested in the whole issue of passive smoking. Regarding your item on page 18-19 of Longevity Report 29 about this subject, my own view is that there is no foundation to the claims that passive smoking is a proven health hazard to the non-smoker. When you actually dig into the research on this subject you find that the great bulk of it does not establish the existence of a danger. This is another area in which highly motivated individuals are distorting science for their own purpose.
Mr Thame has a number of flyers available on this subject, including Smoking Health Risks and Free Choice (6pp £1) and The Historical Origins of Health Fascism (10pp, £1), plus a list of several more, from the address given in his letter. I think every reader of Longevity Report will know I don't agree about these views, but Longevity Report is here to debate health issues and further input would, of course, be welcome.
Freedom is not an easy issue, as one person's freedom is another's servitude. The law respects people's right not to be sexually assaulted at will, although this clearly reduces the freedom of those who may wish to perpetrate such acts. No one would grant people the freedom to drive along the roads in an uncontrolled, reckless and dangerous manner. Freedom of ownership overrides the freedom to take what you want. (Except in the particular case of taxation by central and local elected authorities.)
Breathers who like fresh air therefore are asking the law to give them the same rights as those who wish not to be molested. Consenting adults can legally commit sexual acts in the privacy of their own homes, and people should be allowed to smoke their lungs in the company of consenting adults in their own homes if they wish. Both activities carry a degree of risk, and rational adult people can balance those risks against the pleasure obtained.
I do, of course, realise that one can dig into almost all research and find flaws.
But usually there are professional and government plots against things when, were the plots to succeed, the professions and/or the government make a lot of money. In the case of lung smoking products, the medical, legal and funeral directors professions would all stand to lose money if these were withdrawn. The government would be the biggest loser in lost taxation. And one must also realise that 30% of MPS are professionals of one sort or another, so government and professions are closely linked. A campaign where both stand to lose money if it succeeds must surely be altruistic in the truest sense.
I do not know of a group that would make a lot of money if lung smoking, both passive and active were to stop.
Unless that is you regard the entire species of humanity as a group!
From Dr John Walford
Thank you for your comments on page 9 column 2 to Longevity Report 29. I'm most encouraged that you approve of the question What was it that mankind's past heroes were doing? If we are going to be better than mankind's past heroes, shouldn't we be able to say
1. What mankind's past heroes were doing.
2. How that activity can be improved.
3. By what measure can we recognise that improvement.
How I wonder would you and your readers assess the activities of mankind's past heroes?
Please tell me if I am wrong to quote Prof. Ettinger as pledging cryonicists to the aim of "being better than mankind's past heroes": perhaps he meant it in a different way.
Who is a hero depends on your point of view, I suppose. Some would regard National Socialist Führer Adolf Hitler as a hero, others regard Neil Kinnock (leader of the UK's socialist or Labour Party) as a "working class hero". Other people regard these men as villains. Possibly the real heroes are those that have lead mankind on its long struggle against death and suffering: the medical pioneers that have often fought opposition resulting from base motives from their professional colleagues, such as those who introduced anaesthesia and antisepsis. And to those, of course, we must add those who are promoting cryonic suspension and life extension.
Periastron on Freezing Damage
September's issue of Periastron, Dr Thomas Donaldson's science and technology newsletter, carried a report on a lecture given at Alcor's fundraising dinner. Slides were shown showing the small-scale effects on freezing and storage on brain structure. This included very widespread tearing of nerve connections by the formation of ice crystals. Although disappointing, this work does give us a much more specific statement of the problems to be solved by future revivals of past patients, said Dr Donaldson.
The fundraising dinner attracted slight attendance, and Mr Carlos Mondragón is reported to have stated the sum raised was $1,500.
Also work of major importance was proposed by a cryonicist working with an official institution. This would require $15,000 to fund it. This is because the institution will not allow one cent of its money to be spent on cryonics. Full details are in Periastron. I am being somewhat uninformative as the person concerned prefers that his name is not printed in Longevity Report because of the risk of professional victimisation.
Dr Donaldson said that it could be dangerous to expect establishment science to come up with all the answers for cryonicists. People needing to curry favour with professions and institutions are against immortality, even in the Society for Gerontology. Nanotechnology could grow within the establishment, but it could just result in faster and better electronics, with no single biological repair device. He says that cryonicists must fund cryonics-specific scientific research such as the above proposal.
Personally I think this is a little hard on the human race. What about the heads of companies like ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc and Deprenyl Research Ltd both who have given interviews to the press that are favourable to life extension? Possibly trade and commerce rather than the professional centres of excellence will provide the funding and impetus that immortalism needs.
The newsletter also included several other articles about work done on neurons and the brain. Points of particular interest that were raised included the question of whether misconceptions of probability compared to a strict mathematical basis were "hard wired" into our brains as these misconceptions actually gave us better survival value. Also it was suggested that a greater understanding of how the brain works could eventually lead to a greater acceptance of cryonics if it could show that future revival was more than informed speculation.
Dr Donaldson also printed another of Douglas Skrecky's articles on alternatives to cryonics. This time he didn't add much comment himself but invited readers to send in their own views on the subject.
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!
Anti-Death Ethics in Strange Places
by Bob Brakeman
Hollywood is, as you may have heard, an odd place. If you're a place, the way you get to be known as an odd one is to have odd things happening every day of the week but normal things only on alternate Thursdays. Hollywood/Los Angeles achieved its current no one ranking on the Strangeness Chart by never allowing normal things to happen at all.
This is the story of one bit of Hollywood strangeness, one which show cases anti-death pro-life ethics and values in a source where you wouldn't expect to find them: A film dominated by the actor/film maker usually thought to personify hyper violence in movies - Clint Eastwood.
Some critics consider The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly to be the greatest of all westerns. (I'm in that group - but then I've applied that title to about nine westerns - so I'm not what you'd call a reliable source.....). Whether it's that or not - it's categorically the highest-grossing western of all time (it's outpaced by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but that's generally considered a comedy). It was the third film in the Man With No Name Trilogy directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood. The two earlier entries, A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More, had established Eastwood as an international star, and by the time the third film came along he had enough power to be partially responsible for the film's content, with Leone. Much of the film is "standard" western stuff, done in the lean and clean manner popularized by Eastwood first with Leone and then on his own (CE's production company turned out such top westerns as High Plains Drifter, Joe Kidd, and The Outlaw Josie Wales). But one segment had nothing "standard" about it, and it's that one sequence which concerns us here.
The movie's nearly-3-hour length gave the film makers plenty of time to cover everything worth covering and some things that weren't worth it, and among the things they found time to do was to drop the entire American Civil War into the middle of the picture. The movie isn't about the Civil war, you understand: Eastwood and Eli Wallach just play gunfighters who happen to stumble into the middle of it on the way to somewhere else. A massive battle is in progress, and in the course of that battle and its aftermath there were two scenes which are as powerful as any anti-death/anti-war scenes ever put on 35mm.In one of them the gunfighters are looking down on the battle from a hilltop as tens of thousands of fools rush gleefully off to slaughter each other for no purpose. In a scene in which words would be ridiculously inadequate to express disbelief and disgust, Eastwood and Wallach just slowly shake their heads at each other as they view the madness down below.1
In a related scene a few minutes later the two gunmen are now shown walking about among the wounded after the battle has ended; and "wounded" might not be a strong enough word, for as the haunting and mournful Leone-trademark music wails in the background the gunmen walk among men who've been horribly mutilated, who are oozing their guts all over the place, and who obviously have only minutes (or seconds) left to live. There are endless close-ups of endless rows of dying men and then there are reaction close-ups of the faces of Eastwood and Wallach: Their two faces still contain the disgust and disbelief which they'd shown up on the hill, but the overwhelming emotion now is one of overpowering sadness, a hopeless melancholy generated by the utter hopelessness that surrounds them, and a depression prompted by the power-of-death and the stupidity of those who don't take that power seriously. A handful of critics have had the good sense to single this out as a fine "anti-war" sequence but even that doesn't capture it all: This is, more precisely, a brilliant anti-death sequence, for its power would be just as great if all those dying men had been hurt in a train wreck instead of in battle.2 For that reason, this part of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has an even deeper meanings for immortalists than it does for antiwar activists: we can't stress often enough a point made at length elsewhere by the present author - what's horrible is not war, per se. It's the wholesale death produced by war. War without casualties would be no big deal and not worth opposing: and wholesale death through non war means is worth opposing. The issue is life versus death, not, strictly speaking war versus peace. (Obviously in practice they often turn out to be the same thing: but the intellectual distinction is still a crucially important one. For in every decade - even war decades - of human history, 95% of the deceased died from non-war causes, but they were just as dead as the war-casualties: all "anti-war" movements should broaden their bases and become anti-death movements, for the people in the Intensive Care Unit are just as human as the people dying on the battlefields.)
The next time some friends of yours give you the old "death is part of the natural order of things" mindlessness, have them watch Clint Eastwood put a final cigar between the lips of a dying soldier in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. If your friends still think death is swell, pick new friends.
1. The looking-down-on-the-slaughter-scene has as its finest moment a line spoken by the Eastwood man-with-no-name as he watches a hundred thousand men die for nothing: "I've never seen so many men wasted so badly".
2. As someone who wrote the longest and most detailed article ever published on Clint Eastwood's career, I can testify that Eastwood and Leone intended those two scenes to be anti-death statements. They didn't come out that way by accident. (The article was The Great Eastwood Character, originally published during the 1970s in one of William F. Buckey's magazines, New Guard, and now available as a no-cost reprint from Bob Brakeman Inc., c/o Longevity Books.
Bob Brakeman, the author of more than 2000 articles on Immortalism and Public Affairs, resides in Malibu, California.
The Freezer, the Furnace and the Grave
To Be or Not To Be a Cryonicist
By Steve Whitrow
In 1987 I became aware that the practice of cryonic suspension was being carried out. It certainly appeared to be a good idea to me, but I wondered whether to actually sign up for the procedure myself. Would it be a nobler thing, and better for me, to wait and make a decision in another thirty years?
In the summer of 1991 I completed my sign-up arrangements with Alcor, and here are some of my thoughts on the cryonics venture. Ideally I hope to remain "clinically and legally alive" until the time when nanotechnology has revolutionised medicine. It is generally predicted by various experts that cell repair nanomachines will be available within 50 to 150 years. And in thirty years life extension may have advanced sufficiently for the ageing process to be virtually halted, if not reversed. Today's cryonics patients would have incurred greater freezing and/or ischemic damage than the average cryonaut who gets put into suspension in 2040, so it will be a case of first in, last out. For those still living but aged in 2041, the cell repair technology to rejuvenate them will arrive before that capable of reviving a 2040 cryonaut, but the difference may be only a few years.
Long before 2040 techniques such as vitrification may well have been perfected.
A supercooled, highly viscous liquid is transformed into an amorphous, glassy solid, without the formation of ice crystals. So organs could be cooled down to liquid nitrogen temperature, whilst avoiding both mechanical cellular disruption from ice crystals, and the toxic effects from water freezing and separating thus leaving a highly concentrated residual cryoprotectant.
Following an "unhealthy lifestyle" was not a credible option, as far as I am concerned. Extending one's life by an extra fifteen years could well make all the difference, either by not needing cryonics or being suspended in better conditions - e.g. at a time when autopsy on immortalists has been outlawed. (A dwindling minority of deathists - a dying breed - would have to wear bracelets pointing out their wish to decay or be burnt, and the last few coroners would be allowed to operate on them.) In any case, those who practise "unhealthy lifestyles" rarely want to live for more than seventy years. It seems to me that they must, sadly, lead a miserable, boring existence.
One option would be to wait and see how nanotechnology develops, and then only sign up for cryonics if absolutely sure that arrest and decline of the ageing process will arrive too late. I rejected this for several reasons.
Firstly, there would always be the possibility of finding yourself, in old age, with insufficient assets to finance the suspension. And of course, at this stage life insurance would be too expensive. (Assuming the conquest of ageing had not yet been brought about by enormous advances in medicine.) Procrastination is so natural when intending to sign up for cryonics that you could easily plan to join when "middle-aged" and then find you were too old for insurance.
Secondly, there is always the risk of sudden death by misadventure or foul play. This is the worst type of condition for a suspension, and there might even be a brain autopsy. Still, at least there is some degree of protection against such an occurrence, even if a greater risk of not being able to preserve all of the identity-critical information. It is a great boost to know that you have at least a fighting chance, while others have given themselves no chance. The risk of premature death by illness may appear lower still, but the conditions for the suspension could be much better.
Thirdly, there is the fact that if everyone decided to wait and see, they would see nothing. What about the present and future pioneering workers in nanotechnology, motivated by cryonics (but having to play down their interest in this)? They would clearly feel less incentive to shape the world if they believed the cryonics movement to be stagnant and felt that they had less chance of being around to reap the rewards. With the present low membership, especially outside the USA, each extra cryonicist will significantly increase the percentage growth for that year. As with any movement in its infancy, a small influence or effort is given great leverage. Those who believe they have no control, influence or purpose often suffer great stress.
Fourthly, as the cryonics movement grows, public acceptance will grow, the power of hostile bureaucrats and officials will be sapped, those patients in suspension will be better protected and costs will be reduced. The result will be more growth, allowing things to snowball. A large powerful cryonics community will be better able to safeguard the rights of revived patients and assist with rehabilitation.
Personal annihilation is the ultimate personal catastrophe for any sentient being. And becoming "legally dead" and then suspended is the second worst thing that could happen to you. But there is an infinite void separating the two experiences. We know that mere mortals can perish unexpectedly at any time, and nanotechnology may arrive too late for anyone alive today. People take out insurance to cover themselves against their car being written off, or their house burning down. True, irreversible death is a far greater personal disaster than having goods destroyed. Why not attempt to insure yourself against personal termination by signing up for cryonics?
Some believe that when they "go", they only depart this world and go to "Heaven." It appears more realistic to me to assume that, rather than relying on a magician to have already built "Heaven" for us, we will have to build our own heaven. If you accept this, there is an apparent mitigating factor in personal termination. If your car had been written off, and was not insured, you would be well aware of the fact. Although being killed would be a far graver disaster, you would be oblivious of obliteration. But anyone who feels that life has a positive value can contemplate imminent (geologically speaking) non-existence and its zero value. There is simply no excuse for failing to take the necessary action in order to maximise the value of future experience.
The second thing is that there are no guarantees that cryonics will work. The insurance against personal termination cannot be comprehensive at this time. But no human endeavour can ever be guaranteed to succeed (at least, for a mortal. You could always die before the conclusion). You need to balance the probability of success with the stakes involved.
Supposing a (rather innumerate) bookmaker was offering odds of ten to one against a thrown dice landing with the six side up. An independent witness has confirmed that the dice is kosher, with a genuinely equal chance of landing on any side. All investors should jump at the chance, as they can calculate that after a reasonable number of throws, their profit will be around eighty-three per cent of turnover. (In fact, even if the price offered was eleven to two, the investor would make a gain of over eight per cent of total stakes.)
Look at the downside for cryonics. If it doesn't work, what has been lost? About eight pounds a week, and there is the rather dubious disadvantage of having comments made such as "Hey, Steve, is that your dog tag?" and "It"ll never work - your head will just crack into pieces." But success would mean potentially millions or billions of years of pleasurable life, in an era where wealth per capita has increased a thousandfold or almost immeasurably, with anyone able to grow their own spaceship in their backyard in order to holiday over in the far side of the galaxy. And there is the prospect of vast personal psychological "spiritual" growth, becoming truly advanced intelligent life.
It has been estimated that the chance of recovery within 150 years for patients frozen under the best conditions today is 90%. Not everyone can be suspended under the best conditions. But many people who are suspended in the next century will be frozen under better conditions than the best of today's suspensions. And at liquid nitrogen temperature patients can wait for thousands of years if necessary, until repair techniques are even more advanced. Or until it is possible to scan any neural network plus the components responsible for self-awareness (complete limbic system / midbrain-thalamic reticular formation / medio-dorsal thalamus?) and then write this data into a variety of mediums.
The main threat to cryonicists will be not technical failure, but political / social / legal / economic. Let's assume the chance of being successfully revived is only 5%. Now what is the value of billions of years of pleasurable life, living far better than a twentieth century king? We only need to obtain odds of better than nineteen to one to make it worthwhile. Multiply the cost of cryonics (eight pounds a week) by nineteen, and we have #152 per week. If you think that living in a body free of ageing, disease and inevitable death even with no income temporarily would be superior to an income of #152 per week whilst in a conventional ageing body, then we have already beaten the odds of nineteen to one. (For those who didn't want to have to exist on "handouts", it is likely that other cryonicists could arrange loans and advice on training.)
In any case incomes would doubtless be thousands of times greater than this, but even if you came back as a slave in a totalitarian state, with ageing eliminated it would just be a matter of waiting for things to improve. To some extent it is necessary to discount the value of future life, but beings not constrained by a birth / death cycle can afford to be patient. The value of subsequent years would be discounted by a small fraction of a per cent per annum.
There is then the fact that the "bet" has to be repeated a large number of times before it becomes an investment rather than a gamble. If the bet is a one-off, but the effective odds obtained are high in relation to the true odds, then it can be described as a "rational gamble". And there is the major psychological benefit of knowing that you have a chance of escaping the fate imposed on all primitive lifeforms, and are not doomed to inevitable annihilation.
But the whole thing may be more than a gamble anyway. It is not necessarily a single-shot bet. Some people believe in a cyclical universe, in which all possible permutations of history occur serially (separated by a compression of the universe and a Big Bang). I favour the "many worlds" view developed from quantum mechanics.
My interpretation is of an infinite number of parallel universes (allowing all permutations) existing simultaneously. Each of us (myself for instance) occupies a small proportion (still an infinite quantity) of the total, with each individual universe containing a duplicate me who resides at the same point in spacetime. Of those universes containing my duplicates, what they have in common is everything that I am aware of. They are distinguished by that which I do not know. As a consequence, since the duplicates cannot make any distinction between themselves or their universes, they perceive themselves to be one individual.
There is no way of pointing out a particular duplicate and saying that it is the "original". All are equal duplicates. Branching occurs whenever a decision is taken, or an observation is made of previously unknown data. Those universes not occupied by me are distinguished from "my" universes by some thing or things that I am aware of. I know that Mars is not the planet nearest to the Sun, and some universes where the planet nearest the Sun is called Mars would be occupied by my near-duplicates. But they are not me.
For the cryonaut, rather than assume he has a 5% or 50% chance of revival you could say that he will be revived in 5% or 50% of "his" universes. Whilst in suspension no branching occurs for the oblivious cryonaut, but as soon as he is revived, a branch does occur. Those permutations of reality where the cryonics facility was vaporised by nuclear warheads or confiscated by religious secret police are universes not inhabited by the individual, as his consciousness will confirm. From the viewpoint of the cryonaut, the anthropic principle applies and he cannot not exist.
In this view, it is like the investor who is allowed a large number of throws of the dice in order to guarantee success. There would still be the risk of coming back to find that all cryonauts are routinely tortured, or coming back as a vegetable (although this problem should be solved by true identity read / write technology into a suitable medium).
The parallel world view may be incorrect, and no success could ever really be guaranteed. But taking into account the stakes involved and the probability of success (and the probability of failure if you end up as invertebrates" grub), I believe the whole cryonics enterprise to be a worthwhile one.
One Chasmosaurus, Please!
by Yvan Bozzonetti
I think most people rejecting cryonics or other similar conservation processes have a profound fear of what tomorrow may looks like. In the pro flock, I am not so sure to find a real consciousness of the problem. It may be that this paper forms a kind of test.
Based on some technical facts I do not develop anew here, I think uploading technology may come soon in the cryonics' recovery effort. I have no extensive documents or studies of the subject, so I start from scratch to uncover its potential application. No doubt, many people have pondered on the subject for many years, I hope some reader may give me some useful references.
First, uploading needs a brain reading machine. I have described more than one before. Next, comes the computer simulating the brain functions. Most people think we are very far from that technology. I disagree. A simple estimate depicts why: Assume we want to simulate 100 billion neurons. Nerve influx travels at no more than 150 m/s. Any electronics device may work 10,000 times faster. One "electronics neuron" can then simulate, one after the other, 10,000 biological neurons. The electronic "brain" reduces by that simple fact to ten millions neurons. Not so long ago, I saw, in a Scientific American article, the picture of a one hundred neuron chip. A brain needs 10,0000 chips. Is it too much to get a workable system? One of the largest parallel computer, the thinking machine contains more than 65,000 processors and works well. What do we conclude? For me, given the money, that is the will, we can technically build right now a brain machine as powerful as a biological human brain. If I am wrong, tell me where.
That potential machine may cost a lot of money, so nobody will build it. Now, let me have some lines for a personal story:
Twenty years ago I was visiting CERN, the European particle research centre, near Geneva. At the end of the tour was a look at one of the largest computer facilities in the World. Its CDC 6600 system was said to crunch six million multiplications per second. Now I have on order a new small computer. Unfortunately, it looks too feeble for what I want, so I plan to add some cards next year. In that configuration, my desktop computer will be operating at 150 million operations per second. Needless to say, I have not CERN's budget and they outperform my computer by one million-fold today. I let you draw your own conclusions.
Now, if uploading becomes cheap and common, what may be its uses? - You say: reanimate the cryonics patients' consciousness. Well they can see the world with artificial sensors. No problem to see heat, X-rays, sonar pictures, radio waves... to smell radioactivity and so on. No more problems with synthetic worlds created by computers. If you meet Bugs Bunny, I bet you are in such a world. The same remark holds if you see a convincing experiment about extrasensory tricks.
More interesting: You can live more than one life at a time. I have at least three pocket calculators, why not as many computers with brain capability? Because God is in three persons, some will stop at this value, I have more ambitions. On another side, a dull time may be lived in reducing the computer speed (Think of the boring effect of a space journey of many years duration). One full year may equate to one minute of conscious time.
Because we are on the space subject, I see the brain-on-computer as the only solution for exploring and dwelling on very inhospitable worlds. How to get to the stars without it?
Why bother about long journeys when brain content can be radioed at speed of light over nearly any distance, intercontinental, or even interstellar.
Some electronic systems may harbour more than one brain. Each one run independently or in a linked mode. What about personality built from more than one brain ? Do you call it ultimate communism?
One personality may be assembled from parts originating in many brains. One memory element from one, another skill taken anywhere. Do you call it ultimate vampirism? Recall: any element may be copied without limit, if you have some particular knowledge, you may sell one copy from a part of yourself without suffering.
Electronic brains may be interfaced with ordinary computer, no problem with mental calculus or anything on a data base, you recall it in effortless manner...
If your dog or your cat is put on ice too, it will can do the same trick. May be your cat future lies in quantum mechanics.
To put a brain on a computer-like system, we need to know how it functions. This may be best studied on small brains or neurological systems. For example, we have a map with the function of each of the nearly 800,000 neurons in a honey bee. We are far from that for humans. The first brain-readers will be small machines working in a limited volume. Ants or bees will be the first computerized animals. A large brain simulator may well run a personality made up many ants' copies. This will be a bug with the brain power of human or more.
Any animal brain may be put on a computer, the process is not harmful at all for living being. What about brain links between human and other species? What about personalities made form brains of more than one specie?
Electronics brains may receive and send out data with a radio systems. At the other end, there may be another similar system, a video camera, a computer, or a biological brain. A radio transmitter with many input and output electrodes may be implanted in a biological brain. If each electrode releases slowly a particular nerve growth factor, nearby neurons will establish the necessary links. Do you call this ultimate brain parasitism?
Assume a newborn is wired in this way to a brain-on-computer, it will be a new body for the old personality.
Because personalities on electronics systems may come from any species or be a mixture of anything, why bother about biological brain origin? A dolphin may run an human biological body or a bear, a cat may be a whale, do you like metamorphosis?
Mammals have far more muscular systems than strictly needed. Because of that, it may be hard to adjust to a particular body. If you rent it only for a limited amount of time, it will be a severe drawback. Some time ago I met a small (4 m) triceratops. Because the specie was wiped out 64.5 millions of years ago by the fall of a chondritic asteroid, my dinosaur was only a robot. When we understand better the gene expression, we can built a "biological robot", I mean a living beast with well defined and programmed development. Even if we built a triceratops, it will not be as the original specie: The chromosome number will be different, as the genes exploited. Given the current dinomania, I think there are good prospect for financing that kind of work. Dinosaurs are simple to run, powerful, and they have very little brain capacity of their own. They make the ideal zombies for computerized brains. Such bio-robots may stick best to the original species if we can find out proteins or fossilised nucleic acids. Molecular palaeotology is an emerging domain today, the oldest DNAs recovered so far displays a 20 millions old age. With a factor of three, we get the dinosaur era. After bone recovery, molecular fossils may open a new world for ancien species. Let me order a chasmosaurus!
Coming back to mammals, I see no problem to get a new body: Demethylated DNA taken in any of our cell and introduced in a denucleated ovulum may starts a new being. Such product may eventually be offered in specialised supermarkets. A cow with human tissular gene may grow them without reject. Your next body my be born in a stall. I hope this fact looks good for Christians.
Present day human form may be not the best homo specie, I think some reworking will comes sooner that later at this level. Don't worry if the first people you see after cryonics recovery look strange.
Some contender species, without link to homo sapiens may take the edge too.
What, if you cannot accept all of that? Before starting a new life, you may be tested to see if you can adapt. If not, your own personality may forbid you the right to live a new life. I understand well the religious people attitude: they have nothing to gain in the cryonics technology. The selection system work right now. If you are marginally adaptable, you may first to be allowed to regain consciousness in some artificial, computer generated world.
Yes, I have written before that readaptation to the future world could be achieved by the subject being put into a world similar to the one he has left, possibly even with a sufficiently accurate simulation of his life such that he is not even aware of having died. Memories of the events actually leading to death could have been eliminated. This world will then be programmed to change in such a manner and at such a speed so as to adapt him mentally and as quickly as possible to the future world he will inhabit.
The program would also remove any psychological traumas that may be affecting him, in an advanced form of encounter group. The exception would be that the other individuals in this world would be computer simulations, so if anything went wrong no one would be harmed. Therefore no one need be refused admission to the future.
What is chilling about that observation is that the world we all seem to inhabit has just that characteristic - extreme and rapid change.
Comments on Freeze Drying and Related Topics.
Mr. Bozzonetti raised a question about liquid nitrogen corroding cryostats; I commented that nitrogen in the atmosphere is not noticeably corrosive to stainless steel or aluminum or fibreglass, and the cold liquid should be less so; he replied that the density of the liquid is very roughly 1,000 times that of the gas at STP, so that even if activity per molecule is reduced 90% at liquid temperature, the activity per unit volume is still around 100 times as great in the liquid.
A minor point: we should be concerned with activity per unit surface area, not per unit volume, and the liquid is only 100 times as dense on a surface basis, not 1,000.
More important: the activity at low temperature is theoretically reduced, not by 90% or factor of 10, but by a factor of over 221, or more than 106 (1 million), if we use the Arrhenius estimate of factor of 2 every 10 deg C. This activity would be negligible.
Most important: we need to know or reasonably estimate the actual effect on specific parts and materials. The Cryonics Institute fibreglass cryostats have no specially sensitive parts (no valves etc.). For liquid nitrogen to corrode these cryostats noticeably, it would have to eat into the material enough to weaken it or make it effectively porous. After several years, there is no observation of any effect at all.
I appreciate Mr. Bozzonetti's efforts to make progress, and I am just trying to help clarify matters as best I can. Now I have to say I am somewhat confused by certain remarks about freeze-drying. He says that, in the freeze-dry process, after the object is put in a low temperature bath, and while drying in a low pressure chamber, no thermal insulation is needed, a low temperature being maintained by evaporation of ice.
Either I am being obtuse, or Mr. Bozzonetti has not explained himself clearly, or he is just wrong.
If there is no thermal insulation, cooling (by evaporation or otherwise) would have to be as fast as heat leak in, and in the absence of insulation, with a temperature differential of 50-100 deg C, that could be rapid. The total heat required to evaporate the water in the body (at any temperature) is much less than the heat inflow would be, in the absence of insulation, over a period of months - which means that the cooling effect of ice evaporation would be nowhere near enough to maintain the temperature differential mentioned. Have I made some error?
We at the Cryonics Institute are so backed up with other work of higher priority that we have done virtually nothing with freeze-dry either theoretically or experimentally, although we will get to it eventually, if the issue remains open, so we are grateful for the work of Mr. Bozzonetti, Mr. Skrecky & others.
I don't understand Mr. Skrecky's comments on possible use of propane in a "second stage perfusion" in a freeze-dry procedure, and would appreciate elaboration/clarification. I also question that "freezing damage can be avoided altogether" by perfusing with a "sucrose saturated antifreeze solution," and would be grateful for a reprint of the article he mentions.
High speed desiccation
By Douglas Skrecky
Due to their size small organisms can survive desiccation at room temperature because drying can occur so quickly that little harm can come their way during this process. With transplant organs or even entire human bodies an entirely new process of high speed desiccation will have to be devised before large blocks of tissue could be dried without massive damage. The author believes he has developed such a process - on paper at least.
The circulatory system should be perfused with a saturated sucrose or trehalose solution in order to protect against drying damage. Possible additions to this perfusate to further inhibit tissue deterioration include zinc, calcium chelators, iron chelators as well as gelling agents. Sufficient time should be allowed for the perfusate to penetrate tissue before desiccation can begin. To prevent oxidation damage the air in the desiccation chamber should be replaced by a dry inert gas.
The Vampire Technique:
About 7% of body water is in the circulation system. This can be directly expelled by pumping inert gas into the circulatory system while pumping all the fluids out.
Internal Desiccation Technique:
The reason large blocks of tissue take much longer to dry is because the volume of tissue water increases as the cube of the linear dimensions, while the surface area available for drying increases only as the square of linear dimensions. However the surface area of the human body can be increased by approximately 300 times by using the circulatory system as a drying surface as well. By maintaining the internal gas pressure at a level slightly higher than external pressure neither arteries, veins nor capillaries will collapse after the fluids are expelled and thus by continuing to pump dry inert gas through the circulatory system very high drying rates impossible to reach by any other method can be maintained.
Evaporation rates can be further increased by gradually lowering both internal and external pressure in concert till near vacuum levels are obtained.
Although evaporation rates are decreased at lower temperatures tissue deterioration is also slowed sufficiently so that low temperature drying is usually of higher quality. If desiccation is carried out at a reduced temperature freezing must be avoided for best results. For example the viability of microorganisms in dill herb is unaffected by air drying, but is reduced by 90% in frozen herbs and by 99% in freeze dried herbs.1
Freezing Point Depression:
The freezing point can itself be lowered by including an inert antifreeze solvent in the preparatory sugar solution. Thus temperatures similar to that used in freeze drying could be used without tissue suffering from any freezing damage. However in view of the great rapidity that desiccation would occur by using the aforementioned techniques there is some doubt whether freezing point depression would be needed.
The quality of the dried tissue produced by variations of this method of desiccation could be quickly assessed by hydrating samples of cells from throughout the tissue block in a culture medium to see if "they" have "survived". This would be more informative than examining the dried tissue under a microscope as molecular damage would then not be visible.
1. "Packaging and Storage Effects on Microbiological Quality of Dried Herbs" 873-875 Vol.56 No.3 1991 Journal of Food Science
Click arrow to get back to main contents page.