Volume 5 no 38. First published April 1993. ISSN 0964-5659.
Specific Cold Vaccine Cook Book Yvan Bozzonetti
Dessication as Cryonic Insurance Douglas Skrecky
Permafrost Burial Douglas Skrecky
More on AIDS Contaminated Blood John de Rivaz
Potassium Cures Kidney Stones Douglas Skrecky
Do Monkeys Get Ulcers Douglas Skrecky
Letters: Indoctrinating the Young, Trees, Christians' interest in God as a concept
DIY Taxol Kit Yvan Bozzonetti
A Mother's Thoughts on Genes and Immortality Chrissie Loveday
Extraterrestrial Intelligence Douglas Skrecky
Time Communications Yvan Bozzonetti
Specific Cold Vaccine Cook Book.
by Yvan Bozzonetti
I have suggested before (Longevity Report 37) how to make a common cold vaccine. Here my aim will be to target the cook book side of the process: How to make and use it. "Common cold" is a name for more than one hundred different viral illness, each with many genetic variants. To produce a flu-like vaccine from killed viruses is much too complicated and slow. A wild virus will contaminate an entire country before a specific vaccine could be made.
A far more simpler and rapidly emerging technology uses DNA fragment coding for a part of the virus protein coat. A single DNA string may include up to twenty viral recognition sites, conferring immunity against as many common cold kinds. That product may be made in laboratories and sold as any other vaccine. Unfortunately, the large variations observed in a single viral species will reduce the vaccine efficiency considerably.
To block fully the viral attack we need a complementary vaccine made from the local strain active at that instant. The main problem is then the time delay: How to produce a vaccine locally and get an immune protection before uncontrolled contamination takes over. Because a cold may be the result of more than one viral strain, the vaccine must act without the need to sort out each virus strain present. We need to bypass the research stage of identifying the foe and get directly to the right molecular mixture acting on each strain.
Virus are recognized by the particular shape of the protein fragment emerging from their coat. These proteins also have an unseen part anchored in the viral membrane. Selective pressure exerted by the immune system favours viral strains with a highly variable exposed protein portion. On the other hand, the anchor part must remain stable to fulfil its function. That requirement at the protein stage is mirrored in the viral genetic code. What we need for a vaccine is precisely that variable code. The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) allows us to duplicate billions times any such genetic sequence.
Assume we start with a viral admixture, we need first to kill them and free their genetic content from its protein coat. This is done with a denaturating agent, for example urea. Unfortunately, that product is slow in its action and because time matters, a stronger, faster, denaturating agent such guanidine-HCl is more appropriate. The cook book starts then: If you get a cold, spit in the bottle, add some distilled water and guanidineHCl. Mix thoroughly and wait for fifteen minutes.
We have now the raw RNA molecules. Our multiplicative PCR works with DNA only, so we need to make a DNA copy from the RNA. This is achieved by the reverse transcriptase protein. Don't forget, our solution contains a protein denaturant. The next step in the cook book reads then: Add more distilled water to neutralise guanidine action, mix well, add the reverse transcriptase and the free phosphated nucleotides to build DNA molecules from them. Put in warm environment for at least ten minutes.
We have now a single strand DNA copy of any original viral RNAs and we want to enter the PCR multiplicative cycle. To do that, we need three more products: The replicase protein and the complementary start and stop DNA strings. At that level, some explanations may be in order.
In nearly all living beings, outside some viruses, DNA is a double strand made of polymerized nucleotides. Depending on the side fragment, called base, carried by each nucleotide, these compounds are designated by the letters: A, T, C and G. A stands for the adenine side base, T for thiamine, C for cytosine and G for guanine. A three letters set defines a codon, or code for one of the twenty elementary bricks of a protein. When a set such as ACTG... is found on a DNA strand, the second is fully defined, here, it will reads: TGAC... Indeed, A pairs always with T (and T with A).In the same way C is associated with G. From a single DNA strand the second may then be reconstructed, this is what the replicase protein does. When a DNA strand undergoes damage, some control protein detects it and cuts out the impaired portion.
Replicase molecules are attracted by DNA molecule and run freely along them as a train on a rail road, at least when there is a double stranded DNA normal form. When the replicase encounters a single stranded portion, it stops, collects from the environment a free nucleotide complementary to the missing one and put it in the proper place on the DNA molecule. The replicase get then one step forward and starts the same procedure. When it encounters anew a double stranded molecule, it stops its work and drifts at high speed along the normal DNA molecule until it encounters another single strand domain. To start and end its work, the replicase needs a double stranded DNA, the initial and final replication orders.
Up to now, we have only single strand DNA. To replicate the variable part of the virus genetic make-up, we need to add short complementary sequences of the stable portions at the variable part limits. Put in the presence of the single DNA in warm conditions, they will stick at the specific complementary site in some minutes. To synthesize chemically these short DNA sequences, is an adventure in itself. Now, many commercial laboratories produce and sell any requested strings of DNA nucleotides. We can then return to the cook book:
Add now the start and stop DNA, the replicase and a lot of free phosphated nucleotides to build the new DNA. Mix and put in the thermal cycling oven for ten hours.
The particular replicase of the PCR technology comes not from mammal cells, it is copied from the molecular reparation system of bacteria living in hot water. Its capacity to survive in hot environment is essential in the PCR process. When all the elements are put together, a double helix DNA is synthesized on the variable part of the viral genetic sequence. To go beyond, temperature is raised in a controlled manner until the two DNA strands separate. The replicase must goes undisturbed during that hot episode, this is why a hot water bacteria molecule was selected for that activity. When the temperature is lowered, new, start and end complementary molecules stick to both, the original DNA and the newly produced sequence. The replicase then generates two double strand DNA molecules. A new hot phase will produce four single strand molecules. With one thermal cycle every twenty minutes or so, the PCR produces 8 copies in one hour, 64 in two hours and one billion or so in ten hours.
A DNA cyclase enzyme is then added to turn DNA open strings into chemically more robust rings. Because the first step, using guanidine-HCl denaturating agent kills everything, from viruses to bacteria, the final product needs no more sterilization. After some minutes, the cyclaseaction is completed and we have a vaccine ready to use.
Most common cold viruses do not contains genetic information to synthesise a particular membrane. They use some fragments of the attacked cell coat for this purpose. All viruses end then with the same membrane, regardless of their species. Viral proteins anchored in this coat must then respond at a common constrain on their membrane immersed part. That stable protein portion must then be the same, not only in all variants in a species, but in all species. At the genetic code level, at most few base pairs will be altered from a viral kind to another, even if the variable sequences have nothing in common. Whatever the viruses in the original spit, the final vaccine will be efficient against each of them, because start and end double strand DNA are the same for all of them. In fact, what is produced is not a single monospecific vaccine, but a cocktail multivaccine formula.
To use the vaccine, spray it simply in the mouth and the nose. Small DNA molecules will find their way in the cell inside compartments. Here, DNA rings divert some ribosomes from the cell production assembly line to synthesize their own proteins. Because such proteins have no sugar tags to route them at a definite place in the cell, they are rejected to the outside world. If no membrane soluble part is included, they will be excreted and elicit a humeral immune response. With an anchor part, they will end fixed in the cell outer membrane, creating a cell mediated immune response. Both are useful in fighting an invader virus.
From the first spit to the full vaccine there is no more than a twelve hours span, a delay well fitted to the high contamination efficiency and short incubation period of common cold viruses.
For the sake of explanation, the cook book process has been described at a laboratory level. For use by nonspecialists, it may be reduced to: Spit in the first small bottle (containing water and guanidineHCl), shake and wait for 15 minutes. Next, put its content in the larger bottle (with more water), add the powder (a mix of all required reactive products), shake and put for ten to twelve hours in the thermal cycler (the only piece of hardware to build specifically for that purpose). Your vaccine is ready to use.
If it is so simple, why is it not in common use today? There are three answers: first, biotechnology vaccines made of DNA are new, the discovery was published in the last 1992 quarter. Second, PCR is a new technology, known at laboratory level for only four years. Ready to use kits are found on the market for some months only. Last but not the least, even simpler well known protective measures are not used, for example stop smoking, wear gauze masks and wash your hands before eating. (Many cold viruses are transmitted by direct contact).
If we want to develop a custom made cold viruses vaccine, we need to know the constant genetic part of these viruses at the variable part limit. That information must be accessible in computerized databanks. If you have a high speed modem on your Personal Computer or compatible, you may ask for a list of good address and telephone numbers to Longevity Report or me. I can give you too a list of laboratories ready to produce from that information the right start and end DNA strings for the PCR. (I have too a list of addresses for ordering PCR kits and I can give the guanidine-HCl).
Who want to produce, patent and market that product?
From: James <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I normally try to be unoffensive, but... I went and read this article, and that's the biggest load of **** I've seen in quite some time. Not only won't it work in principle, but the author obviously is not familiar with the technical procedures described. I hate seeing things like this because the vast quantity of junk on the web decreases it's usefulness for everyone. If you have a half-baked idea, at least admit that it is totally half-baked so people won't waste their time, instead of writing it up like it's the gospel.
I will cite a couple examples in case anyone would like to disagree:
> If you get a cold, spit in the
> bottle, add some distilled water and guanidineHCl. Mix thoroughly and wait for fifteen
> minutes. We have now the raw RNA molecules
Spit in something that you are trying to get RNA from??? RNA is notoriously hard to work with. RNAses (RNA degrading enzymes) are very hardy - to the point where you must bake your glassware for hours to be sure that they have been destroyed. If you spit in something with RNA in it, chances are you won't have any RNA left in a few minutes.
> With one thermal cycle
> every twenty minutes or so, the PCR produces 8 copies in one hour, 64 in two hours and
>one billion or so in ten hours.
One thermal cycle every 20 minutes? Anyone who has ever done PCR can tell you that you can do one thermal cycle in more like 90 seconds.
> From the first spit to the full vaccine there is no more than a twelve hours span, a
>delay well fitted to the high contamination efficiency and short incubation period of
>common cold viruses.
If you've already got the cold YOU'VE ALREADY BEEN IMMUNIZED (if immunization is possible against that strain). This doesn't even work in principle because it takes your immune system a couple days to mount a decent response - whether after exposure to a vaccine or to the real thing. And that's why a cold usually only lasts a few days.
Sorry, I realized after posting that this first sentence was badly written since you are trying to get the RNA *from* the spit. Anyway, the overall point remains: there are specific, detailed processes that must be used to isolate RNA that involve more than using Guanidine HCL if you want your RNA intact at the end.
With regards to your last paragraph, it does miss the point. The idea is not to cure the person with the cold, but to stop other people in the same group getting symptoms and also to stop them passing the disease on. Surely if this isn't possible in principle, then *no* cold and flu vaccines work, and we know that they partially work. Surely if the vaccine gets there before the real virus, then the real virus would not show symptoms. Don't they vaccinate people aginst rabies *after* they have been bitten?
James Ryley replied:
Rabies is the ONLY known virus that you can vaccinate for after exposure, because of its long latency period (at least as of 1994 according to my book). Common colds do not have long latency periods.
From: Martin Thompson <email@example.com>
I don't know about all that, especially about whether you can prevent it being passed on, but I have had very good results blocking the symptoms with zinc supplements: about triple the recommended dose per day seems to do it, i.e., 15mg x 3 per day. It doesn't work well with zinc gluconate, but other forms seem to work OK with me.
Dessication as Cryonic Insurance
by Douglas Skrecky
If financial concerns preclude continued liquid nitrogen suspension at some point in the future it would be helpful to have a backup plan in place ahead of time so as to prevent the destruction of the cryonics "patient". The only alternative backup technique capable of long term preservation is complete desiccation. This must be achieved with a minimum of damage to cryopreserved tissues in order to keep reanimation chances alive, yet be inexpensive enough to be feasible on a limited budget.
Freezing requires cryoprotectants to preserve tissue. Similarly desiccation requires anhydroprotectants to preserve tissue. Fortunately there do exist two cryoprotectants which can also serve as anhydroprotectants. One of these is the sugar trehalose. Recently trehalose has been found to outperform all other cryoprotectants in its ability to enable 80% of frozen organisms (tardigrades) to revive.1 No other tested cryoprotectant comes even close to this performance. Thus trehalose would appear set to replace all other cryoprotectants, except for one significant defect. It is very, very expensive. Fortunately the other dual cryoprotectant/anhydroprotectant is sucrose or common table sugar. So as a starting point we will assume that a large amount of sucrose in used in the cryo-perfusate so that desiccation without massive tissue destruction would then be a possibility.
Desiccation requires that all water be removed from tissue. This could be achieved by thawing the patient, embalming and then air drying at room temperature at a negligible expense. Unfortunately the chances for reanimation would then also appear to be negligible. Vacuum freeze drying could be used instead, but then the cost would be prohibitive. Solvents such as methanol or acetone have been used to thaw small frozen tissue blocks at -80 C with good results.2,3 Although at room temperature these solvents dissolve lipids and fix proteins, at low temperatures these effects are largely prevented, although some DNA denaturation still occurs. Unfortunately when larger tissue blocks are used, which require longer substitution times tissue deterioration does occur, which requires fixatives to prevent.4 DMSO/water mixtures have preserved tissue quite well for an extended period at low temperatures, but have virtually no ability to extract moisture from tissue.5Dimethyformamide has looked promising in a preliminary experiment, but this solvent has a high boiling point, so it would be of little use as ALL solvents must be removed before tissue could be said to be truly desiccated and inert.6 Tetramethylsilane is an inert liquid, has a low 26.3 C boiling point and it has recently been proved to be superior to acetone as a substitution medium.7However the best medium overall may well be any dry inert gas.
A vacuum increases drying rates because it (like solvents) eliminates the barrier to diffusion that meniscus effects create during air drying. However diffusion is only a problem with large blocks of tissue.8 By using the cardiovascular system as a drying surface the problem of diffusion through tissue is avoided and simultaneously the total surface area available for sublimation is increased by over 300 times. Internal desiccation with an inert gas would have the same result as vacuum freeze drying, but at a tiny fraction of the price. Of the inert gases desiccation has been found to proceed most rapidly with the lightest - helium.
The patient could be prepared for such a possible future internal desiccation by removing all of the liquid cryoperfusiate from the cardiovascular system immediately prior to cryonic suspension. If this system is intact infusion with a mildly pressurised inert gas would force out the any fluids and simultaneously prevent collapse of veins and arteries. If the cardiovascular system is not intact any nontoxic liquid with a low freezing point could be used to replace the cryoperfusiate. The tissue could then be frozen at a temperature which is still above the freezing point of this liquid, which would then be drained off before nitrogen suspension itself. What about those already frozen without anhydroprotectants? Could these patients also be desiccated in the future without massive tissue damage? The answer to this will require some further research, but the provisional answer appears to be yes. Provided the patient is first thawed at close to freezing temperatures and immediately perfused with a sugar based transplantation solution only a modest amount of deterioration should occur. Then the body could be refrozen before drying or even desiccated without further freezing (or freezing damage). Drying at close to but above freezing temperatures occurs more rapidly since liquid water can evaporate much faster than ice can sublimate.9
1 Survival of the Cryptobiotic Eutarigrade Adorybiotus Coronifer During Cooling to -196 C:Effect of Cooling Rate, Trehalose Level and Short-term Acclimation 125-130 Vol.29 1992 Cryobiology
2 Freeze-Substitution Without Aldehyde or Osmium Fixatives: Ultrastructure and Implications for Immunocytochemistry 355-363 Vol.158 1990 Journal of Microscopy
3 Immunoelectron Microscopy of Tissues Processed by Rapid Freezing and Freeze-substitution Fixation Without Chemical Fixatives: Application to Catalase in Rat Liver Hepatocytes 617-623 Vol.38 No.5 1990 (name of journal not supplied)
4 Freeze-substitution Techniques for Preparing Nematodes for Scanning Electron Microscopy187-196 Vol.164 1991 Journal of Microscopy
5 Effects of Electrolyte Composition and pH on the Structure and Function of Smooth Muscle Cooled to -79 C in Unfrozen Media 82-100 Vol.9 1972 Cryobiology
6 Improved Cryoprotection and Freeze-substitution of Embryonic Quail Retina: A TEM Study on Ultrastructural Preservation 348-356 Vol.1 1990 Journal of Electron Microscopy Technique
7 An Evaluation of the Usefulness of Air-Drying Biological Samples From Tetramethysilane in Preparation for Scanning Electron Microscopy 198-202 Vol.40 1991 Journal of Electron Microscopy
8 Freeze Drying Without Vacuum: A Preliminary Investigation 94-96 January 1962 Food Technology
9 Controlled Low-Temperature Vacuum Dehydration- A New Approach for Low-Temperature and Low Pressure Food Drying 1573-1579 Vol.54 No.6 1989 Journal of Food Science
by Douglas Skrecky
Currently two deceased individuals have been buried in the Canadian permafrost in the Northwestern Territories in hopes of a possible future resurrection. What are their chances? Do they have any chance at all?
Both were embalmed with a larger amount of fixative than is commonly used and this in conjunction with freezing was hoped to be sufficient to preserve cellular structure. No attempt was made to mummify the corpses and neither was stored in a metal casket to prevent contact with oxygen. Do they have a chance?
Unfortunately the answer appears to be no. While no deterioration can be measured in tissue stored at liquid nitrogen temperatures over a 2 year period, a substantial decline in functional integrity does occur during just 6 weeks of storage at -80 C.1 The mechanism accounting for this difference is ice recrystallization where small unstable ice crystals shrink as larger ice crystals grow at any temperature higher than -135 C. As the crystal edges move they function as microscopic knives which then destroy tissue structure, whether it is chemically treated or not. One way to avoid this would be to add enough cryoprotectant so that the freezing point is depressed sufficiently so that freezing does not occur. However then hydrolysis would likely destroy even fixed tissue over time. There is really only one solution.
Complete desiccation removes the problem by removing the water. Without water neither recrystallization nor hydrolysis can occur.
The use of a metal casket would eliminate the problem of oxidation. Studies of small animals capable of surviving anhydrobiosis (life without water) indicate that even at room temperature they can remain completely inert for decades and then spring to life spontaneously when moistened. Permafrost burial must involve both desiccation and a metal casket in order to be a credible alternative to liquid nitrogen suspension. Two hopeful individuals are now dead because of ignorance. Let no more permafrost burials fail in such a fashion. Permafrost burial can work, but only if it is implemented in conjunction with complete desiccation and uses a stainless steel "time capsule".
1 Effects of Storage Temperature on Viable Bioprosthetic Heart Valves 537-542 Vol.29 1992 Cryobiology
Following our item on the French Officials' incarceration for delaying measures to prevent blood being contaminated by AIDS, Douglas Skrecky kindly sent in a press clipping from Science 18 December 1992.
The same tragedy hit Canadian haemophiliac patients in 1985. Whereas now Canada has one of the safest blood supplies in the world, there was considerable delay after blood screening was instituted in the USA before it appeared in Canada. The delay caused 1,000 Canadians to be contaminated with the AIDS virus. 730 of them were haemophiliacs.
The delays were attributed to the cumbersome bureaucracy of the Canadian Blood Committee, and fears by officials that AIDS would scare off blood donors. The Committee was finally replaced last year., and there is to an enquiry. Inevitably the idea of an enquiry has been resisted by health officials, who complain that they are being judged with the benefit of hindsight.
Potassium Cures Kidney Stones
by Douglas Skrecky
An increase in urine PH after meals normally prevents the formation of uric acid stones. In a few unfortunate humans this PH increase does not occur so that kidney stones form, grow and in time help supplement the incomes of surgeons. Fortunately there now exists an alternative therapy. Supplementation with roughly 2 grams every other day of alkaline potassium salts such as potassium citrate or bicarbonate increases urine PH and dissolves kidney stones gradually but painlessly.1 If you suffer from kidney stones or even gout it might be worthwhile discussing potassium supplementation with your doctor.
1 Prophylaxis of Uric Acid Stones With Alternative Day Doses of Alkaline Potassium Salts 97-99 Vol.145 1991 The Journal of Urology
Do Monkeys Get Ulcers?
by Douglas Skrecky
For years banana powder has been used to treat duodenal ulcer patients. Double blind trials have found that about 70% of banana treated ulcers healed, while only 16% of those placebo treated did. This improvement is due to banana causing an increase in the secretion of gastric mucus, which in turn helps protect the stomach lining from acids, including those from aspirin.1 Do monkeys get ulcers? Not very likely...
1 Effect of Banana Powder (Musa Sapientum Var Paradisiaca) on Gastric Mucosal Shedding11-19 Vol.21 1987 Journal of Ethnopharmacology
From Dr John Walford
Living opposite the village church we are still drawn to its affairs - the latest being a so called "Sunday Club" which endeavours to cater for young potential church-goers.1 We are wishing we knew more about how to cope with today's 6-10 year olds.
Does the time travel debate still continue? Has the problem been resolved?2
Meanwhile I'm going to claim that the church is unaware that it shares the same desire for improvement by the application of technical knowledge.
I suggest "Cryotec"3 - the application of "tecknowledge" towards desired improvement. Cryonics and the time travel problem: A traveller in a separate time bubble - as you suggested - has to be able to re-join the main stream time flow sequence and hopes for improvement on re-joining? If so, the purpose of the application of "tecknowledge" is toward desired improvement, isn't it?
1 The problem with indoctrinating young people when their minds are malleable is that this is fine if you happen to agree with the subject. I wonder what church people would think if we held "Longevity Seminars" and tried to teach young people that cryonic suspension is a good idea for themselves and their parents. There is also a related problem with giving children preventative medical treatment. At one time it was considered reasonable for dental surgeons to fill milk teeth. Now it is regarded as exploitative. Similarly with tonsillectomies and some appendectomies.
2 No. We still haven't discovered any physics that enables us to manipulate time without impractical methods such as lining up 50 neutron stars in a row etc. Furthermore, the proposed booklet A brief Condemnation of Time has received few articles as yet. The book was to be 20 pages long and the same size as Longevity Report, and cover a wide range of topics concerned with the problems caused by the limitations of time. I didn't seriously expect it to produce articles that would encourage the development of a time destructor (to enable people to step outside time in order to solve problems), although some entertaining speculation could result in this direction. The most immediate help this booklet was supposed to provide was to stop people quarrelling with each other over time, and instead direct their frustration at the abstraction of time. It is better to rant and rave at time as opposed to hitting your partner, children or pets. Authors were to receive several free copies, which they could give to friends or even people they had fallen out with over time with a hope to a reconciliation.
3 I expect that you have been inundated with mailings about Neotech. I have never had the time to read this or inclination to spend money on it, but as I understand it is it an expensive philosophical system, possibly sold on a multilevel basis, that is supposed to give its adherents some form of advantage in life. I believe that it has made its originator a small fortune in fees, so it has certainly given him an advantage!
A letter from a Fractal Report reader included a short publication he produced about Sri Lanka, Recollections of Celyon, by John William Farnsworth. In it was mentioned the Bo Tree, believed to be planted in 288BC by King Tissa from a cutting taken from a fallen branch from another sacred tree. A local resident has confirmed that the Bo Tree lives to this day.
From Mr M Sankey
I do not object to Mrs Cass' Christianity, but to her muddled manner of expressing it. By all means let her have her say, but she will never be a good reason for the existence of Longevity Report as far as I am concerned. One would certainly expect that, as you state, Christians have been considering matters that concern longevists for a lot longer than we have. However, it is rare to find a Christian interested in God. If you doubt this, just find a Christian and try to talk to him about God. He will want to concentrate on the "human" aspect of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. He will not have given much though to the essential nature of God, and this is significant, because although God is many different things to different people, everyone agrees that he is immortal. Actually, this latter point brings up the really important question, which is not, "Why are Christians uninterested in God?", but "Why are Immortalists uninterested in God, who is the only (albeit mythological) person in our culture, who is said to have achieved what they say they want?"
I hesitate to get involved in the dental debate, experience having taught me that there is no greater waste of time than arguing with dentists (doctors and clergymen come a close second). However, to the statement that there is nothing new in Oramedics, I would point out that the products are new, their methods of application and way of working in the mouth are also new.
Religion is a person thing, and I would imagine that Mrs Cass' religious beliefs make sense to her if no one else. I still maintain that one should be interested in thought structures, however odd they may appear, for the reasons previously stated. And, of course, this includes Mr Sankey's views! I must also say that I have experienced the same thing as Mr Sankey when Christians seem reluctant to talk about or even attempt to define "god".
Periastron Proposes a New Scientific Journal
Periastron volume 2 no 3 starts with an article explaining the schism between the establishment of science and cryonics. It details how the scientific establishment used the methods of Goebells' propagandists to try and crush cryonics. However Dr Donaldson point out that cryonics is not 100% pure science. Although its processes involve scientific method, it depends on "ideas about future abilities which necessarily cannot be proven NOW in any way".
Scientific papers have been written by and for cryonicists and apart from political censorship are just as suitable for publication in ordinary science journals as other papers. Therefore Dr Donaldson has been approached by some cryonicists with a view to forming a real scientific journal that would not be subject to the political restraints but otherwise assess all material on its scientific merit as do other professional journals. As some future date they may want to raise funds for it. It is not clear at this stage whether people will be asked to invest in the project with a chance, however small, of reaping some reward, or simply give money to it.
Also there is mention of an article in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine by J.B. Bodkin and S.G. Post (Autumn 1992, p129-138) about the definition of death. Apparently the authors got very close to the ideas behind cryonics, but didn't mention it by name. Dr Donaldson has written to them and will report on any reply in a future issue of Periastron. Amongst the remaining articles, one on New Treatments for Brain Aging discussed various substances that may help non-Alzheimer's brain aging.
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!
A DIY Taxol Kit Idea
by Yvan Bozzonetti
Taxol from Californian yew trees is now a recognized anticancer drug. It is expected to be marketed in pure, injectable form five years from now. What if you need it before then or if you want a cheap product? (Think about developing country markets).
New Scientist ( 9 January 1993, page 21) reports on the work of Frank DiCosmo at the Center For Plant Biotechnology of Toronto University: he has cultivated fragments of ornamental yews Taxuscuspidata and Taxus Canadensis. On agar substrates, cells grow in an undifferentiated form and produce two times more taxol than Californian yew bark. In liquid culture, production is boosted four times.
The Californian yew (Taxus Brevifolia) is now available in seed form from: Chiltern Seeds, Bortree Style, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7PB. A tree six months to one year old is sufficient to start an agar culture. On the other hand, to extract taxol directly from the bark one needs to wait for at least 30 years! In one month or so, a bark branchlet produces on agar a sufficient crop to be harvested.
Ornamental yew bark contains so little taxol than nobody want to extract it. If agar cultivation boosts that value to what we see in natural Californian yew levels, then starting with that tree must give even larger taxol concentrations.
Other researches seem to point to other anticancer products in Californian yew. A not refined drug may then reveal itself more potent than a purified taxol extract. I have said, some time ago, in another paper, how to put in the general blood circulation a product without intravenous injection. Eat it with chicken peas (to block enzymatic digestion in the stomach) and citric acid or biliary salts (to permeabilize intestine wall). Grape juice seems to act in the same way.
Powdered californian yew bark cultivated on agar, mixed with crushed chicken peas in grape juice may be a very potent and cheap anticancer drug. To be cheap and simple to produce, it may be very useful in poor countries and a dissuasive tool elsewhere against too long and too costly market authorizations.
I have ordered my own seeds, I do not know if I'll need that product one year from now, but I prefer to have it at hand...
Many slow growing trees have interesting medical properties. If young subjects may produce the first cells of an agar cultivation medium, many antioxidants or anti-something drugs may be produced in a short period at low cost. Who is interested in starting a business?
Genes and Immortality
by Chrissie Loveday
It seems that throughout recorded history, people have been trying to achieve immortality. The Romans had the great idea of having themselves declared Gods to ensure it. Dozens of novelists and others have had their characters finding an elixir of life, founts of perpetual youth. I even remember a spring in Bali which promised eternal young looks to anyone who washed their face in it. I resisted the temptation to go for total immersion!
I am, actually, very content with my age, as I have been most of my life. It seems that every age has its own pleasures and compensations. I would hate to be a teenager at this time1 ... the idea of deciding whether to have a family these days would cause much heart searching2. Perhaps it is a form of inherent conditioning that enables most of us to accept what we are3. It doesn't stop us from wanting to extend what we have. There have been times when I felt life was just too much ... don't we all have them? Once over any of these "temporary blips", we all seek that elixir that will keep us in prime condition to enjoy life. Whether or not we can really call ourselves immortal is something of a moot point, but we must surely compare well with those ancients who, despite deification, still didn't achieve the sort of lifespans we consider normal.4
I often hear it said that one can gain immortality through having children. The genes march on through countless future generations. I thought about this. I have three sons but somehow that makes no steps towards my own immortality. They are people in their own rights and I sometimes find it hard to identify even one of my genes supposedly marching on through the future. Ok, one has blue eyes like me and two have blondish hair like mine, but then so have millions of other people. They have a few of my characteristics but by the time these are all mixed with the genes of their father, moulded by environment and experience, it would be dishonest for me to claim even the least bit of immortality through them. They don't even have my (maiden) name! I just find it peculiar that so many people think of their off-spring as extensions of themselves ... to inherit the family firm ... to do all the things the parent didn't have the chance to do. I very much doubt that my sons would ever want to do most of the things I have done. They like the idea of some of the travelling I have done, but they will make their own chances in the future ... their own futures and nothing at all to do with my genes being carried on to immortality!
1 But how about having the body of a someone in their late teens with your present memories and skills? That is what some immortalists consider.
2 I don't think someone who is planning to live for ever is going to have the same worries, somehow.
3 Acceptance of death has been necessary up to now, as if people had spent their time worrying about it nothing else would have been done. However now we have the means to deal with it, this necessity has passed. It could be that religions are an outward manifestation of this acceptance of death. The Immortalist Society refers to axe-kneeling to mean going passively to one's execution without trying to take one last stab at the enemy, in this case death itself. An attempt at cryonics which does not succeed is at least a fist shaken at the status quo that we should all suffer and die.
4 Agreed - all those people who think life extension unnatural ought to die at their naturally appointed age, which is between 20 and 30 years!
by Douglas Skrecky
If contact is made with extraterrestrial intelligences (ETI) humanity could conceivably benefit in ways too numerous to describe. The mysteries of the universe which might otherwise take millennium for humanity on its own to uncover might be revealed overnight. The fountain of youth and the secrets of eternal happiness might then become the natural birthright of all of humanity. The United States government will shortly be commencing a $100 million dollar radio search for evidence to confirm the existence of ETI. What are its chances for success? Do wise ancient beings who could conceivably become our benefactors really exist or are we all alone in the cosmos? Is there enough evidence to decide this issue?
Most astronomers believe that numerous ETI species exist in our local galaxy. Biologists are however almost uniformly sceptical of the probability of the existence of any ETI species. Both types of scientist have access to all available information that could be used to decide this issue so their differing opinions must therefore only be ascribed to irrationality on the part of one or both groups. There exist only two possibilities: either the evidence is inconclusive so that both astronomers and biologists are therefore being irrational in their firmly held opinions or the evidence is reasonably conclusive and in favour of one "rational" camp and not in favour of the other "irrational" one. What is remarkable is that a very large percentage of scientists in either case must be irrational. Scientists it seems are human also.
First of all the existence of ETI somewhere else in the cosmos is not really an issue. Not only do galaxies contain an "astronomical" number of star systems and not only does our "local bubble" universe contain an "astronomical" number of galaxies, but physicists now suspect that the entire cosmos may contain an infinite number of "bubble" universes. No matter how low the odds are for ETI on a given planet, with so many planets to consider (possibly infinite) the existence of ETI is assured as long as those odds are non zero. We exist, therefore those odds are non zero and therefore trivially ETI does exist out there - somewhere.
The only real issue regarding the existence of ETI species is whether they live near enough for us to contact them. For this we can reduce the question to "Do ETI species exist in our galaxy?". In order to judge the odds for such galactic ETI (GETI) we must first select the areas of knowledge which are relevant for basing a decision. At present there appear to be only two. One area is examining the origin of both primitive life and the subsequent development of intelligent life forms on our planet and use this information to assess roughly how likely such occurrences are on other planets. The other area that appears to provide relevant evidence is that concerning whether GETI species have ever visited our solar system.
How did life start on earth? Apparently it was in the sea. While life has existed in the ocean dating back about 4 billion years, evidence for land based life forms is much more recent - less than 1 billion years. How did life start in the sea? One hypothesis that has enjoyed some popularity is that life started in deep hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. However recent research has eliminated this as a possibility due to instability of organic requirements for life near vents1. However a mechanism for generating large amounts of phosphates at least has been discovered. Volcanic activity can provide this via vented polyphosphates2. In general with so little hard information on the biochemistry involved in the origin of life no firm conclusions regarding the existence of GETI can be formed with this data. We do know that if the earth was either roughly 1% nearer or 10% farther from the sun water could not exist in the liquid state. If the earth was slightly more dense it would be a hellish inferno like venus, while if the Earth was slightly less massive the atmosphere would be vented into space and a Mars like situation would prevail. Even with this information while we can conclude that life as we know it is undoubtedly a rarity this does not preclude the existence of a substantial number of life bearing planets in our galaxy. However primitive life forms are not what we are looking for. In order for GETI to exist life must undergo a long process of evolution. If this process is gradual then we can be confident that intelligence can reasonably be expected to evolve after a few billion years. However on earth evolution of life was at a standstill for over 3 billion years until just 580 million years ago when oxygen levels increased to the point where multicellular organisms could exist3. It now appears that an important distinction must be made between the odds for life and those for intelligent life, with the later being much lower than the former. While this still does not preclude the existence of GETI, it does eliminate the possibility of there existing large numbers of ETI species in our galaxy. Intelligence is undoubtedly very rare.
This brings us to the other fact of possible relevance regarding the existence of GETI. FACT A: They are not here now. Nor is there any evidence that they have ever visited our solar system in the past. FACT A has been accepted by astronomers defending the GETI concept and so we will not debate it. Although there have been reports of sightings of UFO's in the lay press by unreliable witnesses they are given no credence whatsoever by scientists and we will not concern ourselves with them any further. Since neither GETI itself nor any of their machine surrogates now exist in our solar system this has an unexpected and quite serious consequence. The argument runs that if a single GETI species decided at some point to explore and even colonize the galaxy they could do so at negligible expense by building a slow speed interstellar probe which possesses the ability to replicate itself. By thus seeding the galaxy with a few such probes, these would it time replicate themselves after reaching (some) star systems and then send their descendants out to further investigate and eventually saturate the galaxy. No such probe activity has been detected, therefore these probes do not exist, therefore the GETI species which launch them also do not exist.
This conundrum for astronomers has been mercilessly elaborated to point where there appears to remain no rational objections capable of refuting its conclusion4,5,6,7. Technical objections to the possibility of building a reasonably inexpensive self replicating interstellar probe have all been eliminated and the feasibility of their construction has been conceded by all scientists party to the GETI debate. One obvious and seemingly quite effective objection is that advanced GETI civilizations might not possess any particular motivation for sending probes. Unfortunately this objection has also been refuted as in order to be valid it would have to apply to all GETI civilizations continuously over the entire period of their existence. Another argument defending GETI concedes that while many probes have indeed been launched because of their slow rate of speed they would take upwards to a billion years to blanket the galaxy8. This argument admits however that at most only one probe launching GETI civilization existed just one billion years ago. GETI civilizations thus are conceded to be relatively recent phenomena. Also independent evaluations of the period required to explore the galaxy vary greatly, with the billion year mark being very much a high ball figure. Another and rather chilling objection is that some deadly probes were launched to destroy all civilizations they came in contact with9. However this also concedes that while GETI civilizations once existed, they are no more. It is fortunate for us that this objection itself is vulnerable to refutation. Deadly probes only have to miss one GETI civilization long enough for it to launch defender probes to turn this scenario into a machine battle which would in time reduce the galaxy to rubble. Also the most effective way for deadly probes to destroy all civilization would be to sterilize all planets before intelligent species can develop, thus we would never have existed.
The success of the self replicating interstellar probes argument is now widely regarded by most scientists as virtually eliminating the possibility of the existence of GETI species, though not of primitive extraterrestrial life forms. Like the relentless liquid metal terminator robot featured in a recent movie the probes argument is an unexpected adversary that self-repairs any holes in its substance created by criticisms and is fully capable of crushing any and all rational opposition to its conclusion. Even die hard astronomers are now throwing in the towel10. Perhaps all this should not come as any great surprise after all. Life cannot exist without heavy atoms such as carbon, which did not exist in the early universe. These atoms were first created in the centre of stars and were then only dispersed after these early stars became supernovas. Thus our entire "local bubble" universe was sterile for roughly the first 6 billion years of its total 12 billion year lifespan. Since intelligent life could evolve only after a further delay of at least several billion years then as far as intelligent life is concerned our universe is not old at all, but is still only a baby. In particular there has to be a first technological civilization in our galaxy and it appears that we are probably it. If there is to be any consolation it is that our biological and electronic descendants stand to inherit a considerable amount of galactic real estate. Perhaps one day these descendants will meet up with the probes launched eons ago by extragalactic ETI, which are even now slowly making their way to our home - the Milky Way galaxy.
1 Submarine Hot Springs and the Origin of Life 609-611 Vol.334 1988 Nature
2 Volcanic Production of Polyphosphates and its Relevance to Prebiotic Evolution 516-519 Vol.352 1991 Nature
3 End of the Proterozoic Eon 64-73 October 1991 Scientific American
4 An Explanation for the Absence of Extraterrestrials on Earth 128-135 Vol.16 1975 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
5 Extraterrestrial Intelligent Beings do not Exist 267-281 Vol.21 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
6 A Brief History of the Extraterrestrial Intelligence Concept 133-145 Vol.22 1981 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
7 Additional Remarks on Extraterrestrial Intelligence 279-292 Vol.22 1981 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
8 The Solipsist Approach to Extraterrestrial Intelligence 113-121 Vol.24 1983 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
9 The Great Silence: The Controversy Concerning Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life 283-309 Vol.24 1983 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
10 Alien Life 334-335 Vol.354 1991 Nature
I have always been interested in the idea of broadcasts from aliens giving the secret of immortality as a way of preventing species being war mongers. People are much likely to be more resistant to conscription or voluntary soldiering if they have so much to live for.
However as far as eavesdropping is concerned, transmissions are likely to be compressed, and a perfectly compressed transmission may be indistinguishable from random noise.
In Fractal Report 26 I reviewed a free demo disk of some image compression software. It gets a very substantial compression factor by converting the images into fractal expressions. However when the expander was fed with random data, instead of producing a random picture, it threw out the file. Therefore I would suggest it is not an ultimate compression system. However it is much better than anything else we have at present, and paves the way for better video phones or 20 tv channels in the space used for one at present. If it is ever possible to buy shares in the company involved, it should prove a sound investment!
by Yvan Bozzonetti
Time travel is a well known science fiction subject. For some time now, theoretical physicists have explored the subject as an exercise in advanced speculative theories. Here, I restrain myself to information exchanges from one epoch to another. What is most interesting is that there are practical consequences today.
First, I suggest interested readers buy a small book: QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman, published by Princeton University Press (1985). R. P. Feynman is the main author of the Quantum ElectroDynamics theory and a good communicator for nonspecialist and layman. Today, QED is the most accurately tested physics theory. If it is not true, it is very nearly so.
Now, you have to accept what I say below or turn to the original Feynman source if you can't.
If some day time travel becomes a reality, it will use very basic concepts in physics. For communications, we use electromagnetics waves made up from very many photons. Unfortunately, photons are a product from the so-called second quantification and are not what we can call a basic physical object. There is no way to travel backward in time with photon. For most people, that is the end of the line. Here, I suggest away out:
At short distance and for small duration, time becomes blurred. The present turns into something different from an abstract boundary between past and future. There we get a present duration. During it all time points are at hand. From QED, we find a present duration somewhat smaller than one wave period. For light, with 1014 (ten to the power of 14) periods or cycles per second, this looks indeed very short and we can't see at our scale any effect from time blurring.
Now, there are radio waves with any wavelength. A ten million Km wave blurs time for nearly 30 seconds, not a negligible value even at our scale. We have not really a time communication machine at that level. Indeed, that wave needs two 30 second periods to send a single unit of information. At most, after more than 15 seconds the bit displayed on a receiver must be more than 50% true. (It will flip in the next 15 seconds if it is really true.) Twenty years ago that was the end of the story. Now comes the so called squeezed states. Before looking at them, I need to provide a good picture of an electromagnetic radiation such as light or a radio wave.
Photons travel, by definition, at the velocity of light and, from special relativity, they undergo an infinite space contraction in the direction of displacement. So, electric and magnetic fields of a photon are limited at a plane surface perpendicular to its movement. In that plane we can think of electric and magnetic fields as perpendicular arrows. Most of the time we have not to bother with magnetic field vectors, they are always at right angles to any electric vectors (or arrows in picture form). In a photon, here are two "unit-length-electric-arrows" : the first turns clockwise, the second, counterclockwise. That forms the right and left polarization part of the photon. The shadow of a single arrow on a plane surface including the propagation direction of the photon, produces the well known sine wave display. By definition, an arrow completes a full turn in the time taken by the photon to travel one wavelength away.
Now introduce a basic quantum mechanics law: all quantities are coupled two by two, for example energy and time or space position and the product of mass and velocity. The more we define one, the more we blur the other. The product of the uncertainty on two coupled quantities cannot go well under one unit of Planck's constant divided by 2 times pi: the reduced Planck's constant.
When we apply that at an unit length arrow, we see than it cannot be precisely measured, and we get a first radial uncertainty. Because a photon energy is the product of Planck's constant by the number of full turns per second (the frequency), the angular velocity is another name for the energy. Uncertain energy means uncertain angular position. Time uncertainty translates into plane position uncertainty along the photon track. Combining all of that turns the arrow tip into a fuzzy ball. That is true for both, right and left circular polarizations. So, each photon turns out to display six independent axis of fuzziness. The product of all of them must be near the reduced Planck's constant seen before.
Now, nothing is said about how to divide that global uncertainty between the six axes. In ordinary photons, that is done automatically. On the other hand, some nonlinear mediums have quadrupolar propagation properties and broke a single photon into two other, each with half the energy of the original one. Very often, such twin photons have unequal and opposed uncertainty distribution. For example, axial uncertainty on the left polarization of the first photon is low and that is accounted for by a larger angular uncertainty on the right polarization. On the second photon, the reverse situation holds. Taken as a whole, each photon has the right quantity of uncertainty, even if that do not hold for each circular polarization or each independent axis in a given polarization. If that looks somewhat complicated, try to do a simple sketch on a paper. Everything turn out to be very simple.
Now we get the first positive point: The quantity of information we can load on a wave with a given frequency rests on its uncertainty. Assume for the shake of simplicity than all three parameters in a left polarization are squeezed by a factor of ten, that is, their uncertainties reduced at one tenth of the ordinary value. To be sure, taken as a whole, the three right polarization parameters are ten times more as blurred as in ordinary waves. Assume we do that with a ten million Km wave. Now, its left polarization can transmit ten units of information in one wave period or one information every three second approximately. On the contrary, right polarization allows only one unit of information every three hundred seconds or so. If the receptor is sensitive to polarization a simple matter of antenna designing and orientation, then we can transmit up to ten units of information back in time, without any uncertainty on the value of the received data. All of that is well established physics, even if the experiment with millions Km waves has not been done up to now.
Now I turn to astrophysics. In most galaxy centres, there seems to rest a powerful engine, most probably something like a black hole. These objects discharge a tremendous flow of radiation on every wavelength we observe. There is no reason to assume that this ends with the limit of current receptors. On the contrary, some galaxy nucleus expel very long jets with standing wave at the thousand light years scale. We can be nearly certain to have here powerful generators for waves with periods extending in the century or millennia domain. Well, to catch them we need an antenna where an electric current can propagate for that duration. This is possible only with superconductor devices maintained at cryogenic temperature for centuries.
I think many physicists may object to such an experiment on an astrophysical basis: even interstellar space is not really void, there are many charged particles ready to absorb the energy of very long waves. So, even if such waves are generated in the centre of our Galaxy, they can't travel until they have a chance to get to us, 30,000 light year away. This is certainly true for dipolar waves, not for more complicated propagation modes with many polar properties. Such modes damp swiftly, some wavelength away from the source (some millennia after generation with very long waves). The multipolar bunch of photons breaks then so that each photon produces many others with a reduced energy; As we have seen, that is precisely the process giving birth to squeezed states of radiations. These states are not so readily damped by the interstellar ionised gas and so do not need to propagate in a multipolar bunch of waves. If the new squeezed state is not sufficiently squeezed, then everything starts anew for one more cycle and so on, until we get a sufficiently squeezed radiation.
To summarize the situation, we have all reason to think we are immersed right now in a bath of very long waves in a very squeezed state.
Assume we get the technology (and the money) to build our own wave generator. Then, because of the nonlinear properties of the medium in interstellar space, that wave will mix with the natural one. For us, all will be as if our new generator was running for centuries before its start. It will be able to send information in a remote past ... if there was a receptor to hear it. Now, assume we do not have the technology to build and operate a powerful transmitter. If that is done someday, we can limit our short term objective at a receptor facility. In a first time, we can limit our receptor at a simple antenna, well it must be build from superconductors. With ceramic materials based on yttriumbariumcopper oxides, a simple liquid nitrogen bath suffice, something readily found in cryonics organizations.
In interstellar space, ionised gas slow down photon propagation. Then relativity theory allows a part of the electric or magnetic field to lie along the direction of propagation. There is no more strict confinement in a perpendicular plane. That photon state is known as plasmon in physics. Plasmons are unstable and tend to disintegrate into a neutrinoantineutrino pair. The reality is even more strange: At each instant, plasmons are a mixture made of a slowed down photon and a neutrino pair. Because all wave giving birth to a squeezed state go through a plasmon phase of existence, all such waves will display a "neutrino polarization". This allows efficient detection by phase shift current in a super conductor device.
Without any doubt, time communications are an exciting prospect. For cryonicists there is a more direct interest: The transmitted information may be for example about the atoms order in a particular system, for example a stored body. If a nanotechnology is put into use some day, its effect may then be transmitted backward in time. This is a rough idea, put here simply to illustrate in a simple way what we can search for.
A more elaborate use of squeezed state may, it seems, control thermodynamic process, the very basic difference between life and death.
Click arrow to get back to main contents page.