ISSN 0964-5659

Longevity Report 49

Volume 6 no 49. First published February 1995. ISSN 0964-5659.

Letters Cryonics conference

Is your Label User-friendly Chrissie Loveday

The Only Movie Star Robert Brakeman

Of Life and Death Brian W. Haines

The Many Faces of Ageing Yvan Bozzonetti

Response to Stephen Barrett on Vitamin C Yvan Bozzonetti

Real Estate. Internet

Pharmaceutical notes- Beta Carotene, Chromium, Retin-A, Herbs and Lupus Douglas Skrecky

Fractals, Mind, and High Energy Physics Yvan Bozzonetti


From Fred & Linda Chamberlain:

We always look forwards to Longevity Report. Hope you can help us get the word out to European cryonicists about Cryo-1, a research symposium on advances in Biostasis, Life Extension, and Re-entry Technologies.

The purpose of this annual Cryo symposia is to benefit all members of the life extension community by promoting and encouraging more research by individuals and cryonics organisations, and to help raise the standing of cryonics within the general cryobiological and general scientific communities.

Although the emphasis is on research, relevant theoretical papers are also invited. All parties interested in making a presentation at Cryo-1 are invited to contact the Symposium Coordinators for more details.

February 17-18, 1996, Scottsdale, Arizona. Symposium Coordinators Linda Chamberlain, Fred Chamberlain, PO Box 189, Payson, AZ85547, USA. (602) 474-0428 ext 888 (voice), 472-6496 (fax) CompuServe 72624,3554

Abstracts are due by 1 August 1995 and need not be camera ready. Final (camera ready) abstracts are due by December 1 1995.

Please contact the above for attendance details and further information.

Is Your Label User-Friendly?

by Chrissie Loveday

Why does everyone have to be labelled? For many years, I was someone's wife, Mrs Whatsit ... never just me. I then became known as Mark's (or Peter's or Tim's) Mum. Known by all the village by one or other of these labels, I ventured back into teaching and became re-labelled as The Cooking Teacher. Naturally, my name changed as the titles of the job came in and out of fashion. I passed through Home Economist, Domestic Scientist, Housecraft Teacher and heard myself recently called the Drama and Movement Teacher. (All because I do this for a couple of hours a week with his group!)

There have been many labels attached to me and I have inhabited a variety of pigeon-holes, several at a time, in some cases.

"How come you're teaching cookery if you can speak French?"

"Why are you doing drama if you are a sewing teacher?"

When asked, "And what do you do with yourself, besides housework, of course?"

at social gatherings, especially pompous business types,

"I teach cooking, sewing and sex. It's all they need, you know."

It really gave me many hours of pleasure, remembering the gasps and shocked looks! It usually stopped the boring conversations quite dead.

I also rebel against ageist labels. People often ask one's age and though I am not coy about it, I wonder why. I accused one young man of trying to fit me into the pigeon-hole of middle-age, so that he could guess at my potential role in any situation. I made him decide which age group he wanted to fit me into and maybe I would oblige and fit it. Luckily for him, he placed me several years younger and was able to cope with me on his level! Men usually seem to prefer their women to be younger and often place the outside picture as the most important factor in their relationship. Thinking women are most likely to use the derogatory labels ... Bimbo, Dolly-bird type of descriptions. Perhaps it is just self-defence, but whatever, it is still a label that fits a type.

Have you noticed how newspaper reports always contain people's ages?

Fred Wurble, (27) was in court today, accused of attacking Cynthia Totbury (78) witnessed by Charlie Bloom (43)... and so on. Does it present you with a prejudice when you hear that? Rotten young man (27), hitting a poor old lady, (78) and a strapping man (43) just stood by? It may not have been anything like that, but we seem to need to attach suitable labels to any situation to talk about it.

I have had the odd few things written about me in various media outlets recently, and every one has included in the title, the word Granny. I am quite happy to be a Granny, love the little grand-daughter, but I am me first, Chrissie Loveday and a granny, mother of three, writer, teacher, lecturer, cryonicist or anything else second, third and all the rest. It was recently suggested that I was being a little shy about admitting I was a feminist. (The Immortalist, January 1995). I am not shy about it, not at all. I just hate the label Feminist. Yes, if I hear someone use the term, I have visions of the stereotype, aggressive, bra-less woman, and myself become guilty of labelling.

Ah well, Granny,(54) I must get this Feature (half-an hour) to my Editor(50), or my Public (about 10, perhaps) will fail to receive this month's Column (approx.540 words).

The Only Movie Star

by Robert Brakeman

Prefatory note:

this article appeared in various U.S. Life-extension magazines in the 1980s. It is reprinted in the wake of Lillian Gish's death in 1993.

It was a time when none of the Big Three was a star yet. Douglas Fairbanks was still trying to figure out how to buckle-his-swash, Mary Pickford was still taking look-cute lessons each day at 10 am, and Charlie Chaplin was still asking his managers "Is this funny?" But It was not a time without movie stars, for a girl too young to vote, drink, or do anything interesting with men (she was 17) was beginning work on a picture which would make her not only the dominant star of her period, and not only the first true star of the movies, but also - for a two-year period before others began to hit - the only movie star. That unique phenomenon (there'll never be only-one movie star again, unless the industry begins to die off and at the end there's only one left) had its beginnings in a place which seems to have gone out of its way to define un-unique: "Springfield" is among the most common town-names in America; and Ohio (along with Iowa) is the state usually used to symbolize heartland America or America itself; and that not-entirely exotic environment saw the birth of Lillian Gish in 1896. The roots of the term "Indian Summer" aren't indisputedly clear, but Ohioans swear that it came from the fall of '96, an autumn when Halloween pumpkins were said to have melted-all-over-the place and the Thanksgiving turkeys didn't have to be killed because they'd already been scalded to death by the sun. Toward the middle of the middle month of that fall (October 14), the Wednesday-morning stillness was assaulted by the cries of a newborn-kidlet who would while still in her mid-teens, cause the term "movie star" to be added to American usage.

It seems appropriate (in a demented/Hollywood kind of way) that the first movie star should have, for a parent, the first of the classic Stage Mothers, and Lillian Gish did: Mom had the kid performing on the stage regularly from the time she was six years old. By the age of seven she was touring constantly with her mother and sister Dorothy (two years younger than Lillian). That endless touring continued until 1912, when a then little known Mary Pickford Introduced Lillian Gish to D.W. Griffith, who was said to be a man with big ideas. What is "said to be" true is almost always false - but in this case the sayers got it right: Griffith was about to produce and direct what would become the first "modern" motion picture - it would have a multi-hour running time and a massive cast and high production values and a multi-plotted, complex storyline - all of which would make it everything that the cheapie/quickie/two reel shorts then dominating the industry were not. When The Birth of a Nation was finally released in late 1914, it both ensured the survival of films and revolutionized their nature simultaneously.

Almost invariably called "The Greatest Film Ever Made" by any voting of film critics, The Birth of a Nation also made a star of Lillian Gish. Playing Elsie Stoneman, the most appealing member of a family caught up in the Civil War and reconstruction, she "stole the picture" (and gave birth to that phrase, too) from Griffith and his other actors. Her appeal was such that Griffith immediately built another mega-picture around her - and out came Intolerance - which is generally voted the second greatest film of all time. In it Lillian Gish anticipated Clint Eastwood's famous character of half-a-century later, The Man With No Name (the terminal-avenger of such films as A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly); she played The Woman Who Rocks The Cradle - and the woman who ties together the four separate, centuries-spanning stories which make up Intolerance. Although she'd starred in the most successful and next-most-successful film of all time* while still in her teens, it's worth mentioning that Gish wasn't playing teeny-boppy parts: like Brooke Shields two-thirds-of-a-century later, Gish had a very adult face while still in her mid-teens, and the roles which made her the first movie star were adult roles, not kid stuff. Having starred in the definitive war-movie and the definitive Historical Epic, Gish in the next few years seemed to he trying to star in the ultimate-version of every kind of film: Orphans of the Storm was a best-of-its-kind soap opera; Broken Blossoms was a fine interracial drama; Way Down East is a masterpiece of New England life; Hearts of the World was the first/best World War I story (if one can ignore its blood-is-fun propaganda aspects); A Romance of Happy Valley did for the second word of its title what other Gish vehicles had done for other subjects; The White Sister was the first major movie made from a "scandalous" novel; Romola was the yardstick early film about medieval life; and The Scarlet Letter was the definitive early-movie from a classic novel.

That last-named film produced a Gish-performance which in turn produced a quote demonstrating how brilliantly Gish's reputation has survived among critics, half-a-century after she did-what-she-did. This is New York critic Pauline Kael writing in 1960s (about Gish in "The Scarlet Letter"): "Her Hester Prynne is one of the most beautifully sustained performances in screen history - mercurial, delicate, passionate. There isn't an actress on the screen today, and perhaps there never was another, who can move like Lillian Gish: it's as if no bones, no physical barriers, stood between her intuitive understanding of the role and her expression of it." The Gish Cult is now, incredibly, into its 8th decade, and as a proud member of it I'll quote what some other critics have had to say about her screen performances; "Lillian Gish didn't invent acting - but she did invent screen acting"; "In the whole of my adult life I have cried only when my mother died - and every time I've seen Lillian Gish on the screen"; "Those who say that Lillian Gish is the greatest screen actress of the century miss the point; she is the only screen-actress - all the other women have merely been making attempts at acting."+

The woman whose screen presence inspires this kind of verbal hysteria (absolutely-justified hysteria, you understand ...) is, 70 years after her reign as The Only Movie Star, still alive and well and living in Hollywood. She's also still working in Hollywood, something people in 1927 no doubt thought would not be happening: In that year she walked out on the industry. Fed up with a series of what she considered to be contract-betrayals, she returned to the stage and stayed there, for most of the next five decades (ever notice how Gish's career has been so productive for so long that writers-about-her are driven to ignore "years" and to speak instead of "decades"?). Although she did an occasional film and made the transition to talkies not just with ease but with brilliance (the critics again became semi-crazed and began to babble - accurate babbling - about the incredibly gentle sound of "the miracle girl with the miracle voice"), Gish was content to walk-away-a-legend and only do the occasional film which especially interested her. Her big roles from the past 4 decades: From the 40's, Lionel Barrymore's wife in David Selznick's western- clone of Gone With The Wind, Duel in the Sun; from the 50's, a starring role in Charles Laughton's only directorial chore, the chilling Night of the Hunter; from the 60's, paying Burt Lancaster's mother in a tale of bigotry-on- the-frontier, The Unforgiven; and from the 70's, a starring part in Robert Altmann's superior to M*A*S*H* and Nashville ensemble-film, A Wedding. So much for Gish the Cult Figure. Time now for Gish The Human. Lillian Gish's main interest to us here is as the object of a campaign which is now being directed at her (or will he shortly, depending on when you read this). It's a campaign which sprang, sadly, from a failed earlier campaign. That earlier effort, described by the present writer in an issue of The Immortalist, was an attempt to convince Paramount Pictures founder Adolph Zukor to have himself cryonically suspended, so that a man responsible for an astounding amount of much-loved entertainment would have more future-options than just maggots-or-incineration. Although the efforts of myself and others in the Hollywood community didn't succeed in getting A.Z. to "get with the program " in the sense of making arrangements to have himself suspended, in a broader sense getting-with-the-program is exactly what he did do, for we did convince him to give a fair amount of money to a private cryonics-research program.

But, those of us involved in all of that still consider that "failure" is the right word to apply to our efforts, because our main goal all along had been to get Zukor suspended, partly because of the publicity-value we would have derived from having "The Man Who Invented The Movies" suspended and partly because as both cryonicists and entertainment-oriented people we just cared enough about A.Z. and what he'd done to want him not to cease to exist. Since myself and the others involved had had a good deal of success in convincing other (less famous) people to make arrangements for their cryonic suspension, we weren't discouraged by the Zukor failure (or partial failure, as we call it on our more Pollyanna-ish days). When we began to look around for new targets, it was wholly natural that we should have turned toward Lillian Gish: Among founders of the industry, she is the direct in front of the camera counterpart to Zukor's behind the camera prominence; he was the first of the great producers and she the first of the great stars.

Furthermore, of the Founding Generation there were only Zukor and Gish left by the mid-seventies - and when Zukor let "public opinion" cause him to choose annihilation that left - and leaves - only Lillian Gish.

So, what's being done is this; Friends/acquaintances of hers with an interest in immortalism are pushing the cause with her; relevant literature (she's an omnivorous reader) is being supplied; offers are being made to fly in national leaders of the cryonics movement to talk to her if she'd like; her ever growing cult-status among both fans and critics around the world is being used as a two-edged weapon (certain members of that cult are being used to prompt her into a pro-immoralist position, and her own very real concern for her own legend is being played upon - in the form of why-not-keep-the-legend-alive? arguments); and her well-known openmindedness and rationalism is being used as an opening-wedge in getting her to listen seriously to the pro-immortalist case.

Chances of success? You tell me. We're predicting nothing one way or the other** - except this; If Lillian Gish chooses oblivion instead of continued life, it will be in spite of the very best efforts of a lot of people who care about her deeply - not because we did nothing.

* And their success wasn't just critical: In constant-dollar & constant- population terms those films are the two all time box-office champions too.

** However, it's worth mentioning that we would probably not have plunged into this without some expression of interest-in-the-subject on the part of the "target" - and we've gotten that in the case of Lillian Gish. Epilogue (In the form of a comment to those who don't care much about movies): Fine; your opinion here then is no doubt something like "Good God, Brakeman, What's the big deal? She's just a silly actress, no better or worse than any other person." Two responses to that: First, although we've not had space to go into it here, Gish's private life is just as beautifully appealing as her screen performances, and shows her to be much above the average person in those qualities which make humans the exceptional species. Second, even if she were the "average person", she'd be the average person in danger of annihilation; isn't that reason enough to save her?

+ And a major film historian called her "the sublimest actress of the cinema"; and director King Vidor said of her "She is the most dedicated actress I have ever known - she makes you believe a scene is actually happening"; and on and

Epilogue To The Epilogue

(In the form of a comment to those who do care about movies: Those of us involved with Hollywood in various ways tend to be very cynical (especially about actors) and very far from star-struck; so it takes someone with a very powerful on-and-off-screen presence to turn us into "fans". Lillian Gish is a precious resource; we'll do what we can do to see that she remains just that. As a producer friend of mine once told me: "For the most part, Hollywood taught me about lying and cheating and stealing and treachery. But one part of Hollywood taught me about compassion and love and tenderness and caring and humanity. That part - on the screen and off it - was Lillian Gish."

Closing note:

The results of our Gish-project were a mixture of failure and success. She saw-the-logic of cryonics and contributed some money to some life-extension projects, but she never provided for her own cryonic suspension. However, through our original attempts to contact her we accidentally came into contact with some people who have become serious members of the life-extension movement, and their stories will be told in future articles.

Bob Brakeman, the author of more than 2000 articles on Immortalism and Public Affairs, resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Of Life and death

by Brian W. Haines

It is two months to the day I stood poised upon the banks of the Styx awaiting the boatman. He must have had a full load for I was turned away and returned to the land of human frailty.

They say that at such moments life flashes before you replaying itself in all its misery. Here it is you realise the lost opportunities, the endless mistakes and the sheer futility of it all.

Dr. Johnson put the matter in a nutshell when he said, "Nothing concentrates a man's mind so much as the knowledge he is to be hanged on the morrow". He had a turn of phrase, one does wonder how much it sustained him as he approached his last moments. For myself I can only report I was wonderfully philosophical. My predominant thought was "Why did I bother"?

It is interesting because if at that moment when I lay in my hospital bed some-one had come along and said "Look here, I can get you out of this, for the modest sum of 20,000 cash I guarantee you will wake up in the next century cured and as good as new", I am not sure I would have been all that interested.

The fact what happens is, or at least what happened to me was, I had no real desire to carry on. I suddenly realised with an amazing clarity I had wasted every possible chance I ever had. I saw for the first time I should have gone outside the system, disobeyed the rules, and stopped being so obsessed with authority and the fear of offending convention. And above all, never, never saved a penny piece. What was to happen to all that money now?

More than anything else I would like to have been young again.* Being given extra life is not the same. Relief from pain, and a chance to get up and go home would have come as a welcome release, there is no doubt about that. There is nothing worse than the dreary nights in hospital surrounded by sickness and death and a life bounded by the four walls of the ward and the near certainty of belief that the best that can be expected is a continuation of pain and a general decline into insensibility. Everything is too much effort, reading, writing, listening. It is all subservient to that pervading lethargy which awaits the end.

To see out of the window people going about their mundane tasks, supremely unaware of the drama taking place within yards of them. How you envy their rude health. Every young person, however plain suddenly holds the secret of eternal attraction. How you want to reach out and grab hold of some of that glowing youth so recklessly thrown away in such careless disregard for the fleeting moments flying by.

It is then you realise youth is everything, how you too threw away your opportunities to enjoy the marvellous hours, the promise and the whole world of hope and expectation. If only now you could go back and start again. And your mind dwells upon the rebuffs, the agonies of rejection, the embarrassments and all the torment of bitter solitude to which you retreated at each imagined slight and broken promises while you were growing up.

By far the worse is the knowledge it was so unnecessary. You could have been happy, you could have enjoyed every golden hour, you had no need to envy the carefree joyful laughing groups walking on the other side. You had youth, you had health, you had everything they had, and probably more. You had no need to watch from a distance, you had no need to be oppressed. It was all there for you too. You only had to stretch out your hand to take your share of the world. It belonged to you too and yet you let it go.

The pain of realisation is so intense. The world marches on heedless of your suffering. It is too late, your time has come and gone. You know with awful clarity once you had it all and now you are without even memories to sustain you through the last hours. There can be no torture more exquisite than the sharp pang of remorse and what might have been.

The long nights draw to another weary day. Another round of medicine, injections and dull airless monotony. The steady insistent throb of a world apart beyond the windows accentuates the feeling of hopeless isolation. You will never get better. There is no magic potion, there is no new beginning. And again you drift into the wells of despair.

All the riches in the world cannot buy back that time, nor can they buy you back to health. What was the sense of striving, working to pay for house you can no longer use, buying shares in Companies that pay the biggest dividends, scrimping and saving to fill a nest egg which you can never enjoy.

Is it worth at this late hour arranging for your body to be frozen in the hope there will be a cure. The thought sweeps by with barely a consideration. Surely there should be some hope there, but no it is too near.

If only you had been tested earlier. If only you had heeded the warnings. Was it so necessary you had to finish that job? Did it really matter that something was left over for tomorrow? Would anyone remember you kept your word, or you had been so honest? The evil men too may live on, the good is so often interred in their bones. And so it will be with you. Will anyone care or praise you after you have gone. No. The dread realisation comes that the world is there for the living and not the dead. Today is the only day, the past never was and tomorrow never comes.

The food trolley arrives. The smell of stale cooking repels and you have no appetite. Unbidden the trite old saying "eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die" pops into your mind. If only you could, and how much truth and wisdom hide beneath the words.

And so the days pass. Living from day to day. Imperceptibly comes the realisation death can wait. The slow climb back to reality begins. There is a world outside the hospital gates, it is your world, a world of dull humdrum things, a thousand small actions you never valued before, opening your own door, answering the telephone, paying bills.

It is not the pills, it is not the doctors, it is not the promise of a better life to come, it is you, and you alone who holds the key. This world you have just discovered is yours for all time while you are here. Was it so different when you were young? It is still there ready for you to live the way you want. You have learned the eternal truth. Enjoy yourself now, it is not too late for today is the day.

Live forever. Yes for ever is today, now, this minute. This is the time of glory. You never were younger than at this moment and you will never be older than you are.

The hope of life eternal. You have it, today, this is eternal life, no need to freeze or clone or seek men in white coats. Death does not exist, not for me, I am here and this is my world and you are only playthings.

Editorial note:

* One comment I would make is that when people are revived from cryonic suspension they are not revived as old people. Such an activity would be idiotic. The technology that makes revival possible will also make it possible to put the body into any state wanted by its owner. It is likely that people will be revived at an apparent age of 25, and they may want to select a different age later.

The Many Faces Of Ageing.

by Yvan Bozzonetti.

Ageing is a single word with many physical faces, at least it is my understanding. I'll try here to describe the different ageing level and what can be done to slow down or stop them.

First on the list at the most superficial level is this subject: Most animals know how to exploit at best their environment and food resources. For example birds of southern Pacific islands build their nest with plants producing strong insecticides. They select them from the odour they recall from the nest where there have spent their young age. The practice to exploit some defence against parasitic insects is so passed from generation to generation. Similar mechanisms are at work in most species around the world for every aspect of life.

On the other hand, people live with a set of rules badly adapted to both, the environment and the human physiology. The world nutritionist's reference for vitamins come from common habits registered in north America in the 1940's. So, where defined most of the so called recommended dose allowance (RDA). This is the social truth, not the physiological one: The last is based on at least forty millions years of biochemical adaptation in all a string of ancestor species. The best food today has nothing to do with hamburger, popcorn or ice-cream, it would be based on leaf, young bark, some fruits and seed supplemented by larvae and insect protein. If we don't want to turn back again to that recipe, then we need some heavy supplementation in vitamin C, D3, E, carotenoids and some similar substance. This is not an artificial way of life, only a small step toward a more natural food supply. Water is the sacrificed item in most case, don't forget it. There are now good lists of effects associated with our current food, we can hope to become as civilised as most mammals and birds...

Next comes the supplementation in some endogenic products. In the ageing process, some useful products are produced less and less efficiently, so we need to take the burden of finding them in the other world. That may include growth hormone and growth hormone-like proteins, short polypeptides acting as neuromediators, precursor of such products or stimulators of the production of such valuable biochemical items. This is the medicine side of anti ageing activity.

Anti-oxidants are at the limit of that domain: The main one, the Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD) destroys the oxygen singlet associated with oxygenated water. This is a natural by-product of energy generation in mitochondria and a very hazardous compound. To discharge it consumes SOD, a product costly to manufacture in each cell. There is an optimum energetic balance in the production of SOD: A quasi perfect protection would be too costly and a cheap one would be very hazardous. If we use some anti-oxidant destroying the oxygen singlet, we shift the balance toward more protection than what can afford to pay naturally our cells. The main problem with anti-oxidants is the production of low level free radicals as by-products. In that respect, natural anti-oxidants are far more interesting as artificial ones: The natural products are a mixture of many products, linked in a reaction chain. Each product destroys the by-products of the preceding anti-oxidant so that the last product in the chain let only fully neutralised by-products. The Dacrydium cupressinum is certainly one of the best producer of such an anti-oxidant set.

Next on the ageing list comes the mitochondria demise. These small organs present in all cell find their origin in parasitic bacteria. Today, they are specialised in the making of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) the universal molecular energy currency. All chemical reactions in a cell are driven by the consumption of ATP. Without it, the cell starve and dies. To produce ATP, mitochondria generate too a lot of free radicals, not all of them can be destroyed by SOD. Some time, the free radicals damage the mitochondria DNA. Be primitive organism by design, mitochondria can't repair their genetic make-up as efficiently as the cell nucleus does. Cells in old organisms have impaired mitochondria and tend to starve. With few energy, SOD production falls and ageing accelerate. A genetic therapy aimed at multiplying SOD genes in mitochondria would solve the problem. This is what seems to happen in fruit flies selected for extended longevity. A more efficient DNA repair system such the one found in the nucleus would help. Even without that last item, fruit flies can manage to live two times longer than the norm for the species.

The next ageing form is the population one. Assume we start with a set of identical cells. After some time accidents and parasites will have killed some of them. To maintain the cell population, some of the survivors must divide. As the time goes by, new cell generations undergo some random mutations. Some of them could disable the check and repair system or the S.O.D. generation. All of that accelerate the ageing process but in a first time spare the energy produced. If there is more energy to use, reproduction will be favoured in these cells. Be more prolific, they will overcome the original cell population. this process will be faster in small cell society, so that big individuals with large cell population will age slowly by this process. That is why big animals and plants tend to live longer than small species. The phenomenon works for mitochondria in each cell and in cell population in an organism. One way round the problem would to constrain all cell (or mitochondria) to use a large sum of energy in the control and repair process. That may be induced by the continuous use of small doses of interferon, a class of proteins informing the cell than a viral infection is in progress. The cell reaction is then to expand its control activities on DNA replication.

Next comes the gene methylation, this process folds up the gene and forbids its replication. This is very useful in cell differentiation, we are made from up to two hundreds cell kinds, all with the same genetic code. Putting some genes out of use is the way to differentiate cell populations. Unfortunately, this process don't stop completely at the end of embryo life. In adulthood, gene blocking is used as an weapon against denaturated genes potentially able to start a malignant activity. Less useful, some healthy genes are turned off too, when too much of them undergo that fate, the cell can't function any more and dies. A drug used in sickle cell anaemia can reverse the process. To use it for too a long time carries the treat of a cancer expression if there is no other way to control that kind of illness.

As a protection against cancer and related conditions, most cells are not allowed to reproduce indefinitely. At the tip of each chromosome containing the DNA is a repetitive sequence, the so called telomere. It allows the positioning of the duplicating system at each reproduction cycle. The telomere used for anchoring the protein reproduction complex is not copied, so that telomere portion shrink at each cycle. In the end, nothing is left and the cell can't reproduce. That is at least the general situation. Some cells use an enzyme to restore the telomere length after each division, that render them immortal. Stem cells in the bone marrow, in the immune system, in the bowel keep that indefinite division possibility. In other tissues they are too sparse to survive a long period and are overflown by less able cells with limited reproduction capabilities. That system seem to have evolved so that when a cell get out of control, it can't multiply indefinitely. This is so a cancer blocker. Until we have a good way to get ride of cancers, we can't disable this security system and benefit of a very long life.

Response to Stephen Barrett

on Vitamin C

by Yvan Bozzonetti

I refer to the article by Dr Stephen Barrett, MD in The Skeptical Enquirer Jan/Feb 1995 on vitamin C. My general ideas on the subject can't be summarized in few lines.

First, about my personal experience: At first, I was very interested by Linus Pauling's work, it looked logical: nearly all mammals produce vitamin C at a rate far larger than the RDA. Because that production incurs an energy cost, there must be a balance between costs and benefits. So, if the vitamin can be found for free as far as the body is concerned (with no production cost) a larger quantity must be useful. Indeed, laboratory animals benefit from a vitamin C supplement in their food, even if they produce a minimum quantity in their cells.

Starting with that basis I was nearly convinced of the mega dose usefulness of vitamin C. In practice, on a two years course, I found no or little effects on the common cold. On the other hand, vitamin D3 (not D2) seems to have a very powerful action. I have started to take it against hair loss, without knowing anything about its antiviral effects. (There are no miracles: I have contracted 'flu after one night in a very dusty, heavily contaminated environment). To get back to vitamin C, I think there are no simple answers:

1st, there are biochemical paths where vitamin C is essential, I do not know all of them, nevertheless I am sure of one thing: if we fall below the requirement of these biochemical reactions, there must be big problems.

2nd, Only a small quantity of what is ingested goes into the blood, a true experiment on the benefit of vitamin C must use an injectable form, not some pinches of powder diluted in a glass of water. From personal experiment, I can tell that makes an enormous difference.

3rd, for the powder form in drinking water, most of it is rapidly destroyed, oxidized and eliminated. Because the oxidized form is toxic, megadose with too little water must create some kidney problem. Because I drink at least 2 litres of water a day, I have only partial information on that guessed problem. I don't know if that fact was taken into account in different experiments.

4th, vitamin C is an antioxidant and so, must be used as generic product when there is plenty of it. Now antioxidants are not without problems: What they do is to neutralize high energy free radicals and leave behind a by-product made from a lower energy free radical. To illustrate that, I assume there is ten (arbitrary) units of a free radical with damaging potential equal to one per unit. I assume one unit of free radical is neutralized by one unit of antioxidant. The by product left behind is assumed to be a free radical with half unit activity. If we take no vitamin, there is 10 x 1 = 10 units of free radical. If we take 10 units of vitamin, there will be only 10 x 0.5 = 5 units of free radical by product. Now, if we take 20 unit of vitamin, ten of them will destroy the harmful free radical and ten will be oxidized by benign molecules. At the end there will be: 20 x 0.5 = 10 units of free radical, exactly the starting situation. More vitamin will generate a by product amount more harmful than the original free radical. The situation is worst when not all vitamins are processed and a part is directly oxidized: A part of the original free radical may be left active when the vitamin by product build up.

This is true for all chemically produced anti-oxidants. In natural products, the molecules are the same, the difference comes with the complexity: A 0.5 activity per unit will be not let free to wander. There will be another anti oxidant tailored to take it and reduce it to a 0.2 activity by product, and so on until there is nearly no chemical activity in the last by-product of the chain. Whatever the quantity taken at start, there is never a bad side effect. I use vitamin C with citrus juice and sometime Rimu (A New Zealand conifer) to neutralize any bad effect of pure vitamin c. (citrus has its own problem: its citric acid content may be annoying if there is not as much water to process it).

In what is now a political problem about the use of vitamins, these elementary questions are nearly never raised. It seems the writers have no practical purposes and are not interested in them.

(Note: there are further articles on this subject, some of which may appear next issue. I have also applied for permission to reprint the original article by Dr Barrett, a retired psychiatrist, not a physician. The article is not very good, but it does show what people are saying against vitamin supplementation. It contains vague threats, vague mention of very old studies with no proper references.)

There will be more on this subject in the next issue, with a long article by

Peter C. Everett

Steven Wm. Fowkes [Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute]

John Hammell [Life Extension Foundation]

This article will feature on the political aspects of Dr Barrett's viewpoint, and the motives behind it.

Investment Opportunity?

Found on the Internet and reprinted with permission

One piece of oft quoted investment advice is buy when everyone is selling and visa versa.

The swings in the real estate market are of very much longer period than in stocks and shares, and so this may be worth considering:

There are literally hundreds of thousands of foreclosed properties that are being offered for sale for a fraction of their real worth. This is because lenders are in the lending business and not the real estate business. When they take back a piece of residential or commercial real estate, it is a "non-performing loan." That means it cannot be carried on their books as an asset. Bank examiners demand that a bank have a fixed amount of assets for each dollar in deposits they have on the books. If they have less assets, they must discourage people from making deposits. Less deposits mean less profits and sometimes insolvency. Even if a bank is making money, the Federal government will shut down the financial institution if there are not enough assets.

This has happened hundreds of times in the last few years. I'm sure you know of banks in your area which have suffered this fate. In addition, each property costs as much, or more, to maintain than if someone was living in the house. The bank has a piece of property that is bringing in nothing and may cost thousands each year to pay taxes and maintenance. For this reason, and others, banks must get rid of non-performing loans. If they are in real estate, the must be sold at any price to put capital back into the bank.

This situation, coupled with the downturn in real estate prices creates great opportunities for those who want real estate either as a residence or for investment. Many of the great fortunes in America were built from the constant (though sometimes erratic) rise in real estate. Land is finite. There is just so much of it. But population increase geometrically. And all those people need a place to live. Real estate values will go up, the dip, then go up again. Houses that were bought for $7,500 after WW2 are now being sold for as much as $200,000. Large investors are buying at these crazy low prices.

Citibank just sold defaulted real estate loans at less than 50 cents on a dollar to large investors who bought portfolios of $500 million or more. The Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC) has disposed of billions of dollars of property at ridiculous prices and even given some residential property free.

Why do banks take such a beating on selling to large investors? Because people like you still like to buy in the way your parents did. You call up a real estate agent and let her take you to see properties. She gets to you decide on one and you buy it from a homeowner who usually has a sentimental interest in the home and holds out for as high a price as they can get.

To buy these properties you simply get a list of bank foreclosures available, Get in touch with the person listed as the contact and strike the best bargain you can. In most cases, in order to facilitate the sale, the bank will bend over backwards to approve credit and, if pressed, will offer interest below the normal rate and accept little or no down payment.

If you want to own your own home or start a real estate portfolio that will make you wealthy, now is the time to start. Call us at 1-800-872-0121 for the price of a list for the state in which you want to own real estate.

[dial 00 first from UK]

(I cannot vouch for these people, but I picked this up on the Internet and obtained permission to print it here. I guess if all you are doing is buying a list and are willing to pay what they ask for the list they can't you much harm if they are not on the level.)

Yvan Bozzonetti writes:

(reprinted from last issue because it fits in well here, both in content and space!)

In Cryonet message 3266 Robert Ettinger said, to summarize: I accept the bad side of cryonics financing with bequests, but not the good side, that is the possibility to get short term return for financing researches. At least it is what I see between the lines. As far as I can understand the Cryonics Institute CI has not the financial power to launch a real estate subsidiary. Otherwise, I think the concept would get more attention.

Here is a practical case: I have a rented flat on sea shore valued now at some $60,000 and the death-incapacity insurance cost me less than $10 per month - far under the price of a life insurance for even half my flat's value. To buy a guaranty on a loan is so far cheaper than a life insurance for direct cryonics financing. Even if the sum was equal, they would make a big difference: The loan insurance price is included in a monthly cost covered by the rent. Yes, all is not always perfect, I have a squatter in another flat running a debt of up to $4,000 and I have no hope to recover a (half destructed flat) before the debt runs in the $7,000. As a reaction I am turning all my real estate business to a process server.

Even with this problem, I think real estate is a good possibility, marketing cost are high in this activity, if that share of the cost can be deleted or far reduced because the buyers are selected nearly without cost by cryonics interest, then the profit would be welcome for much needed researches. (another way to see the same thing: marketing costs are not suppressed but the expanse is done to promote cryonics).

If a "hard core" of potential cryonics users are ready to buy before actual construction, then the scheme can get started. One remark: there are many people looking at ways to get money from their computer, why not use them to find potential customer? If they find them, they get a return, if not they pay the communication bill and there is no marketing cost. I am sorry not be in position to "exploit" the idea myself in a French cryonics society, but the law here probably the next bad after the British Columbia one.

Yvan Bozzonetti.

Paris, France.

Comment: If your life insurance is linked to a loan, maybe the insurance company will be less questioning as they won't see it as a possible scam.

Pharmaceutical Notes

by Douglas Skrecky

Beta Carotene May be Useless

While a healthy diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables reduces the mortality due to ischemic heart disease, beta carotene supplements actually increase mortality somewhat.1 The benefits of a healthy diet would seem not to derive from the beta carotene found in many fruits and vegetables. The reason it had been proposed that beta carotene might lower cardiovascular disease risk is that it was supposed to protect low density lipoprotein from oxidation. This also has recently been debunked so there now exists no reason to suppose that beta carotene could exert any beneficial effects.2 Indeed supplemental beta carotene may be useless.

1 The Effect of Vitamin E and Beta Carotene on the Incidence of Lung Cancer and Other Cancers in Male Smokers April 14,1994 Vol.330 No.15 1029-1035 The New England Journal of Medicine

2 Supplementation With Vitamin E but not B-Carotene in Vivo Protects Low Density Lipoprotein From Lipid Peroxidation in Vitro Vol.12 1992 554-562 Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis


(repinted from the Autumn 1994 CANADIAN CRYONICS NEWS)

A strong case can be made for routine chromium supplementation in the general population. Plasma chromium levels are usually greatly reduced in patients suffering from coronary heart disease and chromium supplementation reduces arterial plaque accumulation in animal experiments.1,2 In humans chromium supplementation improves cardiovascular disease risk factors, as it lowers cholesterol levels and (sometimes) improves glucose tolerance. Large doses of the B vitamin niacin have been used for years to help reduce dangerously high cholesterol levels, but the reason why niacin is so effective for this has been unknown -until now. Niacin improves the bioavailablity of dietary chromium. A dosage of just 100 milligrams of niacin plus 200 micrograms of chromium (chloride) per day has been found to be very effective in lowering cholesterol.3 This small amount of niacin is too small to be effective by itself. Neither niacin nor chromium (chloride) supplements improve glucose tolerance when given singly, but when given together are effective in achieving this.4 Curiously the active ingredient is not chromium nicotinate as supplementation with up to 800 micrograms/day of this has been found to have no effect on glucose tolerance.5 Apparently it is the isomer of chromium nicotinate, called chromium picolinate which is active.6

Improved glucose tolerance is believed to account for the lifespan extending effects of severe caloric restriction, the insulin sensitizing drug phenformin and chromium picolinate.7 Long-Evans rats given either supplemental chromium chloride or chromium nicotinate lived full, but normal lifespans. All were dead of old age by 41 months of age, while 80% of rats given chromium picolinate were still alive.

Based on the available research the order of merit for chromium supplements is: chromium picolinate > niacin/chromium chloride combination >> everything else. The optimal dosage of chromium for improving glucose tolerance is unknown, but there are grounds for believing that 200 micrograms/day is likely to be enough to provide maximal improvement.

1 Chromium Deficiency and Cardiovascular Risk 591-596 Vol.18 1984 Cardiovascular Research

2 Chromium and Cholesterol Induced Atherosclerosis in Rabbits 203-207 Vol.35 1991 Annual Nutrition Metabolism

3 Hypocholesterolemnic Effects of Nicotinic Acid and Chromium Supplementation 603-606 Vol. 27 No.6 1988 The Journal of Family Practice

4 Evidence for Synergism Between Chromium and Nicotinic Acid in the Control of Glucose Tolerance in Elderly Humans 896-899 Vol.36 No.9 1987 Metabolism

5 Lipid-Lowering Effect of a Dietary Chromium III - Nicotinic Acid Complex in Male Athletes 239-249 Vol.13 1993 Nutrition Research

6 Chromium Picolinate Increases Membrane Fluidity and Rate of Insulin Internalization 243-250 Vol.46 1992 Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry

7 Homologous Physiological Effects of Phenformin and Chromium Picolinate 316-324 Vol.41 1993 Medical Hypotheses

8 Chromium Picolinate Increases Longevity paper 51 presented at the Seventh Annual Meeting of the American College of Clinical Gerontology October 16-20 1992

Looking Real Good

Currently Retin-A and alpha-hydroxyl acids are used for the treatment of wrinkles, while minoxidil is used for the treatment of hair loss. All of these products are "first generation" and of limited usefulness. Some of the newer "second generation" products appear to be substantially more effective. These include the marine cartilage polysaccharide concentrates Vivida and Imedeen as well as silicic acid and the combination product ViviScal. How effective are these products? Lets see.........

Daily oral treatment of middle aged adults with moderately photodamaged skin for 90 days with 2 tablets (0.5 gm) Imedeen increased epidermal thickness by 8.3% and dermal thickness by 83%. Wrinkles and skin elasticity were substantially improved.1 Oral treatment of middle aged women with Vivida under the same treatment conditions increased epidermal thickness by 163% and dermal thickness by 88%. Brittle hair and nails were eliminated, thinning hair was reversed, severe wrinkling and skin dryness were eliminated. In short the results with Vivida were virtually unbelievable and certainly needed to be repeated. A further comparison of 0.5 gm Vivida with 0.38 mg Imedeen in a double blind test again yielded substantially better results for Vivida. Epidermal and dermal thickness increased respectively by 86% and 68% for Vivida and by 38% and 21% for Imedeen. The only side effect was transient, mild pimples during the first few weeks of treatment with Vivida.3 The mechanism for the rejuvenation effect of these marine extracts is unknown.

Fortunately the reason why silicic acid can improve appearance is known. Presumably due to hormonal changes the silicon content of human skin as well as human aorta is decreased with age. Other organs are apparently unaffected. Daily oral treatment of middle aged women for 90 days with 10 ml of a silicic acid preparation called Silicol as well as topical application to the skin for 10 minutes twice daily of the same product increased epidermal thickness by 19% and dermal thickness by 29%. Significant improvements in wrinkling, brittle nails and thinning hair occurred. However there was also an increase in skin dryness.4

Daily oral treatment with two tablets of a food supplement called ViviScal reversed male pattern balding in young males by increasing non-vellus hair by 38% on balding crowns. Although ViviScal contained a marine extract the active ingredient in this case was believed to be the silica compound it also contained.5 Topical application of ViviScal has not yet been tested.

1 An Oral Approach to the Treatment of Photodamaged Skin: A Pilot Study 273-278 Vol.20 1992 The Journal of International Medical Research

2 Special Natural Cartilage Polysaccharides for the Treatment of Sun-damaged Skin in Females 99-105 Vol.20 1992 The Journal of International Medical Research

3 Natural Cartilage Polysaccharides for the Treatment of Sun-damaged Skin in Females: A Double-blind Comparison of Vivida and Imedeen 227-233 Vol.20 1992 The Journal of International Medical Research

4 Colloidal Silicic Acid for Oral and Topical Treatment of Aged Skin, Fragile Hair and Brittle Nails in Females 209-215 Vol.21 1993 The Journal of International Medical Research

5 A Comparative Study of a New Food Supplement, ViviScal, With Fish Extract for the Treatment of Hereditary Androgenic Alopecia in Young Males 445-453 Vol.20 1992 The Journal of International Medical Research

Herbs & Lupus Erythematosus

All of the current treatments for the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus are highly toxic. A new and exciting non-toxic herbal treatment for this disease may soon be available. Using a rodent model for lupus several Chinese herbs have been tested to see if they inhibited autoimmunity or extended lifespan. The results for two of the herbs were outstanding. Control mice were all dead at 9 months of age. All of the mice treated with daily doses of 0.05 gm angelica sinesis (or dang quei) survived to this age as did all of the animals fed 0.025 gm codonopsis pilosula. Curiously while the later herb inhibited the formation of anti-DNA antibodies, dang quei did not. This suggested that the mode of action of these two herbs was different and that even better results might be possible if the two herbs were combined as a single treatment. If these results are confirmed these herbs may have great potential for the management of human lupus in future.1

1 The Effects of Chinese Herbs on Improving Survival and Inhibiting Anti-ds DNA Antibody Production in Lupus Mice 257-262 Vol.21 No.3-4 1993 American Journal of Chinese Medicine

Fractals, Mind and High Energy Physics

by Y Bozzonetti.

In the November 1991 issue of Computer Shopper, Phil South explored one limit of creative computing with a hint of superdimensional space. Here, I try to go a step further on that road.

The hypercube architecture of N-cube supercomputers is a "shadow" in two dimensions of a many dimensional cube. This is a kind of fractal square. Fractals have indeed practical applications! We see here a fact rarely stated: Fractals (or some of them) may be seen as projection in our world of many dimensional space, in fact, of infinite dimensional systems!

As Fractint software unfolds on your screen one of its fractal pictures, you can ponder on the nature of them. Some starting ideas: Quantum mechanics uses function spaces with infinitely many dimensions. Surely, they map on Euclidean space as a fractal pattern. Clouds, coasts, landscapes, trees, lungs... are fractal in design. Are they the macroscopic tip of quantum fractals?

There are special publications devoted to such ideas and fractal programmes. (See Fractal Report). These may be the forerunner of a new use of computers. Software such as Mathematica offer an easy access at giant computing and mathematical modelling. Some years from now, the entire field of theoretical physics and mathematical modelling may be the playground of everyone with such software. I hope to give you a glimpse of the subjects in fashion at that time.

The brain is a good subject on the frontier of knowledge. It may be partly fractal, but its hardware goes farther: If fractals are shadows of infinity, what beyond ?

Mathematicians know of more than one road to extend space in other ways than simplistic dimensional growth. One of them, called multilinearity, piles up many copies of the same space. The working of electromagnetic fields ask for two, four dimension spaces, glued together in a Faraday tensor. Gravitation in Relativity exploits four 4-dimension spaces in a Riemann tensor with 4 X 4 X 4 X 4 = 256 dimensions. This is the door of black hole physics ... and brain understanding! Indeed, if infinite dimensional space produces fractal shadows, multilineal systems generate messy projections in the Euclidean world.

The tangled structure of the brain is the best picture we can get of a tensor space. This may open up a new domain of fractal-like art. On the other side, this allows us to display very complicated brain circuits in a far simpler geometrical description in multilineal space. This open the way to better brain understanding, potential modelling on computer or rebuilding of a partially destroyed brain. Incredible? Then think of that: You get a picture of a scene, then you burn 9/10 of the picture and ask for a full view of the original scene. This is the same kind of problem than the preceding one with the brain. For the picture, holography does the job. Any part of a hologram contains all the original field of view. Naturally the full hologram contains more details than a small part of it!

In some generations, partially preserved brains may be the best history data bank ... If we understand now the usefulness of brain preservation, even after death. Only small groups work on the subject today (See for example Longevity Report).

Reading brains at molecular level may be not very far away, not so far than many may think, or wish. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology is on the verge to do that! N.M.R. pictures allow us, in the laboratory, to see at the cell level.

More startling sciences may produce new, very efficient technologies in the years to come. Here, I suggest one of them, may be the strangest of all, the Prygon theory.

Prygon theory comes from the high energy physics domain. It remains largely unknown by the public at large. Even science vulgarizations ignore it, at least up to now. Prygons are a domain of string theory. Classical particle's theories picture them as tiny balls or point-like objects. For some years now, that picture has run into many difficulties. It was discovered in the seventies as a new class of theoretical approaches: All get better if point-like particles are discarded at the profit of short strings at the ten to the power of minus 33 centimetre scale. Unfortunately, if we allow that kind of object, the theory predicts others, at larger scale and lower energy. This is the prygon world. At ordinary quantum scale, ten billions of billions larger than the basic strings, the prygon's mass looks vanishingly small. Then comes into play a forgotten mathematical branch: finite group theory. Now, there are Prygons with a not so negligible mass, even at large scale.

That is to say: As fractals, Prygons have the power to scale up. Physics of the string domain get a foot in our everyday world. In short, Prygons are some kind of low energy (and mass) manageable black hole structure, more precisely, they are an outer skin black hole without a black hole under. The predicted properties on space, time, thermodynamics ... are startling to say the least.

If such strange objects wander in the natural field, why has nobody seen one, or at least its effects? The answer looks simple: Prygons may be known ... under another name, ball lighting for example.

Theoretically, Prygons open the way to any scale length from macroscopic domain to the world of super strings.

If you want to know more on the subject right now, a set of articles in forthcoming issues of Longevity Report may be of interest for you. Tighten your safety belt before entering the subject!

If you don't want to hear anything more about this, buy a large cotton wool pack and put it in your ears. In a few time, Prygons will be everywhere.

Whatever your choice, emerging Prygons will be disturbing for our understanding. They are a kind of admixture made of quantum mechanics and General Relativity. Here, any hint from the most elementary common sense becomes irrelevant. Only computer modelling may endow us with some elements of prygon's logic. Prygon software is coming!

Further reading:


The New Physics, Cambridge University Press, Ed. by P. Davies.

Click arrow to get back to main contents page.