ISSN 0964-5659

Longevity Report 58

Volume 11 no 58. First published March 1997. ISSN 0964-5659.

e-mail: Internet longevityrpt@yahoo.com

Welcome to the New Longevity Report

Reanimation by Artificial Embryogeny Mikhail Soloviev

Side Effects of Excessive Vitamin C Scott Ballantyne

More on Liberty Versus Freedom Eric Szuter

Cell Storage Mike Perry

Forget about government, it's dead John K Clark

Life Shortening Effects of Sport Douglas Schwartz

Visser Method Clarification Michelle Olga Visser

A Better Cryonics Salesman Robert Ettinger,

The "Ageing Removes Tyrants" Fallacy Tim Freeman

Public Opinion, Cryonics, and Legal Suicide Brad Templeton

Life Extension Supplement Test Douglas Skrecky

Drosophila Longevity Experiments Douglas Skrecky

Successful Organ Cryopreservation Experiments Professor Dirk J du Plessis

What's in a Genre Chrissie Loveday

Acetyl L-Carnitine Improves the Cognitive Function of Alzheimer's Patients Brian Rowley

Miscellaneous Round-up Douglas Skrecky

The Oldest Man Douglas Skrecky

Herbal Teas Douglas Skrecky

Vitamin A pregnancy warning Douglas Skrecky

Would You Want to Live Forever? Jim Halperin



Single copy rate 3.50. Subscription rates six issues of 20 pages:- 20 (15 by Banker's Order UK only). Cheques in British Pounds should be drawn on a UK bank and should be made payable to "Reeves Telecommunications Laboratories" Alternatively, dollar checks for $34 can be accepted if drawn on a U.S. bank and made payable to "J. de Rivaz". Contents are provided for information only, under the right to free speech. Opinions are the authors' own. No professional advice is intended. If you wish others to be legally responsible for your health, life or finances, then please consult a professional regulated according to the laws of your country.

Welcome to the New Longevity Report



This is the first of yet another change in Longevity Report, this time to accommodate a partial merger with The Immortalist. Following the outgoing Immortalist editor's call for more help with the newsletter, I proposed the merger in which Longevity Report would cease to be offered to non-European readers who instead would be urged to subscribe The Immortalist. In return, The Immortalist would contain an section being the current Longevity Report.



This is of particular benefit to US readers, who can get The Immortalist for much less than they had to pay for Longevity Report to be mailed across the Atlantic. Many other subscribe to both magazines anyway, and therefore benefit from only having to pay for one subscription.



Occasionally space requirements in The Immortalist may cause an abbreviated version of either to appear - get the full version from the web.



In order to synchronise with The Immortalist, Longevity Report is reverting to bi-monthly publication with 20 pages/issue. The months of publication are as follows:
Volume 11 Cover Date Emailed to The Immortalist
No 58 March 35480
No 59 May 35539
No 60 July 35600
No 61 September 35661
No 62 November 35722
No 63 January 35783





After the text is emailed to The Immortalist, the printed version will be prepared and mailed to European readers.



Although most articles are now gathered from the Internet, readers are still invited to send in material they may like considered for publication. Letters requesting information can also be published, and as Longevity Report is on the Internet, replies may be forthcoming from many sources.



Also, if any reader has an objection to any of the ideas expressed here, (s)he is welcome to write in - we are always keen to debate issues involving the subject of the use of science and technology to maintain healthy life indefinitely. Most of the standard objections have been covered here, and all that have, have been answered satisfactorily. However the fact remains that few people have taken up the opportunity offered by cryonics, and the reason must be that they have objections they consider to be valid.



If they have really thought through the issues and decided that life extension and/or cryonics is not for them, then that is fine - we can accept their choice. But if their choice has been made through ignorance, then this is a situation Longevity Report sets out to correct.


Reanimation by Artificial Embryogeny

by Mikhail Soloviev <soloviev@herb.bin.ras.spb.ru>





INTRODUCTION



As a rule it is assumed that nano-scale devices are needed to realize reanimation of cryonically suspended patients -- both for *in vivo* (or "on-board") and *in vitro* (or "off-board") reanimation methods. However it seems possible that some advanced methods based on the controlled growth of human cells can be used for reanimation instead of nanotechnology. One of such methods is discussed below.





REANIMATION PRECISION



*In vitro* reanimation implies that a copy of the patient will be made using information describing him/her. The question is: what *precision* of copying is sufficient for the personality of the reanimated copy to be indistinguishable from the original personality of the suspended patient?

A human can be considered to consist of two parts: genes and memory. It is possible to perform the gene copying with 100% precision. Thus the main problem is the precision of memory copying. Currently it is considered that the long-term memory is encoded in the neural-network pattern of the brain. This means that information describing this pattern with synaptic precision(the synapse is about to be the smallest element of neural network) can be sufficient to make a copy of the patient.



The information about the neural-network pattern can be acquired by brain scanning with synaptic presicion -- in the range 0.1-1 mcm. This precision can be reached by modern optical or electronic or X-ray microscopy (presently small parts of neuron as well as of neural nets are reconstructed using microscopic images). And the improvement of auxiliary processes (e.g. automatization of slice preparation, digital image processing, etc) will allow the implementation of such scanning. Moreover, it appears that it could be performed by non-destructive methods such as X-ray tomography or bi-photon interferometry.





NATURAL EMBRYOGENY



The process of embryonic development can be briefly described as follows:



(1) Impregnation. A new genotype (genetic program) originates (by a kind of compilation of the parents' genotypes) and the process of embryonic development begins.



(2) Proliferation. The number of cells increase by dividing.

(3) Differentiation. External messages (chemical, mechanical, electrical, etc), describing the cell environment (its location, types of neighbour cells, etc) and carrying regulatory information from other (embryon's and mother's) cells, force a cell to execute specific genetic subroutines -- it acquires the structure and function of certain cell type (including making contacts with other cells).



(4) Migration. The cells are able to move inside the embryon. The site, to which the cell migrates, depends on its type and phase of development. The route is determined by chemical gradients and markers on the surfaces of other cells.



(5) The processes (2), (3), and (4) run in parallel (both synchronously and asynchronously) in the different parts of embryon and finally a human is born (it indicates the end of embryonic development).





ARTIFICIAL EMBRYOGENY



Learning (i.e. acquiring the structure of neural networks that encodes personality) can be described as the further individual differentiation of each neuron (in the form of changing contacts with other neurons), that occurs after birth under the influence of external information. Therefore in principle learning could be *transferred* into the period of embryonic development if we could provide information (got by brain scanning) that is needed for learning-differentiation.



This information can be encoded in ultra-thin frame, copying the neuronet pattern of brain. The skeleton of this frame can be formed by wires with a diameter of 10-100 nm. In addition, special markers can be attached to the skeleton -- to indicate synapse types, dendrite branching points, neuron body locations etc. Thus, embryonic development will mainly be controlled by this frame -- and only in small extent by "old" natural mechanisms. It means that the frame markers, when the cell will find and recognize them, will cause the execution of cellular genetic subroutines defining its behaviour in the period of embryonic development. To enable such frame-controlled embryogeny (i.e. to decode the frame "instructions") the native cell genome must be modified -- to insert new mechanisms of embryogeny and to suppress the old ones. Moreover such a scheme of ebmryonic development can be applied for the whole body to enable to grow an adult human in vitro.



A SCENARIO FOR ARTIFICIAL EMBRYOGENY



(1) The patient body (or brain only) is scanned.

(2) The frame, encoding the body structure, is made, using information acquired by scanning.

(3) The artificial ovule is made using the patient's genome and cells.

(4) The genetic program providing artificial embryogeny (GPAE) is inserted in the ovule genome.

(5) The ovule is placed into the frame controlling embryonic development.

(6) Embryonic development is initiated (e.g. by a chemical substance).

(7) The embryon develops, being controlled by the frame.

(8) The frame is destroyed (dissolved) by a special substance produced by the embryonic cells.

(9) GPAE is deleted (by its own mechanisms) from all patient's cells.

(10) The patient is born anew -- as an adult person, a synaptic-precision copy of the original suspended patient.





TIME ESTIMATIONS



The duration of the period of artificial embryogeny should be comparable with that one of natural embryogeny as essentially the same processes occur in the both cases -- and could be estimated at 1 year or a little longer (as the mass of an adult person is greater and additional time is needed for the individual learning differentiation of neurons).



The time, when artificial embryogeny can be realized, depends on the progress (1) in biological knowledge about the process of embryonic development (to design the mechanisms for artificial embryogeny), and (2) in the following key technologies: (a) brain scanning with synaptic precision, (b) gene engineering (to insert GPAE into ovule gemome), (c) the technology to manifacture the frame with markers (there can be a wide range of approaches from ones used in modern microelectronic industry, where the size of 100 nm will soon be reached, to nanotechnological ones). There is much research being done in all these fields and a steady improvement is observed. By my estimation, 20-30 years is enough for the realization (especially if special research will be conducted).


Side Effects of Excessive Vitamin C

by Scott Ballantyne <sdb@ssr.com>





There are several serious side effects from too much vitamin C. Bleeding, swollen gums, painful joints, loose teeth etc., are all symptoms of scurvy - you can get this if you take a lot of C and then suddenly stop.



Your body actually responds to the high C intake by developing factors that eliminate C more rapidly. This can be a serious problem if you are in an accident and are hospitalized and forget or are unable to communicate your dependence on C to the hospital staff. Otherwise, you just need to taper your dosages.



There are other possible problems: people on some anti-clotting medications should avoid megadoses of C, people with sickle cell and other anemias should avoid megadoses of C, people with iron overload disease should avoid megadoses of C. Etc.



Why isn't this information on the label of vitamin C supplements? Because the supplement industry spent millions of dollars to keep you ignorant. That's why. (Might also have something to do with government regulations -ed)


More on Liberty Versus Freedom

Eric Szuter

This follows from the article Liberty Versus Freedom in the last issue.



Libertarian Eric Szuter has put aside his career in mechanical engineering to found Sunrise Communications, a publishing company dedicated to promoting an understanding of the science and technologies of human freedom and societal liberty. He is presently a Masterate Candidate in Human Ethology (behavioural biology) at Greenwich University. Eric Szuter can be reached at "ericszuter@aol.com". Take advantage of my Special Offer and SAVE 40%. Remember, satisfaction is guaranteed!



Send me your Special Report A - The Bridge to Liberty - Design Parameters. I want to begin to improve my worldview now! Payment of $10.00 is enclosed. (Add $3.00 for priority mail.)



Send me your Special Report B - Goodbye Political Money, Hello Liberty -The Reigel Replaces the U.S. Dollar. I want to find out how a new non-political, non-gold based monetary system will liberate mankind as no innovation has before and how huge financial profits will be made by astute investors during the societal transition to the new money. Payment of $10.00 is enclosed. (Add $3 for priority mail.)



Send me your Special Report C - Libertarian Anthropologist Uncovers Vast New Field of Business. I want to find out which major two businesses, actually vast industries, will emerge and profit handsomely from the new monetary system. Payment of $10.00 is enclosed. (Add $3.00 for priority mail.)



Send me your new book The Return of Common Sense. I want to funnel gobs of people into a liberty-friendly mindset. My payment of $14.95 is enclosed. (Add $5.75 for shipping and handling including priority mail.)



Special Offer: Order within 48 hours of receipt of this offer and Save 40%



Yes!!! Count me in, I want to take advantage of your special offer. Please rush me all three Special Reports A,B,& C plus your book The Return of Common Sense all for the one low price of $29.95, a savings of over 40% over purchasing these items separately. (Add $5.75 for shipping and handling including priority mail.)

Copy and Mail to: Sunrise Communications, P O Box 10704, New Orleans, Louisiana 70181, USA


Cell Storage

by Mike Perry <mike@alcor.org> < http://www.alcor.org>



For myself, I have a cell sample stored at my cryonics organization (Alcor) with the understanding that, if I can't be suspended, I want DNA from this sample used, along with other surviving information, to construct a functioning duplicate of me, as far as possible. I want missing information to be "filled in" using educated guesswork, and not just left missing. In this way, a complete individual should result, not just a "tabula rasa" clone or someone suffering severe amnesia. I feel that such a construction, done properly, would be "me" and not just a similar but different individual, for reasons involving many-worlds physics. (I'd be happy to discuss this further, but will stop now in the interest of brevity, except to note that I think cryonics is better, other factors being equal, but the alternative is not negligible.) The DNA option was not difficult or expensive to arrange, and I recommend it as a backup to more usual cryonics arrangements, or as a first choice if more expensive arrangements are not possible.



I should say too, that there are other preservation possibilities, intermediate in expense between DNA-plus-record storage and cryonic suspension. One is high-quality chemical preservation. Of course, it is unknown at this point how this would compare with cryonics--would memories in a chemopreserved brain be inferable, for instance? (Would they be inferable from a *frozen* brain? We still don't know.) But there are techniques of chemical preservation that are far better (for the brain especially, which is the important organ to preserve) than what is used in conventional funerary embalming. Another possibility is chemopreservation plus subfreezing, high-temperature storage, as in permafrost, which should be cheaper, longterm, than liquid nitrogen storage.



Mostly, such possibilities have not had the attention that has been given to cryonics, and that in turn is not as much as we would like. This is a small movement and our resources are limited. But at least I think there are things almost anyone could do, that would favor that person's survival after death, in some reasonable sense. Some of my opinions are controversial, even within cryonics--people must judge for themselves.


Forget about government, it's dead

John K Clark <johnkc@well.com>



In the context of cryonics, discussing the flaws or merits of government is a little like talking about the virtues or evils of Vikings, it's academic. Long before the first cryonics patients are revived, nation states will be long gone, they will be as extinct as city states. I don't think we have a choice, Like it or not a change to Anarcho-capitalism is inevitable, not because somebody's rhetoric convinces people of it's benefits, and certainly not because politicians change the law, but because of technology.



Modern communication, cryptography and untraceable digital cash will make it increasingly difficult to collect taxes. Governments will undoubtedly draft many new laws to try to protect themselves but making rules is easy, enforcing them is not. Regardless of the laws, you can't collect the tax if you can't find the money. Even the traditional standby of "tax by inflation" would not work as people would just switch to a competing currency (untraceable of course) that suited their needs better. The tribute that could still be extracted, like property taxes and building permits, would have to be increased to astronomic levels and collected with a heavy hand, a tax revolt will follow. Without money government will grind to a halt.



Personally I do not consider that a tragedy, I think it will be good for cryonics. Anarchy can be very workable, (just look at the Internet) I believe its the best way to get things done. It's true that large projects can't be accomplished without good organization but government is not the only way to get organized, or the best. A command economy, the kind governments like, is inherently inefficient. If you doubt this just look at the pitiful situation in Eastern Europe.



Even if we make the ridiculous assumption that all politicians are honest and have boiling water IQ's they could never do as good a job as the free market because they are lacking a vital ingredient, price information. The true price of an object is determined by an enormous number of variables and is much too complicated to be calculated from first principles, but the market will tell you what the correct price should be, notrouble at all. Whenever you change jobs, travel, or make a purchase you are casting a vote and sending an exquisitely sensitive message to the economy to change in a way you want. In a Democracy all you can do is vote for a grab bag of promises every 4 years.



By far the best introduction to anarchy I know of is The Machinery Of Freedom by David Friedman, It's a wonderful book. He talks more about Anarchy (lack of government) than Libertarianism but I think there is reason to think that one will encourage the other because people would be willing to pay private protection agencies (PPA) to protect themselves and their families but would be much more reluctant to PAY money to restrain the private behavior of others, child abuse and perhaps a few others excepted. Anarchy and Libertarianism are related but are two separate concepts so if everybody except me thinks it's important to put on funny hats on Tuesdays and are willing to pay big bucks to enforce it then I'm just going to have to put on a funny hat. Everybody can't have total control over what laws they want to live by but we can have a lot more control than we have now.



PPL's ( privately produced law) in a anarchic world would have private protection agencies (PPA's) to back them up. All parties would have a reason to avoid violence if possible. The disputing parties would not want to turn their front yard into a war zone and violence is expensive. The successful protection agencies would be more interested in making money than saving face. Most of the time this would work so I expect the total level of violence to be less than what we have now but I'm not such a utopian as to suggest it will drop to zero. Even when force is not used the implicit threat is always there, another good reason to be civilized.



No system can guarantee justice to everybody all the time but you'd have the greatest chance of finding it in Anarcho-capitalism. In a dictatorship one man's whim can lead to hell on earth, I don't see how 40 million Germans could have murdered 6 million Jews in a Anarcho-capitalistic world. Things aren't much better in a Democracy, 51% can decide to kill the other 49% , nothing even close to that is possible in Anarchy , even theoretically . In general, the desire NOT to be killed is much stronger than the desire to kill a stranger, even a Jewish stranger. Jews would be willing to pay as much as necessary, up to and including their entire net worth not to be killed. I doubt if even the most rabid anti Semite would go much beyond 2%. As a result the PPA protecting Jews would be much stronger than the one that wants to kill them. In Anarchy, for things that are REALLY important to you ( like not getting killed) you have much more influence than just one man one vote.



It won't be perfect , there will still be brutality, but you have to ask yourself, brutal compared to what ? states? Governments, those paragons of charity and morality, those defenders of the weak and powerless, the source of all virtue, have butchered hundreds of millions of people this century alone, often their own citizens. PPA's would have to work very hard to break that record. The bottom line, don't count on government protecting you when you're frozen in liquid nitrogen, it will be dead , and unlike you there will be no hope for revival.


Life Shortening Effects of Sport

Douglas Schwartz <DSchwa1234@gnn.com>



While I feel strongly that exercise (especially any more than a modicum) does indeed shorten lifespan, it is of course wise to be wary of anecdotal instances of shortened lifespan such as in race horses, which I believe are fed a high-protein diet which in itself will accelerate ageing. Athletes, almost by definition, are much different from the general population, and may have been blessed with higher adrenaline levels (which will lengthen lifespan) or just plain good health from birth. Thus, in the absence of controls or the ability to isolate causative factors, human anecdotal evidence is not worth much. There are good rodent studies supporting the negatives of exercise.



The idea that exercise is a philosophers' stone is pretty much a 20th Century Western concept, not shared by other cultures. Li Chun Yun (sp.?) who died in 1933 (I believe) at the alleged age of 236 said that to live long one should "sit like a tortoise & sleep like a dog." Yogis in India who practice techniques of life-extension (primarily caloric restriction and fasting) certainly don't subscribe to the Western infatuation with exercise. I think that above a minimal level of exercise which may help to get the juices flowing and serve as a mild stressor (& mild stressors have been shown to extend lifespan), the only benefit of exercise is that at high levels it can cause the production of lactic acid which is a reasonably good chelating agent, and chelators are likely excellent life-extenders.



Caloric intake is unarguably inversely related to lifespan while directly related to energy expenditure, so how exercise could be expected to extend lifespan is beyond me. Exercise raises both body temperature & metabolic rate, which again are inversely correlated with lifespan. Exercise produces waste products which only place an added burden on the body's eliminative processes. Ditto for the increased caloric intake which exercise engenders. And I have no doubt that impaired elimination of wastes is a major contributor to ageing. I have known several individuals who were able to lead lethargic lives, and this has definitely not hurt their ability to live a long, healthy life. I have no doubt that exercise above a very moderate level is detrimental, although probably not as detrimental as the overeating which most of us engage in.


Visser Method Clarification

by Michelle Olga Visser CEO Cryopreservation Technologies cc

Phone : +27 12 3541677 (W) +27 12 3310701 (H)

E-mail: <cryotech@iafrica.com>



Due to many requests for additional information about the Visser Method, CPA, Toxicity etc, I feel obliged to CI/Alcor to make the following disclosures:-



CI/Alcor agreement :



A pre-patent licensing / co-operation agreement was reached between Cryopreservation Technologies cc and CI/Alcor, to apply, research and sublicence the Visser method technology (present and future) with respect to cryonics (only), in exchange for financial assistance (partial funding) of pig heart(cryobiology)and organ re-implantation trials. This is very costly, and my personal resources are not unlimited. The has been no interest on the part of biomedical companies to fund this research without the first scientific publication, and I would not expect them to. CI/Alcor are however bound by secrecy concerning detail of the technology, as are all co-operating labs for reasons explained below, until such time as journal publication of the technology and then disclosure is limited by the detail of paper/s published by myself and or any of my associated co-operating labs.



The CPA , - why the secrecy?



The CPA is as a grossly under examined, undervalued compound in most respects. In cryogenics and cryobiology there is scope for scores of scientists to examine "unchartered territory" and publish new material. The cryobiological application in itself is thousands of times more commercially viable and than the cryonics application would be (initially) But this technology is also valuable for it's medical application/s which is in turn many times more valuable than that of cryobiology. Given the time limitation of the patent applications (one year), The secrecy aspect should be abundantly clear to everyone.



Co-working arrangements:-



I have not kept the technology to myself however. Cryobiologists, pathologists, surgeons and physicists who approached me have shared in the technology, forming part of a larger co-operation and information sharing "team", extending the applications of the technology. The door has always been open for those who would expand on the research, as long as they fund their own research and share the detailed information. I am happy to say that research is being conducted on all five continents of the globe, since CI/Alcor have joined the group.



Toxicity:-



Applied per my method, their is no known toxic effects to date, nor any reason to believe there would be. There is however ongoing research on this aspect.



Toxicity clinical trials with humans for use of the compound as a drug are almost completed here in SA, and results will be made available before the end of this year.



Why CI/Alcor:?



As the founder/father of cryonics, Professor Robert Ettinger was the obvious choice to initiate the cryonics potential of this technology. CI/Alcor representing 70% of cryonicists, would ensure that their members got the earliest benefit of the technology - if it proved useful to them. CI/Alcor will do their research, with or without your donations. When you are asked for contributions, I don't believe this is to enrich any one, but merely a plea to help speed up testing/refining/adapting an available technology. I am not a cryonicist, but whatever the CPA is/is not, I believe it is far better and much faster penetrating CPA than glycerol. The onus now is on CI/Alcor to test and make use of this technology, but to do so without endangering my overall program.



Why not wait until publication, then try it yourself?



The publication which will probably be published by Nov/Dec is a year old, basic and was the result of one research teams' initial trial on 12 rat hearts. Current technology is one year advanced and the sum of co-operating research teams.



Why donate to CI/Alcor now?



CI/Alcor have an arrangement and access to all information, past, current and future of our co-operation groups (with respect to cryo).



By limiting them now, because of their contractual restraints you might quite well be limiting yourself or a close friend of a "better" preservation.



Saul Kent's proposal is welcomed, and will be evaluated for practical and commercial implications.



I sincerely hope this article has placed some issues in a different perspective for at least some of you.


A Better Cryonics Salesman?

By Robert Ettinger, Immortalist Society, Cryonics Institute <Ettinger@aol.com>



Wesley M. du Charme has kindly sent us a copy of his new book, BECOMING IMMORTAL: Nanotechnology, You, and the Demise of Death. (Self-published as Blue Creek Ventures, P.O. Box 3266, Evergreen CO 80439. Good quality hard cover, about 260 pp, $25, volume discounts.)



His doctorate is (apparently) in psychology from the University of Michigan; he is also a Senior Associate of the Foresight Institute; no other credentials are listed on the jacket, which calls the book "...the first...to link nanotechnology and cryonics together in a balanced fashion."

First, the mild negatives. Since the book is self-published, it seems the author couldn't find a commercial publisher for another book on cryonics/immortalism. (Well, Charles Platt couldn't either recently, and last time I tried, a few years ago, I couldn't either.) There is no foreword by anyone, and no jacket encomium by anyone except Alcor President Steve Bridge (no offense, Steve, but you're not as famous as Madonna)--not even by Drexler, who has a central place of honour in the book. There are also a few relatively innocuous historical mistakes, of a type not likely to be made by old hands; but then, we need NEW hands.



Are these new hands cleverer than the old? We don't know yet, and we may not even know later, since selling books is one thing and selling cryonics is another, and the changing circumstances may make it impossible to assign any clear degree of credit. But the author clearly thinks he does have a sharper pen, and a useful background in psychology. Let's hope he's right.



As far as I can see at a quick reading, the book has little to offer cryonics veterans, except a rather nice sprinkling of aphorisms, a few of which were new to me. It is mainly an attempt to undermine the preconceived objections of Mr./Mrs. Mainstreet, coax them along, and finally get them to drop their prejudices and become revolutionaries. The assumed readership technical educational level is generally very low; the glossary includes "atom," "bacteria," and "cell."



Perhaps the most positive aspect is just the existence or appearance of the book--a substantial labor and investment by someone, reasonably qualified or at least respectable, who has investigated extensively and carries the torch. It is CERTAINLY worth buying by any reader who is relatively new and wants some reassurance or further incentive.


The "Ageing Removes Tyrants" Fallacy

by Tim Freeman <tim@infoscreen.com>



Writing on the Internet Brian Chiko <brianc@infomaniac.com> quoted Leonard Hayflick as saying in a review of The Clock of Ages by John J. Medina Cambridge University Press, 1996 ($24.95)



I have always worried about the enormous power that humans will have if we ever learn how either to tamper with the aging process or to extend our longevity-it is unclear whether people could cope with the psychological, economic, medical and cultural changes that would accompany vastly extended life spans, even should they prove physiologically possible. Fossel gives a thoughtful overview of his conviction that humans will benefit by possessing this awesome capability. Many other writers and philosophers disagree. Although aging and death put an end to the lives of good citizens, they also make finite the lives of tyrants, murderers and a broad spectrum of other undesirables.



I don't see how the rogue murderers would cause an aging solution to be a net loss, since far more people die of aging than murder now.



But the tyrants (= established murderers with political support) raise an interesting question. Suppose all reasonably free people got an aging prevention treatment tomorrow. So we'd eliminate the meaningless deaths of millions of talented and productive people in the US, Europe, places like that, but on the other hand let's suppose for the purposes of argument that Saddam Hussein and the like would stay in power indefinitely, and the conditions of their subjects would be unchanged forever. Would that be a net win? IMO, it would be a net win, even from a global utilitarian viewpoint instead of the obvious selfish viewpoint of a US resident.



Hayflick wasn't properly weighing the ordinary horror of aging that strikes the large populations that are not affected by tyrants. This is a common psychological error - people undervalue ordinary dangers, and overvalue unusual dangers. Don't do this at home folks; people who die from ordinary dangers are dead exactly the same amount as people who die from extraordinary dangers.



If you want to solve problems with tyrants, the obvious thing to do is arrange an assassination or invasion. This is obviously a much better solution than avoiding an aging cure, since fewer people die that way, right? Can anyone make a plausible argument for Hayflick's point here?



Much of the continuing massive destruction of this planet and the consequent ills that this destruction produces for humans can be traced to overpopulation, a phenomenon that appears to show no sign of abating. Extending the life of a population that already strains global resources is, in the view of many, unconscionable.



It is irritating when someone hides his own opinions behind the anonymous "many". But skip that for now.



Problems tend to have multiple causes. I'd rather trace this problem to a lack of appropriate property rights, since that is a cause that might be removed without exterminating large numbers of people. It's funny how people (Hayflick in this case) seem to converge so quickly on solutions that involves large exterminations (whether by artificial or preventable natural causes, the outcome is the same).


Public Opinion, Cryonics, and Legal Suicide.

By Brad Templeton, publisher, ClariNet Communications Corp.

info@clari.net The net's #1 E-Newspaper (1,400,000 paid sbscrbrs.)

http://www.clari.net/brad/





Writing on the Internet Randy <cryofan@brokersys.com> wrote:

As for the organic brain damage caused by the "bad (legal) deaths" noted above, perhaps legalized suicide may be the answer. I know that Dr. Thomas Donaldson has already fought and lost this battle, but I have followed the Kevorkian case closely, paying special attention to opinion polls. It seems that he has popular opinion on his side. Surely time will give us this victory.



Not for a long time, perhaps only after assisted suicide has been the norm for decades. Perhaps in your lifetime, perhaps not.



As you may know, doctors like Kervorkian are very careful not to charge a fee for their assisted suicide work. They have a good reason.



Remember that the general public considers cryonics to be quackery. Even some who have examined it closely consider it quackery, but most who have examined it lightly hold that opinion. It doesn't matter if you think they are wrong, what matters here is public opinion.



So now imagine that people are committing suicide because a company has convinced them that if they do this, *AND PAY THE COMPANY $50,000* that they can have life after death. Imagine how you would feel if your impression was that the people doing this were quacks. You don't think cryonics is snake oil, but imagine if you read that some outfit was selling people literal snake oil for a large fee, saying it might give life after death, and that your chances were better if you killed yourself early and thus paid them early.



Would you not support a ban on this sort of fraud? I would. I would like to think that I would examine the procedure in detail and figure out if it was really quacks or if it had a chance first, but most people wouldn't do that, they would just go by what they heard.



But it's even worse than that. Imagine you have somebody who signed up for cryonics before they got sick. Clearly they signed up without any sort of encouragement to kill themselves early to help their chances, clearly they did not sign up for cryonics under the stress and duress of terminal illness.



But if, like many, they signed up simply because Cryonics was an interesting experiment, and the alternative was certain death, what then? Nobody sane believes cryonics *will* work, at best they think it might work. At best you're taking a gamble and all you're betting is some money.



But even with such a person cryonics could be perceived as now encouraging him, in his terminal desperation, to gamble with what remains of his (painful) *life*.



And society will tolerate people gambling with their lives. But it absolutely does not tolerate somebody being in the business of encouraging and facilitating that gamble when, remember, the bulk of society thinks that the business has convinced the sucker that there is a chance, when society "knows" there is one.



Imagine a drug company selling a drug they say has a 1% chance of curing you of AIDS, otherwise it kills you on the spot. But the chance is better if you take it early in your disease. And they don't know it has the chance of curing, and it never has, and many reputable doctors say it won't work, but it costs a lot of money. And some desperate AIDS patients, looking for any hope, want to take it, even though it has never yet worked.



Would society let them? Nope.



Perhaps the first cryonics suicide might be somebody, a decade after assisted suicide has become common, who has filed a sworn affidavit while they were fully healthy that, should they be in danger of brain damage, they wish to end their lives with cryonic suspension before that happens. And the cryonics organisations should get together and do this first one for free if they can afford it.



Definitely not somebody who decided to do this after they got sick, society -- even I -- would not judge their decision as fully rational.


Life Extension Supplement Test

by Douglas Skrecky <oberon@vcn.bc.ca>



There are currently numerous purported "life extending" supplements available, which have never been tested for their effect on longevity in any animal species. One or more of these may indeed have dramatic beneficial effects on human longevity. The problem is to determine which ones.



To this end I have personally initiated a series of longevity experiments with drosophilia melanogaster fruit flies. If there exists aging processes that are common to both flies and humans then I expect a series of quick experiments testing various supplements on fly life span to give some indication of their usefulness in extending human longevity.



Substances now being tested include alpha lipoic acid, biotin, conjugated linoleic acid, forskolin, glutamine, lycopene, NADH, pregnenolone, pyroglutamic acid, RNA and xanthophylls. Adult flies are being used so I expect significant mortality during the next month. If any substance fails to reduce mortality significantly it will be deleted from further consideration and replaced by another supplement. This is a "fast and dirty" screening experiment so no attempt is being made to test different concentrations of these substances, nor are large numbers of flies being used.



I hope to test most of more interesting purported longevity extending supplements during 1997. I will be giving periodic updates on the status of my experiments. Note: The drosophilia were generously donated by the University of British Columbia fly lab in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Unfortunately the ages of the flies are not known. Fly food used is formula 4-24 instant drosophilia medium from Carolina Biological Supply Company, 2700 York Road, Burlington, NC, USA 27215-3398. Containers used to house the flies are sterilized glass milk bottles. Concentration of the supplements used and their source are as follows: (Concentration is percentage of dry formula 4-24 medium weight.) 0.25% alpha lipoic acid (Prolongevity), 0.026% biotin (1% powder from Prolongevity), 0.3% conjugated linoleic acid (Prolongevity), 0.053% forskolin (Prolongevity), 0.3% glutamine (Natural Factors), 0.05% lycopene (Vitamin Research Products), 0.05% NADH (Schweitzer Pharma) plus 0.015 lycopene acidentally added to the NADH enriched medium, 0.25% pregnenolone (Prolongevity), 0.3% pyroglutamic acid (Vitamin Research Products), 0.3% RNA (Twinlab) and 0.045% Xanthophyll (Vitamin Research Products). The balance used to measure supplements and fly food was accurate only to 0.5 gram so the percentages stated may be rather inaccurate. A more accurate balance is on my list of things to buy in the future.



I am looking for more "interesting" supplements to test. If anyone wishes to have a given supplement included in this program. Email me at <oberon@vcn.bc.ca> with the rationale, including references to the scientific literature if possible. I will evaluate these and may schedule them for a test if they look promising. As examples I will here give the reasons for inclusion of biotin and RNA.



Biotin: Chromium picolinate is an insulin sensitizer which has significantly extended the maximum life span of Long Evans rats to 48 months from the normal 38 months. (reference: Medical Hypotheses 43: 253-265 1994) Biotin is also an insulin sensitizer. (reference: Life Sciences 42(13): 1323-1330 1988)



RNA: Injections of DNA, RNA and chloroform increased maximum rat life span to an unbelievable 75 months! (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 21(10): 450-451 October 1973) Is RNA the active ingredient?

I would like to include carnosine in my experiments, but have not been able to obtain this supplement. If anyone knows of a source, please let me know.


Drosophila Longevity Experiments

by Douglas Skrecky <oberon@vcn.bc.ca>



The goal here is to generate information on the effect of various supplements on fly life span. Although all the supplements selected had never been (to my knowledge) tested on any animal species I subsequently found out that oral RNA had been tested in rodents with negative results, in an as yet unpublished experiment. My experiment had a rather rocky start as I learned "the ropes". Originally the milk bottles used to store the flies were plugged with cotton. To my amazement I found that a few flies were nonetheless able to burrow through the cotton and escape. The cotton plugs were replaced by cardboard ones. Also I had underestimated their fecundity. Their rapid breeding made any census of their population rather difficult. I restarted the experiment 21 days ago, including taurine which is a non-toxic larvicide in the drosophila medium formula 4-24 to prevent population growth. (Experimental Gerontology 24: 57-65 1989) This eliminated larva in all but two of the bottles. It seems that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and RNA partly protect against the larvicidal effects of taurine and additional flies did continue hatch in these bottles, albeit rather slowly. The old bottles without taurine were used to provide flies for the new ones. The old CLA bottle yielding flies for new CLA bottle, the old RNA for the new RNA and so on. The age of the flies is unfortunately indeterminate, but most were less than 26 days old when the experiment was restarted. Typical average life expectancy for drosophila flies stored at room temperature is 70 days so some attrition could be expected after a further 21 days. However mortality has remained at zero for three bottles and low for a further two. The longevity results after 21 days are as follows:
Supplement Alive/Dead Mortality
 
Alpha Lipoic 4/5 55%
Biotin 3/5 62
CLA* 3/4 57
Forskolin 9/1 10
Glutamine 5/0 0
Lycopene 5/0 0
NADH 6/1 14
Pregnenolone 8/0 0
Pyroglutamic 5/3 38
RNA* 4/3 43
Xanthophyll 5/3 38%





*Note: The number of the original live flies could not be directly counted in the CLA and RNA bottles due to additional breeding. Instead this number was obtained by subtracting the number of fly corpses from the original number of flies in the bottles.



Based on the results obtained thus far it is glutamine, lycopene and pregnenolone that seem to have potential for extending fly life span. In addition to zero mortality (thus far) the flies in these bottles seem more lively than in most of the other bottles. The effect of NADH is a question mark. NADH is highly unstable in aqueous solution so I expect that most of it has broken down now. I plan on including a more stable NADH precursor such as niacinamide in my next series of fly experiments. I will continue to monitor the present experiment to see in particular how long the flies in the zero mortality bottles live. I expect to start a new run testing other supplements before the current experiment is concluded.



Additional Data: All the bottles had 2.5% by weight taurine added to the dry drosophila medium to prevent breeding. The next run will have a little more than this. The concentration of the various supplements was as follows: alpha lipoic acid 2.5%, biotin 0.15%, CLA 2.5%, forskolin 0.5%, glutamine 2.5%, lycopene 0.15%, NADH 0.15%, pregnenolone 2.5%, pyroglutamic acid 2.5%, RNA 2.5% and xanthophylls 0.15%.



If anyone else would like to do life span experiments please feel free to email me at <oberon@vcn.bc.ca>.




Successful

Organ Cryopreservation Experiments



by Professor Dirk J du Plessis <dirkdupl@cis.co.za>

Head - Cardiothoracic Surgery

University of Pretoria



Some information:



The experimentation on cryopreservation at Pretoria got out prematurely, and was reported by the popular media with some truths, some half-truths and some lies.



The heart was used as the model solely because it is an organ that the people involved in the experimentation are knowledgeable about from a medical point of view. The rat heart was used because it is easy and cheap to use for experimentation.



In summary what was done:

(a) Beating rat heart excised and perfused on a Langendorff system within 2 minutes after removal

(b) The beating heart (rate=?180/min) was perfused and cooled to approximately 4 degrees Centigrade over 15 minutes (when it was obviously not beating anymore but still perfused)

(c) The heart was immersed directly into a liquid nitrogen bath for 2 to 5 minutes without any surrounding container

(d) Rewarming up to 37 degrees Centigrade took approximately 15 minutes and reperfusion was started at appproximately zero degrees (e) The rat hearts beat at the same rate afterwards, as they did initially on the Langendorff system

(f) The beating hearts were kept on the Langendorff system for approximately 40 minutes, during which no decrease in the heart rate was seen.

(g) The fact that the hearts recovered to the extent that they did, is seen by us to be proof of cellular viability - otherwise the heart muscle would not have functioned at all, or very poorly.



A short article was sent to Cryobiology in December 1995, and it was rejected for publication in January 1996 after peer review on the grounds that the information was incomplete, which I agree with. I do however, regret the outright rejection, as we would have liked other researchers to take on different aspects of the matter as we do not have the capability or resources to investigate all the different avenues. We do however intend to try again !!



Experimentation is still ongoing on the rat hearts, and we are busy with pig hearts at this stage as well.



Some other relevant/irrelevant aspects:

The woman mentioned in the public media is Ms Olga Visser whom is a clinical perfusionist in Cardiothoracic Surgery

2. Experimantation on other organ (excluding hearts) are still in pilot study stages.

Financially speaking (in response to a comment made) we are indeed not well of, but the system in South Africa does not function on research grants in same way as in many western countries. Therefore we are always glad about any financial assistance, but not dependant on it.



Professor Dirk J du Plessis

Head - Cardiothoracic Surgery

University of Pretoria

South Africa




What's in a Genre?

by Chrissie Loveday



I was trying to explain some of the differences between different writing styles the other day and realised that I was immediately launching into lecturing mode. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I thought.



I have been writing what is loosely termed Romantic Fiction lately. Not quite the Mills & Boon type of thing but something similar. It is all about relationships that work or don't work. The characters face conflicts at every turn and have to find ways to overcome them. I see it as an extension of much of my work at college ... I can put the words into the mouths of my characters and make them say some of the thoughts I have been trying to impart to my students.



It becomes a powerful weapon. I can have the power of life or death over them all, direct their lives exactly the way I want them to go (the characters, not the students!). Telling stories, anecdotes to illustrate my point, is a much more effective way of passing on an idea than standing talking for several minutes about pure fact.



So what is really the best way to pass on knowledge and ideas? For today's children, computer games are seen as a new hope for learning. At school, pupils are supposed to be entertained all the time. If they find lessons boring, inspectors will suggest it is the teacher's fault for not finding a more interesting way of presenting the facts. I personally still need convincing that there is any exciting way of learning French verbs and all the other long rote exercises.



Back to Romantic Fiction. It is one of the most widely read genres of all. More romance is sold than anything else in the world of books or magazines. If it is so popular, why not use it to pass on ideas? It may not have the literary genius of the great writers of the past, but if it is clear and well expressed, more people will read the message than the most erudite scholar, read by only other scholars. I have tried to read the works of a number of acknowledged literary giants and found it hard work to understand their point. Some recent major literary prize winners seem to be writing in a language form I never studied in my grammar school. Pity, but whatever their message, I was not quite clever enough to understand it. It must mean that many others failed too (if they actually bothered to try reading it in the first place).



Audio books, films, television drama, lectures, documentaries, theatre, newspaper articles ... everyone is competing for our time and space. The most entertaining or interesting are the winners, in whatever we happen to be doing at the time. Fortunately, the human race is diverse in taste and interests. This leaves the whole stage open for someone to fill. If you want the widest possible message to be given, surely one should present it in the most popular form? I am going to stop feeling apologetic for writing what the literati (if there is such a thing!) might call inferior dross. If soaps convey an important message that someone needs to send, don't knock the genre. If romance makes the world buy books, then here's to Valentine's Day, at least once a month.



John is still working on ways for me to include cryonics in one of my un-literary masterpieces. It doesn't quite fit into the image the genre presents at the current time. When I'm rich and famous, maybe!


Acetyl L-Carnitine Improves

the Cognitive Function of Alzheimer's Patients



by Brian Rowley <browley@alumni.ubc.ca>

reprinted from <longevity-digest@vm.ege.edu.tr>

Acetyl l-carnitine (a compound produced by the body and found in milk and meats) is currently generating much excitement. For example, several large scale double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized, multi-centre trials conducted in Italy suggest that acetyl l-carnitine improves the cognitive function of Alzheimer's patients. This makes sense, as acetyl l-carnitine is known to:

1 protect CNS neurons in culture, delaying cell death

2 increase the number of nerve growth factor (NGF) receptors on neurons,

3 protect severed or crushed neurons from degenerating and

4 have other neurotrophic effects (e.g., it causes favourable changes in the structure of neuromuscular junctions).

It would therefore make sense if acetyl l-carnitine was a viable Alzheimer's treatment. I should also add that acetyl l-carnitine is currently undergoing phase III clinical trials in the U.S. for diabetic neuropathy, a disease apparently treatable with acetyl l-carnitine, according to a number of preliminary studies. Therefore as far as nerves are concerned, acetyl l-carnitine is known to be a promising compound.

It is also true, however, that a main physiological function of acetyl l-carnitine is to facilitate entry of fats into the mitochondria, something it does better than l-carnitine itself. Application of 1 micromole acetyl l-carnitine to mitochondria increases oxidative activity by 260% (Siliprandi, N, et al. Stimulation of Oxidation of Mitochondrial Fatty Acids and of Acetate by Acetyl l-carnitine. Biochemical Journal 96:777-780, 1965). Furthermore, the amount of acetyl l-carnitine in our bodies declines with age, as does mitochondrial activity. As a result, it is not too much of a leap to suggest that decline in acetyl l-carnitine levels might partly explain

1 why most of us are less energetic than children and have slower metabolism

2 why most of us get progressively fatter as we age. It might be that a reduction in acetyl l-carnitine with age causes mitochondria to burn fat less efficiently with age, which results in lower metabolism and greater body fat.

If that's true, one might expect long term supplementation with acetyl l-carnitine to prevent age-associated fat gain. The following study suggests that this is true (note that 4 months for a rat is like 12 years for a human; also note that bigger adipocytes (fat cells) = more fat, as fat cell number is constant)

Unique Identifier 96057151 Authors Baldassarri P. Calvani M. Institution Research Institute on Aging, Sigma-Tau S.p.A., Pomezia, Italy. Title The Aging Process of Skin and the Increase in Size of Subcutaneous Adipocytes. Source International Journal of Tissue Reactions.16(5-6):229-41, 1994. Abstract:



The aging of skin has been associated with an increase in size of the adipocytes located within the subcutaneous tissue. This topic is the subject of our study conducted on rats clinically treated with L-acetyl-carnitine (LAC) at 4, 8, 16, and 21 months of age and on a control group. Normal rats showed a significant increase in adipocyte diameter between four and eight months, and between sixteen and twenty-one months of age. Rats treated with L-acetyl-carnitine did not show significant changes up to the age of sixteen

months, but did so between sixteen and twenty-one months of age. Four-month-old rats, both those under treatment and controls, did not show a significant change in adipocyte diameter. On the other hand, rats receiving L-acetyl-carnitine showed significantly smaller adipocyte diameters than those of the control group. Our results demonstrate that the long-term administration of L-acetyl-carnitine blocks the progressive increase in size of the subcutaneous adipocytes present in the rat's aging skin. We hypothesize that L-acetyl-carnitine reequilibrates the catabolic deficit of fats in the skin of the elderly.

Here's a key data table from the paper:
  Fat Cell Diameter (micrometres)
Age Control Acetyl-L-Carnitine
4 months 36.99 37.66
8 months 40.49 34.76
16 months 42.97 36.76
21 months 55.79 42.97





All standard errors (expressed as standard deviation, for some reason!) were very tight (high significance), and the technician who measured the fat cell diameters didn't know whether he was measuring tissue from control, or acetylcarnitine-treated rats (ie a blind study).



Good news for rats?


Miscellaneous Round-up

by Douglas Skrecky



The Oldest Man



Despite Shigechiyo Izumi being included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest lived man at 120 years, most experts now regard his age at death as "only" 105. The runner up was Pierre Joubert of Quebec, Canada at 113 years. This too has now been debunked. Who is the true record holder for longevity for males?



With impecable documentation this honour now lies with Thomas Mortensen of San Rafael, California currently aged 114 years and hoping to make that 115 soon. The runner up is Englishman John Evans who died at the age of 112 years. Currently the second oldest living male is Jean-Marie Robine at 111 years. However these "young guys" are little threat to Frenchwomen Jeanne Calment, who at 121 years is the verified record holder for extreme longevity.



Note: The odds of reaching 100 years of age in most industrialized countries are about 1 in 20,000 or 0.005%.



Reference: The Oldest Man Ever? A Case Study of Exceptional Longevity The Gerontologist36(6): 783-788 1996



Herbal Teas



Is it a good idea to have milk with tea? Tea consumption has been associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. The main active ingredients are believed to be polyphenols, which act as antioxidants. In green tea these include catechin, epicatechin and epigallocatechin flavanols, while black tea contains theaflavins and thearubigens. Unfortunately the antioxidant effect of drinking both green and black teas is completely eliminated when whole milk is mixed in the tea at a ratio of 1 part in four. Without the milk both green and black tea exert similar antioxidant effects in the blood stream of tea drinkers. Milk proteins are believed to complex with tea polyphenols and render them insoluble and non-absorbable. It is probably a good idea to add less milk to your tea.



Reference: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 50: 28-32 1996



Vitamin A pregnancy warning



A study of over 22,000 pregnant women has revealed that supplemental vitamin A (but not beta carotene) increased the risk of malformations in their babies. See table below:
Supplemental Vitamin A Total Defects
0 - 5000 IU/day 1.3%
5001 - 8000 1.6
8001 - 10,000 1.7
over 10,001 3.2%





Vitamin A is teratogenic. Do not take any daily supplement with more than 5000 IU of vitamin A in it.



Reference: Teratogenicity of High Vitamin A Intake New England Journal of Medicine 333: 1369-1373 1995


Would You Want to Live Forever?

by Jim Halperin



I apologize in advance for the following lengthy article, but I would appreciate input from members of the cryonics community. Below is a draft of the addendum of my novel, The First Immortal, which I expect to be published this summer. Hallmark/CBS has already optioned the mini-series rights, and intents to produce it, most likely airing summer of 1998. Hopefully the book (which is very pro-cryonics) and mini-series will help attract favourable attention to the field. I'm sure this addendum can be improved, and any suggestions would be appreciated:



Most of us wonder what will become of the human race. Advances in technology could result in our self-destruction, our spiritual and intellectual stagnation, or even a fantastic heaven on earth. In The First Immortal I have presented a very optimistic view of the future, but perhaps not as optimistic as it might seem. Human life has been steadily improving, on average, for centuries.



It does seem clear that any 22nd-century world that you and I could actually succeed in reaching would have to possess the spirit, though not the fictional specifics, of the world I've drawn. In order that human beings be revived on a wholesale basis, the ultimate value of human life as a philosophical axiom is prerequisite. Any society with such science at its command could have no other reason to revive humans from the ice. And if the human race self-destructs, those in suspension will never know the difference.



But would those of us accustomed to 20th-century life enjoy even a utopian future?



All change takes getting used to, yet we may have good reason to adapt. Just imagine how today's civilization would seem to those who had lived several centuries ago. After the initial trauma wore off, former citizens of the 1500s would surely come to appreciate modern life as itself a form of utopia. Despite its many problems, our world is an astounding improvement over theirs.



What would it be worth to you to glimpse - and perhaps inhabit - our world of a century or more from now?



I have long suspected that we walk among the last few generations of mortal humans.Perhaps our great-great-grandchildren, grandchildren, or even our children will stave off death long enough to see the final defeat of aging. Most likely, however, we will not. Worse yet, once we die it is only a matter of time - and generally not much of it - before we, and nearly everything we value, are forgotten. Yet hope endures for those of us born too soon, now that a bridge might well extend across the Chasm of Time to whatever curative marvels await humanity on the other side.



Over the past two years, while researching this novel, I immersed myself in the culture of the cryonicists. I subscribed to their newsletters and e-mail lists, monitored their newsgroups, joined various organizations, and devoured countless books and Web sites on cryonics and nanotech. I've corresponded and spoken with pioneers of cryonics, always trying to keep an open mind. I've also listened to and read the often well-reasoned arguments of detractors, skeptics, and cynics.



Will Cryonics Work?



This is not an easy question to answer, but there is reason for hope. Indeed the answer may well be contained in a secondary question it begs: Is repair at the molecular level possible? Yes! Nature herself proves it.



And when will such technology become available? That is unknowable, of course, but time is on our side. Liquid nitrogen temperature will hold cells in near-perfect stasis for literally hundreds of centuries.



If someone had proposed, just 75 years ago, that during this century a device would be built to crash two protons together, creating trajectories for quarks, that person might have been deemed insane. A proton is to a cell as a grain of sand is to an elephant. Yet today it has already been done.



Only 50 years ago, most scientists deemed space travel a pipe dream, and some contended that the sound barrier would never be broken. Many doctors, 40 years ago, considered heart transplants scientifically impossible. Who, even 30 years ago, could have imagined today's laptop computers, omnipresent cellular phone systems, or the Internet? Is it feasible, even likely, that within the next few centuries we will learn to repair damaged cell structures molecule by molecule, either through nanotechnology or any other scientific discipline from an infinite array of possibilities? What do you think?



At first I was sceptical myself, but to paraphrase a line from this novel, the cannons of science seem to thunder from the side of the cryonicists. I considered as metaphor (or is it just metaphor?) that we all suffer from a terminal disease, with cryonic suspension as the only experimental treatment available for that disease. The question I asked myself was simply this: Do I wish to be part of the test group... or the control group?



The alternative being certain death, whatever that may mean, only cryonics offers genuine hope, a realistic chance for revival and rejuvenation; perhaps even immortality. Such a prize, however likely or improbable one might deem its attainment, ought to be worthy of substantial investment in coin and time. Furthermore, it seems the height of arrogance to insist that cryonics cannot work simply because science does not yet possess the ability to revive frozen mammals. By the time medical science possesses the technology to repair freezing damage, we will most likely know how to reverse aging as well, and thus no longer need cryonics at all.



Eventually, I signed up.



In case the hopeful ice is an option you would consider for yourself and those you love, this section offers advice which, of course, you should accept or reject as your own common sense dictates.



Investigate:



Here is a list of recommended books, Web sites, newsletters, magazines, newsgroups, and other valuable sources of information. In fact, I adapted many of the concepts in this novel from ideas encountered in these fascinating publications:



Books



The Prospect of Immortality, by Robert C. W. Ettinger. Published by Doubleday in the early 1960s, this is the book which started it all. Although the time-frame has not progressed as rapidly as predicted in this classic, the concepts are presented with accessibility, humour, and great intelligence. (Note: This book is hard to find, but is generally available for sale from Alcor and the Cryonics Institute, both listed below. Also recommended for adventurous readers, Ettinger's sequel: Man into Superman.)



Engines of Creation, by Eric Drexler. (Also available free on the World Wide Web at: <http://www.asiapac.com/EnginesOfCreation/> ) First published during the mid-1980s, Engines of Creation is an amazing book on nanotechnology. Clear, concise, easy to understand, and thoroughly brilliant. I consider Engines of Creation one of the best books ever written on any field of science. Trade paperback published by Anchor Books, 1987.



The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. A logical treatise on the differences between science and superstition. Random House, 1995.



Virus of the Mind, by Richard Brodie. An accessible and highly entertaining book about memetics, the science which attempts to explain how people become enslaved by advertising, religion, cults, mysticism, and other "memes." Integral Press, 1996.



Other Sources



American Cryonics Society: For information on joining, and on services they provide, telephone 408-734-4200, or e-mail: <cryonics@earthlink.net>

CryoNet: A free electronic forum on cryonics. To subscribe, send an e-mail to: <majordomo@cryonet.org> with the following message in the body (not the subject line) of your e-mail: "subscribe cryonet"

Cryonics, Alcor's excellent quarterly magazine. Subscriptions, $15 per year US, $20 Canada and Mexico, $25 overseas. Subscribers might also wish to receive The Alcor Phoenix, which comes out eight times per year, for an additional $20 US, $25 all other countries. Alcor, 7895 E. Acoma Dr., Suite 110, Scottsdale AZ 85260

<sci.cryonics>: The cryonics newsgroup on Usenet.

<www.alcor.org>: Alcor's Web site, with links to many other cryonics and nanotechnology sites on the World Wide Web.

Extropy, a fascinating quarterly magazine about advanced and future technologies and their uses in overcoming human limits. Subscription rate: $18 per year. Extropy Institute, 13428 Maxella Avenue #273, Marina Del Rey, CA 90232 e-mail: <maxmore@primenet.com>



Choose An Organization:



The following four cryonics organizations all appear to be operated by reputable, competent, and conscientious individuals:



Alcor Life Extension Foundation (non-profit, tax exempt. The largest cryonics facility in the world. Founded 1972. Current rates: $120,000 whole body or $50,000 neuro-suspension. May be funded with a life-insurance policy. See "quickquote" listing below.) 7895 E. Acoma Dr., Suite 110, Scottsdale AZ 85260-6916 Phone (602) 922-9013 (800) 367-2228 FAX (602) 922-9027 e-mail: <info@alcor.org> for general requests. Web site: <http://www.alcor.org>



Cryocare (non-profit, hires some for-profit companies to perform suspensions and storage. Not tax exempt. Current rates, under most circumstances: $125,000 full body; $58,500 neuro. May be funded with life insurance.) For more information, call toll-free 1-800-TOP-CARE (1-800-867-2273) For inquiries via U.S. Mail: CryoCare Foundation, 10627 Youngworth Road, Culver City, CA 90230 email: <cryocare@cryocare.org> Web site: <http://www.cryocare.org/cryocare/>



Cryonics Institute (non-profit. Incorporated 1976. Current suspension fee: $28,000 whole body. May be funded with life insurance.) 24355 Sorrentino Court, Clinton Township, MI 48035 Telephone (810) 791-5961, phone/fax (810) 792-7062, e-mail: <ettinger@aol.com> or <cryonics@msn.com>



Trans Time, Inc. (for-profit) 3029 Teagarden St., San Leandro, CA 94577 For more information, telephone (510)297-5577 or e-mail: <quaife@math.berkeley.edu>



Don't Procrastinate:



If you decide to sign up for cryonics, the process is not easy. Yet neither is it particularly difficult once you make up your mind to confront each roadblock with determination. We humans are barnacled with hoary traditions. We're also rigged with a genetic propensity to accept-and succumb to-cultural norms, one of which is the acceptance of death's inevitability. Furthermore, most people do not enjoy thinking about death or any of its aspects, and dealing with the red tape of any cryonics organization's paperwork - obtaining all the necessary signatures, obscure information, and documentation - forces us to do just that.



Begin your investigation of cryonics immediately. Call two or more cryonics organizations today to get their information packets. When they arrive, read them carefully and promptly. Don't be discouraged. Keep reminding yourself of the astounding potential payoff versus the nominal cost in time and money. Make your decision in a rational and timely manner, and if you decide in favour of cryonics, grit your teeth and get it done.



Protect Your Money:



Every major study ever conducted on the connection between the two confirms that increased wealth improves one's chances of survival. If you are willing to work hard, live below your means, and invest the difference wisely, you will likely live longer, maintain sufficient means to afford suspension for yourself and your family, and perhaps even have funds left over to place in trust for your eventual revival.



Often it is most frugal to purchase a life insurance policy, naming your cryonics organization as beneficial owner. If you are on the Internet, you can get competitive quotes from numerous competing companies through Quickquote, at: <http://www.quickquote.com> For example: A 44-year-old male in perfect health can purchase a $125,000 term policy for as little as $277.50 per year, although most cryonicists prefer to buy a whole-life policy, which is more expensive up-front, but more economical in the long run.



If you are a financial basket case, you now have new incentive to cure your self-destructive ways. Make up your mind to reform immediately! I highly recommend The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need (Harcourt Brace, 1996) by financial guru Andrew Tobias, available at most book stores, or from <www.amazon.com>. Fun to read, easily understandable, this book offers truly sage guidance. You can also catch Tobias's daily financial advice column free on the Internet, at <www.ceres.com>.



Stay Healthy:



Every day you survive with mind and memory intact improves your odds of immortality. Cryonic preservation techniques will no doubt continue to improve, so the longer you live before being frozen (assuming your mind and memory remain sound), the more likely you are to be revived with your identity intact. Thus the importance of maintaining your health takes on a new dimension.



Beware of quackery, mysticism, and sloppy science. You can't believe everything you read, even in the New York Times, but the odds of finding accuracy there are considerably better than in the supermarket tabloids. The same rules apply to health publications. I generally recommend mainstream magazines, books, and newsletters about health and nutrition, because information found in most "new age" and fringe publications tends to be less reliable.



Health and Prevention magazines are excellent sources of health-related information. Consumer Reports publishes an outstanding health newsletter. My favourite book on health, exercise, and nutrition is Living Lean (Simon and Schuster, 1997) by Larry North.



A few more suggestions:



Practice moderation in your diet and other health habits. Learn to work with your doctor(s), prepare for each visit, and ask intelligent questions. Pro-active patients receive a much greater benefit from the doctor/patient relationship than do passive patients. Exercise regularly but try not to over-exert. Do not succumb to fad diets and other health-related frauds, which are omnipresent. And don't forget to exercise your mind, too!



Remember, You Don't Live in A Vacuum:



Support cryonics and biotech research if you can afford to. Join a local cryonics chapter if you can find one near you. Otherwise, start one.



Perhaps most important of all, subvert mysticism by tactfully debunking it whenever you can. We denizens of the 20th century are drowning in new-age pronouncements "proving" the existence of life beyond the physical. But life's countless coincidences in no way prove (or disprove) the existence of an Afterlife. In fact, the only thing coincidences do prove, is the law of probabilities.



The next time someone mentions The Celestine Prophesy or some other mystical or new-age book, try to get them to read The First Immortal, or any of the four books I have listed earlier in this section. All humans are entitled to their own opinions, of course, but you can help undermine mysticism by encouraging others to learn to think for themselves. Immortalists will have to change the world's view of death, one person at a time.



Never be afraid to tell your friends and loved ones about cryonics, but expect some skepticism. It's not necessary to convince them, yet how much better are your own chances if your loved ones truly understand that cryonics is what you want? And how much improved are all of our odds when the cultural attitude about death has changed throughout the world from one of resignation and despair ... to optimism and hope?



Perhaps you and I will meet a century or more from now. Best wishes and long life.



Editorial Notes:



The Prospect of Immortality is now out of print and the world's remaining stocks are held by Longevity Books, who supply the cryonics organisation in the USA with copieswhen their stoicks require replenishing. If you live in the UK or Europe, then please order your copy from us for UKP3 each. In the USA, please order from your local cryonics organisation. (Yes, they will be more expensive, but this allows for intercontinental shipping which would be the same if you ordered direct from us.)



Investment



People considering cryonics are better off if they build capital using the stock markets eg via a mutual fund, rather than buy whole life insurance. They can either take the risk themselves, or alternatively buy say 15-20 years term insurance and use a mutual fund monthly saving program with the rest. Life insurers make their profits by investing to get 25-30% growth and pay their clients 10%. Why not have the high growth yourself? By investing a fixed sum monthly, averaging helps you - when the markets are in decline, you buy more units.



What follows is very important, and I have found that even non-cryonicists see the sense in this if I bring it up:



To succeed, cryonics requires advances in technology that are not considered in current stock market quotations. Therefore, if technology does not advance further than the expectations of the current stock markets, there will be no cryonics revivals. Those who have invested in technology for growth, either by using direct investment or via a mutual fund, will not be revived if technology (hence their funds) have not grown enormously. Therefore they can only observe a universe in which technology has grown beyond present market expectations. As far as they are concerned, other universes do not exist. Therefore investment in technology to fund cryonics is certain to succeed as far as the "observers" (ie investors) are concerned.



Jim Halperin comments on this that it may be difficult to find the right technology stocks, but I believe that a mutual fund or unit trust concentrating in this sector ought to be able to outperform the market average by several orders of magnitude over a period of time such as 60 years or so.

Click arrow to get back to main contents page.