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Let them rot? Robert Ettinger

Kubrick kaput Robert Ettinger

The Issue of "Death" Thomas Donaldson

Brain Damage Jeff Davis

Global Warming "Rebecca"

A New Face Says Hello John Grigg

What God Did "Guy Fawkes"

Life's Practical Decisions and Science Robert Ettinger

To Freeze or Not to Freeze? Chrissie Loveday

Government Funding of Research Aubrey de Grey

Cryonics and Christianity Thomas Donaldson

A Theory of Consciousness Chris Fedeli

Too Many Organizations? Henry R. Hirsch

Freeze Drying Douglas Skrecky

The Pick of Pickover John 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.

Volume 12 no 71. First published May 1999. ISSN 0964-5659.

Let them rot?

by Robert Ettinger ettinger@:aol/com

Chrissie Walton in a message posted to the Cryonet seems to believe we should not impose resurrection on those who have not expressed a desire for it. This view has a degree of merit, but (as Mike Perry has pointed out) this is far from the whole story or a balanced assessment. And this moral dilemma applies not only to far-fetched conjectures about revival of remote ancestors in the distant future, but also in many cases to our own relatives here and now.

Certainly individual freedom is an ideal shared by most cryonicists and potential cryonicists. But there is such a thing as ignorance, and there is such a thing as stupidity, and there is such a thing as responsibility; all of these could in many cases be seen as requiring your attempted intervention, even pressure, to attempt to assure cryonic suspension even in the face of opposition.

Hands-off is an easy option. If your relative or friend doesn't want it, then forget it--what could be easier or (in the short run at least) more comfortable? You can even kid yourself that your stance is the noble and idealistic one. But if you are convinced that the opposition, or lack of interest, is based on misinformation or aberrant psychology, then "hands off" means "turn your back," and this is not easy to justify.

Compare the case of children playing in the street or otherwise engaging in dangerous activities. Some parents believe in giving children a lot of free rein, allegedly to develop self-confidence and to learn by exposure, and out of respect for their individual freedom. Sometimes it works; but sometimes the children are killed or maimed. My own belief is that, in most cases, a laissez faire parent is just lazy and irresponsible. We have not only the right, but the duty, to exert pressure on children in their own best interest, as determined by us from our vantage point of greater knowledge and experience.

Similar remarks apply to aged and incompetent parents. They don't understand now, and their habits prevent them from learning; but if they could be revived and then rejuvenated, educated, normalized in hormones and emotions, and optimized in intelligence--then, as Mike Perry has intimated, they would probably thank you fervently for disregarding their dying indifference or even opposition.

Obviously, none of this translates to any simple or automatic policy in specific cases. Obviously also, it is easy to characterize my "responsibility" as arrogance, and to insist that no one has appointed me as arbiter, and to use the "slippery slope" argument against interference with the decisions of other people. I understand all that; I am merely pointing out that the hands- off policy is not the only one with moral standing, and not necessarily the "best" policy.

One comparison that comes to mind is that of someone who believes his own religion is the only path to paradise, every other one leading to eternal damnation. Is he justified in using strong persuasion, or even coercion, to save another's soul? At various times and places, the Moslems and the Roman Catholics, among others, have believed that the faithful have a duty to save others, even if this involves the use of cruelty and coercion, as in the auto da fe. These horrible examples will be used to buttress the argument that no one has the right to make such decisions on another's behalf. Yet, as always, it isn't so simple. There are always questions of quality and degree, of the specifics of the situation. Taking refuge in broad generalities is easy but not responsible. It always comes down to an exercise in decision theory, a weighing of probabilities and projection of outcomes.

Kubrick kaput

or 1999 - An Annihilation Odyssey

by Robert Ettinger ettinger@:aol/com

Film director Stanley Kubrick has died at age 70--a mere stripling. I guess he never grew up. Recent comers to cryonics--those within the last 25 years or so--may be mildly amused or bemused by the following reminiscences.

In the mid Sixties, when THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY was getting some press, Kubrick was impressed by it and gave away dozens of copies to his friends. Also interested was a fellow named Ben Schloss. Ben was a biochemist, Ph.D., but mainly a wannabee entrepreneur. He learned of Kubrick's interest, and arranged a meeting in New York among Kubrick, some of Kubrick's rich friends, some physicians and cryobiologists, Schloss, and myself. The idea was to try to arouse some practical support for cryonics, although in Schloss' mind the idea was mainly to mine a little gold.

The meeting produced nothing noticeable at the time. I didn't ask for anything specific (a mistake, perhaps)--just tried to motivate them to save their keesters. The physicians and cryobiologists said it wouldn't work and even if it did it was a bad idea and it shouldn't be tried until first a lot of people had died and been revived and lived forever. Schloss didn't say a whole lot at the time, but later, as it transpired, he was successful in putting a small hit on Kubrick for seed money for a company promoting cryonics or/and other life extension ideas.

As I understand it, the money disappeared into Schloss' pocket and Kubrick was annoyed. Schloss hung around for a while on the fringes of cryonics and antisenescence, trying to sell biological age evaluation systems, then up and died. Kubrick decided it was more fun to play with films and disappeared into the wilds of England.

The only specific reservation about cryonics that Kubrick ever made to me was the problem in getting prompt attention in an emergency. "You can't even get a plumber when you need him." But obviously the main problem was the same one as with other people, and celebrities in particular--too much trouble, too unpleasant, too likely to make your friends look at you funny, too hard to get institutional support, and too many other things to do that seem more pressing and more enjoyable.

He made his choice, but now he won't have to live with it.

However, the adults among us are beginning to realize that maybe there really will be a tomorrow, and maybe it really will be different and better, and sometimes if you want something you have to do a little work and make some decisions that actually require thought.

The Issue of "Death"

by Thomas Donaldson <">>

There is a different way of looking at cryonics and what we intend to do. Basically cryonicists have a different DEFINITION OF DEATH than the common one, and intend to be suspended not after they have died (by their definition) but after they have died by SOCIETY'S definition. Cryonicists believe that you are not dead unless the information required to recreate you has been totally and provably destroyed. The current definition of SOCIETY (which periodically changes, a fact which should cause suspicion in itself!) is that CURRENT methods of revival fail to revive you.

I will expand on these two definitions a bit, just to make the difference clear. The first thing that happened, in the 1950's, was that doctor's discovered that they could revive some people whose hearts and lungs had stopped pumping, at normal temperature for as long as 3 minutes afterwards and much longer if their temperature had gone down close to (but not below) 0 C. Formerly someone was simply declared dead if they stopped breathing. So the first change in society's definition of death came in the 1950's. More recently there has been work (NOT by cryonicists, though cryonicists have paid close attention --- and in fact in one cryonics laboratory they've worked out how to do even better with dogs (and probably human beings)) which successfully revived people after over 10 minutes without heartbeat or breathing. This advance hasn't yet seeped into many people's minds, but it is real.

In at least one case, one scientist-doctor working in this field was able to revive someone after ONE HOUR. He happened to be working in the emergency room of his hospital when someone was brought in who had lost a lot of blood, and by applying the methods he knew with animals he revived this patient.

Naturally this means that one more set of people who might otherwise have simply been declared dead will now be considered alive, and revived. Given that we can be suspended for centuries, it does not seem to us at all wise to depend on a definition of death which changes with time. Note that our definition above aims to be ABSOLUTE: something which will not change with time. It does not depend on just what drugs and technology happens to be available at a particular time and place.

But don't misunderstand. Someone who has wasted away to a skeleton would be considered "dead" by both society at large and by cryonicists. For that matter, if their brain had somehow been destroyed completely, most cryonicists would consider the person dead, too. Moreover, our definition, in at least one class of cases, would say that someone is "dead" when society might not: I refer to cases of severe brain damage due to accidents or brain tumors. It's not enough that the brain ceases to work; it must cease to exist. But if you suffer such damage, then we would consider you "dead", even if your heart continued to beat and you continued to breathe. (We would naturally want proof that your brain no longer existed here).

Such cases nowadays often cause much confusion among relatives and even doctors about what to do. They're still breathing, aren't they? So our definition of death does not coincide with society's definition, it doesn't simply claim that all those thought to be dead are actually alive, it also has a class of patients dead by our definition but not by society's.

There is finally another difference between cryonics ideas and society at large. Cryonicists have a wide variety of opinions about just how badly they might be damaged and still want revival. Those papers to arrange for cryonic suspension which I have personally seen all allow YOU to decide just how badly you may be damaged before the cryonics society decides not to suspend you. Seen in another way, it allows YOU to decide just when you are dead, NOT society. And your cryonics society will follow your definition.

Brain Damage

by Jeff Davis <">>

I've been thinking lately about brain damage. When exactly is identity destroyed? I mean really obliterated?

Specifically, I'm wondering about the difference between loss of information, and loss of ACCESS TO information. This last attributed to the loss of higher-order function.

When a brain is damaged--I'm thinking here of strokes, traumatic injury, brain tumours, and Alzheimer's--certain structural changes take place. Think of the spatial distribution of the damage.

Some of those changes presumably involve actual cell death. But how many cells die, what fraction of the whole is that, how is the damage distributed regionally/topologically, and what happens to the dead cell bodies? (I assume fully necrotic cells undergo apoptosis and "digest" themselves, the by-products being dispersed for either local or distant consumption or disposal.) What of "scar tissue" and other structural remnants?

Then too, what degree of brain damage is characterized by cell damage without cell death--membrane or cytoskeletal damage/alteration; organelle damage/reduced function--such that the cell still lives, but is not capable of supporting the coordinated global activity characteristic of normal brain function?(Does this happen, or am I describing a non-fact? I recall that mitochondria sometimes suffer gradual degradation from, at least, inherited defect.)

When a person is brain dead, is there actually a great lump of dead tissue inside the skull (I don't think so), or does the absence of brain waves--the flatline on the electroencephalograph that provokes the term "persistant vegetative state"--only suffice to imply loss of global function, but not large-scale cell death, maybe not even small-scale cell death, or (here's the crux)maybe not nearly as much information loss as we're inclined to think?

To what extent is the topology of damage responsible for disruptions of neuronal firing patterns? Could the loss of memory or personality be due not to the loss of the information, but to the inability of the organ to fire that pattern, due to a disrupted firing path. Would the accumulation of many small areas of damage, such as in the case of Alzheimer's, so "damp out" the spatially dynamic, electrochemical resonance of thought--of memory and personality EXPRESSION--that the person seems to fade away? In a man-made electronic system, a simple broken wire can result in a complete system failure even though the actual structural deficit may be only an infinitesimally small fraction of all the atoms of the system, and the information deficit zero.

Are dementia et al victims really as far gone as we fear they are when we view with dismay their varying degrees of vegetative-ness? Or is the information there, but just not expressible?

Identity survival is central to cryonics. Some aspects of the (gradual) process of identity deterioration provoke an interpretation of irreversible loss. We look at them and say "They're gone." How valid is this? How subject to reevaluation?

One final detail. I'm a strong believer in the "elegant design" of natural systems. "Nature" squeezes as many uses out of any system component as she can. (Please excuse the teleological and anthropomorphic modes of expression.) Thus a local brain region with a specialized function is likely to have multiple roles. In larger scale global function--like memory or personality pattern storage and expression--it may have a supporting but not a critical role. Thus limited local damage which may cause striking loss of specific function may, as regards memory or personality, have only a mild impact. In fact, let me repeat what has been suggested before: that memory and personality may be broadly distributed across the cortex and cerebellum (and elswhere?), that such distributed expression is arguably inherently robust, and that these features strongly suggest the importance of memory and personality to the individual and the species (not to mention to cryonicists and Extropians).


In the process of writing this, I produced a typo: memeory, instead of memory. Hmmmmmm.

Global Warming -

Fact or Authoritarian Propaganda?


Referring to all the comments on Global Warming, there is no doubt that the Earth's climate is changing and it is getting warmer- but that is not unusual - our Earth's climate is always changing! We know that the Earth has undergone many ice ages - extremes of cold separated by very warm periods. That is the unavoidable pattern of the planet we live on.

The present phase of Global warming started some 18,000 years ago, ending millennia when the Northern and Southern latitudes were covered in ice sheets. Since then warming has caused the glaciers to shrink to a tiny percentage of their original size. However it has not been a steady growth in temperature, - in medieval times northern temperatures were high enough for vineyards in Greenland to be followed in the 1400s by a mini-ice-age when it was common for the Thames to freeze over. If you look at the earths history over millions of years you will see that there have been many ice-ages.

Against this constantly changing pattern what effects are man's activities having?

The politicians would like us to believe that it's all our fault! - But is it? After all, significant industrial development has only taken place over the last 100 - 150 years. Estimates of the effect of our activities on Global warming vary wildly. For every scientist that cries Woe! Woe!, there's probably more than one who will quietly tell you that nothing is proven and there is no justification in spending Billions on trying to stop the earths climate changing- Canute didn't win when he tried to stop the sea!

Visit Rebecca's Page and follow the links to check the facts.

Stephen Burke wrote on the Internet: "It's true that nothing is proven. However, the general principle that increased CO2 and methane will tend to increase global temperatures isn't seriously in doubt; what is less certain is what the effects will be and whether there are other forces acting in the opposite direction. The question is whether we want to take the risk, given that by the time we know for sure it will be too late. "

But there is doubt that the increase in Global Warming is due to CO2 and Methane emissions- they may be adding to it to a small extent but even that is unproven. There are climate models that predict that increased CO2 could even lower the earth's temperature- take a look here for a good summary of the debate that is being waged in New Scientist and at here for a real look at the complexity of modelling the earth's climate!

What we do know for sure is that the Earth's temperature has varied wildly over past millennia, - 3000 years ago Britain was 2.5 degree C warmer than now, just 500 years ago we were in a mini-ice age when the Thames froze over! All these changes happened long before the industrial revolution and the motor car, and the measurable effect of what we are doing is minimal compared to those changes.

By all means be cautious in approaching the question but at this stage of the argument it seems to be reckless to plan to spend untold billions on Canute-like gestures that will achieve nothing and lower the standard of living of everyone in the developed world.

A New Face Says Hello

John Grigg

Over the last few months I have poured over the various cryonic and transhuman web sites with great interest! The concepts you espouse are truly mind boggling!

I first learned about cryonics by reading about it in an old Time-Life book as I recall. Then I followed the contest that was done in Omni magazine, and was thrilled to see that the winner was someone who was very deserving.

I had a cool phone conversation with Charles Platt several years ago. At the time I had no idea of who he really was! I recently emailed him and got a warm reply back, he actually remembered me.

The caliber and intellect of those committed to cryonics really impresses me. The scientific depth of some of the conversations I encounter go over my head, but I am learning. I am in Alaska, a poor student, but if I could manage it I would love to go to the next Extro con. It would be very cool to meet all the people that I have been learning from these last several months.

I must say that if all woman of the future will be like Natasha-Vita More then I want to be there! Max More is one very fortunate man! I am going to need some major upgrading to succeed with post-human woman! I still have a lot to learn about the present ones!

I am a believer in God, having been raised Mormon. In fact my churches doctrine of the righteous becoming divine in the next life reminds me of transhuman goals to evolve to higher and higher forms of being.

I remember being a young boy reading a children's Bible. I read the passage about how before the flood humans lived many centuries! I brought it up to my mother's attention that I wished people still did, and she agreed with me. That moment planted a seed somehow.

The film "Lawnmower Man" made a huge impression on me. It is still one of my all time favourite movies. Being that I am seriously learning disabled the idea of transcending oneself like that utterly grabbed me. I wanted to jump into the film and take one of those treatments myself!

I am thirty-one years old and am a sophomore in college where I major in history. It took me a long time to get to college. I suffer from learning disabilities, a.d.d., and clinical depression! These problems went undiagnosed and untreated for a long time. My l.d. is severe enough that I don't even have a driver's license! That has cost me a great deal in terms of both work and romantic endeavours.

I have learned painfully about rejection from women who would date me but not get serious because of my lack of worldly success. This has caused me some of the greatest emotional pain of my life. But then I have read books on sociobiology in regards to human courtship and social currency. Many times I have felt so enraged and frustrated over my genetic failings. To think I have ancestors who were engineers and doctors.

The man who sired me was not there to raise me because he felt that family life was not for him. While I grew up in a poor home needing him, he worked in a job as a resort critic travelling the globe. For him the major goal in life was to sleep with as many woman as he could. With his good looks that I did not inherit, he carried out that goal very well. Despite all this I hired a company to track him down for me. to my surprise they found him so I made contact. He was thrilled to hear from me, old age and retirement had humbled him somewhat. We are friends now, with him in the Big Apple and me in Anchorage! He has never apologized, but where would he start?

I feel like I have been cheated out of the full potential of my life. I have a great deal of anger over this because of so many wasted years. Most men by my age have a degree, good job, and car by this point in their life with which to enjoy life, and attract a mate. I have often even been told by others that it is all just in my head! (Which actually it is in a literal sense) I was recently tested by a neuropsychologist who confirmed all my suspicions.

To me cryonics offers a chance to experience life like I should have in the first place. I wish for the doctors of a future age to wipe away my genetic imperfections. I feel anger at life and God for being like this, though I feel guilty for such an attitude sometimes. I am told that in the afterlife everything will be remedied, but I want my chance in this world. Some of the very people who tell me things will work out are ones with no l.d, a.d.d., and depression to hold them back from their goals. They drive, have degrees and good jobs, make love to their mates, and have general satisfaction.

I suppose I have a lack of faith if I want to be suspended. If the fundamentalist view of Biblical prophesy is true then my frozen body may will be destroyed in the geological and social turmoil of the last days before the second coming of Christ. Then I will wind up facing God in judgement having cowardly tried to avoid him by being suspended. The test of my faith for him would be to let nature have its way and kill me. I realize some of you are atheists, but this is how I was raised to believe in interpreting scripture. Some may not understand this, but when I read about the life and example of Jesus Christ I feel touched and that there must a literal truth to it. I feel that to either dismiss your beliefs or my Mormon ones would be a mistake.

The human lifespan is just too short!! I want to be able to "look over the horizon" in the coming century. Even if I lived to be ninety that would not keep me alive long enough to have a solid feel for who really had the truth, and how the world was going. This life is so unfair in parcelling out beauty, wealth, and talent. I want to live in an age where the playing field is much more levelled out!!

I am concerned that while the doctors of the future will reanimate us in idealized versions of our present selves, that they may choose not to upgrade us up to their level of intellect and functioning. This may be because they can't, ( to be like them may take germ cell modification) or because they feel it would be more interesting to see us try to survive in their society as limited beings. Our hope would have to be that in time things would change technologically or socially. At least the reanimated would have each other for company. If suspension were only available for me alone I would reject it. I want others from my time to associate with.

Immortality may also be something that even if developed may not be given out freely. Only those who "merit" it may be so endowed. In fact it may be decided that true immortality is bad for the race so the technology is suppressed. But my best guess is that the technology will be perfected and eventually made available to all. Or their will be hell to pay and major social strife over it.

It does amaze me how relatively few people are signed up. But in time I think there will be a major change there. I admit I have a problem with some of your concepts such as uploading, which I think is more like making a copy rather then truly transferring. But that would depend on the nature of the technology used. I saw an "Outer Limits" episode on network tv last night with actor Lou Diamond Phillips, where he plays a soldier who has his mind uploaded into a near indestructible android body. It was a standout episode by the standards of the series.

To promote cryonics and trans-humanism has any of the leadership ever gone on the Art Bell show? I would assume that by now it has already been done, but if not it would be a great way of reaching millions. That man's ability to sway the public is powerful.

I can't wait till the Hallmark t.v. movie version of "The First Immortal" comes out! Considering the quality of Hallmark productions, and the fact that the director of "Lonesome Dove" is doing it the film should be fantastic. I think the release of this could be the huge turning point you are all looking for. Be ready to be swamped afterwards!

I have read about the advances of 21st Century Medicine Inc and am very impressed! Five to twenty years from now suspension will have such an excellent means to keep fully intact the cell structure! I would not want to be one of those frozen in past years as Mr. Darwin has pointed out. I respect him for pointing out the painful realities of just how badly brain cells were being damaged by past suspension techniques.

I plan to have Biopreservation suspend me, I would not trust anyone else. I read all I could from all the sites and Cryocare has my vote! I don't understand how Natasha More and others could want Alcor to suspend her. I just hope Alcor and others adopt ALL the new Biopreservation suspension methods. The keep it cheap approach at CI at first impressed me, but now I plan to go with the much more expensive, but also more technically advanced Cryocare.

In school I'm not doing too well. In fact I am on academic probation and am in danger of losing my loans. This is I think much more due to my depression then the learning disabilities. Also I tend to be very disorganized in my life. my grades range from A's, C's, and so far one F and an incomplete. I know part of my problem must be a lack of self-discipline, but there is more to it then that. I am trying an antidepressant named Effexor that I just started on and hope it will give me the boost I need. I suppose I am looking for the type of chemical transformation that some of the patients underwent in the book "Listening to Prozac".

Part of my problem is that I don't have a burning passion. I do like studying history with the hope of being a teacher, but I am not on fire for it. I am afraid of committing myself to the wrong career path. But maybe as my depression clears I will find it.

Well, I thank you all for listening! I have gone on and on! But I had a lot to get out. I am excited everyday to see what is new in the Cryonet. I look forward to any observations any of you may have regarding my words.

Editorial comment: I shouldn't worry about the "lack of faith" argument. You could equally say that life is a precious gift and trying to preserve it is a sign of gratitude. What would you think of a child who was given a bicycle for Christmas and couldn't be bothered to put it away and let it get rusty?

Author's reply: It makes sense to me that life is a gift of God so why not take strong measures to preserve it. Because most likely death will even overtake Extropians in the end, it just may take a very long time.


What God Did

by "Guy Fawkes"

God created the mule, and told him, "You will be a mule, working constantly from dusk to dawn, carrying heavy burdens on your back. You will eat grass and lack intelligence. You will be on the earth for about 50 years."

The mule answered, "Lord, 50 years is too much. Please give me no more than 20." And it was so.

Then God created the dog and told him, "You will hold vigilance over the dwellings of man. You will be his faithful companion. You will eat his table scraps and you will do so for 25 years." The dog responded, "Lord, to spend 25 years as a dog like that is too much. Please no more than 10 years." And it was so.

God then created the monkey and told him, "You are a monkey. You shall swing from tree to tree, acting like an idiot. You must be funny. You will be on the earth 20 years." But the monkey responded, "Lord to spend 20 years as a clown for the world is too much. Please Lord, give me no more than 10 years." And it was so.

Finally God created man and told him, "You are man; the only rational being that walks the earth. You will use your intelligence to have dominion over all creatures of the world. You will dominate the earth for a period of about 20 years." And the man responded, "Lord to be on the earth for only 20 years is too little. Please give me the 30 years that the mule refused, the l5 years that the dog rejected and the 10 years that the monkey didn't want." And it was so.

So God gave man his 20 years to be a man. Then, after marriage, he gave him the 30 years as a mule, working and carrying heavy loads on his back. When children arrived, he gave him the 15 years as a dog, guarding his house and eating the leftovers after the kids emptied the fridge, freezer and pantry. Then, in his old age, God gave man the final 10 years as a monkey, acting like an idiot to amuse his grandchildren.

And God saw it was good, blessed it, and called it all "life". And it was so. Amen.

Life's Practical Decisions and Science

by Robert Ettinger

Personal philosophy--life's practical decisions--and "natural philosophy" (science) are closely tied, although few perceive this clearly. A key element of contemporary science is quantum mechanics.

I have said previously that one needs to read at least several top-level writers (in addition to some introductory textbooks) to begin to get a feeling for it. To the books I listed before, let me add a couple more: the life of the cosmos, Lee Smolin, Oxford, 1997; Quantum Concepts in Space And Time, ed. Penrose and Isham, Oxford, 1986; the Elegant Universe, Greene, Norton, 1999.

One of the clearest conclusions is that, after a whole century (if we start with Planck), nobody has figured out what it means, and disagreements if anything are widening, not narrowing.

Einstein: "All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, 'What are light quanta?' Nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken."

Feynman: " appears peculiar and mysterious to everyone--both to the novice and to the experienced physicist."

Abner Shimony (in Quantum Concepts, above): "...the [many worlds interpretation] is an immense extrapolation of the linear dynamics of quantum mechanics...We are so far from having evidence for the validity of this dynamics for macroscopic systems...and for the space-time field that the extrapolation....should be recognized as sheer conjecture." (Incidentally, Shimony also said the same thing about many worlds that I did in terms of desirability from our point of view: It makes reality of all the possible good things, but also of all the possible bad things.)

Bart Kosko {parphrased]: "Quantum mechanics must be wrong because its equations are linear, and reality is never linear."

Lee Smolin [paraphrased]: "The laws and constants of nature may vary as universes evolve. Space and time may not exist except as apparent relationships between events."

Brian Greene: "Centuries from now, superstring theory...may have developed so far beyond our current formulation that it might be unrecognizable even to today's leading researchers." Most working physicists tend to shrug off questions of interpretation--mainly, no doubt, because they have enough to do with their own immediate bread-and-butter problems. They also remind us of the many successes and the lack of failures in the predictions of the quantum mechanical formalism. But all this work, as far as I know, relates only to extremely simple systems. Remember that Q.M. is postulated to apply to ALL phenomena and to all bodies--not just electrons but also atoms; not just atoms but also molecules; not just molecules but also people and planets and galaxies. You can calculate the "wave length" or the "frequency" of the earth--but you can't conduct a verifying diffraction experiment.

Finally, while I remember it, a word about "dimensions" as discussed in string theory and in general relativity. All those great men abused the language and confused generations of students. Time is not a "dimension" except in a certain mathematical formalism; time and space are profoundly different. The "coiled dimensions" of string theory are nothing of the sort; they are coiled curves or surfaces or physical objects. A path or a hyperpath or a physical object can be coiled, but a "dimension" cannot.

To clarify this slightly, think about a circle. It is a one-dimensional figure in the sense that only one coordinate--either an angle or a displacement along the circumference--is required to specify a location on the circle. But to measure the curvature you need to relate the linear displacement to the central angle (more curvature if the circumference is smaller), and of course the curvature takes place in a second dimension. It makes no more sense to speak of "curved spacetime" or of "coiled dimensions" than it would to speak of a circle as a "curved straight line." Of course I recognize that people do indeed use fractured language successfully, by separating what they do from what they say, but it hinders understanding and progress.

To Freeze or Not to Freeze?

By Chrissie Loveday

There have been a few ideas passed to me recently about the dangers of not making the big decision in time. For those committed to being cryonicists, it may seem so short-sighted and foolish not to take the plunge and sign up. Get everything in place in good time and it spares those left at a traumatic time. Anyone who is really in the know, will make that commitment as soon as funds allow. The ones who waver will probably dither till the very last minute, causing endless complications for all. Maybe this is the result of a lifetime of 'It will never happen to me'. Let's face it, how do any of us really know when the very last minute has arrived?

I believe there are many similarities to euthanasia, that oh so controversial topic always in the news. Arguments for and against have their merits. In most countries, it remains a crime and those who do allow it are frequently asking the question, is it really too late for any hope? I'd hate to have to take that particular decision for myself or anyone else. It was most difficult to have to decide on my beloved dog's behalf and he could make no comment himself.

I can feel the committed, all rising to say that cryonics is offering a chance for life, not death. Obviously, I agree as I am one of them. But always, there has to be the right of choice. I would never want to take the attitude that they might be grateful one day. They might not. Imagine taking steps to preserve a life that someone hates. On reanimation, they might feel the same anger as they had in their first life. Any small errors they encountered, would be all my fault for trying to save them. I'm sure that my beliefs lie firmly fixed in the idea that anyone who is truly convinced by this possibility of survival, will make the appropriate provision.

As I have grown older, I know my ideas about the approach of death has changed. My ideas of so many things have changed. I'm never sure how I would react to knowing the expected date or time of my demise. I am fully aware that whenever it is, there will be masses of things I intended to finish, to begin, to think about. I'll just have to catch up on them the second time around. The final limit is perhaps, the end of expectations and the older one gets, the expectations may gradually diminish. Walking one mile a day instead of three; writing 2,000 words instead of 5,000; cleaning the house once a week instead of every day. (The really sensible one!)

Do most of us avoid thinking about our final moments? We may plan what will happen afterwards. We (cryonicists) may think a great deal about the practical organisation of our suspension and having things neatly in place. We may personally, never know the full details of what really happens. But those of us still alive, begin to realise the immense difficulties presented by those who change their minds at the last moment. It is sometimes too late for the smooth running and proper organisation. For those left behind to mourn, it presents added stress to an already unbearable time. I firmly believe that we can only do our best to persuade people to organise things in time. If they do not do this, maybe we can try to help but it seems to me there is little point in expending futile energy, believing we ourselves have failed in some way. Those at the cutting edge will feel especially angry at the waste of another life but we have to be realistic enough to know we can do no more than try.

We need to be responsible, as we all agree. We need to pass on as much correct information as possible. If then, the whole thought is revolting to someone, there is little point in trying to convince the unwilling. One of the UK's worst serial killers, claimed that a childhood belief that his much-loved Grandfather had gone 'to a better place' had motivated him to send lots more people there. He was angry that his grandfather had gone without him. Obviously, a rather sick mind is part of his problem but who is really to blame? Might not the persuasion of a fervent religious zealot play some part? Maybe, some folk see cryonicists as equally ill-guided. Back to choices. My own sons do not embrace the idea of cryonics or even particularly welcome my own participation but we have all agreed to respect our own wishes. They won't object to my suspension and I won't insist they listen to endless campaigning and attempts at persuasion from me. Who knows, they may change their minds one day just as I did.

Yes, we want our near and dear to seize this chance of a second round. We want them to want it for themselves. We can help with advice and information. But, I will never try to persuade anyone to do something to which they don't give whole hearted commitment.

Chrissie Loveday's website is where you can find details of her published novels, including excerpts from one and the full text of an otherwise unpublished one.

Government Funding of Research

and the Implications for Life Extension

by Aubrey de Grey

One aspect of public funding of scientific research deserves highlighting: that the decision on what work is and is not funded is made very largely by the scientists themselves. NIH and its ilk form review committees to whom they send applications for research funds, and those committee members -- who are scientists themselves -- rank the applications with regard to how good an idea they think it would be to fund them, and NIH essentially always follow those recommendations. However, one of the criteria by which the applications are judged is feasibility. This has a very self-fulfilling consequence: that work which the scientific community think is unlikely to succeed never gets a chance to succeed, because the money is never provided to fund it. In practice, the money is often never sought in the first place, because the potential applicant knows that it won't be funded so doesn't waste the time writing the application. Worse yet, this non-funding and consequent non-progress in the science makes the community even more certain that such progress is unlikely so should not be funded (because they see the non-progress and forget that it is the result of the non-funding), so the entrenchment is yet further reinforced. This is not at all specific to anti-aging research -- it applies to any area that is perceived by its research community as intractably hard.

The main reason why Bill Gates doesn't set up an anti-aging lab is quite probably that he doesn't think the research would succeed in his lifetime. I may be being too optimistic, but I think it is very likely that private funding for anti-aging research will increase enormously as soon as the biogerontology research community begins to be even slightly optimistic in its public statements about the likely timescale of such work. And by "slightly optimistic" I only mean the level of optimism that I recently expressed here, and which several others here considered very pessimistic. That time may not be many years away, therefore -- it probably needs only a couple of relatively undramatic breakthroughs. For example, I like to think that if someone established that most of the oxidation of LDL in vivo occurs not in the vasculature or the arterial intima but in the interstitial space, and is caused by electron-spewing muscle fibre segments that have lost mitochondrial respiratory function, efforts to make "nuclear mtDNA" would multiply by orders of magnitude virtually overnight. These are the mechanism and intervention that I have published, of course, but the same would apply to any identification of a "smoking gun" of this sort.

That really sums up the central problem with funding of anti-aging research. No one has found sufficiently definitive evidence of the precise mechanisms of aging to justify big investment in corresponding interventions (that is, in interventions which wouldn't work if the corresponding mechanism were not in fact important in aging). But the sort of breakthrough I mentioned above will surely happen, even in the current parlous funding environment, hence my optimism. I spend a lot of time trying to bring that day forward, drumming up enthusiasm of scientists to do such experiments and enthusiasm of funders to fund them. The experiments are neither particularly hard nor particularly expensive.

Cryonics and Christianity

by Thomas Donaldson

Though I am not a Christian I do have something to say about cryonics which may interest readers.

Basically we've all become cryonicists because we doubt the current definition of "death", which is not only very muddy when you look at it closely, but is also very much tied to current technology. At one time no one knew how to revive people even after a few minutes of no heartbeat and no breathing. Now in hospitals, and sometimes successfully as a part of First Aid, we do this almost without thinking what it means. And if you watch what is happening in on the medical side, non-cryonicist researchers have lengthened the period in which someone can be revived to almost 10 minutes, and look like they will do more. So that means that even if you haven't had a heartbeat or a breath for the 5 minutes we still hear about a lot, you still remain ALIVE.

And so we think that the only valid definition of "death" requires that NO FUTURE TECHNOLOGY, even into the very far future, can revive a person. And even though people who are now in cryonic suspension are considered to be "dead" by those who are not cryonicists, their frozen condition means that they can wait, if necessary, for several millenia to be revived (though most cryonicists think that revival will happen much sooner than that). Hence, we do not know if they are dead at all, and have good reasons to believe they may actually remain alive.

And to Christians such as yourself I would say this: so far as I know, God has never directed you to commit suicide. For that matter, just what God may want of you and your life remains unknown. And since it is the Christian thing to try your best to stay alive, then a logical Christian will think carefully about cryonics. Those who do not have been fooled by all the Authorities who tell you that you are dead after only 5 minutes, and haven't even heard of the successful work to increase that period.

As for what might happen if your suspension fails, you can say when judged that you genuinely tried to stay alive as long as possible.

A Theory of Consciousness

by Chris Fedeli

It is probably a fallacy that a zombie can come to exist in the way many people speculate. The task of getting a creature to imitate consciousness without actually posessing consciousness is likely to be an engineering challenge vastly more difficult then simply making something conscious. To understand why this is so, we need to understand what consciousness is and why humans have it.

Think of the brain as composed of many organs. There are organs in the brain that monitor breathing and other involuntary activities of the body and organs that control our arms and legs when we want to throw a spear or a baseball. The higher up the evolutionary ladder you go, the more sophisticated these brain organs become, all for obviously adaptive reasons.

Now consider a brain organ that evolves to monitor the brain itself. Such an organ would be very adaptive, in that it could coordinate the actions of the left side of the body with that of the right and provide various other housekeeping duties for the organism. This creature would have great evolutionary advantages over creatures without such a brain organ, but it still wouldn't possess consciousness. It would be a zombie of the kind that philosophers speculate about - lacking awareness of its brain states, even though its activities are being monitored and coordinated appropriately.

Human-type consciousness arises out of the evolution of a second brain organ to monitor the first brain monitoring organ. Once an organism has two organs monitoring the brain, with each one simultaneously monitoring the other, consciousness arises as a function of these two organs communicating. This conscious creature with its extra feedback loops does have distinct evolutionary advantages over his zombie cousins. The hypothetical zombie, with its single brain monitoring organ, can coordinate activity of the other brain organs but has no recourse to modify its actions when the monitoring organ itself is suffering an overload, is tired or under duress, or is otherwise impaired. It lacks awareness of its internal states.

An illustration: If you got the zombie drunk, he would keep on trying to perform as if nothing was wrong with him, making quite a spectacle of himself at parties on a regular basis (we all probably know a few zombies). Conscious humans, after downing a fifth of vodka, can speak to themselves in that inner voice - "hey, i'm pretty drunk, maybe I shouldn't drive home tonight" - averting disasters that the zombie would fall prey to.

That 'inner voice' that we all use to silently talk to ourselves is the essence of consciousness. Consider that the presence of such an inner voice necessarily requires the existence of two semi-conscious brain organs, one to talk and one to listen. The zombie's single brain organ could say "i'm drunk" all it likes but there would be no one around to hear or understand it.

So while it is hypothetically possible that a sophisticated zombie could indeed mimic consciousness in several important areas, it would always fail certain tests that require an awareness of higher brain states. Consciousness is not an epiphenomena, but a genuinely useful adaptation that produces real differences in the behavioural options of its bearer.

Too Many Organizations?

by Henry R. Hirsch

In the 2nd Qtr. 1999 issue of Cryonics, on p. 29, Charles Platt asks "Since it (cryonics) is such a tiny field, and no one makes any money in it, why are so many companies competing to offer cryonics services?" I believe the answer lies in the cryonics "personality." If you reveal your belief in the ultimate success of cryonics to anyone - family, friends, professional associates, etc. - you are very likely to have your views rejected and to be regarded as an eccentric. It takes a person with extraordinary confidence in his or her own opinions to persist in the face of such opposition. Thus, when such an individual discovers the "right" way to do cryonics, he or she will try to set up an organization to implement it. It is not surprising that we have many - perhaps too many - organizations.

This description of the cryonics personality may not fit you, but it certainly applies to me. I have discovered the "right" approach to suspension: freeze drying. Unfortunately, I have located only three other people who have expressed an interest in this technique. Most likely if I could find three more I would be CEO of yet another microcompany. To paraphrase an old joke, "If you put two cryonicists alone on a desert island, inside of a month you will have three service providers."

Freeze Drying

by Douglas Skrecky

The best book on freeze-drying of entire animals is one by Rolland Hower from the Smithsonian Institution entitled Freeze-Drying Biological Specimens: A Laboratory Manual.

Time to freeze-dry a human brain at -30 C is 14 days. Weight loss was 80%. Note that although tissue may look good when it is freeze-dried, microscopic morphology of freeze-dried brain tissue is unacceptible due to it's high lipid content. Dehydration in alcohol gives vastly better results, and is much cheaper. Alcohol destroys cell membranes, but there is some evidence that lipid friendly ethylene glycol could be used instead.

One intriguing possibility is partial osmotic dehydration of tissue, followed by dry ice storage. Unlike procedures using harsh chemicals like alcohol, cellular viability may still be possible. Hydrogen bonding of the remaining mostly unfreezable water would stabilize morphology so that the results would be much better than for complete dehydration. Tg' of frozen tissue is above dry ice temperatures, so that if it is not depressed by exogenous cryoprotectants dry ice storage should prove feasible. This is not too much different from current cryonic procedures which mostly afford cryoprotection from dehydration, rather than permeation of glycerol, which passes through the blood/brain barrier only very slowly. The main change would be to substitute something with a higher Tg' like sorbitol for the glycerol, which is also freely soluble in water. A longer period of perfusion should osmotically dehydrate tissue to the extent that ice formation upon freezing would be reduced to low levels even if no cryoprotectant passes into the tissue.

Book Reviews:

The Pick of Pickover

John de Rivaz,

The Science of Aliens

Dr Clifford Pickover's book The Science of Aliens evokes a sense of wonder often absent in much so called science fiction these days, especially the political wranglings of humans dressed in funny rubber make up kits in Star Trek, X Files or Babylon 5.

He discusses issues such as whether aliens will offer humanity immortality as means of subduing our warlike nature. Even more mind stretching is the possibility that when all matter is exhausted in the universe after 10100 years, there will still exist a "diffuse sea of electrons". He evokes questions such as:

Could these be arranged into structures to contain the intelligence of immortals left over from the age of matter?

Could these structures simulate universes of matter that appear to their inhabitants to be like the universe we currently inhabit?

On the basis that most of the lifespan of the universe will be spent in this state, it is in fact more probable that we inhabit such a simulation than the real thing!

Dr Pickover speculates further about way life could survive in this post-matter age of the universe in The Science of Aliens.

The Science of Aliens is an easy fun to read type of book. It may not be the first book to touch on each topic within it, but it does collect them together in a format and with a title to attract new readers into thinking about things in a way that could prepare them to consider cryonics.

Spider Legs

This is a science fiction collaboration with a lot of science input by Dr Pickover, and fictional input by Piers Anthony. It has more in common with Stephen King than Arthur C Clarke, but the "baddies" are motivated by modern fears and play on modern fears by the way they wreck their havoc. It looks as though it also had a lot of research in common with The Science of Aliens, and the plot has a lot in common with Halperin's The Chimeras of Loppet Creek which I personally preferred of the two. But that is a personal preference, and I think the public at large may well like the King-like Spider Legs with its graphic descriptions of people of all sized and genders being eaten alive by monsters. I must say that recovery from some of the injuries described by Pickover and Anthony seems a bit fanciful, I should think.

Black Holes, A Traveller's Guide

Black Holes, A Traveller's Guide is an interesting combination of a science fiction short story written in the second person (odd, that) and a light series of lectures on the subject of black holes. There are computer programs to try, and the maths is easy to follow without any complicated vector operators. The story has an amusing twist at the end, and the whole work conveys a sense of wonder. Such a subject can hardly be expected to have any practical relevance, but the computer programs do give the dabbler in BASIC a change to have a go.

Time, A Traveller's Guide

This was written after Black Holes, A Traveller's Guide and follows exactly the same format. The story was not quite as good, but the subject matter of the book was more interesting and relevant to everyday experience (at least for techies) , particularly the chapter on The Brain's Time Machine. The brain compensates for delay loops in the human body's operating system, and knowing how these work enables experiments to be performed that make it look as though people can see short periods into the future.

Strange Brains and Genius

Strange Brains and Genius is the most thought provoking of these books, and relevant to Longevity Report readers. It mentions cryonics once or twice, and includes a follow-up links section to this topic, albeit with a few out of date addresses. But presumably forwarding systems are in place by the cryonics organisations to deal with this perennial problem.. Also included are previous inventions aimed at preserving dead people for future reanimation.

The basic premise of Strange Brains and Genius seems to be that real creativity, whether in science or art requires that brain are working at the limits of their stability. Many famous scientists were therefore very odd people as compared to mainstream humanity, from unskilled labourers to lawyers, accountants and so on. The lives of several are given a potted biography. Without these eccentrics, modern civilisation would not exist - we would still be in the age of the horse and cart and mud huts, or even caves.

In addition, Dr Pickover suggests that most religious leaders and innovators seemed to have been suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy. (TLE) St Paul, for example, had obvious symptoms of this disease as seen by his own writing. If there had existed a simple widely known herbal remedy for TLE, the world's religions would be unlikely to exist, together with many great works of art, architecture, literature and music. This links to claims made by some "spiritual leaders" that they have "special organs of spirituality".

The whole premise of this book, linking disability with ability, coincides with work in progress by another author. That states that dyslexia sometimes occurs in brains with unusual spacial ability and some firms of architects deliberately employ dyslexics because of this enhanced ability.

Links to further reviews of these books: (with option to purchase)

To minimise postage, please select the UK link if you are Europe based, or the US link elsewhere.


The Science of Aliens

Spider Legs

Black Holes, A Traveller's Guide

Time, A Traveller's Guide

Strange Brains and Genius


The Science of Aliens

Spider Legs

Black Holes, A Traveller's Guide

Time, A Traveller's Guide

Strange Brains and Genius

Click here for a link to Dr Pickover's web pages.

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