LONGEVITY REPORT 76
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26th Update on Fly Longevity Experiments Douglas Skrecky
27th update on fly longevity experiments Douglas Skrecky
My Take on A Nanotech-gift Economy John Grigg
Comparing Organizations Robert Ettinger
Our Future: The Run Away Train? Roger L. Bagula
Cryonics and Abortion David Pascal
Being of Pensionable Age Chrissie Loveday
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 13 no 76. First published March 2000. ISSN 0964-5659.
26th update on fly longevity experiments
by Doug Skrecky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is the 26th update of my fly longevity experiments. Run #21 investigated the effect of various supplements on alcohol induced mortality. The source of alcohol was a white wine, including 12.5% alcohol. I also included a second control bottle which used water in place of the wine. As can be seen, the wine proved to be very toxic, indeed rather more so that I had been led to expect.
In both the day 4, and day 6 census the grape seed proanthocyanidin extract leucoselect once again led the pack, but the results were much more modest than when this supplement was tested against glycerol induced toxicity. Possibly a higher dosage might be more effective. Alas, proanthocyanidins are known to be unstable in solution, so one can not expect long lasting protection, as the fly food is never changed once the experiment has begun.
Of the other supplements, resveratrol, also from grapes proved to be a dud. Artichoke extract (standardized to 5% cynarin) provided some protection, which was apparently longer lasting than that exerted by leucoselect.
Percent Survival on Day
|+ artichoke 250 mg||50||25||25||13||13||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|+ green tea 150 mg||38||25||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|+ leucoselect 100 mg||58||39||21||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|+ resveratrol 100 mg||28||22||17||6||6||0||-||-||-||-||-|
A higher dosage of leucoselect needs to be tested. However for the next experiment I decided (2 months ago) to test the effect of various supplements on age associated mortality of flies, without any toxins such as alcohol added. In addition to leucoselect, I am also testing other
proanthocyanidin sources such as blueberry, and prune juices. I will also be retesting the spice sage, which in earlier experiments was proven to increase survival. Ever since finding that citric acid is effective at suppressing pathogen growth, without toxicity, I had been wondering if the longevity promoting effect of sage is due solely to an antipathogen effect.
27th update on fly longevity experiments
Doug Skrecky email@example.com
This is the 27'th update on my fly longevity experiments. Run #22 investigated the effect on aging of the artichoke, and leucoselect grape extract supplements, which had reduced ethanol induced mortality in run #21. Also some supplements (eg sage) were retested, which had increased longevity in earlier experiments, that had not included citric acid to eliminate pathogen growth. I included blueberry juice as well, since this appears to have a potent brain antiaging effect in rodents.
No benefits on 50% survivals were found, a few supplements headed by artichoke extended maximum lifespan. This increased maximum survival to a surprising degree, from 62 days to 95 days. I can think of two possible explanations for this strange finding. Either artichoke genuinely slows fly aging, or it slows fly food deterioration. This second possibility exists due to the fact I do not change the fly food after a run is started. Although, protein, carbohydrates, and minerals may not deteriorate to a serious degree, in the absence of pathogen growth, vitamins are known to be unstable in solution. Thus it is probable that aged flies were suffering from vitamin deficiencies. If artichoke extract somehow helped prevent the deterioration of these vitamins, then this might account for the positive impact on maximum survival, without any advantage on 50% survival.
The results with sage were quite disappointing, and indicate that most of the longevity promoting effects of sage found in earlier experiments were due to an antipathogen effect. Thus these old experiments are of doubtful value.
Additionally this run discovered a new phenomena, which I had never seen in any of my previous experiments. On the day 17 census the flies in the prune juice bottle, showed almost complete absence of any movement. They were joined on the day 24 census by flies in the blueberry bottle. I usually had to examine the flies in these bottles under magnification to be determine whether they were dead or alive. I speculate their extremely low metabolic rate might be of some interest to cancer patients. Lowered body temperature is known to inhibit tumor growth. If high doses of these juices could lower the metabolic rate in humans, they might reduce body temperature, and thereby extend the lives of cancer patients.
|Run #22||Percent Survival on Day|
|aloe vera 450 mg||47||40||40||30||13||7||3||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|artichoke 250 mg||77||73||65||58||35||38||31||27||23||15||8||4||4|
|artichoke 500 mg||64||52||36||30||18||18||18||6||0||-||-||-||-|
|leucoselect 100 mg||67||58||50||50||46||29||13||8||8||8||4||0||-|
|leucoselect 200 mg||65||41||41||35||29||29||29||24||12||0||-||-||-|
|coriander 1/16 tsp||76||52||45||41||17||14||3||3||3||3||3||3||0|
|hawthorn 500 mg||81||69||50||31||15||8||4||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|royal jelly 500 mg||67||40||33||20||13||13||7||0||-||-||-||-||-|
|sage 1/4 tsp||29||29||29||29||14||14||14||7||7||0||-||-||-|
|E succinate 100 IU||94||72||61||39||22||11||11||11||0||-||-||-||-|
The high early survival with vitamin E succinate was mildly interesting. So in run #23, I tested this on alcohol induced mortality. This proved to be a dud, and I am inclined to think the good initial result in run #22 was mere chance.
Note that once again leucoselect comes through with good results. A higher dosage of this proved to be optimal in retarding alcohol induced mortality, than that found to be best for anti-aging in run #22. The higher free radical generation in alcohol stressed flies may account for this.
|Run #23||Percent Survival on Day|
|+leucoselect 100 mg||80||70||60||50||30||10||0|
|+leucoselect 200 mg||100||100||83||58||25||8||8|
|+E acetate 100 IU||83||83||67||33||0||-||-|
|+E succinate 100 IU||80||70||20||0||-||-||-|
|+E succinate 200 IU||100||58||0||-||-||-||-|
|+E succinate 400IU||79||64||21||0||-||-||-|
My Take on A Nanotech-gift Economy
by John Grigg firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been very interested in the subject of a nanotech-gift economy. When mature nanotech is here I see a level of prosperity the developed nations will have never have seen before. Open-source designs will be available for just about anything one could want. But should a person want a state-of-the-art design they will have to pay because a for profit company that designed that blueprint will be selling it rather then giving it away.
So if you can tolerate having a generic and technically just adequate device you go with open-source but if you want the best, latest and most innovative you will pay for it. And you get accompanying "social status" by paying for the designs. Of course advertising will reinforce the desire of people to "be cool" and buy the latest designs. "Look at Larry, his clothes are open-source, what a loser!" The corporations will need income flowing in from sales to keep the R&D work going also. Information even more then now and not the raw materials really, will be what drives the economy. Mature nanotech will truly make it the information age.
Some variables regarding a nanotech-gift economy are to what extent would A.I. make it easy to develop state of the art open-source designs? Considering the computer power available in the 2030's and 40's I would thing even a average citizen could with home A.I. help create some very impressive products. Of course an entire corporation's efforts would probably far outdo his/her design but then when is enough ever enough? In a future prosperous society I see status symbols becoming sadly even more important as people try to impress each other.
Another question is the exact nature of a nanotechnology. Is a bottle of nano-assemblers simply poured over raw materials? Or is it a device the size of a microwave or a large refrigerator? Would the models available to consumers allow them to build homes or vehicles?
Considering the possible terrorist applications of nanotech (or even just an accident of some kind) and how it would also threaten corporate interests I could easily see heavy government regulation to the point that there would be no chance for a nanotech-gift economy to ever develop.
In the name of national security nanotech assemblers could be kept under wraps to be used only by corporations and government departments that are cleared officially to do so. Just as individuals don't get to have their own private inhome nuclear reactors to power their house, so the mid 21st citizen may be legally banned from personally using a technology that could transform society and at the least severely bend the rules of the old economic order.
I hope I am wrong on this point but I doubt it. This could be a key area of conflict in the 21st century as the public tries to fight for direct access to this technology.
by Robert Ettinger
David King asked on Cryonet about differences between CI and Alcor, and the reasons for the price differential.
On the CI web site there is considerable discussion of specific questions in preparation of patients, and there are also links to all the other cryonics organizations, so anyone can see what each has to say on any topic. Right now I just want to mention four items that are often overlooked or under-appreciated.
1. A fair chunk of the difference in price between CI whole body and Alcor whole body is unrelated to any issues of procedures, but stems entirely from fiscal assumptions.
Alcor (last I heard) assumes a return on investments of 2%, so if ongoing care of a patient (liquid nitrogen and overhead) requires $1,000/year, a $50,000 investment would be needed. CI assumes a return of 5%, so we only need to invest $20,000 to anticipate $1,000 a year. That's a big difference. Which is "better"?
Alcor's assumption may sound "safer" or "more conservative." However, the historical rate of return on equity investments in this century has been around 10% (and in recent years much higher), so CI's assumption of 5% is still pretty conservative, we think.
Also, CI has additional sources of income, including substantial--although irregular--infusions through bequests. Further, CI's overhead is smaller, and in a crunch we could operate with no paid help at all. We own our property free and clear, and have no debt.
2. According to published reports, Alcor expects or hopes--perhaps late this year--to turn over most responsibilities for initial patient preparation to a new for-profit company, BioTransport, which will have advanced capabilities. BT in turn reportedly expects subsequently to offer its services to all cryonics organizations, if contracts can be negotiated, and CI expects in that case to offer BT services as an option to CI members. If this happens, CI members will have available the same procedures as Alcor and CryoCare and others--as an alternative to CI's basic procedure as amended from time to time. The total price, including the BT option, for those who choose it, will undoubtedly be higher than CI's current minimum, but almost certainly still much lower than at other organizations. (We expect our current minimum price to remain in place, for our current procedure and as many improvements as we can manage.)
3. Part of Alcor's attraction has long been that it is the largest--but how did that happen, and what is happening now?
Alcor's relative success owes to many factors. (1) It has had talented and energetic leadership, and supportive members; it earned its relative success. (2) It started out in the most fertile territory, California. (3) The Dora Kent affair created relatively tremendous publicity and sympathy, with lasting effect. (4) As a result of all the publicity, and Alcor's own efforts, for many years Alcor was the only cryonics organization known to many people.
But things have changed in the last couple of years, partly because of the Internet. Now anyone looking for a cryonics organization will find several, not just one. And CI lately has been growing, both in members and patients, both relatively and absolutely, faster than Alcor or any other. (This does not take into account any recent re-influx from CryoCare to Alcor--just people new to cryonics. And "faster" is still a relative term--the absolute numbers, and population-proportionate numbers, are still intolerably small.)
4. No one is always right about everything, and there are no sure bets--only estimates and probabilities. Of those who have carefully studied and visited all the organizations, some have made one choice and some another, including ACS. There have been switches between organizations, sometimes in one direction and sometimes another (but according to our records, usually favoring CI).
A few years ago a bunch of Alcor members--including some of their best and brightest--decided they could get and offer better service through a new organization, CryoCare. CryoCare recently suspended operations, although it may resume operations at a later date. This merely shows, yet again, that life isn't simple. Death isn't simple any more either, unless you are willing to settle for oblivion.
Finally, yet again, remember Balaam's Ass. (I think that was the one.) He starved between two bales of hay, because he couldn't make up his mind. If you join one organization and later want to change, it's not the end of the world. But if you don't join any, and absentmindedly die meanwhile, it IS the end of the world.
Our Future: The Run Away Train?
by Roger L. Bagula ®6 Jan 2000
In writing a reply to a friend in England's letter I wrote what seems to be an essay. I'm going to share with you the ideas and observations that I wrote to him. I wonder if anyone has an idea of where the brakes are?
I saw a very optimistic prediction of computers in every room and doing all sorts of odd jobs. Such naive looks at a future through rose colored glasses is something I can't agree with. Many of us think that we may be the highest that this culture will reach. That in the next few years a decline will accelerate. I can only hope that this is not the case, but I don't see any openness to new ideas in the mathematics community or any of the other learned branches that I'm familiar with: just a hardening of the intellectual arteries!
I confess that I am a big fan of the sermon on the mount, but that I'm not religious in a church going way as my mother and father were. I'm someone who has read too much of other religions to think Christianity has a lock on righteousness. In a lot of cases Christians have historically been worse than many other religions in violating the tenets of the religion in dealing with non-Christians like American Indians and aborigines. We certainly need a newer cleaner belief to hold to. When mankind needs something, it usually finds it. But the changes that result hurt almost as much as they heal.
Semantics, fuzzy logic and several other new ways to approach reality make much of our philosophy in both science and religion obsolete. Ideas like "self-organizing criticality" make older ideas of the organization of the universe and life itself obsolete. We have ways of dealing with problems using computer aided thought that multiply what an intelligent man is today.
Yet we are still tied to the reproduction of our bodies. It is funny: the majority of American families chose to use contraceptives and limit their reproduction ... instead of this being good for them, we now, have a new population of emigrants, most from Mexico and Asia and they really don't much like "white faces" like me and my family? Believe me when I say that prejudice is worse in the other direction? California is getting to be mostly Mexican: legal and illegal. Spanish is heard almost as much as English in the big cities, with oriental languages being second and Arabic third. So by having fewer children we have left the world to these unwashed, uneducated and somewhat acultural masses.
We made the best rational choice for ourselves and it turned out to be the worst choice for our society and culture? There is no doubt that men are men: that these new people will develop a new culture, just as our American ancestors did. That we really have no control which way that culture may turn is troubling. The liberal few who want to educate these as they would our own children seem to be a minority. In schools where the majority of teachers still have white ( or black) faces, the Mexican child is a problem as is the Asian and Arab... My sister in law, my nephew's woman and a friend I know on the Internet are all elementary school teachers and what I hear is a struggle to keep these kids in school and out of trouble: with administrators trying to expel them without understanding or care or to keep them as the ditch diggers,trash collectors and auto mechanics. Since some in my family have married Mexicans, we have seen this first had in our cousins! The remarkable beauty of the children and their hybrid vigor is one ray of hope in this bleak picture.
If we only had a moral certainty like our grandparents believed in? Seeing from a distance of time is probably deceptive: they were as confused in many ways as we have been. I have to think that we must do our best to be our best and strive everyday to make some small progress and hope it will be enough. The fall of civilizations is inevitable from the "self-organizing criticality" point of view. If we look at culture as complexity structures like piles of sand, the sand can be piled only so high before it tumbles down. The social rules are the glue that holds the sand better together; in our generation's abandoning of older rules but failing to really replace them, we have weakened the binding ties of our civilization at one of the worst possible times: when the resources of oil and needed metals for the industrial base were beginning to become scarce. We lost our "colonial war" in Viet Nam, but won the intellectual and cultural battle with Communism. Not that just our guns/ missiles were better, but our music and clothing were best. We lost physically, but culturally we won. Our movies and cartoons were what they watched, not that of the Russians or Chinese. Comic books turned out to be a more effective weapon than jet airplanes. Looking at London , Rome , Athens and other centers of civilization , New York isn't all that uncommon. Los Angeles and San Francisco are a new kind of city, but still the cities of the past. We can hope that the new electronic based civilization that is developing around computers, telephones and satellites will survive the fall that many thinkers see in our culture in the next few years. The thing that makes me afraid is the disrespect of knowledge and intelligence that seems all around. I'm as guilty as the next man, I suppose. The fragmentation of language as we see in mathematics where one field can't communicate ideas with another so that the same idea gets named different things in economics and mathematics, maybe?
What would it take to shore up the civilization for one more generation? Worship of ignorant actors and athletes over scholars seems a very wrong turn, doesn't it? Since my eyes have gotten bad, I have come to appreciate audio books and video tapes. Teaching by the few best teaching scholars is now available to a greater audience, but they still flock to see Pablum like The Matrix? I have found that most people can't see the truth of an idea even when it comes up and slaps them in the face.
I've seem that in myself as well as others! Many times the problem isn't better communications, but contagious devolving trends like drugs, gangs and disrespectful behavior. Communication by movies actually spreads the lack of moral certitude and social disordering trends. If we could depend on the "good nature" of man, it would be better, but many chose what is a seems to be short term "better state"' for real long term gains.: the easy path over the hard road.
I agree with many that say the free enterprise and industrialism as a path to world wealth and prosperity is probably a long term mistake. Communism in the Marxist- Leninist form has proven itself a wrong turn much faster! I would have to say that the rejection of Religion and morality may have been it's biggest mistake: a man without code of conduct or hope chooses the easy bottle over the work ethic and such a society is doomed. But the rape of the environment and the wage enslavement the masses of the industrial world doesn't hold a long term alternative, does it!
The working compromise that the 30's generation of my father worked out of trade unionism having a check on industrialism's worst faults has broken down in my generation. We see the richer using the poorer as they wish much as the slaves in the Roman Empire were used. There is some check of law in the United States itself, but not in off shore factories that make the turn of the century factories look tame in their abuses in many cases. Such behavior is a mistake in any culture or time, but greed has it's result in free enterprise, over and over!
Without a moral guide, compass for conduct a culture is lost. For most in the past this has been found in Religion. We intellectuals can say that philosophically we must behave ethically for reasons of social integrity: this doesn't bind most ordinary souls in our world. Taoism is too intellectual for most as well? There has to be a standard of "Goodness" that is recognized for a culture or civilization to survive. Our current Christian based society falls short of that ideal as set by most of the great saints in history. As individuals few of us are any where near "perfect" ( myself included!), yet we need a goal of better behavior to strive for and a reason for behaving that way that is deeper than an intellectualization.
It is ours to ask the questions of this sort, but it may not be ours to answer them. I can be real high and mighty in writing, but it comes down to a problem of real life that has anger, crime, violence and revenge happening all around us. People in California actually refuse to know or help their next door neighbors even in common problems: there is no sense of community.
Theories of social processes are fine for essays, but in daily life we face the reality of a failing culture and it's stupid and disorganized individuals. Families are disrupted, and computers allow us to make mistakes faster, ha, ha... I wish I were smart enough to have a real "answer"! I'm just a hard working experimental scientist and trained observer: knowledge doesn't make me better than the fellow next to me on the trolley! We seem to be on a run away train. No one knows where or what the breaks are to stop the slide toward the end of the line for current western culture.
Last Modified: 6 January 2000® by Roger L. Bagula
The concept of immigration controls is a silly one if you narrow it down. Where do the borders end? Should there be barriers between counties, towns and even streets where we all have to show out passports and pay import/export duties? Clearly not, so why have them between countries.
In any age there are examples of slavery - today the average person works for no pay until March or April to pay taxes for instance. The high price of housing causes another form of slavery - stay in the job you don't like, or lose your mortgage and your home if you become unemployed.
At the beginning of the last century, you could buy a field, plant it with cabbages, and make enough money from your first years' labours to pay for the field. Today farmers are unlikely to be out of debt for their land throughout their whole lives. Conversely, if someone inherits a farm with no mortgage, then one could sell it and live off the interest without working.
Yet there are advantages. At the beginning of the century medicine was a mere shadow of what it is today. There was no radio, tv and indeed most homes had no electricity. It would be nearly 80 years before people could have computers and the Internet.
Authoritarianism all over the world made two conscripted world wars possible in the first half of the century. Many countries had conscription and the death penalty even in peace time. Today, global communication via the Internet has reduced the powers of government substantially. Writing in The Sovereign Individual James Davidson and William Rees-Mogg say that information technology will bring about the collapse of the nation-state, the collapse of the welfare state, and the collapse of big employers. Instead individuals will be completely responsible for their own destinies.
As stated above, this will make immigration a meaningless concept. People are just people, not Japanese people, Mexican people or <inset your adjective here> people.
All this progress comes with the advance of technology. Yes, it is a runaway train if you like, and indeed some people will suffer, for example people who earn a living from obsolescent professions such as immigration officer. But on average people live better as time progresses, especially if you view the progress over centuries and do not make the common mistake of comparing life for the rich in the past with the life of average or even poor people today. [This mistake is easily made as most writings made in the past were by rich people - the poor could not write.]
As to refusal to listen to new ideas, this problem has existed throughout time. Everything we take for granted today was once the domain of people who were regarded as eccentric and who had a hard time getting anyone to listen to them. For further reading on this concept, see Dr Clifford Pickover's Strange Brains and Genius.
But if something really works, whether it is a physical system or a theory that better describes reality, then eventually people do listen. So today we have flight, cars, radio, television, home computers etc. as well as relativity Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and an understanding of the mechanism of the universe that would be beyond the imagination of people more than 150 years ago.
At the turn of the century it was suggested by the establishment that cars were not a practical proposition because not enough artisans could be trained as chauffeurs. Slightly before then, telephones were considered silly because not every home could have a trained telephone operator in it. These ideas seem absurd to us today, but they were establishment thought not to be argued with at the time. Such put-downs are often based on misconceptions in this case that average people could never drive their own cars or use their own telephones.
Only a couple of decades ago, it was thought that the Internet would be impracticable because telephone usage costs would be too high. But since then telephone companies have lost their monopolies around the world and charges have fallen substantially. The Internet brought much more business, and the deregulated companies made vastly increased profits. So again, the telephone cost argument against the Internet was blinkered thinking.
Such blinkered thinking has been shown not to retard progress, especially again when looking over longer periods of time. High telephone costs did hold the Internet back in the UK, but only for a few years. The monopoly company privately owned by the British Government, British Telecom, did try to introduce something similar in the UK when costs were high, and it failed for that reason. After British Telecom became a public limited company and had to compete with others, it became a carrier for Compuserve, the US network that ran alongside the Internet for a while charging by the hour. But then true Internet Service providers such as AOL and Demon appeared and charged fixed fee access. The trend now is for zero cost Internet, in exchange for users giving over about 15% of their screen for advertising banners. Compuserve still exists as an Internet Service Provider. My point here is that blinkered thinking merely held back the tide for a very short time. It did not stop progress.
In short I think that nothing less that an asteroid impact or nearby supernova could stop progress now. Luddite anti-science campaigns such as those against genetics cannot work because there are so few individuals needed to make the key movements of progress. If progress towards a cure for a particular disease is banned in one country, it will be developed underground or in another. Virtually all administrations are aware of this.
For example, cloning of whole human beings will never happen except in the odd instance because it is a pointless thing to do - nothing can be gained from it. The fact that it won't become widespread isn't because of some power crazed do-gooders, it is because it doesn't confer benefit to any individual doing it. But cloning will enable patients requiring transplants to have new organs grown for them using their own tissue. The international transplant organ trade will go away. Relatives of deceased people will no longer be subject to emotional blackmail for their organs, and indeed live people will not be pressured for "spare" parts for their relatives.
On average and over long periods of time, progress benefits people. Only a total collapse of civilisation can stop it.
Cryonics and Abortion
by David Pascal <email@example.com>
There are already thousands of fetuses being held essentially in cryostasis in IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinics throughout the Unites States and elsewhere.
The reason is fertility drugs. Such drugs, when successful, tend to produce several embryos, not just one. Of course, for a woman to bring eight or nine embryos to term is near to impossible. Fatality lurks for both mother and embryos in the attempt, and so doctors select only one or two of the embryos to implant, freezing the rest. They don't destroy the embryos because if the ones implanted fail to take, the remaining ones can be thawed and implanted without having to put the mother through the whole process of fertilization all over again. (Having extra embryos on hand also allows doctors to implant the embryos in sterile couples, surrogate mothers, and so on, not to mention giving researchers extra fodder for medical experimentation.)
The thing to remember, though, is that such embryos are put into cryostasis rapidly the optimal period being within 18.0 hours after conception, or so I've read. The egg is fertilized, removed, and cooled down as soon as possible -- and that is a very different situation from what we usually think of as getting an abortion . Immediate embryo removal is not the first thing on most people's post-coital To Do list. A month or more can pass before a woman learns, or even suspects, that she s become pregnant, and by that time her fetus is a complex entity. Frozen embryos taken immediately upon fertilization have been successfully brought to term, but I m not aware of that being the case with any fetus already one, two, three, or more months into development.
I'd venture to say that it hasn't been done because it can't be. No large mammal has ever successfully come out of cryopreservation, and the one-to-two pound infant killed in a late-term abortion is a large mammal.
Why do it?
Need the entire fetus be preserved at all? One of the recurring arguments in cryonics is about the preservation of memory, but what meaning does memory have for a fetus? In theory one could take a minimal tissue sample from a six-month old aborted fetus, cryopreserve that, scrap the rest, and still clone a genetically exact child from it at some future point. What memories would be there to lose? On the other hand, one would face the strange situation of saving a child by preserving bare handful of cells, while perhaps destroying the same(?) child's living infant body, complete with brain, heart, lungs, fingers, toes, organs, fingerprints, nervous system, and possibly capable of surviving in an incubator. The argument could even be extended: if coherent, accessible memory defines personhood, how much of a person is six-month-old child?
Or a one-year old child? Is killing a two-year-old OK if we save a strand of its hair first? Most everyone would of course say no, but it does put cryopreserving infants into rather a interesting and puzzling category. Admittedly, I can't really see anyone objecting to removing and cryopreserving a few cells from a fetus, particularly if that removal doesn't injure its subsequent possible development. On the other hand, I don t see a great rush to such a service on the part of the public either.)
But I don't want to get away from my point. In proposing a business venture, you have to understand what precisely you are offering and what you aren't. If a woman who is a few months pregnant comes to a cryonics organization (or even to her doctor) and says she wants to have the child removed for re-implantation after her financial situation improves, it won't happen. The child is already so complex a structure that taking it to minus 196 C will disarrange and damage it sufficiently to render viability impossible. That's not to say such a cryopreserved fetus can't be saved someday. But to do it one must invoke the n word, invariably bashed on Cryonet. Damage on a cellular, nay, molecular level takes place with all current forms of freezing large mammalian organisms, 21CM ice blockers or not. Nothing so subjected is going to come out OK unless cellular or molecular repair -- nanotech or something like it -- is developed.
Now by a happy circumstance, eighty billion dollars worth of research money is being poured into nanotech research by everyone from Princeton, MIT, Xerox, Germany, Japan, the Army, Navy, etc. etc. But until that research bears fruit, no one going into cryostasis these days is going to come out, virtually all non-IVF aborted fetuses included. Preserving mid-term aborted fetuses would not be radically different from something like neuropreservation. Perfusion would probably be required, plus people to do it, plus funding to pay for all that. Revival will take decades, and preservation for decades will take money. We have to assume that the woman going for such an abortion alternative already believes that cryonic suspension will prove to be viable. Right she is. I think so too.
Nonetheless, a group proposed by Mr Wakfer on Cryonet would be preaching to the converted, and at the moment there are not enough converts to meet such his proposed group's overhead. And even if there were, there'd be problems. Most women having abortions have them (I assume) because having a child is not terribly convenient. Paying a neuro-like $50,000 lump sum, or even half that, for a cryo-abortion isn t terribly convenient either. Hence I don't see a lot of people queuing up to get one. Add that to the fact that (to date) no one to my knowledge has ever so much as even asked a cryonics organization to cool a fetus, and one has to pause. Business operates on supply and demand, and where demand is zero, proposed businesses need to step back and take stock.
I don't want to be misunderstood: I think that Mr Wakfer's idea is generally right, and worth pursuing, and also that there is a logical affinity between pro-life supporters and cryonicists. A fetus in cryostasis is alive, and a fetus washed down a hospital sink is dead, and we ought to save lives if we can; it's our job. If an organization offered to preserve fetuses with that end in mind, I would support it, and I believe no small number of pro-lifers would too. It s essentially a good idea. But a good idea and a successful business venture based on a good idea are two different things.
A related venture has a good chance of making it (which I'll get to in a second, but not an abortion-alternative approach. I think that has the potential of being a disaster.
I would say the chances of getting the Catholic Church to fund Mr Wakfer's project is zero. Papal encyclicals tend not to get in-depth reviews on Cryonet, so the Catholic position on reproduction here is an example of religious mystery par excellence. But it s worth reviewing nonetheless, because I consider that particular Church to be one of cryonics best potential allies - perhaps the only one with the sort of general popular appeal that cryonics clearly lacks.
The Church's position on reproduction is what it is because it focuses not purely on the result (a new human life), but on that life and the people involved in bringing that life into existence. The Church, for example, has always condemned masturbation, not because it considers sperm to be people, but because it considers that the person indulging in that particular vice is making a choice that inclines the practitioner to isolation and solipsism. If you have sexual feelings and you try to satisfy them by finding a partner, you have to enter human society and look for one; you have to be at least mildly sociable, decent, and pleasant; should you find a partner, you may end up producing an entirely new human being, perhaps several; you then face the responsibility of raising them, caring for them, teaching them, setting an example for them. In short, you join the human community; you grow. If you stay home and masturbate, by contrast, you sink into subjective fantasies and illusions, and live a life of relative isolation, sterility, and unreality. This is also the root of the Church's objection to things like birth control: it tends to put short-term self-absorbed personal pleasure ahead of long-term personal and social growth. Kierkegaard said, "the door to happiness opens outwards". Maybe yes, maybe no; but the Church feels that the door to reality certainly does open outwards, and whatever turns an individual out of himself, away from self-absorption, and towards other human beings, it regards as essentially good, and indeed something that eventually leads to the backdrop of all created beings, namely God.
One can agree or disagree, of course. The point is, given those views, I find it hard to believe that the Church would ever OK a woman putting a viable fetus into cryostasis. If a woman going to college were to say, Well, I'll put this kid s life on hold for six years till I get my Ph. D., it might seem like a reasonable decision to her, but I expect the Church's response would be that no person has the right to put any child's life on hold for six years, for any reason whatsoever. There are exceptions: if woman taking fertility drugs were to produce ten embryos, she couldn't possibly survive or bring the embryos to term, and in such cases the Church might well relent. But cryostasis as a Church-approved casual alternative to birth? Never.
Having said that, we should very quickly remember that the Church is the only major organization that has ever gone to bat publicly for individuals in cryostasis. For the Roman Catholic Church, cryonics is not a possibility: it is a reality. Catholicism holds that a person is a person from the point of conception, period, and faced with the fact that such persons, in the form of embryos, have already been taken down to 196 C for years, kept there for years with zero life signs, and been brought back, the Church has acknowledged it, and indeed fought for the rights of such people with a rigour that puts cryonicists to shame.
I'm thinking particularly of the incident in 1995 in Britain, where Parliament ordered several thousand fetus embryos held in cryostasis over five years to be removed and destroyed. Howls of outrage did not issue from BioPreservation, the Extropian List, or Xerox PARC but it did from the Vatican, which denounced the move officially and loudly, going so far as to inspire over one hundred Italian women (including two nuns) to offer to serve as surrogate parents. The embryos were destroyed, needless to say. But a hard position binding on a vast group of individuals was carved out, and publicly stated.
That is no small thing. The largest religious organization in the world, the oldest surviving institution in human history, has publicly committed itself to the position that a human being placed in cryostasis retains the elementary human right not to be destroyed by anyone, the government included, and should be protected and revived if and when possible. Why does that matter? Because there are one thousand cryonics members in the world, and one billion Catholics. We could use a billion friends. We don't need a billion enemies. If some cryonics or cryonics-related organization came up with a way to save abandoned fetuses, that tiny organization would be getting the blessing of a massive organization, in more ways than one.
However, if that cryonics organization went around encouraging abortion, saying, abortions are OK now , or ended up destroying so much as one fetus out of financial reasons or handed it over to medical research, potentially vast support would vanish and potentially vast opposition surface. This we don't need. Mr Wakfer, breaking with a long cryonics tradition of dumping on the general public's Judeo-Christian assumptions at every turn, seems to be putting out feelers artfully and diplomatically, and the approach alone justifies the effort. But any support he gets will (in my opinion) be hedged with qualifications, and could easily sour.
All in all, then, I don't think an organization specializing solely in freezing aborted fetuses would work. (Not, at least, without a marketing effort approaching genius and with funding to spare, advantages not in great supply in the world of cryonics.) Current demand is zero, the possibility of antagonizing a large segment of the public is huge, media caricature is inevitable, and technology seems to be on the point of rendering the attempt superfluous: Japanese researchers working on the problem of creating an artificial womb (for cows) claim to be a few years away at most from success, and once that happens, aborted fetuses won't have to be frozen at all: they can be brought to term artificially.
More promising (from Mr Wakfer's perspective) is the fact that IVF clinics put numerous embryos on ice right now, will continue to for the foreseeable future, and destroy them regularly and nervously. I expect they d be greatly prefer to have some other organization take the fetuses off their hands. One of the great problems in the British case was that a solid of ten percent of the parents of the fetuses slated for destruction could not even be contacted - divorce, relocation, paperwork bungles, etc., resulted in fetuses being destroyed only to have their parents call up afterwards and getting an unpleasant surprise. Destroying fetuses has the potential of putting an IVF clinic in way of potential legal suits, religious protests, targets of violent right-to-lifers, etc. Passing the buck, and the fetus, to a secondary organization committed to their preservation would be a reasonable and tempting move.
I should point out that there are already organizations that hold fetuses indefinitely: California Cryobank, for instance site Currently it charges about $200 to open up an account and $250 per year to maintain the fetus. It also approaches the market intelligently, by offering embryo cryopreservation as one among a host of services to medical researchers, patients and doctors. (Sperm bank services, etc.) Seeing how they do it might give a Mr Wakfer's proposed business a viable model to imitate.
Another thing a prospective embryo storage organization might want to consider is storing frozen tissue as well, for cloning. I've come across two such organizations on the net. They seem to be making a profit. (Indeed one organization called Clonaid is charging $200,000 to take tissue and clone an entire person once it becomes possible. They also have a program to take tissues from children (Insuraclone) and pets (Clonapet). They do have a slight drawback in that the organization s founder claims to have been talked into the venture by four-foot space aliens called the Elohim. Nonetheless, they've apparently made $20 million plus at this point. I expect sane people could probably do as well.)
I also think each cryonics organization should think about dealing with this situation, and have a response. What if a woman approached CI or Alcor, say, and asked to have the organization cryopreserve a fetus it she had every intention of aborting, or even wanted merely to have the organization store a cell sample from the fetus for future cloning? Does each organization have a policy thought out, paperwork, cost charts, an alternative provider to direct the woman to? Or do we follow Nancy Reagan, and just say no? We freeze dogs and turn humans down regularly already, of course, but it's not a trend that necessarily has to continue.
Summing it up: anyone thinking about starting any such service should:
1. See if any other sort of business is doing it, and how, and how well. Copying doesn't just work for Xerox. Some good models are: California Cryobank, tissue-for-cloning groups, etc. Also, related organizations could help. Embryo adoption, for instance, is being pioneered by organizations like Creating Families, Inc., the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, and the University of Iowa Health Center. An embryo storage group could work with such to profitably place embryos with prospective parents, not just store them definitely.
2. Get harder data. If you want to know how the public in general (and right-to-lifers in particular) would react to your proposal, don't ask Cryonet. Ask them. Do a survey. Running one on the Internet costs next to nothing. Get on a newsgroup or hit a chat room or forum. Get some stamps and envelopes and a good mailing list from Hugo Dunhill Inc. they re on the net, just like everybody else.
3. Prepare better. I found nearly all of Mr. Wakfer's remarks thoughtful, compassionate, and to the point, but the worst was saved for last, when he wrote: but I would rather do this [with] a select group of people who are pro-actively interested in effecting this rather than to a bunch on potentially nit-picking dilettantes. This is an error. Criticism is priceless. It is infinitely better to find out the flaws in your product and approach now, rather than in the marketplace, where such feedback is accompanied by bankruptcy. The morelife.org web page, I'm sorry to say, is a good case in point. I logged on and clicked onto a page said to list all its supporters (none - page under construction ), another on what people say about them (nothing - page under construction ), and lastly one on what you can do (send us money).
Now Paul Wakfer is a very distinguished individual, as are his associates, and I have no doubt that there are upright, scholarly, well-respected men and women already helping and supporting him at morelife.org on this issue. But why go public and not mention a single one? Fine goals are not achieved by sloppy means. People log on, think scam , and never return. The page gave me the impression that someone had what they thought was a good idea, and leapt to make it public at once, leaving the tedious work of handling the little details for later. Quite understandable. Noble sentiments have a way of doing that. Which is why they produce disaster. In business, thought has to precede action. J. Edgar Hoover said it all: A careful scenario gets results.
Addendum A bit off-topic, but in surfing the web in search of morelife.org, I came across an article on cryopreserving pig embryos. Apparently pig embryos are notoriously resistant to successful cryopreservation, but a group of researchers seem to have come up with some sort of microfilament inhibitor that s more than doubled the rate of survival, a result which has made the swine industry go (dare I say) hog-wild. High culture the swine industry is not; still, I get the impression that this might be a good market for 21CM to offer its ice blockers to, just as those microfilament inhibitors might be of some interest to Brian Wowk & company, assuming they haven't checked it out already. The article is available at
its author is Tara Weaver, at the Agricultural Research Service, Information Staff, 6303 Ivy Lane, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770 (phone (301) 344-2824), and the researcher in charge is John R. Dobrinsky at the USDA-ARS Germplasm and Gamete Physiology Laboratory, Bldg. 200, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-2350; phone (301) 504-8134, fax (301) 504-5123. )
Being of Pensionable Age
by Chrissie Loveday
I've now been a pensioner for almost a week. I've filled in all the forms to get a (very small) state pension: I've received the form to allow me a senior citizen's rail card and I've paid for my last prescription medication. I can even get my eyes tested for free now. One of my friends asked me worriedly, 'How do you feel about it? Really feel, I mean.' My truthful answer? Fine. Just fine. I have no problem with it. It made me stop to think. I remember my own Grandma reaching sixty. It merely confirmed what me the child had always known: she was an old lady. She'd always been an old lady. In fact, when I think about it, I only remember her as old. To a small child, anyone over twenty is probably ancient. But I don't remember her playing silly games with me or going for long walks or swimming or wanting to drive. She always had a nap after lunch and put her feet up whenever she sat down.
So have twenty-first century sixty-year-olds changed? Is it just my imagination that we are much more active and do more things? My writing career only started seriously over the past five years ... a whole new career, in fact. I certainly don't feel ready to hang up my keyboard, now I'm old enough to retire (officially). I'm sure my own sons don't think of me as being old. At my celebration party last weekend, they all conked out long before I did and slept in later in the mornings. There are probably many more sources of inspiration and entertainment nowadays. Perhaps it is the constant stimulation of new ideas that makes me at least feel as lively as ever. Life expectation is much longer now and I am well enough and energetic enough to expect may more things to happen and delights to experience. There's still a whole lot of world I'd like to visit and the thought of flying still makes me squeak with joy inside. Maturity has allowed me not to embarrass fellow passengers by squeaking out loud as I usually did only ten years ago. OK, so I need wheels on my luggage now, but they are there and cheap and most other folks have them too.
If anything, I think life is on the verge of becoming even more interesting now I'm supposed to have more time available. I don't even believe I take very much longer to do the chores ... just longer to get around to doing them, maybe. Perhaps it's a more relaxed attitude that allows to me to procrastinate the less welcome jobs. The dirty sheets will still be there tomorrow if I don't bother to put them in the machine. Besides, I have a new computer game to play. I just have to work out how to get the hot chicken to the parrot before it gets cold. My son's lent me the strategy guide, so I think I can now work it out.
Past it at sixty? No fear. I look forward to the next sixty years and hope to see, enjoy and utilise as many changes as there have been in the past sixty. After that, there's always the hope that cryonics is the answer to the following century. In the meantime, I'll keep taking the pills!
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