Long Life 5
Long Life: the Cryonics Institute newsletter
May 2003 -- Volume 2, Number 5
Welcome to Long Life -- the electronic newsletter of the Cryonics Institute. We're here to update you with brief cutting-edge news, updates, links, and information about the latest scientific, medical, health, anti-ageing, and social developments relevant to CI's goal of saving, preserving, and extending human life. Long Life may also include news about Cryonics Institute events and member activities and opinion. We welcome your feedback, and encourage readers to forward issues to friends and interested parties.CI and general cryonics newsCI Research Forges AheadDr. Yuri Pichugin's vitrification research continues to progress, although for patent-related reasons CI cannot provide details immediately at this time. However, we can say definitely that Dr. Pichugin has devised solutions that do vitrify at reasonably slow cooling rates. And also that, when applied to rat brain slices, the new solutions result in good viability, though not yet perfect, after exposure to cryogenic temperatures, as measured by the K/Na criterion.There will be a natural progression from rat brain slices, to whole animals and larger animals, to human cadavers supplied for use in biological research. Results after rewarming will be verified by several different criteria. CI hopes to be able to use the new solutions and procedures for improved care for CI patients within the year.
Further information about CI's research effort, and how you can help contribute to the effort, may be found on the CI web site at www.cryonics.org/research.html.
It was revealed earlier this month on Cryonet that Alcor President Dr. Jerry Lemler has been diagnosed with cancer. The news was met with great regret by the entire cryonics community, all of whom have noted with respect and admiration Dr. Lemler's exemplary leadership of Alcor, and his fine work and many substantive contributions to the cause of cryonics.
Dr. Lemler's presence at last year's Cryosummit was one of the high points of that historic meeting. But in light of the current situation, it was felt that the need to place the burden of additional travel and discussions on Dr. Lemler and his family and associates was not warranted, and so the plans for a second Cryosummit in June of this year have been -- for the moment -- postponed.
CI, its leadership, its staff, and its members, extend to Dr. Lemler and his family our full support and our very best wishes, and we sincerely hope that Dr. Lemler has a quick, full, and speedy recovery.
From the Immortalist:
NEWS & VIEWS
Update From Suspended Animation
This is the first of what we hope will many updates from Suspended Animation, Inc. over the next six months or so.
Suspended Animation, Inc (SA) got operationally underway in February of 2002 on a nine-day standby, transport, and vitrification effort in conjunction with Alcor. Significant capital infusion arrived in May, 2002. We were only able to move into a facility in November. Immediately thereafter we moved our equipment from Rancho Cucamonga, only to put much of it in storage to make room for the facility build out. Only one municipality in all of south Florida would permit our animal research activities. Finding a similarly friendly landlord in that one small town proved difficult. Fortunately for us the facility is within about two miles of the Florida Atlantic University, which has just welcomed its first freshman medical school class this past month. Our address is:
Suspended Animation, Inc.
1082 South Rogers Circle
Boca Raton, FL 33487
Phone: (954) 997-4062 (primary and emergency),
David Hayes cell phone is (561) 703-2388
David Shumaker cell is (954) 557-8760 and his home is (941) 743-9584
We are at: www.suspendedanimationinc.com (crude that it is)
Since our beginning, we have been busy with patients. We have participated in three standby/recovery/transports followed by patient neuro vitrification / whole body freeze and three standbys that were terminated with patient survival. One case was groundbreaking, with the patient stored at intermediate temperature after vitrification. All of these activities have been made possible by Alcor who has enabled us to work on cases that we could not have done by ourselves due to our lack of facilities.
As many already know, Mike Darwin quit last July, leaving us at a critical moment. After a somewhat trying period following Mike's departure, SA completely released him from his employment contract. Significantly, four of our patient activities occurred after Mike quit. In fact, Dave Hayes, our COO, is clearly one of the most experienced per sons in standby/transport of those now active. While Mike had an immense amount of experience that we will miss, his departure in some ways opens the door for a new generation of cryonics personnel.
In November of 2002 we hired Mike Quinn, a 25 year veteran of animal research and emergency response medicine. Chris Dougherty, PhD (Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology), who has been doing research on ischemic and reperfusion damage to cardiac tissue, starts work with us this month. Together Chris and Mike will lead our future research. We are interviewing additional medical and technician personnel for our staff. If you know of someone, please get in touch with us. We anticipate being able to provide high quality standby and transport for anyone within about 90 days. Patient cryopreservation at our facility is still at least 4-7 months away, depending upon how fast we can assemble and train personnel and fabricate equipment.
While we have been involved only with Alcor patients during our first year, SA wants to emphasize that it is dedicated to providing cryopreservation services ecumenically. As promised from the beginning, our services and our technology will always be available to serve anyone, irrespective of organizational association. We are equally anxious to pursue developments in conjunction with others. We were engaged with Alcor because Alcor, their patients, and facilities provided us an opportunity to perform work, where otherwise we could not. have. These efforts have provided us a jump start in learning critical details of the overall cryopreservation process that will help us support the entire community earlier than we would have been able to do otherwise.
Thanks to Dave Shumaker for the SAI update.
Concerning relations among CI, its members, and SAI or others, our aim is to allow the widest range of options to our members, including preparation elsewhere and storage at CI, or vice versa, if the member perceives a rationale for the strategy. Such division of responsibilities has, in fact, occurred more than once.
Concerning research strategies--sharing of plans, information, and benefits--that is a much more difficult area and likely to bog down in legal or administrative quicksand.
There is added complication in that SAI, TransTime, 21CM, and Cryospan are organized for profit, while CI, ACS, and Alcor are nonprofit. However, we are always open to suggestions, and we will always keep in mind the needs of members of all organizations.
UPDATE FROM SUSPENDED ANIMATION March 30, 2003
Suspended Animation continues to develop its facilities in Boca Raton, FL, while it provides limited services to patients. Over the past month, SA performed a patient Standby and Transport in Florida under a last minute direct contract with the patients son. The son made separate last minute arrangements with CI for cooldown and long term custodial care.
In this case, SA was bedside when the patient died late at night and was able to immediately initiate medication, CPS, transfer into SAs portable ice bath, and connection to a Respiratory Integrated Thumper to provide continual circulation and oxygenation until washout began.
The MLSS, the integrated cart is used in this transport activity. This major asset, which Mike Quinn our paramedic/researcher is updating and improving, enhances SAs ability to respond quickly to local Florida standby/transports (Mike is also making a portable version of the MLSS cart above for use on distant standbys.).
In early March SA participated in the transport of an Alcor patient in Southern California and a standby for another Southern California Alcor patient, whose condition improved. Meanwhile, SA personnel attended a week-long Alcor training session in Prescott Arizona. In addition to being students, SA personnel provided portions of the training related to blood washout and would have provided additional instruction had the Standby and Transport efforts not had priority.
The construction at SA has not progressed very far. The city of Boca Raton has moved ahead at glacial speed while processing permits and our construction has been held up accordingly. The vast majority of our equipment remains in local storage awaiting completion of our facilities, including a "procedure room" and associated scrub and support rooms, a pharmaceutical storage room, and two laboratories. One of the laboratories will be focused on supporting ongoing cryopreservation activities, while the other will be focused on R&D.
Work is underway on a whole body cooldown box that we hope will serve both traditional freezing and whole body vitrification patients. We are about to sign a long term contract for LN2, which will be stored inside our facility in a 10,000 liter dewar.
Meanwhile, Chris Dougherty has come aboard and is buried in literature regarding mitigation of ischemic damage. He is reviewing our proposed anti-ischemia drug protocol to find ways to improve it and reduce the labor required to produce and administer it.
Dave Hayes just got back from a week at LABVIEW school and is beginning to put together the software to run our computer controlled vitrification perfusion system.
We are still looking for additional staff, including paramedics, a physician and/or veterinarian, and a secretary receptionist/bookkeeper. Hopefully the next picture of our facility will show walls.
Ben Best Addresses Transhumanists
On February 26, 2003, the Toronto Transhumanist Association hosted a talk by Canadian cryonics expert, Ben Best, titled, "Can Cryonics Save Your Life?"
The talk was held at the Parliament library from 6:30 until 8:15 PM. Interest and attendance was very good; we even had one attendee fly in from Montreal to attend the talk.
Ben Best is the President of the Cryonics Society of Canada and President & Secretary of CryoCare Foundation. Ben was also involved in the very first cyronics case in Ontario last year. We were honoured to have a speaker of
Ben's caliber come out for a TTA event.
Ben spoke for nearly 2 hours and addressed a wide variety of topics. He spoke of the science behind cryonics, the state of the industry, recent innovations, and the battle against aging. Ben also tied in a number of Transhumanist themes into his talk, including posthumanism, his optimistic view of the future ture, and the eventual goal of ending aging. He also fielded some challenging questions, and dealt with a number of difficult issues head-on.
After the talk a number of us relocated next door to the local pub where we had a few pints and discussed cyborgization, wearables (including recording devices), the nature of the human mind and consciousness, and life-extension.
All in all, it was an excellent and stimulating evening. The TTA would like to sincerely thank Ben for volunteering his time and expertise.
Vice-President, Toronto Transhumanist Association
Deputy Editor, Betterhumans
Another New Scientist Competition
John de Rivaz announced on Cryonet that New Scientist will hold another "weird competition." This time the winner will have their genome sequenced. The competition opens on 15 March, when details can be found in the magazine or on http://www.newscientist.com/competition
Previous contests have concerned the invention of a device to walk on water, and of course cryonics.
The other competitions don't seem to have produced anything like as much news coverage as the cryonics one in September 2002. But unfortunately this resulted in the winner, Helen Tibble from Congleton, Cheshire, choosing the alternative prize of a holiday in Hawaii.
Nevertheless nearly 30% of entrants would have chosen cryonics. The number of voters in a New Scientist poll timed to run with the competition produced a similar ratio.
There were three times the number of voters as entrants in the competition although it is likely that everyone who went in for the competition also did the poll. Translated over the population of the UK this suggests about 17 million
UK citizens would opt for cryonics if the government offered it on the National Health, ie free at the point of use but paid for by general taxation.
Sincerely, John de Rivaz: http://John.deRivaz.com for websites including Cryonics Europe, Longevity Report, The Venturists, Porthtowan,
Option Two Members Can Vote
Cryonics Institute's Board of Directors has voted to grant voting rights to Option Two Members if they have paid dues for at least three years and have fully executed and funded contracts. This applies to voting held at the Annual Meeting at CIHQ
CI Orders New Cryostat
CI has placed an order for an additional cryostat. Theyre using the same supplier they used for the last one.
Another CI Visitor
Gigi Nicolas, a reporter for the SHOWTIME channel recently interviewed David Ettinger at the CI facility The interview was scheduled to run while the credits for VANILLA SKY were rolling.
By Jim Yount
Approximately seventeen cryonics activists, members of diverse cryonics organizations, met in Laughlin Nevada on Thursday, February 27, at the invitation of California attorney H. Jackson ("Jack") Zinn. Edgar Swank and John Day attended on behalf of the American Cryonics Society ("ACS"). David Ettinger of Cl, was also in attendance. I was not present, but got a report of the meeting from Jack and Edgar Swank. I am familiar with the circumstances that prompted the call for a meeting,
Early this year, a Northern California man was placed into suspension at the Cryonics Institute's Michigan facility, in accordance with provisions of his will and his longtime wishes. This individual, a Califoraia attorney, was a Cl member, as well as an ACS Associate. He, working with Jack Zinn has assisted ACS and Trans Time in a number of legal matters related to cryonics over the years. Since I don't know his desires concerning privacy I will not use his name in this report.
In making his suspension arrangements, the man established a cryonics trust, but did not nominate a trustee. At the meeting in Laughlin. Jack Zinn explained the circumstances of the suspension, the current status of the estate, and the fact of the trust to meeting participants. Jim Bianchi, Esq. the California attorney who wrote the model wills and trusts for ACS has agreed to assist with preparing trust documents, but much additional work must be done. Currently the executors are busy gathering information for probate, a considerable task in this case.
Jack Zinn, himself a long-time cryonics activists is the attorney for the executor, was a friend of the decreased, and was called on to assist in getting the patient released bv the Medical Examiner so he could be shipped to Michigan for cryogenic preservation.
Partly because cryonics is still fairly new and not widely known, each cryonic's case presents its own unique challenges. I accompanied Jack when he called on the Alameda County Medical Examiner to "spring" the patient. This success followed many hours where Jack and Cl personnel and volunteers were on the phone with relatives of the patient, with relatives attorneys, or with representatives of the Medical Examiner.
There are just two attorneys I know of, here in Northern California, who knew how to quickly get a patient away from the Medical Examiner and on the plane to our Suspension Facility, and one of them (the subject patient) was lying on a slab in a refrigerated morgue in downtown Oakland. Jack was a God send in this case. as he has been in a number of other such circumstances.
The purpose of the meeting was to brief representatives of the various cryonics organizations on this case, and the substantial trust to be established which could benefit cryonics research considerably. Various ideas to further cryonics research through the proposed trust were discussed as well. The meeting also considered administrative aspects of the trust such as the various individuals who may be available to work as advisors or in the capacity of trustee,
The Mardi Gras of Cryonics
By John Bull
Information for this article was gleaned from various cryonet posts, and an e-mail exchange with Bauge
When the CBS News show Sunday Morning featured the Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival on March 16, it was the first time the Festival received national media attention. Appropriately, the segment that carried it was usually reserved for reporting on the oddball and eccentricities of American life. They were right on the money in this case.
The origin of the festival goes back to November of 1989. Thats when Bredo Morstoel died in Norway. His grandson Trygve Bauge, packed grandpa in dry ice and shipped him to Trans Times facility in California, where the body was stored in liquid nitrogen. After four years Bauge moved grandpa to Nederland, Colorado, and placed him in a storage shed, packed in dry ice.
Originally, the local officials were against having the body stored there, but later relented a little, by grand fathering grandpa in!! Things were relatively quiet after that, except for the occasional film crew that came to do a story. Then about two years ago some of the locals with the Chamber of Commerce were trying to figure out a way to boost tourism.
One of them remembered "the dead guy in the shed," and from that the Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival was born. This years festival, the second, attracted folks from all parts of the country.
Some of the attractions were a coffin race, a movie, "Grandpas Still in the Tuff Shed," a parade of old hearses, Dead guy look alike contests, and for $25, a trip to the Tuff shed where Grandpa rests on dry ice. Tuff Sheds, the official home of Grandpa, were everywhere, from the coffin races finish line to the official headquarters, many of them stocked with Dead Guy Ale, T-shirts and similar paraphernalia.
Meanwhile, Bauge, having lived in this country for fourteen years without a visa, passport or green card was deported.
When asked if he would ever be allowed back in, he replied, "I qualified for the general amnesty that Ronald Reagan offered in 1986, but I did not apply for amnesty. I assume I would be allowed back in if I applied for a passport and visa. However, I prefer to work towards removing all passport, visa and work permit requirements. Basically, the way I see it, entrepreneurial liberty and life-extension go hand in hand. You wont get drastic improvements in human life expectancy without entrepreneurial liberty. There was a time when people took pride in being un-documented and equated that with liberty. I still do." Considering conditions in the world today, he shouldnt count on the light being left on for him.
Bauge recently referred to the Festival as the Mardi Gras of Cryonics.David Verbeke chided Trygve on Cryonet for the circus atmosphere surrounding Frozen Dead Guy Days. Verbeke, living in Belgium, is CIs contact person for Belgians:
Mr. Trygve Bauge,
You're comparing this 'frozen dead guy festival' with Mardi grass. Your comparison is correct, although I think you have a rather wrong idea about the value of Mardi grass.
If it's Mardi grass, what do we see on TV? We see drag queens dancing half naked in the streets of a major city. That makes every gay man a stereotype fag in the head of many people, just like your show makes every cryonicist a crackpot in the mind of a lot of people who see and hear it. Remember that it wasn't those who were dancing half-naked in the streets that gave gays more rights. It was those who were doing the serious emancipation work and lobbying to politicians, trying to change their minds of those who were filled with pictures of Mardi grass.
Maybe some common folk may like this little party now, and the city tries to make some benefit from it. But will it last? Do you think such actions can build a solid soil for the rights of cryonicists? I'm convinced of the contrary.
philosophy student UG
Let me quote the Danish Author Piet Heine: "The one that always takes the light lightly and the serious seriously,
he and she have understood both poorly!" This event isn't there to build support for cryonics in Colorado, it is there because of the support that Cryonics (thanks to yours truly) already has in Colorado!
The Chamber of Commerce is basically (with my approval) cashing in on the fact that my Grandfather is the most famous resident in the town of Nederland Colorado. His presence there has put Nederland on the world map and attracted film crews and TV stations to the town every year for the last 10 years. The Chamber correctly saw that this was an opportunity to get a festival going and to drum up some business. The United States was founded on the right to the pursuit of happiness, and what better way to be happy than with a fun Winter carnival?
It is a free world, (sort of) at least those who like to party are still free to do so, Luckily there is no Cryonics police trying to outlaw Cryonics related parties. If you think such parties are a threat to cryonics, then we disagree and luckily you don't have the power to stop our party.
The Frozen Dead Guy Days have lasted two years so far, and that is longer than most other events. My other large Winter carnival, the annual New Year's Day dip at Boulder reservoir just had its twentieth anniversary with more than 450 icebathers. Maybe Frozen dead Guy days will be as long lived? But if it doesn't so what?
The festival is just one of many activities organized around my grandfather's suspension over the years: An award winning short movie has been made, lots of TV programs have been made etc. I am favourable to activities that keep him and his situation in the public eye. It makes it easier to maintain him in the long run that way.
The Chamber of Commerce have organized the event and contributed a lot of volunteer efforts and money to get it going. (Their budget for the festival this year is USD 35,000 and they have had one director working on it full time for a year.)
I for one am grateful for the support.
I think cryonisists should use the opportunity that this festival is, and participate in the planning of next year's festival.
Here is a successful festival, and lots of volunteers, and all we have to do is to participate We could combine the festival with a cryonics conference at the local motel, and an information table on main street. There is a film festival paarallel to the Frozen dead Guy Days, so we could show selected cryonics movies as well
Ayn Rand died on March the 6th 1982. The calendar based on her death, has now come to: 21.004 (that is 21 years and 4 days after Ayn Rand). Thus the Frozen dead Guy festival is kind of a New Years party for those of us who
stick to this calendar. She didn't want to be frozen, though she knew Ettinger.
However, she wanted people at her death to celebrate life and achievement and life at its best, so a celebration is appropriate. The attempt to restore life to those that are frozen, is one of many possibly highly life-extending ventures, and certainly worth an annual celebration.
Reprinted with permission from:
The Libertarian Alliance
25 Chapter Chambers
London SW1P 4NN
© The Libertarian Alliance (From their cultural notes section)
If a mass death sentence defines mans condition, then rebellion, in one sense is its contemporary. When he refuses to recognize his mortality, the rebel simultaneously refuses to recognize the power that makes him live in this condition." Albert Camus1
The continuing fact of death renders all talk of liberty ultimately futile. Brave notions of freedom which passively accept the certainty of personal extinction are increasingly seen as so much empty rhetoric. The gods have deserted us and our clever excuses for oblivion are wearing thin. In our hearts we know that there is something very wrong with our condition, and yet faced with the seeming inevitability of our fate we recoil from the obvious implications: we must save ourselves or perish.
THE APPROACHING VOID
Denied the prospect of survival through supernatural agency secular Western man has become psychically traumatized. Increasingly life seems meaningless and absurd, and the fear of death and nothingness lie just below the surface of everyday consciousness. Although the structures and institutions of religious belief linger, their function is now largely sentimental and ceremonial. The once faithful have deserted to the post-psychedelic spiritual supermarket in a frantic search for new answers to the problem of death. One of the modern prophets of scientific immortalism, Alan Harrington, argues that the anticipation of death is now the most important single determining factor in human behaviour.2
The effects are subtle but unmistakable. By limiting our horizons to a single lifespan the approaching void adds an urgency and desperation to our projects. There is a noticeable quickening of pace, a sense of little time left. Sometimes this is seen as a response to the threat of mass nuclear death; but collective mortality is an abstraction: death is only comprehensible at the individual level where it is experienced.
In any event, concern with the manner of our departure is dwarfed by the growing certainty that nothing follows it. Without the prospect of continuity there is a truncation of perspective and shorttermism dominates in a hot-house world. Our concern for the future begins to disappear with the likelihood of our own extinction. And yet to avoid emotional collapse we are compelled to devise defensive strategies.
WE DIE BEFORE WE DIE"
A common response is to hide from our fate by seeking distractions which help to reduce our sense of separateness, in the words of the song, in "sex and drugs and rock n roll". We throw ourselves into work and play; into conformity; and by living other peoples systems and creeds. Through communal action and the organic warmth of the crowd we achieve a swamp-like collective immortality, but at a heavy price. By becoming quite literally "Mindless", the precious ego which dissolves in death is deliberately scrambled ahead of time. As Harrington puts it, we "die before we die" and "commit suicide on an installment plan.3
Tragically, by sacrificing the rational ego we destroy the only true key to our salvation. Others rage at death. Faced with only a fleeting appearance in lifes arena desperate men seek ever more bizarre ways to erect monuments to their existence. The mass murderer, the assassin, the roof top sniper and the lone hijacker are all saying: "Dont forget me. Kill me if you must but dont forget me."
Responses from more sophisticated men appear profound but, since they leave our condition unchanged, are just as futile. Subtle posturing ("A man who is afraid of death has never really lived"); and word games (death does not really exist); sound plausible. But in the middle of the night, alone with the void, the clever fatalist wants what we all want: survival. Lacking the courage to rebel openly he is driven to rely on ever more diluted and indirect notions of continuity. The traditional ersatz form of "immortality", being succeeded by our descendants, has now spawned a variant: survival through our genes. So Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene can argue that the sole function of the human body is as a vehicle to promote the survival of our DNA.4
The final development of this line of thought is that the body is, in the last analysis, pure Energy and therefore ultimately indestructible: death merely brings a change of form! Such sophistry may appeal to some in a bloodless sort of way, but it can only delay our assault on the one true enemy personal oblivion.
PERSONAL PHYSICAL IMMORTALITY
Another group, professing a concern for dispassionate scientific enquiry, but harbouring a thinly disguised religious impulse, clings to the vestiges of Cartesian dualism. But as brain science increasingly uncovers the physical basis of behaviour and experience, they are in perpetual retreat, pursuing the God of the Gaps. Any evidence of independent mental activity, however insubstantial, is seen as the last refuge of the soul and with it the hope of a disembodied immortality.
Parapsychology provides a fertile source of examples. Archdebunker James Randi, quoted by John Taylor in Science and the Supernatural,5 commenting on how a band of PhDs in physics, chemistry and mathematics could reach convictions so contrary to their science, says: "Because I have seen what grown men will do to satisfy a deep need to believe." And yet supposing the psi people are right; can we really conceive how an incorporeal immortality could be satisfying. All the evidence suggests that personality grows with the body and is inseparable from it. As Wittgenstein observed: "The human body is the best picture of the human soul."66
What we want is personal physical immortality, nothing less. We need to survive as a psychosomatic unity with all our memories, thoughts, hopes and desires intact.
LIFES TERMINATION IN NOTHINGNESS
The great issues of death and survival were once the business of philosophers and theologians. But neither have been left untouched by the general spread of disbelief and both have retreated into narrower concerns. Academic philosophy has largely abandoned metaphysics in favour of arcane linguistic analysis, and the church has turned its attention to more mundane social and ecumenical matters. Death now seems something to be either ignored or accepted as the great given. In any event philosophy, according to Montaigne,7consists in learning how to die. So Alan Harrington argues that precisely because it teaches accomodation to death, philosophys practical usefulness has come to an end: "The philosophy that accepts death must itself be considered dead."8
Only the existentialists come closest to a true understanding of the fundamental significance of death. Those writing as atheists commonly and rightly seen as the purest representatives of the school recognise the central paradox: that the necessary freedom entailed by the absence of god is negated by lifes termination in nothingness. So Heidegger argues that to live authentically we must face squarely and constantly the boundary set by death and accept the anxiety that this brings. Sartres doctrine of "bad faith" performs a similar function, uncovering our strategies of self-deception, and attempts to avoid a personal response to death.
For example by seeking significance for ourselves as part of some deified abstraction like Mankind, Humanity or Nature, rather than accept that we alone must decide the meaning of our life and death. Camus, protests against the "incompleteness of human life, expressed by death" rejects despair and calls for rebellion against the implicit consequences of extinction: "If nothing lasts then nothing is justified."9
Although the existentialists offered a particularly clear-eyed analysis they could in the end advocate only a kind of stoical acceptance of our condition; not shirking the anxiety it entails but seemingly lacking the means to challenge it. Even Camus call for rebellion, although admirable, is ultimately impotent. Perhaps the Existentialists were trapped in a transitional phase science had undermined the religious worldview but not yet begun to offer its own solutions.
WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF PRACTICAL SPECULATION
If Camus is right and death is the real enemy then it is not life after death that we want but the end of death itself, at least as an inevitable consequence of being born. Who then will take up the challenge against the conventional wisdom? Most serious thinkers, although driven by the same emotional imperatives as the rest of us, fight shy of any public discussion of the topic, other than in mocking tones. So we see, for example, occasional coverage of the cryonics and life extension movements portrayed very much in flat earth terms. A mainstream scientist who strays into these areas is quickly marginalised as an eccentric by bemused colleagues. As Thomas Kuhn pointed out, science is far from the purely rational and systematic process it pretends to be.10
Fortunately a small but growing band of heretics fringe scientists and speculative writers are challenging the current paradigms, and providing a platform for a legitimate discussion of the field. They argue with increasing confidence that science and technology can deliver what religion once promised; the age-old dreams of immortality may not have been wrong but they depended more on faith than fact. Scientific progress has now begun to allow personal immortality at least to be brought within the bounds of practical speculation.
Science fiction, in keeping with its revolutionary paradigm shattering function, has long provided a testbed for exploring scientific responses to the problem of death. Immortality and extreme longevity are recurrent motifs in SF, which has explored both the mechanical aspects and also the social and psychological implications. SF editor and critic Peter Nicholls, surveying the field, noted that "in some stories immortality is the beginning of limitless opportunity, in others it represents the ultimate stagnation and the end of innovation and change."11
But there is a general recognition that such themes exert a continuing power, typifying the Promethean spirit which is the essence of the genre. Although sometimes criticized as "escapist", SF may in fact be helping to prepare the ground for a quite literal escape from death.
"IN THIS REALM WE ARE KINGS"
Polymath writer and neoexistentialist philosopher Colin Wilson 12 has always shown a strong interest in the topic. His strongly optimistic view of mans potential to evolve to Godlike status through consciousness expansion foresees a greatly increased lifespan as a consequence. He has acknowledged that in his novel Philosophers Stone he was trying to write, like his mentor Shaw in Back to Methusalah, a "parable of longevity".13Shaw can tolerate no limit to human possibility. He rejects religious concepts of imperfectibility and predestination (as well as the scientific concept of biological determinism).
Wilson is similarly motivated, but in a survey of his novels, writer Nicolas Tredell 14 notes an important difference in the attitudes of the two men. For Shaw, longer life produces greater consciouness; for Wilson greater consciousness yields longer life. So for Wilson longevity in itself is a legitimate aim, which he suggests will be achieved by an act of will.
Both he and Shaw seem to agree that man somehow chooses death, often through lack of an overall purpose, and a willingness to accept a passive life at the animal level. Wilson argues that this is reversible when men develop a sense of evolutionary purpose. In support of this he even asserts that philosophers, scientists and mathematicians as a group are more long-lived than poets, artist and musicians.
Alan Harrington, author of The Immortalist a key philosophical treatise for the life extension movement is a spiritual ally of Shaw, Wilson and the existentialists. Like them he rebels against all forms of determinism but takes this rejection to its logical conclusion: "Death is an imposition on the human race and no longer acceptable."15
His project is twofold: first to strip away the protective myths and psychological strategies we use to avoid the central fact of existence: that we die meaninglessly and disappear into the blackness. Second: to encourage us to believe that through science we not only can, but must, construct our own divinity. Applauding the future of Unnatural Man Harrington quotes Bertrand Russell with approval: "We are ourselves the ultimate and irrefutable arbiters of value, and in the world of value Nature is only a part. Thus in this world we are greater than Nature ... In this realm we are kings and we debase our kingship if we bow down to nature."16
A CURE FOR THE DISEASE OF DEATH
In a practical sense, although unannounced as such, the road towards immortality has already begun. Medical technology continues to stretch our understanding of clinical death to the point where there is no longer a universally agreed definition of what the term means. Multiple organ transplants promise to replace more and more of our bodies with artificial equipment, offering the possibility of an almost indefinite postponement of death.
Through genetic engineering, man for the first time has the means consciously to influence biological evolution. So if various organisms have differing natural lifespans governed significantly by genetic factors, then different or modified genes might permit longer life. It follows that if, as some surmise, aging is due to an accumulation of mistakes in the replication of DNA, then in theory at least new healthy material could be inserted into genetically defective cells.
Many healthy individuals are claiming benefit from life extending therapies aimed at slowing down and even reversing the aging process. Diet, exercise and the avoidance of some obviously damaging lifestyle practices, all play a part. Support is coming from the science of gerontology with nutrition appearing particularly important. Roy L. Walford,17 a pathology professor at UCLA, and his colleagues have shown that by severely limiting the caloric intake of rats, significant increases in lifespan were achieved. Walford believes a similar approach could be applied to human beings, and follows such a regime himself.
The mental influence on health is well attested. And as far as aging specifically is concerned, there also appears to be a strong cultural component at work. Social gerontologists note that age is not just physical, but also social. People are expected to behave in certain ways appropriate to their age, but most of the expected behaviour is not related to any biological process and shows great variation across societies and periods of history. Labelling an individual as elderly or a senior citizen, if incorporated into his self image, may produce a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The expected decline in performance and health duly appears seeming to confirm the original description. David Lewis, in his book Life Unlimited,18 sees gold watch presentations and other retirement rituals as the Western equivalent of Aboriginal and voodoo death curses. Where such symbolism is deeply embedded in a culture its effect on physical and mental health can be profound. To see aging, at least in part, as a social construct is to begin to bring it under our control.
So the battle to conquer aging and death is underway, albeit in a fragmented and uneven fashion. Sober gerontologists in respectable institutions are making solid if unspectacular progress, and are at one with the movements radical wing, the proponents of cryonics and suspended animation, and those who speculate about the mechanical storage of human personalities: "electronic soul". All are ultimately engaged in the same project although, with no concensus yet on the causes of aging, the field lacks a unifying principle, and as Harrington observes, awaits its Einstein.19
Perhaps before science will respond more fully to the challenge we must, as Lyall Watson argues,20 break the rigid cultural linkage between death and permanency by regarding death simply as a disease and therefore temporary, and sometimes curable. Once this paradigm shift has been achieved it will be no more "unnatural" to seek a cure for aging and death than for illness.
TURNING INTO GODS
We know we must do it and that the effect will be profound. Jonathan Schell, in The Fate of the Earth, although discussing mankind as a whole, nevertheless echoes our project: "By acting to save the species, and repopulating the future, we break out of the cramped, claustrophobic isolation of a doomed present, and open a path to the greater space." With the creation of an open-ended future for individual men, we allow more space for reflection and wisdom. Shaw saw this in Methusalah and Walford believes that a world with an active population of 200-year-olds would not only be wiser but morally better, saner, more in control of human passions. There is little doubt that the heretics are gaining ground and that we will grow up and seek immortality in the only way possible. It will be science, intellect and analysis that will be our salvation not mysticism. In Harringtons words: "We can only engineer our freedom from death not pray for it ... having invented the gods we can turn into them."22
THOSE OF US WHO DREAMby day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
SOME OLD WIVES taleshave been disproven by modern medicine: Its a myth that cuts and scrapes should be uncovered in order to "breathe." After cleaning a wound with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover with a bandage.
FEED A COLD,starve a fever is false. When you catch a cold you cannot sweat it out, drown it, starve it, or take medication to get rid of it. Antibiotics have no effect on colds. It usually takes at least 7-14 days to alleviate the condition, with or without medication.
CRACKING YOUR KNUCKLESwill not cause arthritis. Some people think the sound is the grinding of cartilage or bone. Actually its air bubbles popping in the synovial fluid of your joints. USA TODAY
A DRINK A DAY might ward off dementia, Alzheimers. Research already has indicated that alcohol, in modest amounts, could help stave off heart disease. A new study suggests that moderate drinking also might ward off brain diseases such as Alzheimers which afflicts 4 million people in the USA. Ibid
I DONT WANT TO ACHIEVEimmortality through my work . I want to achieve it through not dying. Woody Allen
MEET MARK WALKER
Editors Note: Mark Walker recently became Cryonics Europe membership manager, we welcome this opportunity to profile him.
I was Born in 1962 in Llanelli South Wales UK. When I was about four I moved to what was a small town called Burntwood in Staffordshire which is pretty much in the middle of the UK and have lived there ever since. I now live there with my girlfriend Gill who manages a specialist residential home for people with Parkinson's Disease.
We also have a few pets living with us; five cats, a Samoyed dog, an African Grey parrot, A Tortoise and a Rabbit. Although I consider Burntwood my home, my work can take me anywhere so it is quite useful to be fairly central.
I have an Electronics Degree and earn my living contracting as a control systems engineer. In simple terms this involves controlling or automating manufacturing systems, which can include valves, motors, pumps and conveyors Etc. This is done with a computer known as a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller). I have worked on projects such as lronbridge Power Station, Bass Brewery as well as Heathrow and Gatwick Airport Conveyor Systems. I have also worked in the car manufacturing industry but currently I am working at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Kent. I am primarily involved with writing and testing the software for these systems, although I do get involved in the electrical side especially during commissioning.
I don't get much spare time and working away a lot makes it difficult to follow up and take part in some activities, but below are some of the things I like to do when I get the chance.
I have 3 jukeboxes at the moment, two are restoration projects that I have partly restored; an Ami K and a Wurlitzer I I 00. I also have a Wurlitzer OMT complete with bubble tubes, which Wurlitzer recently produced and is based on the 1050 .
I enjoy most types of music, from light classical to rock music, but I draw the line at Opera something I can't get into at all. My favourite music however is dance music and I enjoy going to night clubs, I may not be the worlds greatest dancer but I love the music and atmosphere.
Something I always have time for is computers, whether its building new ones for friends and family, upgrading mine, surfing the net or playing games on them, especially strategy or shoot them up games. You would think I have enough of computers at work, but I love them. My recent project is to incorporate a PC as part of my Hi Fl system to play MP3 discs and control my CD Mega-changers. I also enjoy rifle and shotgun target shooting and am a member of local club in Burntwood.
I also watch a lot of TV mainly SCI Fl, I am a big Star Trek and Stargate fan and my favourite films include the Matrix and of course the Star Wars films.
I love Technology and I am a bit of a gadget person another reason I chose Cryonics, not only am I taking part in a Technology I may get the opportunity to see future technology first hand.
I am also a bit of a collect-a-maniac I collect things to do with Owls because I think they are fascinating and I also collect Phone Cards, DVD's Laser Disks, and CD's I have a great problem throwing things away.
When the Grand Prix season starts everything stops, I love to watch the Grand prix and with the latest changes I think this is going to be a good season, luckily the girlfriend also follows it and we a both members of Team McClaren.
I also enjoy DIY which is just as well as there always seems to be something that needs doing on the house. A couple of things I really don't get time to do but would love to do more of is flying, the girlfriend brought me a flying lesson for my birthday and I loved it I also love Paragliding but this ,tends to be limited to holidays at the moment. I also have tickets for a Hot Air Balloon flight which I am looking forward to.
I am not sure of the date, maybe 20 years ago or more. I was off work and watching Morning television, one of these mixed shows where they have news, guests and other various features. Anyway I wasn't paying much attention when the presenter of the show stated, "after the break we will meet a family who have signed up to be frozen when they die." This certainly got my attention and I eagerly waited the end of the commercials.
These people look quite normal, was my immediate reaction. I was intrigued and excited as they told their story about wanting to live and having the opportunity to do so in the form of Cryonics. I remember thinking these people are obviously rich and if I ever managed to become a millionaire Cryonics was definitely for me. A telephone number was shown at the end of the interview for further information, I didn't call it then but made a note of it and transferred it to my address book. This must be the one contact number that managed to survive the years and was transferred from gadget to gadget and ending up in my mobile phone.
It was some 17 years after first seeing it on TV that I started to do something about it. I was heavily into computers and the internet at the time and while thinking of things to search for on the internet I decided to try Cryonics. To my surprise found several Sites and started to read the information on the various sites.
Hang on a minute, was I reading this right, 28000 US Dollars for a full body suspension, this was looking affordable after all. I then decided to try the number I had, as all the web sites seemed to be in the USA and the number was a UK number. Surprisingly it was still in use and a funeral director answered the phone, who I now know as F.R Albin. So after a bit of a chat the forms and information pack were sent out in the post.
When the forms arrived and I doubled checked the prices I filled in the membership application form and sent it off with my cheque. I went for option 2 which would cost me 120 Dollars a year until I could afford full membership, option one.
The next step was to make arrangements for the suspension itself. I read through the contract and other forms and although not compulsory some of the forms required signatures from my next of kin which basically meant them giving their consent and agreeing not to interfere with my wishes.
Time to go public, I had mentioned it in the past without much response, but now it was actually going to happen. So I discussed it with close family and got the reaction I expected, "you've been watching too much Star Trek." However although they were quite shocked, they realised I was serious and agreed to sign the forms. Right so far so good and now, last but not least, the life insurance.
Here I had a few problems, each insurance company I tried seemed to have a problem in me having a named beneficiary in the states.
But there must be other members in the UK who have already done this, so after speaking to Barry Albin, he put me in touch with his financial advisor who in turn set me up with a policy, which I was then able to sign over to Cl. All my documents were signed and together with my proof of founding they were sent to Cl. Soon after I was contacted by Cl to who confirmed, not only was I a member but I was now also signed up for suspension.
Well that was it, now what, get on with the rest of my life I guess. I continued to read the few news groups I could find and even made friends with a young Russian Cryonicist but something was missing. I guess I felt isolated, was I the only person in the UK signed up for this. My Russian friend and I even thought of starting a website where cryonocists could chat and arrange to meet each other, but after contacting the various Cryonics organisations, most of them turned us down flat and although Cl showed some interest it never got off the ground.
I don't know whether this prompted Cl, but several weeks later I had an E-mail from them explaining a group of Cryonicists in the UK (yes the UK) were having a meeting down in Eastbourne and were after a Cl member to join the meeting. I couldn't believe it this was great, I was so excited and agreed straight away.
Well the big day arrived I was both nervous and excited, but one thing in the back of mind while I drove down to Eastbourne was the date, April the 1st 2001. This couldn't be could it; nobody would do this as an April Fool would they. Well I . arrived and my concerns and my nerves disappeared and I was left with excitement. The first Cryonicist I met was Alan Sinclair at his home where the meeting was being held together with his wife Sylvia I then met David and May Flude before the other guests started to arrive. I also met a fellow Cl member for the first time Chrissie De Rivaz.
During the meeting the group we now know as Cryonics Europe was born and I gained many new friends for life, and maybe the next life. Since then I have been involved with the CE as much as possible and things are getting better and better. Cryonics Europe is a support and socialising group in the UK where like minded people can meet up and discuss anything they want. We also have a Standby team and encourage members to take part in meetings and in the team.
The more you do for cryonics and other member the more you are helping yourself. I now have several roles within CE which include secretary and membership manager and first team leader on the stand by team.
As part of CE I help with problems that members or potential members may have. I also help cryonicists sign up to their chosen provider. I also try and come up with new ideas to help the Cryonics movement. Cryo Buddies is the latest idea, we are trying to get off the ground.
Many Cryonicists nightmare is dying and being left undiscovered. So by putting such members in contact with each other so they can take it in turns to call one another a couple of times a day we can hopefully improve the situation.
I have also been involved with the media appearing in several newspapers and on a London radio station.
LIFE EXTENSION NEWS
How About That Gallbladder?
Small organs play a major role in maintaining good health.
Consider the gallbladder, which is only 3 to 4 inches long. This pear-shaped organ stores and releases bile, a powerful digestive agent produced by the liver.
Bile contains cholesterol, bile salts, lecithin, and other substances, including toxins filtered from the blood by the liver. Approximately 1pint of bile moves through the gallbladder every day. When food arrives in the small intestine, the gallbladder sends bile there to break down fats as they pass through the duodenum. Toxins contained in bile are eliminated with other wastes. Then, in one of the body's amazing feats of recycling, most of the bile acids that have been delivered to the duodenum are absorbed back into the blood.
WHAT ABOUT STONES?
When the gallbladder functions normally, healthy digestion proceeds the way it should. When it doesn't, gallstones (or cholelithiasis) and inflammation of the gallbladder (or cholecystitis) can be the result.
Some 20 million Americans have gallstones, but many of them don't even know it. That's because an estimated 80 percent of
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