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Long Life: the Cryonics Institute newsletter -- Sept. 2000

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  • David Pascal
    * Long Life: the Cryonics Institute newsletter September 2000 -- Volume 1, Number 4 * Welcome to Long Life -- the electronic newsletter of the Cryonics
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2000
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      Long Life: the Cryonics Institute newsletter
      September 2000 -- Volume 1, Number 4


      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-aging, 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



      DNA ZOOS



      For the first time, scientists have increased an animal's life span
      with drugs. Researchers say the experiments are the first real
      indication that aging can be treated.

      Worms given the drugs in a recent study lived nearly 50% longer than
      normal. "As far as we know, this is the first convincing example of
      drugs being used to extend life span," said Dr Gordon Lithgow of the
      University of Manchester, UK, who carried out the research with
      colleagues in the United States. Clinical trials for Alzheimer's
      disease and Parkinson's could take place in the near future.

      "The treated worms appear youthful and active at the same time as
      when the untreated worms are showing the characteristics of old age,"
      Lithgow told BBC News Online. Significantly, around 40% of the worm's
      genes are also found in humans. The reason for the drug's
      effectiveness, scientists speculated, is that the drugs in questions
      prevent free radical damage: both drugs used in the study are

      "The idea that antioxidants might have an effect [on aging] has been
      around for quite a long time," said Professor David White, director
      of science at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research
      Council, UK. "It seems to have a dramatic effect in worms."

      More on the story is available at
      The research is published in the journal, Science, and the the full
      text is at


      "This molecular approach could have failed early on in many places,
      and it's not failing," said James R. Heath, professor of chemistry at
      UCLA, and leader of the UCLA molecular computing research team
      including J. Fraser Stoddart, UCLA's Saul Winstein Professor of
      Organic Chemistry, and postdoctoral scholar Pat Collier. "These are
      still early days, but right now, it seems that everything is
      beginning to work together well and that many avenues are opening up.
      That means that if our next set of experiments doesn't work, we will
      have a number of other options to pursue. We're getting there.
      Overall, the progress is faster than any of us expected."

      Heath thinks his team will develop circuits that have molecular
      logic, molecular memory and nano-size wires within a few years at
      most. "A hybrid computer that interfaces with molecular memory
      with silicon logic is only a few years away, and a scientific
      demonstration of a nano-scale computer that is largely molecular --
      with molecular logic and molecular memory -- will likely happen
      within the decade," Heath estimated.

      "What once seemed like science fiction is now looking more and more
      like actual science," Heath said. "A molecular computer will enable
      us to do things we cannot even imagine now," adding, "the
      steps are no longer a slow walk, but a fast jog."

      See http://www.uclanews.ucla.edu/Docs/LSSW358.html and


      More than half of a panel of 32 of Britain's leading medical
      scientists predict that 'reproductive cloning' will take place within
      20 years, according to the British newspaper The Independent. Nor
      were they all critical of the notion. Richard Dawkins, Oxford
      University professor an acclaimed author on evolutionary biology,
      noted: "People who object to research of this kind must explain
      exactly who would, in their view, be damaged by it." Though
      human cloning is currently illegal in Britain and in some other
      countries, one medical director of a London fertility unit went as
      far as to say: "The equipment needed for cloning is simple and cheap,
      and, whether it is approved of or not, it will happen. It is
      unstoppable." See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/UK/Science/2000-
      08/cloning300800.shtml. In a related story, Britain's top
      medical officer issued a call to expand therapeutic cloning research.
      See http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,38254,00.html?


      In a story that may be of significance to religious people interested
      in cryonics, the Los Angeles Times reports that Pope John Paul II has
      formally defined death as "the complete and irreversible cessation"
      of brain activity. This would indicate that the Roman Catholic Church
      will eventually choose to view patients entering and in cryonic
      suspension as being alive rather than dead. The Church has already
      led vigorous protests against the extermination of embryos in
      cryostasis by the State on the basis that revivable beings are by
      definition alive. Scholar and nanotech author Chris Peterson has
      written on www.nanodot.org that the Pope's latest comments
      appropriately "fit with their general `when in doubt, be
      generous to marginal cases' position.." The story is available at


      Lowering a stroke patient's body temperature by just two degrees
      Fahrenheit within a few hours of the attack can reduce brain damage
      and the risk of death, Danish researchers said on Thursday.

      Studies have shown that lower temperatures can reduce traumatic
      damage to cells, and hypothermia has been used with success in
      dealing with unconscious, anesthetized stroke patients. But now,
      Dr. Lars Kammersgaard, writing in the American Heart Association
      journal Stroke, reports that he and his colleagues at Bispebjerg
      Hospital in Copenhagen reported that they had cooled 17 conscious
      patients by pumping cold air into a thermal blanket to induce mild
      hypothermia. The patients were kept cool for six hours.
      Kammersgaard found that over a six month period, the patients who
      were cooled survived twice as well as those who were not.

      ``By showing that hypothermia can be successfully used without
      anesthesia, we have suggested a method of treatment that appears to
      be low in cost and applicable in most hospitals involved in stroke
      treatment,'' he said in a statement. ``By reducing the body
      temperature in the stroke patient, the brain receives cooled blood,''
      he added. ``Animal studies involving hypothermia strongly suggest
      that decreased brain temperature causes less destruction of brain


      Researchers have found that staring at women's breasts for 10-minute
      intervals is as healthy as a 30-minute workout in the gym. A five-
      year study of 200 men found men who enjoyed looking at busty pin-ups
      had lower blood pressure, less heart disease and slower pulse rates
      compared to those who did not. Dr. Karen Weatherby, who carried out
      the German study, wrote in the New England Journal of
      Medicine: "Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-
      endowed female is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics
      workout. Sexual excitement gets the heart pumping and improves blood
      circulation. Our study indicates that engaging in this activity for
      a few minutes daily cuts the risk of stroke an heart attack in half.
      We believe that by doing so consistently, the average man can extend
      his life for four to five years." She added that Dolly Parton,
      Heather Locklear, and Demi Moore had proved to be especially good for
      men's health.

      Long Life notes that studies on the health effects of muscle
      stimulation to face and cheek muscles from slaps has not currently
      been undertaken. Independent research in this regard will no doubt


      In a step relevant to the eventual development of medical nanobots, a
      robotic surgical system that performed heart surgery during clinical
      trials has gotten FDA approval, and is a success in its first use for
      another type of surgery. See
      tw=wn20000816. In another medical nanobot-relevant study, a group
      led by researcher Michael J.B. Krieger showed that robots programmed
      to co-operate in an ant-like manner were able to complete a foraging
      task in a more efficient manner than single robots. Their
      `Khepera' robots were found to recruit assistance from other robots,
      in the same way ants co-operate to gather food.

      The human race is not restricting itself merely to programming robots
      to save human lives, however. Sports fans should note that the
      Comedy Channel now features `Battlebots', in which two 100 kg
      robots with no restriction on design punch each other out Tyson-
      style. See http://www.battlebots.com. A similar show called "Robot
      Wars" (http://www.robotwars.co.uk) is on the BBC, which also sponsors
      a "Robolympics". Since 1997 (first world cup, Nagoya, Nippon), teams
      of fully autonomous robots have been playing soccer at the Robocup
      (http://www.robocup2000.org), whose organizers hope that a team of
      fully autonomous robot team will win a soccer game under official
      FIFA rules against the human winners of the World Cup by mid-21st
      century. Betting odds have not as yet been posted. Robocup 2000
      occurred in Melbourne, Australia (28 August-3 September).

      In kinder gentler robo-news, researchers have developed a computer
      program which came up with designs for other robots after being given
      simple parameters. In effect the system, with almost no human
      intervention, designs, 'evolves' and manufactures simple robots
      capable of horizontal motion. The computer system then tests these
      simulations in the physical world by building the robots using a
      rapid-prototyping technology. Articles on the development can be
      found in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times and at slashdot
      at http://www.canoe.ca/CNEWSScience0008/30_robot.html. Cryonics
      member and activist Dr.Ralph Merkle noted that this involved "recent
      work at Brandeis by Jordan Pollack. Evidently, this work involves a
      design system that uses evolutionary algorithms to design a robotic


      It ain't quite nanotech, but it is here: The FDA has given
      preliminary approval to a tiny camera that can be swallowed and send
      back images from inside the digestive system. Israeli researchers
      developed the `video pill' capsule as an alternative to painful
      endoscopy. Can the Speilberg version be far away? See


      A grant has been given to Brown University to fund a project using
      nano devices to study, probe, and communicate with the brain on the
      neuronal scale. See the pointer on www.nanodot.org, which
      reports "The group's proposal is to create a tiny device that
      would emit light to stimulate brain cells and record light from brain
      cells, analogous to a camera."


      Liquid jets a few nanometers in diameter could one day to produce
      ever-smaller electronic circuitry, inject genes into cells, and even
      serve as fuel injectors for microscopic engines. Researchers
      developing `nanojets' experimentally hope to first use them
      to apply patterns that could replace current lithographic processes
      in the manufacture of nanoscale miniaturized circuits. Once
      developed, however, `nanojets' could potentially also be used as "gene
      guns" to insert genetic materials into cells without causing damage.

      Writing in the August 18 issue of the journal Science, Georgia
      Institute of Technology researchers suggest that jets as small as
      six nanometers in diameter may be possible to produce. "We are now
      being driven by fundamental, technological and economical
      considerations to explore and evaluate systems that are smaller and
      smaller," explained Dr. Uzi Landman, director of Georgia Tech's
      Center for Computational Materials Science. See


      In what will hopefully be the beginning of a trend, a new interactive
      art exhibit challenges computer gamers to bring people back to life
      instead of shooting them dead. In the simulation, players can aim at
      dead people onscreen and by pulling the trigger, resurrect
      them. "It's wonderful to see (the player's) expression when they
      shoot at something and it gets up and walks away," said Linda
      Freaney, the director of the permanent collection at the Woodstock
      Artists Association in Woodstock, N.Y. See


      Compaq Computer Corp., commissioned to develop the world's fastest
      supercomputer for its Los Alamos National has christened the device
      Advanced Strategic Computing Initiative Q. It will have more than
      11,968 processors, allowing it to perform more than 30 trillion
      operations per second. ASCI Q is not a laptop: it will be the size
      of five basketball courts, or more than 21,000 square feet. See

      IBM, not to be outdone, announced its development of the world's most
      advanced quantum computer. See
      IBM also announced that it will invest $100 million to develop
      technologies in life science's burgeoning field of bioinformatics.
      IBM's huge computer systems should aid the advancement of gene
      research. See


      Science writer Adam Brown, noting that "for a computer to evolve its
      personality, it should have past memories to draw upon," came
      across a web site called www.randomaccessmemory.org which encourages
      visitors to post (anonymously) any memories that stand out in their
      mind. "Could such a database be used as a starting seed for the
      implanted past memories of an AI persona?" asks Brown. Whether it
      could or not, readers interested in sending their memories into
      cyberspace, or browsing through others' recollections, can visit
      www.randomaccessmemory.org and do so (provided they don't


      Scientists think they've found a way to make flesh transparent
      for a few minutes at a time. By manipulating the way light passes
      through tissue, a team at the University of Texas at Austin say they
      can create a temporary "window" in tissue, allowing doctors to see up
      to five times deeper than at present over an area of up to one or two
      square inches.

      By injecting various substances, the team made small areas of rat or
      hamster skin nearly transparent for 20 minutes or more. Lead
      investigator Professor Ashley Welch said: "We could see a blood
      vessel which had not been visible." Light does not usually penetrate
      skin because it is scattered, like a torch beam in fog. Just as
      each water droplet in the fog scatters light, so small components of
      tissue scatter light also. Welch's team overcame this by a
      unique use of glycerol, a hygroscopic substance used in cryonic
      suspension procedures. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?


      New Scientist has published a paper by MIT physicist Seth Lloyd on
      the physical limits of computation at
      http://www.newscientist.co.uk/features/features.jsp?id=ns225415, in
      which Lloyd determines what the ultimate computing device would be
      like. The good news is that it's potentially one-kilogram in
      size, rather like a laptop. The bad news is that it converts all its
      mass into energy, and so is about one billion degrees in
      temperature. Hotmail would appear to be the email provider of


      Dying and its attendant problems are not subjects easily discussed by
      most Americans. Jasperon.com, while not a pro-cryonics site, does
      offer considerable information on how to make advance preparations
      regarding death, which could very well serve to make cryonic
      suspension smoother – and a safer revival far more likely. See

      DNA ZOOS

      Scientists around the globe are creating DNA zoos -- databases with
      as many animal DNA samples they can get their hands on. Researchers
      say what they collect now is essential for future conservation. And
      more: the last known Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, died in
      captivity in 1936, but a team of Australian biologists believes the
      animal's extinction may simply be a 70-year pause. DNA from a
      Tasmanian tiger has been found, and cloning is under way. See

      The Cryonics Institute, of course, offers not only pet suspension
      options but DNA storage for both human members and any animal DNA
      they may wish to preserve. Want to save an endangered species?
      Check out the tissue storage sections at CI's What's New page at
      http://www.cryonics.org/whatsnew.html and CI's Policies
      and Procedures page at http://www.cryonics.org/comparisons.html.


      Earlier this year a team at the Monash Institute, in conjunction with
      the Australian biotechnology company Stem Cell Sciences, announced
      that they were the first in the world to grow nerve cells in the
      laboratory. The next stage is to grow cells using a patient's own
      DNA, so that when introduced to an injured body, the immune system
      will not reject them.

      In another world first the Monash team has established cloned mouse
      stem cell lines which have the potential to grow into any type of
      mouse cell. "This is an important development and proof of principle
      of therapeutic cloning theory," said Professor Alan Trounson, Deputy
      Director of the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development.

      Monash PhD student, Ms Megan Munsie, has removed the genetic material
      or DNA from an unfertilised mouse egg. She has replaced it with the
      nucleus or DNA of another developed cell from a "target
      mouse". "These stem cells have the same genetic make up as the
      original target mouse and therefore if we were to program the cells
      to become a specific body type, theoretically they could be
      introduced to the target mouse to treat illnesses," explained Ms

      This study is being published in the August edition of Current


      "With our prosthetic limbs, titanium hips, and artificial eyes,
      we are already beginning to resemble our machines. Equally important,
      our machines are beginning to resemble us. Robots already walk, talk,
      and dance; they can react to our facial expressions and obey verbal
      commands. When they take the next step and become fully autonomous,
      what will they do? Will we be partners or rivals? Could we meld into
      a single species -- Robo sapiens?" And that's just the promo
      material for about a new book, "Robo Sapiens: Evolution of a New
      Species," by photographer Peter Menzel and journalist Faith
      D'Aluisio, who traveled around the world interviewing researchers
      seeking to improve on evolution by designing and building direct
      electrical and mechanical extensions of ourselves.

      "Robo Sapiens" argues our species will more likely than not merge
      with our creations, either literally or symbiotically. The
      photography is reportedly brilliant, and D'Aluisio's numerous
      interviews are insightful and often funny, as when she quotes MIT
      superstar Rodney Brooks' statement that we ought
      not "overanthropomorphize" people.

      "Robo Sapiens" is available from Amazon.com, and ordering it
      (or any other book) from the Amazon.com link at The Cryonics
      Insitute's `What To Read' page at
      http://www.cryonics.org/biblio.html, will return a small donation to
      CI from Amazon, at no cost to you the purchaser.


      For more information about cryonics or Cryonics Institute and how to
      become a member, visit our web site at http://www.cryonics.org.

      We encourage readers to forward issues to friends and interested

      Please send any suggestions or comments to Long Life by hitting Reply
      on your email server or by emailing us at long_life@egroups.com

      Long Life would like to thank Longevity Report, Wired News, Infobeat,
      The Los Angeles Times, Science, Nature, Nanodot, members of the
      Extropian and Cryonet mailing lists, and the Cryonics Institute and
      others for helping provide some of the free public information used
      in Long Life.

      (Disclaimer: CI does not necessarily encourage or advocate the use of
      any products or practices mentioned in its newsletter.)
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