X-Message-Number: 1005
Subject: Draft FAQ list
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 92 16:30:42 -0400

Here is the entire list of frequently asked questions, along with some
answers.  Comments welcome.  [ Please send them to  - KQB ]

--- Begin draft FAQ ---
This FAQ list has these sections:

Science/Technology		 -- Is cryonics feasible?
Philosophy/Religion		 -- Is cryonics good?
Controversy surrounding Cryonics -- Dora Kent, Cryobiologists, Donaldson case
Suspension Arrangements		 -- The organizations that exist.
Communications			 -- How to find out more.
Glossary			 -- Important jargon.


What advances need to be made before people frozen now have a chance
of being reanimated?  

   Nanotechnology for reassembling or replacing a brain after freezing damage.
   Biology, physiology, and medicine to repair biological freezing
      damage, to grow a new body, and to get it to work.

   These goals are far enough away that they aren't specifically being
   pursued by anyone.  However, advances in these general fields are
   being pursued by very many people.

Is there any government or university supported research on cryonics

   None that I know of.
What is the procedure for freezing people?

   Read an account of a cryonic suspension.  Briefly, circulation is
   restored by CPR, and the blood is replaced by other substances that
   prevent blood clots and bacteria growth and decrease freezing damage.
   As this happens the body is cooled as quickly as possible to slightly
   above 0 degrees C. After the blood has been replaced the body is
   cooled more slowly to liquid nitrogen temperatures.

How can I get a more detailed account of a suspension?

   Messages 601 and 602 (Transport of Patient A-1312) (28K bytes) and
   messages 696, 697, and 698 (Neurosuspension of Patient A-1260)
   (35K bytes) give a first-hand description of the initial stages of
   two recent suspensions.

Is there damage from oxygen deprivation during a suspension?

   Not if the suspension happens under good circumstances.  One of the
   big goals of the suspension procedure is to get the HLR machine onto
   the patient as soon as possible, to prevent this damage.  The
   barbituates they give reduce brain metabolism, as does cooling.  In a
   well done suspension, the damage from oxygen deprivation should be
   minor.  In a more perfect world, the suspension procedure would be
   able to start before legal death, which should reduce the damage from
   ischemia even more because there wouldn't be any time when the
   heart is stopped and the body is warm.

Do memories require an ongoing metabolism to support them, like RAM in
a computer?

   Not long term memories.  When children nearly drown in cold water,
   they can often be revived after having no apparent metabolism and
   still have their memories.  Likewise large doses of barbituates can
   suppress all measurable brain waves without destroying long term
   memories. Flatworms (or are they C. elegans?) have been frozen and
   some of them revived; the revived ones remember their way through a

If these frozen people are revived, will it be easy to cure them of
whatever disease made them deanimate?

   Repairing the freezing damage looks much harder than curing any
   existing disease, so if revival is possible then curing the disease
   ought to be trivial.  This doesn't include diseases that lose
   information in the brain, like Alzheimer's, mental retardation, or
   brain tumors; in these cases, even if the disease were cured and the
   person revived, the problem of replacing the lost information looks

If I'm frozen and then successfully reanimated, will my body be old?

   No.  Old age is a disease that ought to be easier to cure than the
   freezing damage.

Isn't reanimating a frozen person like reconstructing the cow from

   (Who said this first?  He was a cryobiologist.  He was mentioned in
   some old Alcor magazine somewhere.)

   The analogy is not valid.  Some animals can survive freezing, but
   no animals can survive grinding.

Is reanimating a corpsicle more likely than reanimating an Egyptian

   Yes.  Freezing in liquid nitrogen preserves some information about
   the structure of the brain, which may make it possible to recover
   memories from that brain.  Mummification involved pulling the brain
   out of the nose in little pieces, so the best that could be
   expected from a mummy is to build a clone and to give it plausible

So what's the status with that baboon? Did it live? Any brain damage?

   (Need to insert a brief description of the operation on the baboon

   According to Art Quaife as of 14 Jul 92, the baboon is well and has
   no signs of brain damage.

Who has successfully kept dogs cold for hours?  Did they survive? Any
brain damage?

Who froze the flatworms?  What happened?

   (Needs an answer, and a literature citation.  Were they flatworms
   or C. elegans?)


Are the frozen people dead?

   Using the definitions in the glossary, they are legally dead but they
   may or may not be dead, depending on how memory is stored in the brain
   and how much this is affected by freezing damage.  A person who has
   been cremated is dead.  People who have been buried and allowed to
   decompose are also dead.

   People can only legally be frozen after they are legally dead.  

Is cryonics suicide?

   No.  People only get suspended if they are legally dead.
   Suspending them sooner can lead to charges of homicide.      
   (The Dora Kent Case was about a suspension performed immediately
   after clinical death, which the local coroner suspected may have
   been done before legal death.)
   Suicides, murders, fatal accidents, etc. almost always result in
   autopsy from the local coroner or medical examiner.  The resulting
   brain sectioning and extended room-temperature ischemia (inadequate
   blood flow) may easily cause true death.

What about overpopulation?

   At present, an insignificant fraction of the population is
   participating in cryonics.  Thus, by any measure, cryonics with the
   popularity it has now will never contribute significantly to
   Assuming an exponentially increasing population, immortality only
   changes the population by a constant factor.  Thus it doesn't
   change the nature of the crisis, only the details.
   If cryonics and other paths to life extension were prevented to keep
   population under control, then that would be killing one person so
   another person can have children.  I find that immoral.

   CROYMSG 398 has more on this topic.

When are two people the same person?

   Cryonics and, especially, the technologies required to reanimate
   people from cryonic suspension, open new questions about who we are.
   Even cryonicists hold different opinions about their identity
   under the various conceivable circumstances.

   For the purposes of these questions, I say that two people are the
   same if they remember the same childhood, and if the process by
   which they came to remember the same childhood also copied most of
   their other memories and other skills.  Thus I am the same person I
   was yesterday, but I would not be the same person as my identical
   twin brother.  (This definition starts to fall apart if people get
   to a situation where they can remember multiple childhoods.)

What would happen if people didn't age?

   The situation I envision is that people will die of something other
   than biological accidents like old age.  They will die from making
   mistakes, which seems to me to be a more interesting way to die.
   We'll get stories like this:
      Joe died because he didn't bother buying enough redundancy in the
      life support system of his space ship.
      Bill died because a machine was developed that could do his job
      better than him, and before he could retrain for a different job he
      ran out of money and couldn't afford his anti-aging regimen any
      Jill died because she wanted to.
      Jane died because she believed in a religion that forbids life
   I prefer endings like that over having nearly everyone die of symptoms
   of the same disease (that is, aging) regardless of whether they want
   to continue, and regardless of how well they were living their life.

Why will people bother reviving anyone who is frozen?

   (Dig around in the cryonet and sci.cryonics archives for answers.)

Would it be better to be suspended now or later?

   In general, one should live as long as possible and be suspended as
   late as possible.  An exception to this is if one has some disease
   that threatens to destroy the information in the brain, thus
   decreasing the quality of the suspension.

   The later one is suspended, the better the suspension will be because
   of generally advancing technology.  This increases the chances that
   one will come back at all, as well as increasing the chances that
   one will come back in a world that one can deal with.

   Of course, one never knows when an accident or disease could happen
   that leaves one with the choice to be suspended now or not to be
   suspended at all.  So one shouldn't postpone one's cryonics
   arrangements if one is going to do them.

Why would anyone be revived?

		   Controversy surrounding Cryonics

What is the conflict between the cryonicists and cryobiologists?  How
did it start, and how does it continue?

   [Cryonics magazine had a multi-part article by Mike Darwin on
   exactly this topic.  Can anyone write a summary for me?]

What was the Dora Kent case?

What about that fellow in the news with the brain tumor?

   His name is Thomas Donaldson.  His tumor is not growing at present,
   but when and if it begins growing again, it is likely to seriously
   damage his brain before it kills him.  He went to court to petition
   for the right to be suspended before legal death.  The case has been
   appealed several times.  He lost the most recent appeal (as of Jul
   16 1992). The decisions of the judges are available from Alcor. (This
   is a draft answer by Tim Freeman.  It's likely to be replaced by an
   answer written by Donaldson before this goes out.)

		       Suspension Arrangements

How many people are frozen right now?

   The July 1992 issue of Cryonics magazine, published by the Alcor
   Life Extension Foundation, includes a status report of all the
   approximately 60 people who have been cryonically suspended.

How is suspension paid for?

   The person who makes the cryonics arrangements pays for suspension,
   usually with life insurance.

How will reanimation be paid for?

   The cryonics organization, relatives, or some charity will pay for
   reanimation if it happens.  There is also the Reanimation Foundation,
   which is an attempt to allow people to fund their own reanimation.

What are the pros and cons of neurosuspension (only freezing the head)?

   See the booklet ...blah... published by Alcor for a more thorough

What suspension organizations are available?

   For a complete list of cryonics suspension organizations and other
   cryonics-related organizations and publications,  send email to
    with the Subject line "CRYOMSG 0004".

   The three largest cryonic suspension organizations are:

   Alcor is not only a membership and caretaking organization but also does
   the cryonic suspensions, using Alcor employees, contract surgeons, and
   volunteers plus equipment and supplies provided by Cryovita.
       Alcor Life Extension Foundation
       12327 Doherty St.
       Riverside, CA 92503
       (714) 736-1703 & (800) 367-2228
       FAX (714) 736-6917
       Cryonics magazine, monthly, $35./yr. USA,
	       $40./yr. Canada & Mexico, $45./yr. overseas
	       ($10./yr. USA gift subscription for new subscriber)
   The American Cryonics Society is the membership organization and the
   suspensions and caretaking are done by Trans Time.
       American Cryonics Society (ACS)
       P.O. Box 761
       Cupertino, CA 95015
       (408) 734-4111
       FAX (408) 973-1046, 24 hr FAX (408) 255-5433
       Supporting membership, including American Cryonics and American
	   Cryonics News $35./yr. USA, $40. Canada & Mexico, $71. overseas
	   (Note: The Immortalist (below) includes American Cryonics News.)
   The Cryonics Institute does its own suspension and caretaking of patients.
       Cryonics Institute (CI)
       24443 Roanoke
       Oak Park, MI 48237
       (313) 547-2316 & (313) 548-9549
       The Immortalist Society, which has the same address and phone number,
	   publishes The Immortalist, monthly, $25./yr. USA, $30./yr. Canada
	   and Mexico, $40./yr. overseas.  Airmail $52. Europe, $62. Asia or
	   Australia.  A gift subscription ($15./yr. USA, $25. outside USA)
	   includes a free book (The Prospect of Immortality or Man Into

Is anyone getting rich from cryonics?  What are the salaries at these
organizations like?

How can I get financial statements for the various organizations to
evaluate their stability?

How much do the for-profit companies that actually do the suspensions
get for each suspension, and how is it spent?

How hard will these people work to freeze me?

   (Stories of suspensions done under unpleasant circumstances are
   appropriate here.  See sci.cryonics archives, search for "Jail".)

What obligations do the suspension organizations have to the people
they have suspended?  Will they pay for revival and rehabilitation?

What sort of people get themselves suspended?  Are they vain, rich
people with a morose concern for living longer but no interest in
living well in the present?


How can I get more information?

   Steve Bridge's "Introduction to Cryonics" gives a quick, three-page
   overview of cryonics. You can receive a copy of this overview by
   sending email to  with the Subject line "CRYOMSG

   For a more detailed introduction, including a discussion of the
   scientific evidence that freezing injury may be repairable, read
   the booklet "Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow", which is available
   from the Alcor Life Extension Foundation (address below).  (The
   first copy is free.)  It also includes an extensive Question and
   Answer section.

   The books "Engines of Creation" and "Unbounding the Future", by
   K. Eric Drexler, et al. describe nanotechnology (also called
   molecular nanotechnology or molecular engineering).  This is the
   kind of technology needed to revive anyone preserved with today's
   methods of cryonic suspension.

   The largest three suspension organizations each have newsletters.
   For contact information about on them, see the Suspension Arrangements

What is a cryomsg?  How do I fetch one?

   There has been a cryonics mailing list since July 1988.
   Cryomsg's are mostly the archived messages from this mailing list.  

   To get a cryomsg, send mail to  with the subject
   "CRYOMSG nnn nnn" where the nnn's are the numbers of the cryomsg's
   you want. Cryomsgs numbers 100, 200, ..., 900 have one line
   summaries of the preceding 100 cryomsg's.  Message number 0000 has
   a top level index, and message number 0001 has the subjects of all
   of the messages.   Message 0004 has a list of cryonics suspension
   organizations and also cryonics-related organizations and publications.


cryobiology - Biology at low temperatures.  This includes organ preservation.

cryogenics - Science in general at low temperatures.

cryonics - The practice of freezing people at the end of their natural
lifespan, hoping for eventual reanimation.

deanimate - A person deanimates when his or her body fails beyond hope of
immediate repair with today's medical technology.  Deanimate people are
legally dead, but biologically and structurally still intact.
Conventional medicine gives up on a person when his or her primary
bodily functions cease.  This is because conventional medicine
relies on a functioning body to heal itself, with some assistance from
the medical professionals.

Cryonicists, however, use a structural rather than a functional
definition of death.  As long as a healthy state might be deduced
from the current state, using technology we can reasonably expect
to develop in the future, the person cannot be considered dead.
When, according to cryonicists, does a person die?  The distinction
between deanimate and dead is not clear cut.  People who are cremated
and people who are left to decompose in graves clearly are dead, though.
Studies of the deterioration of the structure of the brain after legal
death suggest that for hours (or possibly even a day?) at room temperature
sufficient structure exists that a person may still be revived eventually,
and thus should not be considered dead.  Of course, depending on how much
damage is done by the preservation process itself, the person may die
anyway.  In general, though, the sooner a person gets suspended after
legal death, the better.

The word "deanimate" is synonymous with "metabolically disadvantaged",
although the latter term is used only in jest.

death - A person is dead if no possible technology could restore
them to health.  (This definition is unconventional; the conventional
definition uses death as a synonym for legal death.)

legal death - A person is legally dead if a doctor has signed a death
certificate with his or her name on it.  This tends to happen when the
doctor believes that modern technology will not be able to restore
them to health.  (see death)

metabolically disadvantaged - Progressivespeak for "deanimate", or
"dead" if the progressive in question isn't a persnickety cryonicist.
(See deanimation.)

neurosuspension - The practice of only freezing a person's head or

suspension - The process of freezing a person.  This happens after
legal death but hopefully before true death.

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