X-Message-Number: 1014
Newsgroups: sci.cryonics
From:  (Perry E. Metzger)
Subject: Re: Scientific debate: some questions
References: <>
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 1992 21:21:19 GMT

In article <>  (Andrew Ormsby) 
>What specific scientific or technological advances are needed in order
>to have working cryonics? By "working", I mean the ability to reliably
>freeze a person for (say) a year and bring them back unharmed.

The freezing part we have; the unfreezing is the problem. 1/2 :-)

The basic problem is avoiding damage during freezing. Vitrification is
the conversion into a solid without freezing; with enough
cryoprotectants of the proper types tissues vitrify rather than
freezing. Vitrification techniques are becoming more and more
advanced; it is now possible to vitrify rabbit kidneys and get them to
successfully transplant back into the original rabbit with reasonable
regularity (although not absolute reliability).

There are, however, other problems that are harder to solve --
freezing to liquid nitrogen temperatures causes stress fractures in
tissues because of differences in coefficients of expansion. It is
thought that the easiest way to handle that is simply to avoid
freezing all the way down to LN2 temperatures, and instead storing at
a somewhat higher temperature -- the problem with that is that
refridgeration technologies at those temperatures are costly to

>What work is going on towards achieving those advances? Where?

Well, cryobiologists continue to develop better and better techniques
for freezing tissues. People at Alcor and Cryovita like Mike Darwin do
research into these matters. People at other research labs also do
some research on this sort of thing, but it isn't precisely a hot
topic. Alcor has greater and greater resources with every passing year
(membership is rising exponentially) and thus can be expected to fund
much more research in the future.

>Are there any university departments or government agencies doing this
>kind of work?  I know that "suspended animation" has cropped up a
>number of times in science fiction novels as a means of making
>long-distance space travel possible. Has NASA sponsored any work in
>this area?

Not to my knowledge.

>To what extent is cryonics "serious" science?

Oh, its serious, but...

>How much money is being spent in this area?

Not that much; an exact figure would be hard to find.

>What are the timescales for achieving the sort of working cryonics I
>mention above, or the various scientific and technological advances
>which will (presumably) be needed. 10 years? 50? 100?

I suspect under ten to be able to bring mammals below the freezing
point of water for multi-day periods; the dog experiments that have
been done at near freezing temperatures aren't that much behind being
able to do that. More than that milestone I won't speculate on.

Perry Metzger		
		  Just say "NO!" to death and taxes.
			 Extropian and Proud.

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