X-Message-Number: 10344
Date: Sat, 29 Aug 1998 07:05:15 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #10334 - #10342

Hi everyone!

I too am glad for George Smith and his observation that life is fun. Even
more than fun, it can sometimes become quite absorbing.

To Paul Wakfer:
You make statements to the effect that the molecules in our brain are
broken down to smaller ones. Given the effect of freezing, this seems
unlikely to an extreme. Your statement DOES, however, describe what 
happens if freezing is delayed for long enough. As I understand the 
process of decay, even at room temperature this requires at least 12
hours. As you know, cryonicists attempt to get people much sooner than
that. Granted, sometimes they do not succeed, but they do try hard.

The major disarray that freezing causes is at a level higher than that
of most cells. Neurons, with dendrites and axons extending for long
distances, will certainly have their connections disrupted. That disruption
will necessarily involve disruption of the nerve cell membranes. It is 
hardly trivial, and given that the connectivity of our nerve cells may be
the way in which our memories express themselves it is certainly a 
serious disruption. We may still be able to infer former connectivity 
from what remains, however (note the word "may"). If you subscribed to
PERIASTRON you would know some of the possible ways we might do this.
(Connectivity shows up in the chemistry, too, and the chemistry in 
freezing does not disappear so easily). I do not discuss here the effects
of WARMING, mainly because I can imagine various ways to mitigate those
effects, given the necessary technology. But yes, if the tissue, even if
cryoprotected, is then simply warmed, the broken nerve cells membranes and
all the other dislocation is bound to cause extra damage, some of which
will be chemical ie. breakdown of molecules.

About the things that can go wrong with storage:
First of all, I do agree that hundreds of millions of years is too long.
In terms of the physics of cryostorage only, storage for several thousand
years is quite possible.

At one time (I frankly think it should not have been taken off the market,
though its discussion of how memory works is now WAY outmoded and should
properly simply be omitted) I produced a discursive bibliography on 
cryonics. In it I pointed out that the closest parallel consisted of 
such things as the survival of tombs TOGETHER WITH A STAFF THAT CARED FOR
THEM. By this test, the Egyptian burials lasted for 2000 years until
close to the start of the Christian error. Many medieval churches contained
burials of parishioners, particularly the wealthy ones. Depending on their
location, these burials lasted for hundreds and sometimes a bit over
1000 years. The Protestant Reformation, and the Revolution in France, 
caused the destruction of many but not all of these churches with the
tombs they contained. That is still a longevity of about 800 years. In
some cases, longevity was longer: William the Conquerer still has his
tomb in Westminster. Many English tombs, however, were destroyed during 
the English revolution in the 17th Century. They still lasted for 800 to
900 years. 

This tells us that 200 years of storage is WAY too short. There is only 
one way that could happen: a major reaction AGAINST cryonics. Yes, that
could happen. If it doesn't or if it is not worldwide, I'd estimate
a practical longevity for storage of roughly 800 years. (If it is not
worldwide, I'd expect also efforts to move patients to safe locations
and away from dangerous ones). All this requires a staff, not necessarily
a large staff, to actively care for those in storage. 

The major problem with estimates done now, with or without statistics or
spreadsheets, is that given the presence of an active staff, storage
will not be passive... as I suggested in the previous paragraph. This
means in particular that we can't really validly estimate any probabilities
at all. The fate of cryonics patients, one way or another, depends on US
and what WE do. Not only that, but WITHOUT that active staff, even if
you are suspended and left, say, on one of the Neptunian moons, even
finding records of your location will hardly be easy. (Yes, I include
the ability of an advanced computer technology). After all, no one will
remember either you or your name, or even that you were stored. And the
number of places where that information will be found will become a 
smaller and smaller proportion of the number of places someone might look
as our information increases (exponentially .....). That is why the
mere continued existence of Egyptian mummies into the present means
very little for the longevity of cryonic storage. The presence of even
a small number of people with the desire and ability to care for us
iin storage is essential to the success of cryonics.

It strikes me that 800 years, still, is a very long time for the needed
technology to develop. It gives time for several disastrous wars, etc
etc. But then it will not happen without the continued existence of 
societies which we now call cryonics societies. And 800 years does make
one wonder just how far our understanding of the chemistry of brains,
and our ability to infer the connectivity of the nervous system of
someone frozen with our present primitive methods, might extend. We
may in the end be revived with the equivalent of a high school chemistry

Finally I will point out that ideally no one wants storage for 800 years,
and as yet we do not know how to recover brain connectivity. That is 
why it is important for cryonicists to support active research toward
better means of cryonic suspension and revival. 

And for those who have not followed research into memory, or have no
interest in it, I will add that the overwhelming current opinion is that
the connectivity of our neurons causes our individual memories, of all
kinds. (There are several different kinds of memory). If either directly,
or by survival of clues which lead to former connectivity, that 
connectivity survives, then we survive. If not, not. 

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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