X-Message-Number: 145
From att!osu-cis!compuserve.com!72320.1642 Fri Dec  8 02:55:17 1989
Received: by saqqara.cis.ohio-state.edu (5.61/4.891204)
	id AA02560; Fri, 8 Dec 89 02:55:06 -0500
Date: 08 Dec 89 01:49:52 EST
From: Steve Bridge <>
To: KEVIN <>
Subject: Intro to cryonics
Message-Id: <"891208064951 72320.1642 EHI48-1"@CompuServe.COM>


     Here is the text of a 3-page intro (or two pages with some creative 
laser  printer  work) to cryonics.   I hand this out to members  of  the 
audience  at cryonics talks I give.   I also hand it to friends and send 
it  to  other people that I think might be interested but who  might  be 
intimidated by the full Alcor introductory book.   For instance,  I once 
did a mass mailing of this to everyone in my address book.  

     This  text is being offered to anyone on the cryonet who wishes  to 
use  it.   It is not copyrighted;  however,  I would personally take  it 
amiss if I later saw this with all of the appearances of "Alcor" changed 
to the name of some other organization.   You are welcome to do creative 
editing on it,  changing CAPS to underlining,  etc,  or using it as  the 
basis for a more personal introduction of your own.

     Whatever  you  do,  please don't make your interest in  cryonics  a 
secret.   I  have seen very few cases of cryonicists being harrassed  by 
their friends,  lovers,  or co-workers,  especially during the past five 
years (not counting certain legal officials in California if you  should 
actually participate in a suspension).  If cryonics is to grow to such a 
size that it will be effective,  it takes education and public relations 
efforts  by  all of us.   Just present it as a REASONABLE  and  RATIONAL 
decision,  based  on  scientific  evidence.   Don't become  a  wild-eyed 
cryonics radical nutcase.  Just as importantly, if you are signed up for 
suspension and no one around you knows about it, your own suspension may 
be delayed for hours (or permanently!) before someone at Alcor hears  of 
your condition.


     CRYONIC  SUSPENSION is an experimental procedure whereby   patients 
who  can  no  longer be kept alive with today's  medical  abilities  are 
preserved  at  low temperatures for treatment in the  future.   Although 
this  procedure is not yet reversible,  it is based on  the  expectation 
that  medical  technology  of the future will be able  to  cure  today's 
diseases, reverse the effects of aging, and repair any additional injury 
caused  by  the freezing process.  That superior technology  could  then 
rejuvenate  suspended  patients to enjoy health and youth  indefinitely.  
The  field  which deals with this procedure is  called  CRYONICS.  (This 
should not be confused with "cryogenics," which is the branch of physics 
which studies very low temperatures.)

     Cryonics  is  not  a cult or a religion of any  kind.   The  people 
involved  in cryonics hold widely varying views on  religion,  politics, 
and social issues.   Their occupations include  scientists,  physicians, 
computer  programmers,   business  owners,   teachers,  librarians,  and 
secretaries.   However,  they  all agree that being alive is a wonderful 
thing and that this technology may help them stay that way.  

     Cryonics might better be seen as a experimental medical technology.  
This label may seem strange at first,  since many people have gotten the 
mistaken impression that cryonics patients are dead.   Cryonics is not a 
new  way  of  storing dead bodies.   It is a new way  of  saving  lives.  
Cryonicists refer to these frozen people as PATIENTS , because we firmly 
believe that they are, in some manner, still alive.

     People  really are being frozen;  it is no longer science  fiction. 
Approximately  50  persons  have been frozen  since  the  first  cryonic 
suspension in 1967.   About 300 other people have made the financial and 
legal arrangements to be suspended in case they should become terminally 
ill or injured.   However,  any stories you may read about frozen people 
being  revived are definitely science fiction.   No human has ever  been 
thawed out and revived,  and it will be a long time before this happens. 
Medical  technology  has  not yet advanced to the  point  where  cryonic 
suspension is reversible;  today's deadly illnesses and injuries are not 
yet curable; and even if these things had been accomplished, there is no 
point in reviving anyone until the aging process is fully under control.  
No one wants to be reawakened as an aged, infirm person.

     Cryonics  is not yet accepted as a legitimate life-saving procedure 
by today's medical authorities.   With our current technology we  cannot 
prove  that a frozen human can be repaired and revived (although a great 
deal  of  research suggests that this will be possible in  the  future).  
Unfortunately,  this situation creates numerous medical, legal, and even 
political difficulties.  For instance, if a patient were to be suspended 
while  he  was legally alive,  someone might claim that  the  suspension 
process  itself  had killed that patient,  creating the  possibility  of 
criminal  or  civil charges against  the  suspension  team.   Therefore, 
current  cryonics  practice  is  to suspend dying patients  as  soon  as 
possible after cardiac arrest (stopping of the heart) and declaration of 
"legal death."  

     This  course of action can be seen as reasonable once one  realizes 
that  "legal death" is not the same as "biological death."  A  physician 
declares legal death when a patient's condition cannot be repaired  with 
current  medical  knowledge and techniques.   However,  the  process  of 
deterioration  which we call "dying" is not a sudden happening.   It  is 
much  more  like slipping into an ever deepening  coma.    Even  several 
hours  after  declaration  of  death,  most of the  cells  in  the  body 
(including those in the brain) are still individually alive and ready to 
regain  function.   

     As  late  as the 1940's,  people who stopped breathing  because  of 
heart attacks or drowning were routinely declared dead.  Today thousands 
of  people have survived heart attacks and other conditions which  would 
have  been fatal 40 years ago.   Children have survived over an hour  of 
"drowning" in cold water.  Were those heart attack and drowning  victims 
really dead forty years ago, but nature has changed the rules today?  Of 
course  not;  those people were still alive-- doctors just did not  know 
what to do about it.  In the same way, most people who are declared dead 
TODAY would  be  called "alive" by  doctors of the  future.  With  that 
prospect in mind,  we think these patients should be considered  "alive" 
NOW, and we should do something to KEEP them that way.

     Even  within the next 10-15 years,  you are likely to be amazed  by 
the  amount  of  progress in recovering  patients  from  strokes,  heart 
attacks,  and  lack of oxygen to the brain.   Ultimately,  it should  be 
possible  to  recover patients as long as basic brain structure  remains 
intact (several hours past the point at which today's doctors give  up).  
In  the next century,  the medical knowledge of the 1980's will seem  as 
primitive as the medical understandings of one hundred years ago seem to 
us.   Cryonic suspension itself will cure nothing,  but it buys time for 
the  patient,  keeping his body virtually unchanged until a future  when 
his  frozen  condition  may be considered only an extremely  deep  coma.  
Even  now  there  is solid evidence that  cooling the   human  body   to 
liquid  nitrogen  temperature (-320o F),  with the use of techniques  to 
reduce  freezing  injury,  can preserve the fine structure of the  brain 

     There  is no guarantee that cryonic suspension will ever allow  for 
future  revival.  We  do not know enough to state absolutely  that  this 
procedure  is  workable.   However,  the case for  the  possible  future 
revival  of  suspended  patients grows stronger all of  the  time.   One 
recent  argument  in  favor of future repair and  revival  of  suspended 
patients  was  provided  by K.  Eric Drexler in  his  fascinating  book, 
ENGINES OF CREATION (Doubleday, 1986).  This book details the beginnings 
of   the   new  field  of  "nanotechnology"  (also   called   "molecular 
engineering").   Nanotechnology  is  the next step smaller  than  micro-
technology,  and it will create industries which will operate by working 
with  atoms  and  molecules  one at  a  time.   Among  other  astounding 
developments,  this  will lead to computers and cell repair machines one 
thousand times smaller than a human cell.  Such devices could repair any 
disease or injury (including that from freezing) by working directly  on 
the cells themselves.

     It  must  be pointed out that cryonicists are not people with  some 
fixation on cold temperatures.   None of us want to be frozen.   We  are 
simply  people who like being alive,  and who want to see the future and 
all of its wonders.   For us,  cryonics provides a safety net,  a  last-
ditch  attempt  at life-saving which may give us the chance to see  that 

     Our   cryonics  organization,   Alcor  Life  Extension   Foundation 
("Alcor"),  is a California not-for-profit corporation,  registered with 
the  Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt  scientific  organization. 
Alcor   has  a  fully  equipped  and  operational  research  laboratory, 
operating room,  and patient storage facility in Riverside,  California.  
Alcor  was  formed  as  a mutual aid  society,  where  the  members  are 
committed to helping each other.   All Alcor board  members,  officials, 
and  suspension  team  personnel  are required  to  be  full  suspension 
members.   We  do  not want a situation which could pit "Alcor"  against 
"the  members."  Alcor IS its members.   All decisions on the safety  of 
the  patients  and  stability  of the organization  are  made  with  the 
knowledge that they will affect everyone in the organization.

     If you would like further information,  you may order the following 
publications (among others) from Alcor:

ALCOR:  THRESHOLD  TO  TOMORROW   (introductory booklet)  FREE  for  1st     
copy.  Extra copies $5.00 each.

THE SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF CRYONICS (selected reprints) $10.00.

SIGNING  UP  MADE  SIMPLE  (How  to  provide  the  legal  and  financial     

arrangements  for  cryonic suspension,  with filled-out  sample  forms.)

Subscription  to  CRYONICS  magazine  at $25.00 per  year  (12  issues).   
  Fascinating articles and discussion on the current state of  cryonics,   
  plus science updates.

     Please send check or money order; no cash over $1.00 please.  Phone 
toll-free  to use Visa or MasterCard.   Make all checks payable to Alcor
Life Extension Foundation and mail to:

                    Alcor Life Extension Foundation
                         12327 Doherty Street, 
                      Riverside, California 92503 
                        Telephone 800-367-2228.

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