X-Message-Number: 21998
References: <>
Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 02:16:24 +0200 (CEST)
Subject: Re: Alternative Preservation Methods -- Addenda 
From: "D. den Otter" <>

> Message #21956
> From: "Ben Best" <>

>      Currently the only people I know of who have
> shown a serious interest in chemical preservation
> have been Mike Perry (because of the costs) and
> Dalibor den Otter, who is mostly interested in
> plastination. I personally believe that plastination
> is a highly destructive preservation method and
> Dalibor has yet to answer my doubts about this.

Well, the truth is that very little research has been done in this
specific area, so your doubts can't (fully) be answered at this time; not
by me, in any case. Below is an old post from Wayne Lyons of the
International Society for Plastination
( http://www.kfunigraz.ac.at/anawww/plast/ ). He basically says the same
thing, that not much research has been done regarding the effects of
plastination on various intracellular structures etc., but he does point
to some people and publications which might provide as least *some*
insight into the matter. Back in 2001 I posted this info to the
cryonics-euro mailing list in reaction to a question by Eugene Leitl, but
he didn't reply and since I was / am already convinced that plastination
is "worthwhile" (see below), I didn't pursue the matter further.

Technical details aside, the fact remains that plastination preserves a
helluvalot more structural info than cremation or burial. Also, it is
relatively cheap (USD 1,500 - 4,000 for a human brain) and has some major
advantages when it comes to handling & storage. It is completely in line
with the neo-Hippocratic imperative of "Always preserve as much as you can
(afford)". Preserve first and ask (technical) questions later. It's the
moral, rational, civilized, and aesthetic thing to do. All this "We can't
do nuthin' until we have more data, more tests etc. etc." stuff reminds me
of the frickin' FDA. Reality check: potential immortalists are probably
dying as we speak. They have nothing to lose except a couple of thousand
bucks, perhaps, which they can't take with them anyway. For those who wish
to spread the general ethic of immortalism, this should really be a
no-brainer. Even symbolic preservation is better than willful destruction;
only barbarians bury or burn their death. We definitely hold the moral
high ground on this one, and should fear no critic.

Once again, for the record: if you can afford regular cryonics or
vitrification services, fine, by all means sign up for those and don't
bother with the lo-tek stuff. If, however, for whatever reason you can't
afford life insurance, plastination or some similar low-budget procedure
is "the next best thing", and indeed your only remotely realistic chance
to survive your own death.

Btw, plastination isn't some kind of fixation or dogma. I'm exploring
other cheap preservation methods -primarily freeze drying and refrigerated
alcohol storage- as well, and I'm always open to suggestions. Personally,
I think the permafrost part of PF burial is a bit too cumbersome and
expensive for those not living in or near the PF zone, but whole body
"super embalming" in combination with airtight storage and *artificial*
refrigeration (standard freezer, ~-18*C?) might be practically feasible,
though only if either a new organization is founded for this purpose, or
one of the existing cryo orgs would be willing to do this "on the side".

As a compromise, you could freeze dry or super embalm just brains or
heads, encase them in some kind of resin (a cube), and then then put them
in a regular or "fancy" freezer. A large chest freezer could easily house
a dozen or so brains / heads. It would have most, if not all, of the
advantages of plastination, minus the presumably destructive "defatting".
All of this could be done at a fraction of the cost of cryonics
procedures, with practically zero risk of another Chatsworth Debacle
because a) maintenance costs, i.e. electricity for the (standard) freezer
and the purchase of a new unit every decade or so would be very low, and
b) freeze dried / chemo-preserved and resin-encapsulated specimens can
survive at RT "indefinitely". The "perfect" low-budget solution!

Post regarding ultrastructure preservation in plastinated specimens, May

Wayne Lyons <>


In regards to your request about ultrastructural
preservation of brain specimens and degradation of
plastinated specimens, I don't think that much work
has been done on these two subjects, in respect to
plastination. With respect to ultrastructural
microscopy I will refer you to work by J. Klemstein.
I recall him giving a presentation ,at the 2nd World
Congress on Mummy Studies, Cartagena, Columbia , 1994,
on electron microscopy of plastinated specimens. You
may want to try and contact him. Another article of
his on electron microscopy of plastinated specimens
appeared in "Der Preparator" 28(3): 305-312, 1982. I
hope you have luck in finding some information. I do
not have a present address for him.

In regards to the degredation of plastinated specimens
I would refer you to the following reference:

"Plastination as a Consolidation Technique for
Archaeological Bone, Waterlogged Leather and
Waterlogged Wood", 1966: Master of Art Conservation
Thesis , Faculty of Arts and Science, Queen's
University, Kingston, Ontario. Canada K7l 3N6 by Vera
De La Cruz Baltazar.

Vera was a student under my supervision when she did
this thesis. The thesis deals with the degradation
factors of the S-10 polymer. We are in the process of
completing a paper on this work. It will be
submitted to the Journal of The Society for
Plastination by the end of March (hopefully). If you
would like to obtain a copy of the thesis you
might contact one of the following:

1.The Department of Art Conservatyion
Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 3N6

2. Canadian Conservation Institute
1030 Innes Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada. K1A 0C8

3. International Centre for the Study of the
Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural
Property, Rome, Italy

4. or you can try these e-mail addresses:

I hope this information helps you. If I can be of any
further assistance, please let me know.
Regards Wayne

Wayne Lyons
Senior Technician
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Botterell Hall, Rm. 949
Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada. K7L 3N6

Tel. (613) 533-2600 Ext. 74200
Fax. (613)533-2566

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