X-Message-Number: 220
From: Kevin Q. Brown
Subject: Asilomar Conference Report (Part 1 of 2) 
Date: 7 Sep 1990

I attended the Aug. 24-26 Conference on Biostasis & Reentry at the Asilomar
Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA, which was sponsored by Lifepact and
organized by Linda and Fred Chamberlain.  I took (hopefully accurate) notes
on the Saturday August 25 presentations, which I have turned into English and
appended below.  Please let me know of any mistakes or important omissions.
                                       - Kevin Q. Brown

         DIRECTIONS" by Jerry Leaf, B.A.

Greg Fahy filled in for Jerry Leaf, who was not able to attend, and presented
a large number of intriguing insights, including the following.

It would be a major accomplishment to show retention of memory (not just
survival) after any kind of freezing, especially after cooling to dry ice
temperature rather than just slightly below 0 degrees C, as was done in the
experiments of Audrey Smith.  Since memory is in the brain we would like to
concentrate on successful freezing of the brain.  The obvious approach is to
remove the brain, freeze it, thaw it out, reconnect it to the body, and see
if it works.  Unfortunately, reconnecting a severed brain to the body is quite
difficult.  Another approach is to freeze the brain in situ, without severing
the connections between the body and the brain and without freezing the
remainder of the animal.  This might be done by perfusing the brain with
humidified helium.

It may be that the greatest damage we see from freezing occurs during thawing,
not during the freezing itself.  We would like to see what the brain looks like
(at the ultrastructure level) after being frozen, but not after being both
frozen and thawed.

Why are frogs and turtles freeze-tolerant and what can we do to copy what they
do?  We do not entirely know.  The levels of cryoprotectants they produce do
not entirely explain their ability to survive freezing.  We do know, however,
that frogs and turtles can survive long periods without oxygen whereas mammals
cannot.  Also, since some regions of the tissues of frogs and turtles are less
sensitive to ice than others, the ice that does form can be concentrated in the
less sensitive areas.  Mammals do not have any such less sensitive areas,
though, so they cannot take advantage of that survival technique.

         by Ralph C. Merkle, Ph.D. Xerox PARC

Ralph gave his usual excellent introduction to nanotechnology.  Even for people
who have read about nanotechnology, Ralph's presentation was useful for making
clear the important concepts and distinctions.  Here are a few that stood out
for me.

Today, fabrication limits technology.  With nanotechnology the limits will be
physical law and design capability.

The three classes of medical treatment are (will be):

  (1) surgery - intelligent guidance with crude tools,
  (2) drugs - molecular tools without direct intelligent guidance, and
  (3) cell repair systems - molecular tools guided with surgical precision.

Advanced nanotechnology will change our medical requirements.  Currently, we
require active tissue that can self-repair and thus must preserve tissue
FUNCTION.  With advanced nanotechnology we will be able to repair passive
tissues and thus will need only to preserve tissue STRUCTURE.

10:00 AM "PERMAFROST CRYONIC INTERMENT" by Benjamin Best, BSc (Pharmacy),
	BSc (Physics & Computer Science), BBA (Accounting and Finance)

Benjamin was not recommending that we abandon LN2 (liquid nitrogen)
suspension in favor of permafrost interment, but, rather, was exploring an
alternative.  The advantages of permafrost interment are:

  (1) it stays cold without maintenance support of any human organization,
  (2) it's cheaper,
  (3) some people find it aesthetically pleasing (?), and
  (4) it is a backup to other methods of suspension.

The obvious disadvantage of permafrost interment is that it does not seem to
be cold enough to stop decay.  Chemical preservation (with formaldehyde,
glutaraldehyde, and mercuric chloride) may help alleviate that difficulty by
forming cross linking, etc. which, when combined with permafrost interment,
may be able to preserve structure.


This talk was one of the highlights of the conference; Greg was brought back
for an encore later (9:00 PM, Saturday).  In this session he showed several
examples of reversing aspects of aging.

Growth hormone - you lose 70% of your growth hormone between age 45 and 75
Giving growth hormone (at low levels) back to humans of ages 61-81 reverses
some aspects of aging (Rudman, 6 month study).  The thymus gland atrophies
with age (and therefore the immune response and other parameters of aging),
but the thymus can be regenerated with administration of growth hormone
(with some other factors).

Zinc is nontoxic, cheap, and important for health.  We tend to develop zinc
deficiencies as we get older.

Elongation Factor 1 is needed for protein production and the levels of it
decline with age (George Webster).  The mechanism seems to be similar in both
fruit flies and mammals.  Centrophenoxine reverses the decline of Elongation
Factor 1 in vitro.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - Greg Fahy helped popularize this in the U.S.  (It had
been taken safely in Japan for years.)  CoQ10 is needed for energy production
and is especially needed in the heart.

Deprenyl blocks some metabolism-related damage and greatly increased the
maximum life span in one experiment.

11:00 AM "LOW TEMPERATURE MEDICINE" by Hal Sternberg, Ph.D.

Hal and his associates have washed the blood out of hamsters and replaced it
with a blood substitute at low temperature for four hours and then successfully
revived them.  These techniques are useful in mainstream medicine - "bloodless"
surgery, chemotherapy for cancer, multiple organ transplants, etc.
Brain pathologies from freezing include edema and microvascular damage (EXCEPT
in the cerebellum, which apparently does not suffer microvascular damage).
Rewarming of hamsters in these experiments is currently done with a microwave
oven; other rewarming techniques may cause less damage.


Why do so many people think that God will give them immortality and so few
look for a technical solution?  For people to look for a technical solution:
  (1) they need an optimistic view of the future,
  (2) they need to believe it is possible, and
  (3) they need to be willing to think about death.  (Death or thoughts of
      death generate a lot of anxiety.  Thoughts of a God that will save us
      are quite comforting to some people.)

Some people object that avoidance of death is not natural.  One reply is that
a century ago a 25% maternal death rate was natural.  (Do you want that?)

Sentence completion is a technique from Nathaniel Brandon (who had his own
pro-death meme; he said that the finiteness of life makes one more productive).
A person is given a choice of several endings for a stem of a sentence.
For example,
    "Death means ..."
Some people say "peace" or "an end to my struggles".  Jim has had a hard time
getting non-cryonicist volunteers to go through this experiment.  Someone
suggested using undergraduate college students (since they are the basis for

many of today's psychology experiments anyway).  He is working on a computerized

version of the interview, since a computer may be less threatening than a human.
If you know of any (non-cryonicist) volunteers, call Jim at (415) 494-1234.

Near death experiences provide a meme that people use to support their
spiritualistic beliefs.  (A common experience is to see a light at the end of
a tunnel and a figure in the middle of that light.)  Since giving extra carbon
dioxide to a person for 30 seconds produces the same effect in 1/3 to 1/2 of
the population, the spiritualistic interpretation does not seem accurate.
Apparently, yogis achieve this experience by building up their CO2 levels with
breathing exercises.  Also, the drug catemine (sp?) will produce this effect.

2:00 PM  "MEMORY: ITS CURRENT STATUS" by Thomas Donaldson, Ph.D.

Rather than try to reproduce what Thomas covered, I prefer to refer you
to Thomas' informative handout which he made available.  (Contribution
appreciated.)  Interested people may want to subscribe to Periastron
([Msg #205]), too, even though his handout will not be part of Periastron.
Write to Thomas Donaldson at PO Box 2365, Sunnyvale, CA 94087 for more

         BEGINNINGS" by Mae A. Ettinger, L.L.P., M.A.

It is not what happens to a person that causes distress but rather the way in
which it is perceived.  Rational Emotive Therapy (Albert Ellis) recognizes
the cycle:

                  --> Event or Circumstances  --
                 /                              \
                 |                              v
              Behavior                     Perception or
                 ^                         Interpretation
                 |                               |
                 \                              /
                  ---------- Emotions  <--------

Before we do anything or decide anything ask:
  "Is this thought true?  Is it rationally based?  Does it get what you want
  quickly?  Does it help you feel the way you want to feel?  Does it keep you
  out of trouble you don't want?  Does it lead you to protect your life?"
If most of the answers are "Yes" then you are being rational.

She suggested that we throw going away parties once a year (because we never
know when we might go away).


Keith described the Far Edge Commission and beyond.  He pointed out that our
galaxy has about 100 billion stars and nobody can possibly visit them all in
serial because most stars would burn out before you could get to them.  The
solution is to visit them in parallel by visiting a few, cloning the entire
spaceship and crew, and proceeding along both branches in parallel.  After
about 32 branches and a quarter of a million years all the stars will have
been visited and everyone will meet at the Far Edge of the galaxy for a big
party.  After that we will have to head for other galaxies.  Since this is a
long trip, uploaders will want to travel via their version of "warp drive";
slow down the clock rate and the rest of the universe appears speeded up.

Keith pointed out that we will not be able to tell whether or not any
intelligent aliens exist in our galaxy because, with advanced nanotechnology,
anyone can send a rocket ahead of everyone else that will terraform a planet
and bury fake dinosaur bones, create fake aliens, etc. that are
indistinguishable from the real thing.

He also has an interesting way to get into orbit without using rockets...

--- End of Part 1 of 2 ---

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