X-Message-Number: 2670
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 94 00:02:27 CST
From:  (Will Dye)
Subject: CRYONICS: Re: Brain-only Suspension?

I inquired about a brain-only suspension.  Mike Darwin responded:

> There is no problem with freezing your brain as long as you're prepared to 
> have a mess made of it.  ...[A current patient] is missing part of his 
> temporal lobe, both cortices are cut in multiple places and the tip of 
> his frontal lobe is dangling by few blood vessels.  His brain was removed 
> CAREFULLY by a skilled pathologist...


> ...[Brain removal typically induces] deep cuts 2-5 cm long into the 
> cerebral cortex: usually the frontal or prefrontal and occipital and 
> temporal lobes get gashed.  ...[the cuts] look like they were made with 
> a dull butter knife. 


> ... areas of the cerebral cortex get peeled away with the dura...
> ... often the midbrain ends up left in the head along with other pieces...
> an unsupported brain will develop internal tears if sat upon a table top. 
> (Delicate things, brains.) 


      A bit of my background:  I'm the uninformed skeptic who's been worried
about small damage to the brain.  When Mr. Wowk designed a cold room, I
fretted about millidegree temperature variations.  When I read Dr. Merkle's
paper on cryonics, I worried that he doesn't prove that memory survives the
freezing and reanimation processes.  When I read Mr. Darwin's description of a
cryogenic container making sounds, I would brood that dynamic processes within
the container might slowly cause damage to memory.  When I met Dr. Drexler, I
asked him about the cracking problem.  (He replied "what cracking problem?",
meaning that he didn't consider the cracking to induce severe information
loss.  I said that the cracking should generate high temperatures along the
plane of the crack, but he politely brushed me off, apparently considering the
few molecules displaced by the heat to be far too few in number to induce
measurable memory loss.)  

      Why am I so concerned about such tiny amounts of brain cell damage? 
Because I don't believe that we fully understand how the brain works.  Thus,
it's tough to prove the assertion that "a little" damage will only destroy "a
little" memory.  

      I'm not inviting a discussion of cellular brain anatomy (although I
wouldn't mind one).  I already know that my conclusions will boil down to:
"because we don't fully understand memory, we can't prove that suspension
doesn't severely damage it".  For cryonicists, the bright side to my
skepticism is that I questioned the standard line that cryonics should be,
like most new technologies, guilty until proven innocent.  The unusual
circumstances dictate that the burden of proof is on those who say it _won't_
work.  Thus, I'll be signing up later this year, despite my lingering

      Anyway, here I am, the uninformed critic, fretting over every little
insult to memory; and Mr. Darwin then tells me that my precious noggin is
going to be shish-kabobbed by some ham-fisted sausage maker.  OK, Mike, OK. 
I'll sign up for a regular neuro.  Now I need to figure out how to break the
news to my family.  I'm sure they'd accept it eventually, but I'd like to get
some of them to sign up themselves, so I want to keep things from getting
unpleasant.  BTW, Mike, thanks MUCH for taking the time to tell me about 
this.  I owe you one.

> ... Because your brain will have to be perfused "in your head" your head 
> will have to be perfused too.  People's faces don't look real good after 
> perfusion with multimolar glycerol solution.  In fact, my bet is that your 
> family would probably prefer the headless version, perhaps opening the 
> lower half of the casket instead... 

EEEEEEeeeeeeewwwwwww again!  

      You mean the perfusion process damages people so much that my kneecaps
would look better than my face?  If the face is that bad, what's it doing to
my brain cells?  What's it doing to...  oh, forget it.  The alternative is
burial, so freezing will have to do.  *Sigh*   Grumble...  Grumble...


|     William L. Dye     | "Pinky, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" |
|------------------------|  "I think so, Brain, but once we get to the  |
|  |       moon, who will buy all the cheese?"    |

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