X-Message-Number: 2673
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: CRYONICS Re: Brain & Facial Damage
Date: Sat, 2 Apr 1994 11:14:48 -0800 (PST)

About brain damage and facial damage:

First, the superficial point. One major thing to understand about cryonic
suspension (and one which will probably not go away even if our methods
dramatically improve) is that we are focussing on survival of personality
while most morticians try to prepare bodies so that their APPEARANCE
remains the same. Just because your face looks awful doesn't mean that 
you have no chance of revival, or that any significant damage has occurred.

Second, the deep point. Yes, Ralph Merkle's article did NOT prove that 
memory would survive. A reading of the last version of it (I mean his
nanotechnology article) shows that he proved a far weaker point: that
it was possible to read the location of every molecule in the DAMAGED brain
into a computer. A little thought will suggest that this latter point isn't
even particularly spectacular.

Yes, your memory and personality are the major things you want to either
survive undamaged, or survive well enough that they can be recovered after
fixes, done by all available means. Furthermore, cryonicists themselves have
done very little study of what happens to brains under their procedures. They
do have something of an excuse, which is simply that such studies cost a 
great deal of money. But that excuse has begun to wear thin, even now. Fixing
the brain damage may take very little, particularly if the neurons retain 
the needed information elsewhere. Sorting out a cracked brain, particularly
with crack sizes extending down to nanometers, and corresponding motions of
the cracked pieces, AND no further information (!important assumption!) can
easily make a problem unsolvable by any computer less than or equal to the
total universe in mass (nanotechnological or not ... in this case, if you
use nanotechnology you merely multiply by a relatively small factor).

If and when you join ANY cryonics society, you may wish to add your voice
to that of others who know this problem and are urging research to resolve
it. One major avenue of work to solve these problems consists of finding
a way to vitrify the brain rather than freeze it. (Vitrification refers to
a condition in which the solution surrounding the cells has turned into
a GLASS rather than a collection of crystals). A second major avenue (notice
how I called out the major assumption in the previous paragraph) would be
to understand brains well enough that we could put the cracks together with
the other information which remained.

It is right to decide on cryonic suspension over simple death. But you should
understand very well that our current methods need some improvements NOW
which cannot be provided AFTER you have been suspended. I hope that when and
if you join, you help support such research, which is badly needed. And yes,
I know many other things are also badly needed. Alcor, my cryonics society,
has only recently fought off the California State Government in the attempt
of Californian regulators to destroy them. (I refer to the Dora Kent case
and the years of legal action following it). Yet this need for research 
specifically into brain preservation still hangs over us all.
		- Thomas Donaldson, 

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=2673