X-Message-Number: 32671
From: Daniel Crevier <>
Subject: brain preservation
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2010 11:09:01 -0400

Content-type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT

I've recently signed Dr. Ken Hayworth's open letter on brain preservation 
(http://www.brainpreservation.org/index.php?path=letter). In it, Hayworth offers
chemical  fixation as an alternative to cryopreservation, and proposes legal 
and scientific  measures to enhance it.


This makes me wonder why we cryonicists are not giving this idea more 
consideration. Hayworth  claims that his proposed technology (glutaraldehyde 
perfusion followed by chemical fixation) can be perfected within five years to 
preserve brain tissue well  enough to allow eventual uploading, although 
reanimation is less likely. If the claim about uploading is true (and I agree it
is an important if),  then the method would have several advantages over 


On the practical side, the cost of buying cryostats and periodically 
replenishing liquid nitrogen  would be eliminated, as well as the danger  of 
accidental thawing. Yet the marketing advantages might be even more important: I
think this technology would be a heck of a lot easier to sell.


Due to the work of Gunther von Hagens a related technology, plastination, is 
already widely  known to the public as an efficient method of body preservation.
Von Hagens'  BODY WORLDS  exhibitions have been hosted by museums and venues in
more than 50 cities worldwide, attracting  more than 29 million visitors. In 
order to educate the public about health and anatomy, more  than 10,000 people 
have agreed to donate their bodies to von Hagen's Institute for Plastination  
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastination). In contrast, most people seem to 
view cryonics  through the "frozen hamburger" objection, initially put forward 
by cryobiologists. 


Speaking of which, cryonics has always suffered active opposition from 
scientific circles. A different specialty, neuroanatomy, is concerned with 
chemical fixation of brain tissue. Hayworth's  letter has already been signed by
two neuroanatomists (Hayworth himself being one). So adopting chemical fixation
might very well be the road to scientific respectability for cryonic 


Contrary to cryonics, which has a high tech, horror-movie connotation in the 
public mind, chemical fixation  could be marketed as simply a sophisticated 
embalming method. Bodies could be given the  customary religious send-off. 
Fixated brains and body ashes (or perhaps whole plastinated bodies) could be 
preserved in a columbarium-like environment where friends and  family could 
visit and pay their respects. 


Last but not least, chemical fixation could overcome the view that "You have to 
be very selfish (or weird, or a nerd, or a freak) to want to have yourself 
frozen." Strange as it may seem, downplaying the possibility of revival in 
exchange for that of brain simulation might actually make the concept easier to 
sell: it opens the market to those who don't believe in or want revival, and 
don't accept that the simulation would be "you" (i.e. the overwhelming 
majority). If the 10,000 anatomical gifts to von Hagen's foundation are any 
clue, many customers  would adopt the procedure for purely selfless purposes. 
Hayworth seems  to have realized that, as revival and uploading are last on the 
list of justifications he offers  in the letter. His first two justifications 
are to leave behind personal  memories and experience for: 


a) potential use by future society and 


b) to create richer and more meaningful personal histories and personality 
simulations for our  descendants.


So may I suggest that some kind of cooperation may be in order between cryonics 
organizations and Hayworth's Brain Preservation Foundation?


Daniel Crevier, Ph.D.



 Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1


Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=32671