X-Message-Number: 35
From: Kevin Q. Brown
Subject: Life Against Death notes
Date: 2 Nov 1988

I attended the Life Against Death conference on Oct. 30, 1988 at the Holiday Inn
near LaGuardia airport, NYC and here are my notes on the event:

Carmen Fusco was bubbling over with nutritional information.  She pointed out
that, unlike the prevailing wisdom we have been told the last few years, fats
are not always bad for you and fiber is not always good.
An Oct. 8, 1988 Science News article reported several benefits of a diet high
in omega-3 fatty acids.  [This article showed that these fatty acids enabled
a strain of rats to live as long as rats given calorie-restricted diets,
which was twice as long as when the rats were given a normal diet.]  According
to Fusco, omega-3 fatty acids reduce LDL cholesterol (the "bad" kind of
cholesterol) and reduce the stickiness of platelets (thereby reducing the risk
of atherosclerosis).  The principal source of these fatty acids is fish oil,
but preparation of the fish oil is somewhat tricky because mincing the fish
results in rapid oxidation of the oil, which ruins its benefits.  Apparently
some fish oil capsules are prepared without mincing the fish and also have
added anti-oxidants so that they are beneficial to take.  (I do not recall any
brand names mentioned, though.)  Of course, another way to get your fish oil
is to go eat a fish.  Frozen, pan fried, broiled, and baked fish are all OK
(provided they have not been minced).
Dietary fiber comes in two varieties, water soluble and water insoluble.
Oats, guar gum, and pectin are water soluble.  Eating them reduces the
glycemic index of your meal, which is generally considered good, and reduces
the LDL cholesterol, but also slows down the movement of the food through your
intestine, resulting in increased fermentation and increasing your risk of
colon cancer.  Insoluble fibers (cellulose, wheat bran, lignin from strawberry

seeds, etc.) tend to prevent colon cancer by quickly flushing everything through
your colon, but do not have the above benefits of water soluble fibers.  Thus,
your choice of fiber depends on how you want to balance your risks.  Eat water
soluble fibers to avoid cardiovascular problems (if your risk of colon cancer
is low) and eat water insoluble fibers to avoid colon cancer (if your risk of
cardiovascular problems is low).
She also mentioned that sugar can be used as an anti-bacterial agent (when
mixed with her Rejuvenex face cleanser cream).

Mike Darwin spoke about Greg Fahy's work on vitrification.  Vitrification is
the process of cooling to a glassy, but not crystalized, state.  This is of
interest to cryonicists because:
  (1) freezing without crystalization will result in less tissue damage,
  (2) vitrification introduces less toxicity from the cryoprotectants than
      freezing to ice (because it uses the homogeneous freezing point of water
      (-40 C) rather than the heterogeneous freezing point (0 C) which results
      in local concentrations of glycerol of only about 50% rather than 80%),
  (3) vitrification does not require an optimal cooling or warming rate, and
  (4) 100% cellular survival is possible.  (Some commercial tissues have not
      been preserved successfully at all by conventional freezing with
      cryoprotectants, which still forms ice crystals, but have been preserved
      quite successfully with vitrification.)
Fahy has experimented with vitrifying rabbit kidneys and has successfully
removed, vitrified, thawed, and reimplanted 4 out of 7 (or 10) kidneys.  This
is important because successfully vitrifying and thawing a complete organ is
much more difficult than doing so for isolated cells.  (Not only must the cells
survive, but their structural inter-relationships must also survive.)  Kidneys
are also very sensitive to the concentration of cryoprotectant; a difference
of 1% in cryoptrotectant concentration can make the difference between a
functional and a completely nonfunctional kidney.  Of course, cryonicists are
more interested in vitrifying brains than kidneys and, unfortunately, Fahy's
best solution for vitrifying kidneys will not cross into the brain (so he needs
to search for a new cryoprotectant solution).

Christopher Fry, president of and a founder of the MIT Nanotechnology Study
Group, spoke about nanotechnology.  Most of the material in his presentation
was not new to someone who has read Engines of Creation, but he did throw out a
few interesting figures:
  A C-C carbon bond is strong enough to support 3 x 10^16 carbon atoms
    (a couple thousand miles long) at one gee.
  A compact disc has about half a gigabyte of memory.  The genome sequence of
    human DNA requires about six compact discs.  [This is consistent with the
    figures given in message 17.]
He also mentioned that if he (personally) had a billion dollars to spend,
he would spend it on information access (hypertext publishing, etc.).  [If our

information was organized in a more useful and available form, we would not have
as much ignorance of each other's work, duplication of effort, stupid mistakes,
perpetuated nonsense, etc.]

Mike Darwin's second presentation was on cryonic suspension.  He pointed out
that cryonic suspension at liquid nitrogen temperature (-196 C) has a drawback
of creating thermal stress which results in tears and fractures in the organs
(that are not obvious until thawing).  Suspension at about -135 C should not

cause that tearing and fracturing, and would still be cold enough to effectively
stop chemical reactions (because the molecules of the body will be solidly
locked into place and not available for reaction with other molecules).
Unfortunately no cheap, commercially available substance boils off at that
temperature.  ALCOR may soon create a system for suspension at -135 C by
letting liquid nitrogen (vapors) warm to -135 C, but the reliability of that
system must first be determined since it will require control mechanisms that
are not needed for storage at -196 C.

Saul Kent did not have much to say about investing in life extension since
he has been occupied with other matters (such as preventing the Riverside
County coroner from thawing out his mother).  He said that the vitamin
business from the Life Extension Foundation had enabled him to award $500,000
in various grants for research on life extension.  Unfortunately, giving money
to university folks did not reliably yield useful research and his current
preference is to start a company with a life extension - related product.  He
mentioned a cryobiology company (based on the work of Greg Fahy) as a
possibility.  Another possibility may result from furthering the research of
Denckla, who achieved rejuvenation of adult rats by removing their pituitaries
and replacing some of their pituitary hormones.  (See messages 27 and 28.)
A substance that inhibits the deadly factor (apparently) secreted by the
pituitary would be a valuable product for a company to sell.

Although the legal precedents this past year have been in favor of ALCOR and
cryonics, they have been expensive; legal expenses have cost ALCOR $100,000
over the past 11 months.
The British documentary had good footage of Greg Fahy explaining some
cryobiology and related topics.  It also had several flaws, including the
title ("The Living Dead") and some footage of a (Trans Time) suspension team
moving a patient to temporary storage that was not entirely in good taste.
(The Aug. 1988 issue of Cryonics reviewed the documentary in detail.)
The previously announced increase of ALCOR's suspension rates for new
suspension members (message 26) will not necessarily occur in the next few
months.  (Some members of ALCOR's board are for it and some are against it.)
Mike Darwin expressed concern about the "mischief potential" of nanotechnology.
Currently it takes a nation to destroy civilization on this planet (via nuclear
warheads).  We are approaching an era when individuals can destroy civilization
(via cleverly engineered biological weapons).

                                       - Kevin Q. Brown

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=35