X-Message-Number: 5916
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: Re: Pichugin's work and Jacob's questions
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 1996 21:32:58 -0800 (PST)


To Bob Ettinger:

Pichugin is clearly making progress. I hope that he can continue to do so. I
will contact him myself about publishing his results, some or all of them.

To Daniel Jacobs (I shall repeat this with a direct message to him):

As I understand the current state in studies of memory, the important point for
preservation of memory would be preservation of connectivity in our brains. Any
gaps which left good evidence of just what fitted together with what would
be enough to preserve that connectivity. Moreover we are not limited just to
looking at micrographs: chemical and biochemical distributions, for instance,
will also tell us something about how the nerve cells were once linked up.

If you want a fairly good summary of this, try Steven Rose's book THE MAKING
OF MEMORY. The case for this mechanism of memory has become even stronger
since that book, nor is he presenting an idiosyncratic theory.

What we aim to preserve is not the viability of the brain (though we would
hardly reject ANY means to do that!) but its information content. It has 
looked more and more that this information content is not at the level of 
molecules or even organelles, but at the level of whole cells. Treatments
which disrupt viability therefore do not necessarily disrupt the information.

Certainly it's a reasonable question to ask just how such damage might 
someday be repaired. Cryonicists have thought about this almost from the
beginning of cryonics: the basic idea (there are many variations) is that 
we have millions or even billions of intercommunicating microscopic repair
devices (one way to think of what this might mean is to think about the 
current use of viruses to target and rearrange the genome of cells. That is
the first step. The next step is to elaborate such a system, with more
decision-making capability: perhaps specially engineered bacteria. And 
after that, forms which are even more complex, and can communicate with one
another by their own special hormonal system or otherwise. Ask yourself just
where all that present work with viruses may someday lead: viruses are only
the beginning to something which can go MUCH farther). There is, I will
say, a lot of divergence on the details of how such systems might be 
implemented, but that is not crucial to the basic idea: that we can someday
achieve means to repair, more or less simultaneously, all the rips and tears
we see when we look at a micrograph of a well-preserved brain, to replace any
destroyed organelles, mend cellular membranes, and all the rest. And after
all, someone in suspension can wait for a LOOOONG time. It's not as if we
must repair them in 50 years' time, or 100, or even 200.

And incidentally, in cryobiology there is an even better means of preservation
which may be achievable in the near future. One professional cryobiologist,
Greg Fahy, has been working on vitrification: rather than store people in
ice, we find solutions which do not crystallize but instead turn into 
kinds of glass at low enough temperatures. Such a method would cause 
virtually no damage. His progress, of course, depends a lot on just how much
funding he can get ---- just because he is a cryonicist, too, that does not
mean he can work faster than anyone else. 

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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