X-Message-Number: 663
Subject: CRYONICS - Science Report 3/3
From:  (Edgar W. Swank)
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 92 14:21:20 PST

SCIENCE REPORT by Peter Christiansen
(Reprinted from The Immortalist, February, 1992) - Part 3/3


1964 was a watershed year.  It was the year I graduated from college,
the first person in my family to do so.  Much more importantly however
it was the year the first truly serious book that declared physical
immortality by scientific means was possible, (Prospect of
Immortality), by an author with bone-fide scientific credentials (Bob
Ettinger), was published, and by a major publishing house.

Although the book did not make the New York Times best seller list, it
did become a Book of the Month Club selection and the book, its author
and its theme were generally treated respectfully and even positively
by the media, the general public and even some of the respected
members of the scientific establishment of the day.

1964 was also the year that culminated almost two decades of virtually
uninterrupted public support and funding for scientific research.  For
nearly two decades R & D funding as a percentage of GNP had increased
each year, sometimes by as much as 20% or30% over the previous year
with the major share supplied by the federal government, until it
reached 3 percent of the GNP in 1964, higher than ever before, or
since.  In 1964 science, technology, space exploration excited the
imagination and the support of the great majority of Americans and
there were even some, including myself, who even assumed that some
sort of federally funded immortality program would even be announced
any day.

But then something went wrong.  In 1969 we landed on the moon, ahead
of schedule, but within months of this epochal achievement, science,
technology, space exploration, immortality, were suddenly out of

According to conventional wisdom, there are two reasons for the anti-
science and technology movement that began in the early seventies and
which remains strong to this day.

First, there was the Vietnam war which was fought (by the U.S.)  with
high tech weapons.  I was very involved in the anti-Vietnam war
movement as an activist and a draft resister.  The view of many of my
anti-war colleagues and other "likeminded" people was that since the
Vietnam war was fought with high tech weapons, it followed that if we
simply abolished high tech i.e.  science and technology R & D, there
would be no more wars.  We did not realize or we chose to ignore the
almost uninterrupted pattern of violence and war that characterizes
low tech,"third world" agrarian societies and cultures.  We did not
care to acknowledge that opposition to the Vietnam war developed
primarily, not because of our demonstration but because of high tech
television which brought the war and its horrors into the living room
of every household in America each evening.

The second reason Americans became disenchanted with science and
technology was of course the emergence of the environmentalist

Beginning in the late 60s, the U.S.  environmentalist movement,under
the banner "People are Pollution," began forecasting the imminent end
the world as the result of a seemingly endless number of
eco-catastrophes all caused by "mans attempt to control i.e. science
and technology, rather than live in harmony with nature."  Most of
these environmental scares have proved non existent or
greatly exaggerated, e.g.  radon, asbestos, acid rain, the greenhouse
effect, etc., etc..  Other very real environmental threats were
actually identified and corrected by the very high tech
"technological fixes" that send environmentalists into eco-apoplexy.
For example the most important and effective environmental fix ever
devised, birth control, is not only a technological fix but a
very high-tech technology fix that both "interferes" with and seeks to
"control nature" in
a most
profound way.

The neo-luddite eco-hysteria of the seventies and the eighties is
strikingly similar to the McCarthyite hysteria of the fifties, when
the extent of communist subversion and espionage were grossly
exaggerated and the American people became so terrified of "the
communist threat" that political dissent, social change and progress
in the U.S.  came virtually to a halt.

(The extreme wing of the environmentalist movement in the U.S.  and
Europe closely resembles dictator Mao's Red Guard movement in China
which imprisoned and murdered most of that country's "bourgeois"
scientists (scientists who believed that scientific and technological
development, not politics, was the answer to China's problems) and
forced others "back to the land" where many of them died.  The Khymer
Rouge did the same thing on an even greater scale later in Cambodia
and turned that entire country into a "killing field."  )

But still another reason I suspect why public support and funding of
science and technology R & D has waned in recent years is the very
poor marketing job done by the U.S.  science establishment.  The
strategy of the scientific establishment in recent years seems to have
been to appeal for increased public support and funding of basic R & D
by minimizing in every way possible the notion that any increase in
funding of basic R & D might actually achieve anything of really
profound significance.  "Respected scientists," i.e.  scientists
either employed by or funded bythe federal government, assure members
of congress at appropriation time that any monies appropriated to
support NASA or the National Institute on Aging will not lead to the
colonization of space, or a cure for aging.  Indeed such "far out"
ideas and objectives are ridiculed and denounced on the solid
scientific grounds that no scientific breakthroughs that have not yet
occurred, can or will occur (at least "not in our lifetime") or these
distinguished science experts would have already made them.
Overburdened taxpayers are asked to donate billions of tax dollars to
support "the eternal quest for knowledge" or some other equally lofty,
vague and basically meaningless slogan that cannot even begin to
compete with the more immediate and dramatic appeals from all the
various special interest groups.  Given the feeble, almost pathetic
performances by Americas establishment scientists these past twenty
years the miracle is not that there is so little federal government
support for science and technology R and D but that there is any at
all.  Indeed most of the basic R & D funding from the federal
government has been for military purposes, to win the now ending cold

Yet America continues to be the fountainhead of the world in science
and technology.  This is because, in large part, central to America's
continued pre-eminence as the world leader in scientific and
technological R & D has always been dedicated, committed individuals
armed with vision, determination, limited funds, little if any
government funding, few if any endorsements from the scientific
establishment or other "leading experts in the field," and just enough
technical and scientific knowledge to do what has never been done
before but not enough to know that it is impossible.  These heroic
individuals working often, in the begining at least, in very humble
circumstances, have always made the difference.  The development of
modern aviation began in the Wright brothers bicycle shop.  The
development of modern rocketry began in Goddard's back yard.  The
first computers were built by the U.S.  military at Harvard and M.I.T.
but the modern computer industry began in Hewlett and Packards,
Wozniak and Jobs, garages.

We all of course know that those days, when dedicated and inspired
individuals "working in their garage" could do great things in science
and technology, are over.  Or are they?

Today the cutting edge and fastest growing industry is
the biotechnology
industry. Biotechnology stocks outperform, by far, all others. Much of
the pioneer work in biotechnology was done in laboratories at
major universities in the U.S., England, Switzerland, etc., and at
giant, multi-national biotech corporations, including the University
California and Genentech both located in Berkeley California.  But
some of what is already being recognized as amongst the most
work in biotechnology was done in Berkeley, in a garage.

Ten years ago I took my son tosee a real live scientist at work in a
real live laboratory, in his garage at his home in Berkeley.  Just the
other day I took him again to see the same scientist at work in his
new laboratory, which now occupies the entire second floor of an
industrial building in the Berkeley industrial area.  Paul Seagall
(Ph.D.)  and one of his long time colleagues (Hal Sternberg (Ph.D.),
both cryonics pioneers, are now employees and major stockholders at
BioTime (which will probably be public when you read this).  The
BioTime scientists, (Seagall, Sternberg and Harold Waitze) in the
course of doing cryonics related research developed a revolutionary,
highly effective blood substitute and several highly innovative
scientific instruments.  And this is only the beginning.  Berkeley,
(where I attended graduate school in 1966 - 69,) was of course the
capital city of the anti Vietnam war movement and the birth place of
the eco-extremism movement.  Now, Paul had to interrupt his
experimental work to talk to the Pacific Stock Exchange which wanted
to list BioTime on their big board!

All of which goes to prove that even today, committed
visionary individuals can and do make a difference.

 (Edgar W. Swank)
SPECTROX SYSTEMS +1.408.252.1005  Silicon Valley, Ca

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