X-Message-Number: 8292
From:  (Joseph J. Strout)
Newsgroups: sci.cryonics
Subject: Re: sci.cryonics--embalming as low-cost alternative
Date: Sat, 07 Jun 1997 12:24:10 -0700
Message-ID: <>
References: <>

In article <>,

>    a)  The way I see it, I'm getting old.  I figure the chance of
>stroke is trimming the odds too far.  So I go to a place with the
>biometric set up, record my famous last words, gestures, belches,
>favorite elephant jokes, lay down on a table, and turn myself off with a
>dose of something, curare injected automatically when I push a button or
>whatever.  The support crew is set up to pump out my blood and pump in
>the preservative mix.  If we're going to get tech about this, I'll
>postulate further flushing my guts with preservative, and maybe treating
>the cerebrospinal fluid, possibly the lymph system if it's independent
>enough.  I'm not on my turf at this level, which is more micro-bio.  Not
>a one of these guys is pro medical.  The place is not a hospital.  It
>doesn't even have to be vaguely sterile, though a McDonald's level of
>cosmetic hygiene is nominally expected these days.  They can arrange for
>storage, or my family can take care of that themselves.  Cost level
>seems, I say SEEMS, less to me on the basis of this obviously simplistic

Yes, this would be cheap, but would it accomplish anything?  I don't think
so; it would just be a bizzare death ritual.  Granted, some say the same
thing about cryonics, but I've been looking at the alternatives for a few
years now, and cryonics looks like the best bet to me.  (And no, I don't
work for any cryonics organization.)

>b)  Storage would probably not need to exceed one hundred years, though
>a safety margin of 10x would be nice.

You'd be mush in a matter of days.  Good-looking mush to the naked eye,
perhaps, but utterly useless when it comes to reconstruction.

>c)  Yeah, cosmetic preservation.  You're right, I guess.  Yet we have
>mice in jars of various things that have been there for 50 to ?-more
>years.  Einstein's brain is still in good enough shape for microscopic
>analysis.  I believe, repeat believe, that's chemical preservation.

I think you believe too many rumours.  I've never heard of mice in jars for
50 years, and although there are brains in jars (yes, that's chemical
preservation), they're useless for microscopic analysis.  Even the brains
we used in my neuroanatomy class were in pretty bad shape by the end of the
school term (only about three months postmortem!).  Good enough for
identifying gross features, but pure mush on a microscopic level.

>There are no doubt libraries full of micrographs and other tests of
>variously preserved and aged brain samples from literally scads, repeat
>scads, of species.  I believe (that's right, I'm guessing, not stating
>no confirmed fact nor nuttin') that we have the basis, datawise, for at
>least a reasonable preservative mix (or set of mixes) already.

Nope.  It was a nice guess, but not right.  First, although there are ways
of preserving brain tissue for decades (mainly, embedding in epoxy or some
such), these techniques only work on thin slices -- they wouldn't work on
whole brains, because the chemicals only penetrate a few millimeters at
best.  Second, nobody ages brain samples -- you fix them (chemically or
cryogenically, or both) right away, or you throw them out because they've
turned to mush.

> [to Brian]
>f)  On the other hand, you're in the business.  Offer both services, a

If existing cryonics patients are to have any hope of survival, and future
cryonics patients are to have anywhere to turn, it is absolutely vital that
the cryonics companies stay in business, no?  So they have a responsibility
to remain as credible as possible.  Freezing people in hopes of someday
reviving  them seems like pure chicanery to too many people as it is, but
at least one can demonstrate that the patients are indeed in stable
condition.  With chemical preservation, though, the patients continue to
degrade -- you haven't even preserved them in a near-death condition.  This
*would* be pure chicanery, and the public would be justified in running any
such company out of town.

Thus, I sincerely hope the cryonics companies stick to their guns and use
the best preservation techniques available -- which right now, means

-- Joe

|    Joseph J. Strout           Department of Neuroscience, UCSD   |
|               http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~jstrout/  |

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