Legal Victory for Cryonics

There’s another media explosion over cryonics, this time having to do with a woman named Mary Robbins. She signed numerous documents indicating she wanted to be cryopreserved at Alcor, then, her family claimed that she changed her mind in her final days. A Colorado court recently ruled in favor of Alcor because no documentation to back up the family’s argument was ever produced, as required by Colorado law. Here is the Associated Press coverage. This ruling sets a good precedent. It sometimes seems as if hostile family members are willing to throw away the law to ensure that their relative rots in the ground in lieu of being cryopreserved. Almost as if their soul would be trapped if they were suspended.

It’s disappointing how many family members freak out when they find out that their mother/father/relatives are signed up for cryonics and going into cryosuspension. Even if I thought cryonics was complete bunkum, I would at least have the decency to respect the wishes of my relative.

Even if I thought revival …

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Depressed Metabolism: Is That What Love is? The Hostile Wife Phenomenon in Cryonics

Mike Darwin, a cryonics figure who led Alcor 1983 to 1988 and acted as Research Director until 1992, apparently kept an eight-year log (1978 to 1986) of incidents where hostile girlfriends or wives “prevented, reduced or reversed the involvement of their male partner in cryonics”. In a blog post on Depressed Metabolism, Is That What Love is? The Hostile Wife Phenomenon in Cryonics, Darwin and cryonics experts Chana de Wolf and Aschwin de Wolf summarize the phenomenon and the history behind it. They point out that the hostility reaches back to the very dawn of the idea in 1968.

Hostility to cryonics is not always all harmless or in fun: it can lead to divorce or even contribute to accidental death via carbon monoxide poisoning. (See the blog post for details.)

Why are women more traditionally hostile than men to cryonics? I don’t think the answer is rocket science: it’s just that men are more familiar with, skilled in, and comfortable with technology than women. For better or for worse, that’s the average …

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This is Your Brain on Cryonics

While we’re on the topic of cryonics, I am reminded of a letter I wrote to Alcor a while back:

Hello,

I’m a cryonicist and life extension advocate. To help promote the idea of cryonics, I think it would be a good idea to have available on the Internet micrograph images of frozen and unfrozen brain tissue, to show the difference. Do you have any available, or know where I could get some?

Thank you, Michael

Dr. Brian Wowk kindly responded:

Hi Michael. There are lots of cryopreserved brain micrographs on the Alcor website. Some of them are after rewarming, and others were obtained actually in the cryopreserved state by a technique called freeze-substitution.

http://www.alcor.org/AboutCryonics/index.html

http://www.alcor.org/sciencefaq.htm

http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/braincryopreservation1.html

http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/cambridge.html

http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/annals.html

http://www.alcor.org/notablequotes.html

http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/biology.html

Regards, Brian

From the quotes page, here is an image of vitrified hippocampus:

(Click for larger.) The page says, “This is “your brain on cryonics”: Transmission electron micrograph of tissue rewarmed from -130 °C after in-situ …

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Michael Jackson’s Brain Rots, Never to Be Preserved

Apparently Michael Jackson was interested in cryonics, but never signed up.

This is sort of sad, because the structure of the brain holds one’s personality and a lifetime of memories. Even if you don’t believe in the potential of future revival, preserving the structure of the brain would still be incredibly interesting, because future analysis could allow us to read memories and other cognitive features. Already, neuroscientists can read basic thoughts via brain scanning.

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Personal Alarm Systems for Cryonicists

See Ben Best’s page on the subject. If I randomly drop dead, it would be nice to get shoved in the freezer, post haste.

As Eliezer Yudkowsky once said, “it still looks to me like it would be better to just chop off the head and drop it into a bucket of liquid nitrogen as fast as possible.” (I’m actually going for full body because it barely costs more.)

For more cryonics enjoyment, see this page of “Who Are We?”

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Intermediate Temperature Storage

While talking to my insurance agent (basically: cryonics agent) Rudi Hoffman, he mentioned something I hadn’t heard of before — intermediate temperature storage. Instead of lowering the temperature of the patient to -196 C, the idea is to lower the temperature only to -140 C or thereabouts. This temperature is low enough to freeze everything solid but warm enough that it avoids microfracturing throughout the tissue. The idea would be that it would destroy less neural information.

I hear that Alcor has been working on this approach for a while. The reason that Rudi mentioned it to me is that intermediate temperature storage, which is not yet available, may cost a bit more than conventional storage when it eventually does become available. Full body currently costs $150K. (See “The Case for Full-Body Suspension” by Michael B. O’Neal.) Intermediate temperature storage, which may be available in a few years, would require electricity and a little more maintenance to keep it going. To cover all the bases, I applied for a $250K life insurance policy, which at my …

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How to Sign Up for Cryonics

So easy… just sign up for a quote at Rudi Hoffman’s website. Rudi takes care of more than 90% of the life insurance for cryonics market. For most people, monthly payments for cryonics-dedicated life insurance policies are very cheap. “Less than the cost of an ice cream cone a day”, as someone recently put it in an article on cryonics in the Daily Mail.

Update: Rudi is authorized for selling life insurance in the USA only, but you can get similar low prices around the world.

I also realized that there is an amusing double meaning on the home page: “You will enjoy a sense of clarity and accomplishment as we comfortably help you crystallize and move towards your goals and dreams.” (Emphasis added.) Comfortably help us crystallize, huh? :)

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The Daily Mail Tackles Cryonics

The Daily Mail, a UK tabloid legendary on the Internet for its dense celebrity reporting, has finally taken on the coolest topic of all — cryonics. Like many articles about freezing yourself solid to be revived in the future, this one is negative, and the question is not what exactly they will say (I’ve heard all the criticisms a hundred times), but whether there will be any funny/juicy quotes along the lines of Smalley’s “You and people around you have scared our children” (directed towards Eric Drexler) or from that time Aubrey went on some talk show and the hosts were worried about Christmas being ruined by life extension. The Daily Mail has frequently proven itself to be one of the most giggle-worthy tabloids on the Internet in the last decade, so I hope they don’t let us down.

The first thing I notice with this article is a good thing — they point out that cryonics costs no more than a slice of pizza per day! The title of the article is,

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Cryonics movement leader deanimates

From the Miami Herald:

Cryonics movement leader `deanimates’

The Plantation psychologist was a funny guy who was serious about life after death.

Dr. Steven P. Rievman, a Plantation psychologist, believed in a better world to come and figured his best shot at being part of it was putting himself on ice.

So after he ”deanimated” on May 12 at North Broward Medical Center — as cryonics proponents call dying — technicians pumped anti-clotting drugs into his body, cold-packed it and shipped it to Arizona.

Rievman, 64, who co-founded the Cryonics Society of South Florida in the 1960s, now resides in a deep-freeze capsule at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, awaiting the day when medical science can ”re-animate” him and cure his ills: lupus and Type I diabetes, which afflicted him starting at age 17.

He had undergone cardiac surgery twice in nine weeks and died of a heart attack, friends said. A life insurance policy is paying the $150,000 perpetual-care tab at Alcor.

Cryonics ”fascinated him from the first time he heard of the concept,” …

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138th Cryonics Patient Suspended

Early last August, the 138th cryonics patient in history underwent cryogenic suspension, thanks to the Michigan-based Cryonics Institute. The patient was pronounced dead at 6AM on August 12, 2005. By that evening the patient had arrived in Michigan and was intravenously administered a vitrification solution which would allow the patient to be cooled to the temperature of liquid nitrogen without fear of damage to the neurons. After 105 hours of cooling at the Cryonics Institute facility, the patient was transferred to a cryostat where she will remain indefinitely, along with 68 others who have been preserved the same way.

Our memories, personality, likes, dislikes, loves, and dreams are all encoded in the neural network of our brain. When our heart stops beating, the flow of oxygen to the brain is cut off, and neurological deterioration begins to occur. The information that constitutes who we are begins to be lost. But complete loss is not certain. If the body is quickly transferred to a cryonics facility and cooled to very low temperatures, the connections between the brain’s neurons …

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