All too many of the people alive today are not going to survive to see a future of advanced biotechnology and anti-aging science capable of greatly extending the healthy human life span. This is an unpleasant truth, but one we should not hide from. The only reasonable option for these folk rests in advancing the technology, industry and provision of cryonics, the technologies used to place the recently deceased into low-temperature storage, called cryonic suspension.
Such suspension can be essentially indefinite, for so long as some agency acts to maintain the storage facility. This allows for the possibility of future repair and resuscitation, perhaps via the agency of a mature molecular manufacturing technology base or other advanced nanotechnology, combined with a greater knowledge of cellular structure in the brain, and enough computing power to manage the complexity of the task. The passage of time is less of a barrier for the vitrified; waiting out the future is more a matter of long-term planning and organizational longevity for the cryonics provider.
There is no known barrier in physics to rescuing someone whose fine brain structure remains intact; our present inabilities are entirely a matter of lacking knowledge and technology. Undergoing cryonic suspension is an educated gamble on the future - just like most aspects of life - but the technology and progress side of that gamble looks to be a sure thing in the long term. The more interesting question is when and how the provision of cryonics will grow into a large, mainstream industry, more likely to sustain itself for another fifty or a hundred years; a lot of work remains to be done there.
With all that in mind, I should mention that a matching grant is in place for charitable donations made to Alcor's cryonics research program prior to February 28th, 2007. Do you have a particular view of the future of cryonics that you would like to see come about? It is far more likely to come to pass if you step forward and help:
This year, a member who prefers to remain anonymous has put up $25,000 for another matching grant, this one focused on his own personal interest: fracture free storage. When a patient is cooled below the glass transition temperature (about -120°C), mechanical stresses form that can lead to fracturing of tissue, significantly increasing the level of technology needed for revival. Contrary to previous belief, we have found that simply maintaining a patient at higher temperatures may not be enough to prevent this damaging fracturing, since we have indications that fractures occur at temperatures too warm to be safe in the long-term.
To understand and seek ways to prevent these damaging fractures in our patients, Alcor has an ongoing project to analyze the biophysics of fracturing using newly developed technologies and methods. Your donation to this matching grant will support progress already underway, including ongoing testing and development of intermediate temperature storage and transportation systems. This research is separate from the whole body vitrification research, which is continuing into 2007.
From now until February 28, 2007, contributions up to a total of $25,000 will be matched by our anonymous donor. As usual, donations are fully tax deductible. This is your opportunity to further Alcor’s goals, double your contribution, and enjoy a tax deduction.