It's Only A Matter Of Time
Science Will Win In The End
There is no reason we have to die. That's just a biological mechanism for evolving the species. Science will eventually learn how our entire body and brain works, be able to cure any disease, and be able to modify our genetics to make us live essentially forever. Progress towards these objectives is being made every day. It may take a century or two yet but eventually we will be able recover frozen bodies and brains and bring them back to life with their youth, memories and personalities intact, and cured of any disease. It's only a matter of scientific knowledge and time.
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9-23-20 Hope Frozen review: The hard ethics of cryogenically freezing a child
Netflix’s Hope Frozen documentary follows a family in Thailand that cryogenically freezes their 2-year-old daughter’s brain after she dies, creating a controversy-fuelled media storm. THE world – including this magazine – hasn’t shied away from expressing opinions about the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the US non-profit founded by Fred and Linda Chamberlain in 1972 to freeze corpses and body parts in the hope of one day resurrecting the dead. Most observers are content with interrogating Alcor’s bizarre mission by asking if technologies for resurrection will ever be viable. This, of course, is a non-question: who knows what is around the corner? The successful freezing and thawing of a whole rabbit brain in 2016 shows how careful we must be in dismissing such ideas. Mark O’Connell’s approach in To Be a Machine was more fruitful: he asked why people would want to freeze themselves or their loved ones at all. Hope Frozen, filmed in Thailand at around the time O’Connell was writing his book, goes some way towards an answer. Matheryn, nicknamed Einz, was born in 2013 to parents Nareerat and Sahatorn Naovaratpon. For more than two years, they and their besotted son, Matrix, filmed hour after hour of the little girl’s life. She was – and is still, in Pailin Wendel’s ravishing, painful documentary – captivating. Just before her third birthday, Einz died of ependymoblastoma. After 10 surgical operations, 12 bouts of chemotherapy and 20 rounds of radiation therapy, her family and the doctors knew it was coming: this highly aggressive brain cancer is a killer. “Some critics in Thailand, a mostly Buddhist country, felt the family had thwarted Einz’s reincarnation” At the eleventh hour, Sahatorn persuaded his family that on her death, her brain and some of her tissue should be frozen and transferred to Alcor’s Arizona facility. Einz became the youngest person to be cryonically preserved. The story created a media storm in Thailand. In the film, some critics in this mostly Buddhist country complained that her family had prevented Einz’s reincarnation and consigned her to limbo. (Webmaster's comment: I am 76 and a Alcor customer so I'll be joining her in a few years.)
1-24-20 Man uses warm coffee to rescue kittens frozen to ground
A quick-thinking oil worker in Alberta, Canada, used warm coffee to rescue kittens frozen to the ground. He was able to find them a new home after sharing the rescue story on Facebook.
11-20-19 Exclusive: Humans placed in suspended animation for the first time
Doctors have placed humans in suspended animation for the first time, as part of a trial in the US that aims to make it possible to fix traumatic injuries that would otherwise cause death. Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told New Scientist that his team of medics had placed at least one patient in suspended animation, calling it “a little surreal” when they first did it. He wouldn’t reveal how many people had survived as a result. The technique, officially called emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR), is being carried out on people who arrive at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore with an acute trauma – such as a gunshot or stab wound – and have had a cardiac arrest. Their heart will have stopped beating and they will have lost more than half their blood. There are only minutes to operate, with a less than 5 per cent chance that they would normally survive. EPR involves rapidly cooling a person to around 10 to 15°C by replacing all of their blood with ice-cold saline. The patient’s brain activity almost completely stops. They are then disconnected from the cooling system and their body – which would otherwise be classified as dead – is moved to the operating theatre. A surgical team then has 2 hours to fix the person’s injuries before they are warmed up and their heart restarted. Tisherman says he hopes to be able to announce the full results of the trial by the end of 2020. At normal body temperature – about 37°C – our cells need a constant supply of oxygen to produce energy. When our heart stops beating, blood no longer carries oxygen to cells. Without oxygen, our brain can only survive for about 5 minutes before irreversible damage occurs. However, lowering the temperature of the body and brain slows or stops all the chemical reactions in our cells, which need less oxygen as a consequence.
11-20-19 Why the line between life and death is now more blurred than ever
Brains resurrected after death, communications with people in comas and advances in cryogenics all suggest that life's end is less final than we thought FOR the Egyptians, death was simple. You stopped breathing and your friends and family bid you farewell. Then they poked a hook up your nose and scraped out your brain, safe in the knowledge that they would see you again in the afterlife. These days, figuring out the difference between life and death has got more problematic. For starters, there is no globally agreed definition of death, which means you can be pronounced dead in one country yet wouldn’t be in another. Then there is the recent discovery that death doesn’t happen in an instant, but over weeks. Add to that the inevitable storm generated by experiments revealing that brains can be resuscitated hours after death. No wonder scientists, philosophers and even the Vatican are asking how we should decide when dead really is dead. Until the mid-20th century, our definition of death was unambiguous: you were dead when you stopped breathing and had no pulse. Things got complicated with the invention of the ventilator, a machine that could maintain breathing for a person who would otherwise be declared dead. At about this time, doctors began transplanting organs from the dead into the living and found that they could increase the success rate by using a ventilator to provide the donor heart with oxygen. These “beating-heart cadavers” were legally alive even though their brains had ceased to function. The resulting quandary of how to remove an organ without committing murder eventually led to the 1980s Uniform Determination of Death Act in the US, which introduced the concept of brain death. Now you could be pronounced dead either when your heart had stopped or when all areas of your brain had irreversibly ceased to function.
7-27-19 Mapping how the ‘immortal’ hydra regrows cells may demystify regeneration
The tiny invertebrates can regrow their bodies from just a bit of tissue. Hydra seem to have found the fountain of youth, perpetually renewing their cells and regrowing damaged body parts. The tiny tubelike creatures, with a tentacle-ringed mouth and a sticky foot, can regrow their entire bodies from just a scrap of tissue. These freshwater invertebrates’ regenerative superpowers hinge on three groups of stem cells that develop into specific cells of the hydra’s nerves, glands and other tissues. Scientists now have the best map yet of which genes turn on as stem cells journey toward their fates, researchers report July 26 in Science. “Most animals have about the same genes,” says Celina Juliano, a developmental biologist at the University of California, Davis. But hydra somehow use that shared genetic toolkit “to do these crazy things,” she says. Juliano and colleagues analyzed nearly 25,000 individual cells from adult hydra polyps to find which genes were active inside each cell. “Every 20 days, it’s basically a completely new animal,” Juliano says. This constant turnover let researchers track gene activity and catch the steps that stem cells go through as they develop. The researchers could also watch how specific genes’ activity plays out across an animal’s body, by creating fluorescent probes that find and latch onto RNA in cells. For instance, nerve cells that cluster at the foot and near the tentacles lit up magenta in one hydra. For the hydra’s nervous system, researchers were also able to use the technique to map the development of 12 different types of nerve cells. Scientists working towards regenerating tissue in humans may have something to learn from these creatures. “If you work with these regenerative organisms, like hydra, you can come up with fundamental principles of how regeneration works,” Juliano says.
4-29-19 A bad sense of smell predicts early death but we don’t know why
A poor sense of smell in older adults is linked to a nearly 50 per cent increase in the likelihood of dying in the next 10 years, but the reasons for this aren’t fully clear. The relationship between olfaction and health is often overlooked, however a growing body of research suggests a poor sense of smell can foreshadow the onset of Parkinson’s disease and even premature mortality. To investigate further, Honglei Chen of Michigan State University and his colleagues analysed data from more than 2000 people aged 71 to 82. Each person did a type of test that assesses how good someone is at identifying 12 common odours, such as cinnamon, lemon, gasoline and smoke. The team then tracked the survival of the participants for 13 years afterwards. Compared with those who scored highly on the smell test, those who correctly identified no more than eight odours were 46 per cent more likely to have died 10 years later, and 30 per cent more likely to have died by the end of the 13 years. Analysing the data, the team found that a poorer sense of smell wasn’t linked to deaths from cancer or respiratory illnesses, but was strongly associated with deaths from Parkinson’s disease and dementia. There was a modest link with deaths from cardiovascular disease. It had been thought that a worsening sense of smell might lessen a person’s interest in food, leading to weight loss and worsening health. But the team found that weight loss, dementia and Parkinson’s disease together only explained around 30 per cent of the higher mortality associated with a poor sense of smell. Unfortunately, people are often unaware of their sense of smell degrading and it’s rarely tested by doctors.
4-24-19 Anti-ageing has often been seen as quack science. Not any more
HISTORY is littered with the corpses of people who claimed to have found the fountain of youth. So caution is warranted with claims of the imminent arrival of drugs to slow ageing. But the field of anti-ageing medicine is now a serious one. A decade ago you could go to conferences and hear outlandish predictions about people living to 150 years old or more, often accompanied by rolling eyes from many scientists in the room. Now the emphasis is no longer on radical life extension, but on ensuring we stay healthier for longer. If this translates into verified drugs, that could presage a medical, economic and social revolution. Keeping at bay the age-related conditions that are now the leading cause of mortality in the developed world will be a humanitarian triumph on a par with sanitation or vaccines. Of course there are possible downsides, for example if larger numbers of sprightly older people refuse to budge from jobs or homes coveted by younger folk. But such problems are fixable. Wouldn’t we rather that than a world in which the nursing home is the only way out?
4-24-19 Anti-ageing drugs are coming that could keep you healthier for longer
Longevity research is no longer aimed at prolonging lives, it is trying to keep us fit right until the end. New anti-ageing drugs may finally be here to make that happen. MICHAEL WEST got talking to a guy next to him on an aeroplane. “The man asked what I did and I told him,” says West. The man seemed impressed and West continued, thinking he had a friendly audience. “But after a while he said: ‘You’re lying to me. I read everything and I’ve never heard any of this. This is so amazing and so revolutionary that if it was true, I would know about it already’.” The unbelievable story that West told his neighbour was about the science of ageing. An account of how biologists had finally figured out what causes us to grow old and die, and how biotechnologists like him – he founded biotech firm Geron in 1990 – were closing in on a cure. A cure for ageing. West realised his life’s work had an image problem. “Rejuvenation, age reversal – I completely believe it is possible,” he says. But “the gap between what scientists know and what even the educated public knows is huge.” Make no mistake: you are going to want to know about this. In a few weeks, an anti-ageing pill will be launched. In a few years, the first scientifically validated anti-ageing drugs could be on the market. Biotech companies are springing up to commercialise discoveries, and investors are betting serious money on what many predict will become the biggest industry of all time. As somebody who is approaching 50, I want to know about it too. The wrinkling, sagging and greying that are the outward manifestations of my inner decay are already upon me, and it is downhill from here. Before we go any further, let’s address the bugbear that haunts this field. History is filled with charlatans and hype-mongers who claimed ageing would be cured in their lifetimes or that immortality was within reach. This time it really is different. “In the past decade, we have made a major discovery,” says Richard Miller, a gerontologist at the University of Michigan. “We have proven that you can slow the ageing process using drugs. Ten years ago, people would have said, ‘That’s science fiction, there’s no reason to suspect that can ever be done’,” he says. “Those people have been proven wrong. It’s doable.” This isn’t just slowing ageing in worms, flies or even mice, it is in humans too. “It’s completely different to the old stuff, which was a bunch of cowboys, really awful,” agrees David Gems at University College London. Unlike many other biogerontologists, he has no commercial interests in anti-ageing medicines. “These are proper scientists working to normal standards. At the moment, it looks great.”
3-24-19 Can human mortality be hacked?
A fringe group of scientists and tech moguls think they're closing in on the fountain of youth. Here's everything you need to know. A fringe group of scientists and tech moguls think they're closing in on the fountain of youth. Here's everything you need to know:
- What is biohacking? Silicon Valley is built on the idea that technology can optimize, or "hack," any aspect of our lives — so why not the human life span? A growing number of "transhumanists" are convinced that, in time, human beings can be transformed through bioengineering, and that aging will be curable just like any other malady.
- How could that be achieved? That's the million-dollar question, but Harvard Medical School researchers believe they might know where to start. Humans grow fewer blood vessels in their muscles with age, which is believed to result in the gradual breakdown of vital organs.
- What other techniques are used? One poster boy of biohacking is Bulletproof Coffee founder Dave Asprey, who recently turned 45 and is certain he'll live to be at least 180. Last year, a doctor extracted stem cells from Asprey's bone marrow and injected them in organs and joints throughout his body, a process Asprey intends to repeat twice annually in the belief he's refreshing his body with brand-new cells
- How big is the movement? There are tens of thousands of biohacking entrepreneurs and basement hobbyists in the U.S., many of whom gather at an annual convention in Austin. Some biohackers are even experimenting with the gene-editing technology CRISPR and have posted videos in which they inject themselves with homemade treatments.
- Are scientists on board? Most are either skeptical or firmly opposed to any effort that purports to reverse aging or extend human life spans indefinitely. University of Michigan professor Richard Miller wrote an article co-signed by 28 aging experts, who called de Grey's life-span goal "so far from plausible that it commands no respect at all within the informed scientific community."
- Is superlongevity truly desirable? Biohackers claim they're only accelerating evolution, but many ethicists believe something much graver is at stake. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama cited the transhumanist movement as among the most serious threats to humanity — not only because of the potentially disastrous consequences of botched treatments but also because of the equally alarming possibilities of success.
- The cyborgs among us: The most fanatical biohackers don't just use technology — they want to integrate it into their bodies. "Grinders" — a term adapted from a dystopian comic book — install hardware in themselves to gain superpowers of a sort.
3-8-19 Aging the old-fashioned way
Barbara Ehrenreich is sick of all the pressure to age “successfully,” said Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times. A social justice activist who lived on a minimum wage for three months as research for her seminal 2001 book, Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich, 77, says our wellness obsessions and warped attitudes about aging go hand in hand. “Health is just the absence of disease,” she says. “Well, the rich want more than that. They want to be as perfect as they can be.” That mindset has taken over Silicon Valley, where tech moguls are seeking to double their life spans. “If you are one of the richest and smartest people in the world, death is an insult,” she says. “Why would you let that happen to you? You’re too special to die.” Even ordinary Americans, she says, have come to view death as “a kind of suicide,” the result of eating poorly, drinking too much, or some other lifestyle vice. The truth, Ehrenreich says, is that aging can be managed, but not defied. “It’s a process of increasing disability. Things get harder. Things go wrong. And there’s nothing to do except try to adapt to each new disability that comes along as best you can.”
2-8-19 Asprey’s quest for 180
At 45, David Asprey thinks he’s only 25 percent of the way through his lifespan, said Rachel Monroe in Men’s Health. The founder of Bulletproof Coffee, which popularized adding a slice of butter to your morning Joe, Asprey views superhuman longevity as central to his new career as a wellness guru. Last year, he endured what he calls “the most extensive stem-cell treatment that’s ever been done on a person at one time.” A surgeon extracted bone marrow from his hips, filtered out stem cells, and injected them into every joint in Asprey’s body, his spinal cord, and his cerebral fluid. “And then they did all the cosmetic stuff,” he says. “Hey, I’m unconscious, you’ve got extra stem cells—put ’em everywhere!” He plans on repeating the procedure twice a year, and claims to have already spent at least $1 million on his quest to live until 180. At his home in British Columbia, he takes 100 supplements a day, religiously follows a low-carb, high-fat diet, bathes in infrared light, chills in a cryotherapy chamber, and relaxes in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. As Silicon Valley’s wealthy elite become obsessed with “biohacking,” Asprey wants to be the movement’s face. “Is living a long time a kind of superpower?” he asks. “Yes. Although I might die trying.”
9-18-18 Why wouldn’t you want to live forever? New Scientist editors debate
More than half of UK adults would turn down an offer of immortality. Emily Wilson doesn’t understand why – but Richard Webb certainly does. Only around 1 in 5 adults are keen to live forever, according to the 2018 New Scientist Asks the Public survey. In the survey, carried out in August by Sapio Research on a representative sample of 2026 UK adults, 21 per cent of people said they would be very likely to accept an offer of immortality. A further 30 per cent said they would be somewhat likely to take up such an offer, but around half of people appear to be reconciled to their own demise. New Scientist Editor Emily Wilson can’t understand why – but Features Editor Richard Webb sees their point. First off, I realise that if it was only me who got to live forever, the sadness of losing everyone I ever loved in a horribly short space of time, relative to my everlasting life, would be unbearably sad. That would make it a “no” from me, as would living forever in pain or perhaps even mild discomfort. But should the gift of eternal life become universally available, and good health was guaranteed, and the drastic environmental impact of legions of immortal humans living alongside generations of their descendants was also somehow magically done away with, then I would be a Yes. There are so many lives I would have liked to live, and would still like to if I had the chance. There are so many places I’d like to settle down, careers I’d like to have, hobbies I’d like to take up, people I would like to meet.
9-18-18 Only one in five UK adults would choose to live forever if they could
New Scientist Asks the Public has revealed that only 21 per cent of people would be keen to become immortal, should it ever become scientifically possible. Who wants to live forever? Only around 1 in 5 people, according to the 2018 New Scientist Asks the Public survey. In the survey, carried out in August by Sapio Research on a representative sample of 2026 UK adults, 21 per cent of people said they would be very likely to accept an offer of immortality. A further 30 per cent said they would be somewhat likely to take up such an offer, but around half of people appear to be reconciled to their own demise. The question posed in the survey was “if you were offered the chance to live forever, how likely are you to take it?”. While this is a hypothetical question, some gerontologists believe that radical life extension – if not actual immortality – may be available to people who are alive today. Even people who are already old may soon benefit from a range of interventions, from drugs to manipulation of their gut microbiota, that can extend their lifespan or at least improve their health in old age, according to a major review published this month in Nature. However, the survey found that more people are worried about radical life extension than are optimistic about it. The main concerns people have are overpopulation and a “nursing home world” full of geriatrics. Of those who expressed concern about radical life extension, 44 per cent agreed with the statement “I think we should just accept our natural lifespan”.
8-22-18 George Church: The maverick geneticist now wants to reverse ageing
He stirred controversy with his plans to bring back the woolly mammoth. But first he's working on editing sperm – and trying out his ageing reversal techniques on dogs. HE MADE his name as a pioneer of gene sequencing in the 90s. Since then, however, George Church has also gained a reputation as something of a maverick, with his often-controversial ideas on how to apply gene editing, most notably his project to bring back the woolly mammoth. Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a prolific entrepreneur. He has also worked for decades to get more people to have their genome sequenced, and with his latest company, he hopes he has hit on a way to do just that. Why work on ageing reversal in dogs first? One of the reasons is we can make the cost much lower. The FDA approval for veterinary products is a lot faster and cheaper, and I want the world to get used to the idea that gene therapies can be inexpensive. Dogs are a really good product target, but they are also a good segue to humans because they are similar in size, they live in our environment, they eat our food, we are responsive to their emotional state. In many ways, they are like children. What do you really mean by ageing reversal? Ageing reversal is a much better target than longevity. It’s very difficult to get the FDA to approve a drug that will make you live 20, 30 years longer. The FDA requires you to prove exactly what you want to put on the label, so if you want to put 30 years of added longevity, you have to do a 30-year study. We’re saying we can achieve ageing reversal in maybe a couple of months, so then our study can be that short.
5-8-18 Evading death and mind-uploading: The ambition of transhumanism
Transhumanists could not stop for Death but they kindly stopped for Mark O'Connell, who has captured their beliefs and anxieties in his Wellcome Book Prize winning travelogue. The idea of transhumanism – that we can enhance human capabilities and ultimately escape death by turning ourselves into machines – is hundreds of years old, and as controversial as ever. Irish writer Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine, a travelogue of strange journeys and bizarre encounters among transhumanists, has just won the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize. Simon Ings asked O’Connell how he managed to give transhumanism a human face – despite his own skepticism.
- Has transhumanism ever made personal sense to you?
- A lot of transhumanist thought is devoted to evading death. Do the transhumanists you met get much out of life?
- What most sticks in your mind from your researches for the book?
- They do say the future arrives unevenly…
- Are you saying transhumanism is a product of an unreal Silicon Valley mentality?
- Who among the transhumanists most impressed you?
- Is transhumanism science or religion?
- Will their future ever arrive?
- Should we be worried?
3-14-18 Brain back-up start-up 'will be the death of users'
A start-up that claims it will one day allow people to back-up their brains admits it will come at the ultimate price: death. Nectome has said it will one day be capable of scanning the human brain and preserving it, perhaps running a deceased person's mind as a computer simulation. However, its current process requires a fresh brain. The product is "100% fatal", the team behind it told MIT Technology Review. The company is backed by Y Combinator, an organisation that picks a group of new companies each year to fund and mentor in the hope they receive major funding further down the line. According to the company's website, Nectome claims it will one day be possible to survey the brain's connectome - the neural connections within the brain - to such a detailed degree that it will be able to reconstruct a person's memories even after they have died. "Imagine a world where you can successfully map and pinpoint a specific memory within your brain," the site reads. "Today’s leading neuroscience research suggests that it is possible by preserving your connectome." Nectome will be part of Y Combinator's demo days next week - an event where start-ups pitch their new companies to an audience of investors and journalists. Previous Y Combinator firms include Dropbox and AirBnB. The firm is also backed by a $960,000 (£687,000) grant from the US National Institute of Mental Health, which said it saw a "commercial opportunity" in brain preservation. According to MIT Technology Review, the team has consulted lawyers familiar with California's relatively new laws on dignified end-of-life measures. The company plans to focus on working with terminally ill people in the testing phase. The company uses an embalming process to preserve minute details of the brain in microscopic detail. Its work won a prize for furthering the field of brain preservation when it tried the method on a rabbit. Taking that further, the team said it had already attempted its technique on a just-deceased woman in Portland, Oregon. However, even a delay of just a couple of hours meant the brain was already badly damaged, it said. The next stage is to find someone planning to die via doctor-assisted suicide.
11-8-17 This mortician wants to fix our broken relationship with death
We treat death as an emergency and hand it over to professionals. We shouldn't be afraid to spend time with the body and get involved in the process, says Caitlin Doughty. For so long in the US and the Western world, we’ve taken the attitude that having an interest in death is morbid. But in fact, it’s morbid to try to cover it up, sterilise it and not think about death. Death positivity doesn’t mean that when your mother dies, you are just supposed to accept it and buck up. It means that it’s OK to be interested.
- You advocate the idea of “death positivity”. What does that mean?
- Why do we need to be positive about death?
- What’s the typical interaction with death in the US?
- Why do many people in the West maintain such a distance from death?
- Wasn’t death taken out of our hands for good reason – to prevent the spread of disease?
- You recently travelled the world to learn about death rituals in other cultures. How do they compare with those in the US?
- You seem to suggest that many other cultures have a more intimate relationship with death. Why is it important to have that?
- So you think people in the West need to be more hands-on in death rituals?
- What about the people who don’t want to interact with their dead loved ones?
- “Having my dead body consumed by vultures is something I really want”
9-27-17 Exclusive: Inside the clinic offering young blood to cure ageing
Exclusive: Inside the clinic offering young blood to cure ageing
In California, a start-up is offering blood plasma transfusions for $8000 to people who hope to turn back the clock. Is it safe, and will it work? JR is a minor celebrity in these parts. It is the fifth time this year that he has flown in from Atlanta to have the treatment. Monterey doesn’t get a lot of traffic from people like him. So it’s a bit odd that this is the epicentre of a phenomenon rocking Silicon Valley: young blood treatments. JR is one of about 100 people who have each paid $8000 to join a controversial trial, offering them infusions of blood plasma from donors aged between 16 and 25 in a bid to turn back the clock. Participants have come from much further afield, including Russia and Australia. It’s not hard to see why. After a spate of recent trials showed astonishing rejuvenation in old mice, the notion of filling your veins with the blood of the young has gone from creaky vampire myth to the latest tool in Silicon Valley’s quest to “disrupt death”. Now start-ups, universities and pharmaceutical companies are clambering to commercialise the potential of young blood. Venture capitalists and high-level hospital executives are rumoured to be partaking behind the scenes. The idea’s popularity is sparking fears of red markets and a dystopian future in which the old steal youth from the young, and no longer just metaphorically. Scratch beneath the hype, however, and we may have been looking at young blood the wrong way round. Within a few years, new insights could usher in a safer, more effective way for blood to stop the inevitable declines of ageing.
8-11-17 How can life-extending treatments be available for all?
How can life-extending treatments be available for all?
Research into biological ageing suggests that humans might one day be able to prolong youth and postpone death. When that time comes, extended youth could become a province of the wealthy, adding another devastating inequity to a world already separating the haves from the have-nots. This healthy lifespan ("healthspan") gap is already starkly present within and between nations. In the United States, the gap between life expectancy in richer and poorer counties is around 15 years; a similar gap in healthy life expectancy at birth exists between London boroughs. The global healthspan gap is even greater. A Japanese person is expected to have around 30 more healthy years than a Sierra Leonean. These gaps appear likely to grow if effective life-extending technologies reach the market. The ability to slow ageing, already demonstrated in animals, likely has contributed to the exceptional healthy longevity of Okinawans, a Japanese population with one of the highest proportions of centenarians in the world. In line with studies on other species, Okinawans appear to maintain a strict low-calorie diet with a healthy intake of nutrients. Some Okinawans studied in the Okinawa Centenarian Study consumed on average around 15 percent fewer calories than an ordinary American of 1971. According to one estimate, extrapolating from studies on mice, calorie restriction (CR) might result in an average lifespan of around 100 and a maximum lifespan of as much as 160 years. Research on CR is sufficiently promising that the Caloric Restriction Society formed in the U.S. to support people engaging in strenuous CR diets that restrict calories by as much as 40 percent.
4-18-17 Why are people freezing their bodies?
Why are people freezing their bodies?
When she tore the meniscus in her knee, former model and fitness instructor Heather O'Neill was out of a job. She couldn't teach with her injury. She needed to heal, and fast. So, she tried something different. She decided to freeze her body. Or, more accurately, she decided to try cryotherapy. Cryotherapy exposes your body to cold temperatures. And I mean extremely cold. In most cases, the client's body is enclosed in a chamber with temperatures ranging between -200°F and -240°F. After a few sessions, O'Neill was healed, and returned to work. Later, she used the same process to help heal a broken foot, and it worked again. She was so impressed with cryotherapy that she decided to open her own CryoFit studio. Cryotherapy may sound futuristic, but it has actually been around for years. In 1978, a Japanese rheumatologist named Dr. Toshima Yamaguchi began researching whether rapid, short-term exposure to cold temperatures would be more effective than ice baths. He found that this rapid freezing brought relief to those with rheumatoid arthritis. Since then, this treatment has spread to Europe, where further research was conducted. When top athletes started using whole-body cryotherapy to promote healing after sports injuries, the world took notice. Today, more than 400 cryotherapy treatment centers exist across the U.S.
12-9-16 Baby turtles survive deep freeze
Baby turtles survive deep freeze
Amazingly, they thaw in spring. Watch the moment when Sir David Attenborough and BBC filmmakers filmed the extraordinary emergence of baby turtles.
11-18-16 Girl with terminal cancer wins right to be cryogenically frozen
Girl with terminal cancer wins right to be cryogenically frozen
The girl, who had a rare form of cancer, had taken legal action in the hope that she could be brought back to life in the future. A terminally ill 14-year-old girl who wanted her body to be frozen in the hope that she could be brought back to life won a historic legal fight shortly before dying. Her divorced parents had become embroiled in a dispute relating to whether her remains should be taken to a specialist facility in the United States and cryogenically preserved. The girl, who lived in the London area with her mother and had a rare form of cancer, had taken legal action. She had asked a High Court judge to rule that her mother – who supported her wish to be cryogenically preserved – should be the only person allowed to make decisions about the disposal of her body. (Webmaster's comment: She's being preserved at Alcor, same place I will be.)
10-7-16 Why we should think twice about trying to extend the human lifespan
Why we should think twice about trying to extend the human lifespan
Forget 40 being the new 30. For a while now, 80 has been the new 40. As far back as data goes, a human's life expectancy hovered right around 40 years, no matter where they lived. But that changed around 1900, when advances in medicine, technology, and communication gradually increased the average life expectancy to its current average of roughly 80 years in First World countries. Japan, Australia, and Canada have average life expectancies above 80 years old — the United States is ranked 43rd with an expectancy of 79.68 years — but that's not the same story for the world's poorest countries. Ethiopia's life expectancy is 64.8 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo's is 60, and Malawi's, the poorest country in the world according to gross domestic product per capita, is 58.3 years. The life expectancy gap between America's richest 1 percent and its poorest 1 percent is currently slightly over 14 years. Advances in biotechnology may only widen that gap.
10-5-16 115 might be as old as we can get thanks to our bodies’ limits
115 might be as old as we can get thanks to our bodies’ limits
Maximum lifespan is not rising in step with average lifespan. It could be that the human body has innate limits that prevent most getting any older than 115. OUR life expectancy has been climbing for decades – but how much further can we push it? The maximum lifespan for most people may be around 115, because of the innate limits of the human body, according to new research. The few who have gone beyond this age are rare outliers, says Jan Vijg of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. By analysing demographic records, Vijg’s team has found that maximum lifespan has not been rising in step with the average lifespan. The record for the oldest living person climbed to around 115 in the 1990s, after which it has broadly plateaued. Although Jeanne Calment, a French supercentenarian who has the longest confirmed human lifespan on record, reached 122 before she died in 1997, her record has gone unbroken for nearly two decades. It shows we are not seeing increasing numbers breaking the 115 barrier, says Vijg. “115 is like a borderline – you can’t cross that unless you’re an exceptional individual.”
9-10-16 Six science-backed tips for living longer
Six science-backed tips for living longer
So is health just a matter of biology? Nope. Research shows living well is more than marathons and what you put in your mouth. So let's learn the health-boosting stuff that nobody talks about.
- Get your act together: It keeps you healthy. Bonus: it also keeps you out of jail.
- Relationships are essential. (Humans are optional.): Got someone you can call at 4 a.m.? Or someone with four legs?
- Work somewhere that treats you fairly: If you think 30 minutes on the treadmill makes up for 40 hours of misery, think again.
- Don't be a jerk: Ignore Billy Joel.
- Too little stress can be as bad as too much: Retirement is brain death followed by death-death.
- Forgive others. And yourself: If there are typos in this post, I forgive me.
8-18-16 I’m the presidential candidate who wants us to live forever
I’m the presidential candidate who wants us to live forever
Forget Trump and Clinton, I’m campaigning for the US to embrace technology with the potential to make us immortal, says White House contender. Some scientists question the value of mixing politics with science. Not so at the US Transhumanist Party. We’re sick and tired of seeing career politicians – nearly half of them lawyers – control national science agendas and budgets. We want passionate pro-science politicians to determine scientific policy, spending and research ethics in our nation. So we decided to get involved ourselves. I formed the US party, the first political entity of its kind in October 2014. There are now others around the globe. Our motto is: “Putting science, medicine, and technology at the forefront of US politics”. I am the party’s nominated 2016 presidential candidate. The conundrum facing society is whether we’re ready for this. My campaign’s main job is to set out science and technology policy from a pro-innovation point of view – not one shaped by religion, ethnicity, culture or history. I think the world’s problems can be best solved by scientific or technological solutions. Our top election promise is to reduce the size of the US military and spend the money saved on science and medical research. Transhumanism and my political party say yes. But wider America – with its roughly 75 per cent Christian population – may not be. My campaign and party are trying to lead the way, so that humanity becomes a science-inspired species.
8-2-16 In defense of Peter Thiel's vampirism
In defense of Peter Thiel's vampirism
If you were looking for another reason to dislike Peter Thiel — billionaire tech magnate (he co-founded PayPal), libertarian extremist, destroyer of news organizations, endorser of Donald Trump — well here's a doozy: Now he wants to harvest the blood of the young so he can live forever. In a recent report in Inc., Thiel is protrayed as intensely interested in parabiosis, in which the blood of a young organism is transfused into an older organism. Studies in mice have shown some remarkable age-reversing effects of such transfusions, and trials to see if the same might be true in humans are underway. Is Thiel already keeping a cadre of blood-slaves captive in his supervillain lair inside a hollowed-out mountain somewhere in the Pacific? Who knows. But before you spit out your morning coffee, let me suggest that while the thought of Silicon Valley billionaires who are also literally vampires may not seem like such a great thing, we shouldn't reject this idea merely because of who's most likely to take advantage of it first. There has been accelerating interest in "curing" aging in recent years (not coincidentally as the Baby Boomers are nearing their dotage), and the Masters of the Universe who rule the tech industry are reportedly obsessed with the topic. So it's worth asking what might happen to us if they actually succeed. (Webmaster's comment: I don't endorse this but it may be a means of beating death for a while. I report it because it relates to the subject of beating death, whether I like it or not.)
7-13-16 Organisms age in myriad ways — and some might not even bother
Organisms age in myriad ways — and some might not even bother
Escape artists and suicidal reproducers offer clues to how senescence evolved. Biologists have long tracked aging in fruit flies and lab mice, but a bloom of recent data from more diverse organisms is stirring up discussion about how aging could have evolved — and if it’s inevitable. The ongoing studies of Martínez’s pampered pond invertebrates and a massive effort to study aging in a roadside weed are good examples of these provocative approaches. They’re shaking up basic assumptions of a long-standing theory and inspiring new thinking to explain why there’s so much crazy variety in how life deteriorates — or maybe doesn’t.
6-29-16 I want to put your death on ice so that you can live again
I want to put your death on ice so that you can live again
Max More cryogenically preserves people's bodies and heads in the hope that one day they can be brought back to life. It doesn't make him popular. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation has hundreds of clients who have signed up to be frozen. Is the ultimate goal immortality? I don’t like the word immortality – that’s not what we’re offering. If you lived forever, I’m sure it would get awfully boring. What we do is freeze people with the expectation that one day it will be possible to bring them back to life into a world in which we can control the ageing process. Then we can stop it or reverse it and decide what age we want to be biologically. You won’t die of old age, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be immortal – you could be killed, have a fatal accident or choose to die. How can you be so confident that it will ever be possible to bring frozen people back to life? I don’t know if we will be able to bring people back, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to – it’s just a matter of time. There’s nothing here that violates the laws of physics. It just requires a better understanding of this incredibly complex machine that is our body and brain, and very fine medical tools that can repair cells. We’ve extended average lifespan by figuring out how to fix people, it’s inevitable that for some of our patients it should be possible to undo the damage that caused them to die – old age, a heart attack, cancer. We have to assume it will happen at some point.
- The Alcor Life Extension Foundation has hundreds of clients who have signed up to be frozen. Is the ultimate goal immortality?
- How can you be so confident that it will ever be possible to bring frozen people back to life?
- What happens at Alcor when someone dies?
- What if you can’t get to someone that quickly?
- Do people’s families ever object?
- Is cryonics becoming more widely accepted?
- Would you say that the people you have frozen are dead?
- Have you ever managed to bring back to life anything that was cryopreserved?
- What do you make of religious objections to cryopreservation?
- Why isn’t cryopreservation more popular then?
- What are the biggest criticisms you face?
- What’s a neuro?
- How long would you want to live for?
6-29-16 Why I signed up to have my head cryogenically frozen
Why I signed up to have my head cryogenically frozen
Taking out insurance to freeze your head after you die is the responsible thing to do, says D. J. MacLennan. Ever since I learned that people eventually died, I have had this fear of death churning away in the background. As a child I was always thinking “isn’t there something we can do about this?”I considered cryopreservation for many years and then signed up as a neuro in 2007, which means I’ll only have my head preserved. It made perfect sense to me that the mind arises as an emergent property of the brain and that it might be possible to preserve that.I don’t know whether it will be possible to bring someone back because it’s hard to know what kind of repair work you would have to do to correct any deterioration. So I don’t think of how it might work, but of what kind of values might be around at the time.
6-29-16 Some people choose to be frozen at death. Here’s how it happens
Some people choose to be frozen at death. Here’s how it happens
How do you freeze a body so that one day it could come back to life? Here's how the experts intervene within seconds to stop nature taking its course. Cormac Seachoy, a graduate from Bristol, UK, was just 27 when his body succumbed to metastatic cancer of the colon. He was pronounced dead on 16 December last year. Not long after, he became Alcor’s 142nd cryopreserved member. Seachoy, who had decided he wanted to be frozen after death, had planned to relocate to Scottsville, Arizona, to be close to Alcor’s main facility, but his condition went downhill too fast. “Ideally, we are there at the bedside so that we can take over within 60 seconds of the patient being pronounced dead,” says Aaron Drake, head of Alcor’s medical response team. Instead, Drake made the journey to the UK but was still in the air when Seachoy passed away. An organisation called Cryonics UK stepped in, cooling the body and administering the first lot of drugs until Drake and his team arrived.” As soon as death is pronounced, we want to mitigate as much from happening in the cells as possible,” says Drake. To do that, his team restores blood circulation using a pump to mechanically do chest compressions and intubates the patient to restore oxygen to the lungs. “We can do bloods at this point to show they are every bit as normal as a living patient, biologically speaking,” he says.
6-29-16 Ark of the immortals: The future-proof plan to freeze out death
Ark of the immortals: The future-proof plan to freeze out death
In Comfort, Texas, a disaster-proof complex will house 50,000 frozen people with plans to bring them back from the dead – and will help others to stay alive. Cryonics, the cooling of humans in the hope of reanimating them later, has a reputation as a vanity project for those who have more money than sense, but this “centre for immortality” is designed to be about much more than that. As well as bodies, it will store cells, tissues and organs, in a bid to drive forward the capabilities of cryogenics, the study of extremely low temperatures that has, in the last few years, made remarkable inroads in areas of science that affect us all; fertility therapy, organ transplantation and emergency medicine. What’s more, the cutting-edge facilities being built here should break through the limitations of current cryopreservation, making it more likely that tissues – and whole bodies – can be successfully defrosted in the future.
4-1-16 Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death
Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death
Can death be reversible? And what are we learning about the gray zone between here and the other side? After toddler Gardell Martin fell into an icy stream in March 2015, he was dead for more than an hour and a half. Three and a half days later he left a hospital alive and well. His story is one of many prompting scientists to question the very meaning of death. Death is “a process, not a moment,” writes critical-care physician Sam Parnia in his book Erasing Death. It’s a whole-body stroke, in which the heart stops beating but the organs don’t die immediately. In fact, he writes, they might hang on intact for quite a while, which means that “for a significant period of time after death, death is in fact fully reversible.” In Arizona cryonics experts maintain more than 130 dead clients in a frozen state that’s another kind of limbo. Their hope is that sometime in the distant future, maybe centuries from now, these clients will be thawed and revived, technology having advanced to the point where they can be cured of whatever killed them. Linda Chamberlain, co-founder of the Arizona-based cryonics company Alcor, hugs the container where the body of her husband, Fred, is frozen in the hope that someday he can be thawed and revived. She plans to join him in cryo limbo when her time comes. Fred’s last words, she says, were “Gee, I hope this works.” (Webmaster's comment: I'm signed up at Alcor. The only one in the state. Ignorant anti-science twits have attacked me for doing that. But the writing is on the wall. Science will win in the end and beat death. And so will I. Join me anyone?)
3-29-16 Eyeless cave shrimp senses light and can live frozen in ice
Eyeless cave shrimp senses light and can live frozen in ice
The tiny crustacean's superpowers include "seeing" even though it's got no eyes, and living on even after being frozen alive in its icy cave habitat. Deep in the ice caves of the Shawangunk Ridge in New York state lives a tiny crustacean with unique abilities. Despite being eyeless, it can still detect some wavelengths of visible light. And it has no problem with being frozen solid during the frigid winters.
3-14-16 The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
The immortalist: Uploading the mind to a computer
While many tech moguls dream of changing the way we live with new smart devices or social media apps, one Russian internet millionaire is trying to change nothing less than our destiny, by making it possible to upload a human brain to a computer, reports Tristan Quinn. "Within the next 30 years," promises Dmitry Itskov, "I am going to make sure that we can all live forever." It sounds preposterous, but there is no doubting the seriousness of this softly spoken 35-year-old, who says he left the business world to devote himself to something more useful to humanity. "I'm 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it," he says. (Webmaster's comment: Science is going to beat death. It's only a matter of time.)
3-11-16 When your veins fill with ice
When your views fill with ice
The Arctic ground squirrel can survive even if its body temperature drops below the freezing point of water. We are still unravelling the mysteries of these amazing animals that freeze. For one species in particular, doing so could prove significant. Several scientists are trying to work out how the Arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii) became the only known warm-blooded mammal to be able to tolerate subzero body temperatures. Solving the mystery could hold the key to freezing human organs for transplant without damaging them. It might even provide a boost for the controversial field of cryonics, in which human corpses are put into deep freeze in the hope that they can be returned to life with future medical advances. (Webmaster's comment: More evidence that restoring life after being frozen for more than 100 years is likely to be possible.)
2-11-16 Mammal brain frozen and thawed out perfectly for first time
Mammal brain frozen and thawed out perfectly for first time
A cryogenically preserved rabbit brain has been defrosted in a near-perfect state, with its memory-storing structures still intact. A mammal brain has been defrosted from cryogenic storage in an almost perfect state for the first time. This breakthrough, accomplished using a rabbit brain, brings us one – albeit tiny – step closer to the prospect of reanimating a human brain that has been cryogenically preserved.After death, organs begin to decay, but we can delay this by cooling these tissues, just like freezing food. But in the same way that a frozen strawberry becomes soggy when defrosted, it is difficult to perfectly preserve mammals at cold temperatures. We, and strawberries, contain large amounts of water, which freezes into ice crystals that damage cells. Cryoprotectants can prevent this ice damage, working like medical-grade antifreezes and preventing organs from freezing. This works in small worms and rabbit kidneys, but it needs to be administered quickly, which usually causes brains to dehydrate and shrink.
1-20-16 Man 'frozen to death' comes back to life
Man 'frozen to death' comes back to life
26-year-old Justin Smith was walking home from his local bar in Tresckow, Pennsylvania last February when he blacked out and ended up lying unconscious in the snow. His father, Don Smith, found him the next morning and called the emergency services. When paramedics arrived they believed Justin was dead. He was taken to hospital where doctors thought he could still be revived. Using a procedure usually used to save patients whose lungs and heart are damaged by the flu or a heart attack, doctors were able to revive Justin. Justin lost all his toes and his little fingers on both hands from frostbite but he has no lasting neurological damage.
10-15-15 Parents hope Thailand's 'frozen' child will live again
Parents hope Thailand's 'frozen' child will live again
Earlier this year, two-year-old Thai girl Matheryn Naovaratpong became the youngest person to be cryogenically frozen, her brain being preserved at the point of death. Her parents say they are "100% convinced" future medical advances mean she will one day be restored to life. They told the BBC's Jonathan Head it was their love for their daughter that drove them to seek this route. (Webmaster's comment: I've signed up for this too. The only person in the 4 states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado, but only one of over 2,600 in the world of which about 10% are already cryogenically preserved. And why? Why accept death? Beat it if you can. Do not go quietly into the night.)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The two organizations in the United States that provide cryopreservation for human beings and even their pets.
Cryonics: Alcor Life Extension Foundation
Cryonics at Alcor Life Extension Foundation, the world's leading cryonics organization since 1972. Information on cryonics, cryobiology, nanomedicine, and neuroscience.
The Cryonics Institute provides cryonic suspension and storage services for human and pet patients, with the intention that future medicine and technology will be able to restore them to youth and health. The Cryonics Institute was founded in 1976 by Robert Ettinger, who created modern cryonics with his seminal book The Prospect of Immortality. Information on affordable cryonics services, advanced vitrification processes, science, medicine and technology.
And the movie that started the journey for me in 1965.
The Seventh Seal for asks the great questions
"Must we die?" "Can we beat death?"
We are a biological mechanism and there is no reason science
will not be able to eventually fix us so we can live forever.
We CAN WIN the game of chess with the Angel of Death!
The Seventh Seal
A film by Ingmar Bergman
The Seventh Seal (1958) - 97 minutes
The Seventh Seal at Amazon.com
A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Angel of Death during the Black Plague.
Perhaps Ingmar Bergman's supreme artistic achievement. The Seventh Seal is considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time. Bergman and acclaimed cinematographer Gunnar Fisher combine symbolic imagery, realistic details, and wry humor for a mesmerizing, moving tale set in Black Plague ridden medieval Europe. Tormented by doubts, a knight returns from the Crusades searching for God, but is confronted instead by the black-robed Angel of Death. By challenging Death to a game of chess with winner take all, he is granted a brief reprieve by Death, and the knight walks among his countrymen one last time and witnesses the plague's sweeping destruction and the fire of fear fanned by religious fanatics. Portraying the cruelty, terror, charity, and lustfulness that coexisted during this dark era, a superb cast of Bergman regulars sheds light on the sources of happiness and suffering in the modern age.
It's Only A Matter Of Time
Science Will Win In The End