By Mike Darwin
Me and Mei Lei, settling down after dinner and a peek at the heart of the time machine, which was then kept in a shed in back of the the Chamberlains’ home in La Crescenta, in 1973.
I was an 18 year old kid feeding quarters into a payphone in front of a Piggly Wiggly grocery store at 9 o’clock on a summer night in 1973, in Augusta, Georgia. On the other end of the line was a middle aged aeronautical engineer in La Crescenta, California, not far from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, feeding me dreams. He wasn’t telling me about the spaceship he was working on to explore the outer planets, instead, we were talking about the time machine he was building to take us to the future. You see, I was helping him with the design – my part was the bubble trap, where pressure and temperature would be measured.
The “front-end” of the “time machine” in 1973, before the bubble trap was designed, fabricated and installed.
The engineer’s name was Fred Chamberlain, and we had met the year before at his home where he, his wife Linda and I had had dinner and had looked over the various parts of the time machine project. It was then that I noticed that the device was missing a critical component – a bubble trap – a device to prevent dangerous air bubbles from entering the circulatory system of the time traveler. Fred immediately saw the importance of the oversight and I set about designing a bubble trap that would fit into the device as he had already configured it.
The glass bubble trap for the “front-end” part of the “time machine” in use to perfuse Fred’s father in 1976.
We had been in correspondence for several years before we met. Though I was just a boy, we shared a dream to voyage into space and conquer the stars. To do that, both of us understood we would have to become time travelers, because we were trapped in a time and place that was wholly unsuited to our ambitions and aims. We had been born too soon. We were doomed to grow old and die before our species mastered the technology to venture forth from the world of our birth and set sail into the cosmos. The only way we could see out of this tragedy, Fred, Linda and me, was to become time travelers, in fact to become a very special sort of time traveler – medical time travelers.
Linda Chamberlain in 1974.
What kid, then or now, wouldn’t kill to have a life like that? Isn’t that the stuff that dreams are made of and the juvenile SF novels are plotted around? Nobody has a life like that and everyone knows that a story like that couldn’t possibly be true. Have Spacesuit Will Travel? No doubt. Have time machine? Well, then then you’ll really go places!
The working heart of the time machine!
And yet, every word I’ve written there is true, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it; and you’ve just seen them.
Fred Chamberlain was a NASA-JPL electrical engineer working on the Mariner-Jupiter-Saturn mission in 1973, and we had that conversation and many like it. And we planned the mission Fred began yesterday and many more like it before, and to follow. The time machine we were working on was actually for a “fourth” of us, not mentioned in my story, Fred’s father, Fred, Jr., and it was indeed used to launch him on his journey on 16 July of 1976. And yes, my bubble trap was an integral and a successful component of that mission.
Fred, Jr., and Fred, III, father and son, now time travelers awaiting rescue.
Frederick Rockwell Chamberlain, III was and is of absolutely critical importance to cryonics. While most people with more than a passing acquaintance with cryonics will associate his importance with the founding of Alcor, that is in reality only a surrogate marker for his deeper importance. Fred came on the scene in cryonics in what was unarguably its darkest hour. It had degenerated into little more than a fraudulent cult in California and, everywhere in the US, it had lost all vestiges of technical and scientific rigor.
When Fred discovered this in his role as Vice President of the Cryonics Society of California (CSC) he not only left CSC and founded Alcor, he and Linda Chamberlain established, for the first time anywhere, the practice of scientific, evidence-based cryonics; cryonics based on the scientific method, on documentation of procedures, policies, cryopreservation protocols and rigorous patient case reports. He and Linda mandated not only scientific and technical accountability, but administrative, financial and legal accountability as well.
Standardized procedures, protocols, equipment and meticulous documentation were critical elements Fred and Linda Chamberlain brought to cryonics.
In doing these things, Fred and Linda attracted and mentored others. Fred’s personality and his military background brokered no compromise and his mentoring profoundly shaped me and a few others, molding us into the irascible and generally disagreeable inhuman beings we are today. At one time Fred was responsible for replenishing the tritium supply of all of the hydrogen warheads in the US nuclear arsenal. Men given that responsibility do not suffer fools gladly.
Personally, Fred taught me a great deal about engineering; not about the mathematics of it, but about engineering at the systems level, about how to look at a complex problem and tease it apart without being overwhelmed by it. He had a fantastic ability to see and solve problems at a meta-level, and he was able to communicate that to others.
Fred Chamberlain helped to build three incredible machines all of which had their origin at roughly the same place and at roughly the same time; in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains near Pasadena, California in the early 1970s. Two of these are the Voyager spacecraft, now on their way to the stars moving through the heliopause at 16.6 km/s and 19.4 km/s, even as I write this. The other, the medical time machine begun when I was a boy, even before that pay phone call in Georgia, is, for the moment, located in Scottsdale, Arizona and it is moving relentlessly forward with its precious cargo of time-stopped souls one slow day at a time. Godspeed to all of you!
You can believe me when I say that I do have some idea of your loss. Only some, I’m sure. It has been a hell of a last few weeks for me, but nothing to what you’re going through now.
Man, oh man! I miss him already, and I haven’t laid eyes on him in years.
I remember all those years ago in La Crescenta, we were so young, and yet we were planning for this very goddamn eventuality. We were actually planning for it, thinking about it, talking about it, working towards it. We knew it would come, and in a weird sort of way, we hoped it would come, because the alternative would be that if it didn’t come for us at all, we would be one of the truly unlucky ones that fell through the cracks, like Marce did. Still, we have his loss to bear for now, and for some unknown seasons of tomorrows yet to come.
Fred (left) cryopreserving his own father, Fred Jr., in 1976.
But remember Linda, it was just yesterday that we planned for this day now so soon arrived – a plan that has been, as we so rightly foresaw, flawlessly executed. Now, let us be patient just a “little” while longer, and work again, just a “little” bit harder, so that we can awaken tomorrow, and find that that other day that we talked about, dreamed about, planned for and worked towards has also arrived, in which we find ourselves together again – not in “paradise,” but in this world, planning for, thinking about, talking about and working towards those other dreams that we had to put on hold, simply in order to survive.
Let us look forward to those goals and dreams and many, many more still undreamt and unimagined, to which we shall again apply ourselves when the tear-blindness of our grief subsides.
Fred Chamberlain III: First Life Cycle: 1935-2012
by Linda Chamberlain
Fred Chamberlain III recently had his brain placed into cryostasis at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale. His physical presence will be missed by many friends, biological family and chosen family until technology allows a future instantiation to be with us once again.
Among his many talents, Fred wrote inspiring poetry and loved to play the guitar and keyboard. He was one of the most intellectually creative and energetic people I’ve had the privilege to know. He just recently published BioQuagmire, which in my opinion is the best transhuman, life extension novel ever written. Fred (together with me and other authors) published a volume of life extension and transhumanist short stories in the 1980s called Life Quest.
The picture above shows Fred when he was in his twenties working in bomb disposal as a Navy diver. He was interested in ethics and was a strong supporter of Ayn Rand’s ideology. Fred became actively involved in cryonics in 1969 in order to get his father, Fred Chamberlain Jr., suspended (Alcor News, August 1976). Fred and I met and became Forever Buddies in 1970 while working on the committee to organize the second national cryonics conference, held in Los Angeles, CA.
Here we see Fred in his thirties, sitting on the rim of the Grand Canyon. He was an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Southern California, where he worked on the Voyager missions to Jupiter and other fascinating projects.
That’s when I first met and fell in love with him. One of our great intellectual and emotional bonds was our interest in technological means of extending life. Fred and I incorporated the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in 1972; the minutes of those early Alcor meetings can be viewed by those who might be interested. Many details from those early years are available on Wikipedia.
The photo to the right shows Fred in his 60’s when he and I were again active in Alcor between 1997 and 2001.
The picture on the left shows us in 2002 when we renewed our wedding vows on a beach in Cozumel with a traditional Mayan wedding with both of us wearing traditional Mayan wedding dress.
Inspired by the Mindfile tools and programs being developed by Terasem (including but not limited to CyBeRev.org and LifeNaut.com), and seeing Mindfiles as an absolutely essential part of any personal life extension plan, we moved to Melbourne, Florida in 2010 to contribute as much as possible to the Terasem Movement while we remain in biological bodies, and then continue doing so when emulated as cyberbeings. We made a presentation about Cybertwins at Terasem’s 5th Annual Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons in Second Life (on Terasem Island), on December 10th, 2009.
Fred recently had his brain placed into cryostasis at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, to preserve his Connectome as additional Mindfile information. Though I will have to carry on alone for both of us for a short while before we see each other in cyberspace, Fred is still part of all of us in the Terasem Collective Consciousness and we will continue to enjoy his warm creativity again soon as well as through his poetry and many writings.
As they say on the Star Pebble, See you in the next cycle.
With all my love,
To view online with active links: http://www.lifepact.com/OdeToFred.pdf