CHRONOSPHERE » Administrative A revolution in time. Fri, 03 Aug 2012 22:34:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Venturist Cryonics Conference Mon, 28 May 2012 06:26:50 +0000 chronopause Continue reading ]]> The Society for Venturism will be holding a unique conference focusing on issues of special interest to cryonicists at the Creekside Preserve and Lodge in Mayer, Arizona on June 1st and Second (this coming Friday and Saturday).


The June Cryonics Conference presenters will be:

Mike Darwin: Beyond Alzheimer’s: NADA (Neuronal Attrition Disorder of Aging) & What You Can Do About It.



Cairn Idun: Evolution of the Asset Preservation Group – Three areas of asset preservation:  Capital Assets, Emotional Assets, The Asset of the Self.


Dr. Mike Perry: Chemical Preservation – Is it more affordable, safer, and/or better than cryonics?


Dr. Mark Voelker:  How cryonicists can prepare for

the coming economic crisis.


Mark Plus: Cognitive Science versus Cartesian Reason in the Culture War for Cryonics.


David Pizer: Explaining the new Venturist possible protections for your Cryonic Suspension with the new Trust for our members. Mike Perry will join David to discuss the Venturist Cryonics Trust Agreement which he has created. The Venturist Cryonics Trust Agreement with has been designed to allow members to use the financial reserves in the Venturist Patient Care Rescue Fund which has been created to serve as a resource for patients who may need financial rescue in the future. Thus, it could literally save your life. The Trust Agreement & Trust Fund could also provide money to reanimated Venturists.

The Whole Group of Attendees: Group Discussion on how we can create a Cryonics Hall of Fame.

FRIDAY NIGHT PARTY ===================

The conference opens Friday, June 1st at 3 PM with an informal open house & welcome party.  You can tour the Venturist Museum and Library room upstairs. This is a time to inspect historic cryonics materials, catch up with old friends and make new ones. Sometime during this interval we’ll go downstairs to the restaurant/lounge and have dinner.



Morning Hike: 45 minute hike/walk down adjoining high desert trail. (meet in lobby at 7AM) 8:00

Breakfast downstairs at restaurant…………………………. 9:15

Welcome to the Conference……………………….. 9:30 to 10:15

Dr. Mark Voelker……………………………………..10:15 to 11:00

Break………………………………………………………… 15 minutes

Mark Plus………………………………………………… 1:15 to noon

Cairn Idun……………………………………………… Noon to 1:00

Lunch & Break ………………………………………… 1:30 to 2:15

Mike Darwin………………………………………….. 2:15 to 3:00

Dr. Mike Perry (chemical preservation) …… 3:00 to 4:00

David Pizer/Mike Perry

Venturist Suspension Back up Protection…..3:00 to 4:00

Break……………………………………………………… 15 minutes

Group Discussion:

CRYONICS HALL OF FAME…………………  4:00 to 5:00

Break…………………………………………………… 30 minutes

Dinner…………………………………………………….. 5:30

Socialize & Meet the Presenters………………….7:00



Walk down desert trail (45 minutes)……………. 7AM (meet in lobby)


Board meeting to vote on ideas from the talks Saturday and Venturist Business: 9:30 to 11:00 AM

Conference ends following the conclusion of Board Meeting


Conference is at the Creekside Lodge in Mayer Arizona

For more info contact David at


]]> 0
inonymous? Fri, 16 Mar 2012 02:27:35 +0000 chronopause Continue reading ]]>  

Many years ago in The Immortalist (now Long Life), there was a column authored by one Robert Brakeman.  If you’re a fan of Seinfeld (and I’m not) then Brakeman was a genius, because he did in print what Seinfeld did on TV; wrote a column about nothing that a lot of people found entertaining.

Brakeman’s column was not controversial, or technical, or sentimental, or political, or artistic; it was just a well written column about, well, about nothing. Except that every year or two he would casually discuss how he and Bruce Springsteen had decided that cryonics was a really good idea. Or it might be some other, equally legendary celebrity. The first couple of times this happened I didn’t pay it much mind. Cryonics is a quirky business, after all. However, after the third or fourth time, I wrote a letter to the editor of The Immortalist, Mae Ettinger (then Mae Junod) and I asked her if anyone there had ever met, or even spoken with Robert Brakemen, or otherwise vetted him?

Mae Ettinger did not normally refer to me by name, preferring instead to use the moniker “Evil Genius,” when not calling me the “Great Satan.” The subsequent correspondence between us was neither cordial nor long.  Brakemen continued to write in The Immortalist until, eventually, I, or someone else (I really don’t remember the particulars) called Mae out in public over who Brakeman was and whether it was really true  that all these celebrities were, in fact, true-believing cryonicists, as claimed by Brakemen in the pages of The Immortalist. After that,  there were no more columns by Robert Brakeman.  I never did find out who he was, but I would not be surprised to find out today if people were accusing me of being him. If so, I’ll happily take the credit: that guy was one hell of a writer.

In the history of cryonics there have been many pseudononymous individuals and nom de plumes. This is to be expected in any area of endeavor where there is controversy and risk to one’s career and reputation. However, in the early days of cryonics and up until the advent of the Internet, the presence of anonymous actors was extraordinarily rare. To be sure, people changed their names; I’m one of them. But that is very different than being an anonymous actor (IA). There is nothing sneaky about being Mike Darwin or Max More or Bette Davis, for that matter. People get to pick their own names as long as they stay people; discrete, identifiable beings who are responsible and accountable for their actions. People who don’t like that are entitled to their opinion, but the act of adopting another name isn’t illegal, so long as you don’t adopt another identity in the bargain.

Sometimes, rarely, the use of another name to create an AA is, arguably, justifiable. The Lone Ranger, “V,” the Three Musketeers, the list of anonymous heroes created in response to tyranny is endless. In cryonics, it could be argued that Corey Noble, PhD., once served that role in response to the tyrannical actions of the Society of Cryobiology. But the need for anonymous actors in daily life is pretty rare. Today, as far as cryonics is concerned herein the US, it is virtually over.

And yet, the reverse has happened. Whereas until the advent of the Internet in the 1980s there were almost no  AAs in cryonics, now, that is almost all there are! What gives? The list is endless and I can’t begin to catalog them all: unperson, Finance Department, Desert Rat, and the more distant past, Clarissa Wells…  Most of these names are  “handles” and this practice has its origin in a related technology: radio.  An important difference is that radio, unlike the Internet, operated in the realm of limited bandwidth. The electromagnetic spectrum is inherently limited by physical law. That meant regulation and licensing. And that meant that “handles” were ultimately, at least in theory, traceable back to real, responsible people. With the Internet this is not the case at all.

Of the list of anonymous actors I’ve just given, I’ve been accused of being Clarissa Wells, Finance Department (FD) and unperson. I eventually found out who Clarissa Wells was (and it wasn’t me) and I have had extensive correspondence with FD (I’m not that crazy), so I suppose that still leaves unperson as a possibility. But the fact of the matter is, other than as a one-time prank, I’ve never used a pseudonymous person or an anonymous actor, on or off the Internet.  I find it deeply offensive: so offensive I’ve even turned down significant sums of money to do it for hire.

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking big thoughts about the ‘how and why’ of the recent emergence of this phenomenon. Finally, today, I realized that there is no big philosophical reason for it. People do it for a single, simple reason: BECAUSE THEY CAN. It is a whole hell of a lot easier to be able to say and do whatever you want and not be accountable for it. It turns out that even if you are bright, talented, and have a great deal to offer and be rewarded for, it still easier and more rewarding to act outside your primary sphere of professional and personal action in an anonymous way than it is to jump through the hoops all over again and gain recognition in a small pond the hard way, just as you did in the big one. And to that, I have the following response: fuck you and the fish you swam in on.

So, from now on, the following rules pertain here in the Chronosphere pond. No handles are allowed. Only  real people can post or comment here. Maybe Eugen Leitl can help me figure out how to implement that. I’m not looking for something elaborate – just something as “real” as a letter used to be.  No more wackywackys from the ether.  If that’s the end of Chronosphere, or comments on Chronophere, so be it. I respect peoples’ rights to geographical privacy. I’m not trying (no do I want) to know where any person is at any point in time or space. I just want to know I am dealing with a real, accountable, person, not a cyberphantom.

Mike Darwin,  Ash Fork, AZ

]]> 13
A Personal Update Wed, 15 Feb 2012 23:05:15 +0000 chronopause Continue reading ]]> I have been traveling, or here at Krell House in Northern Arizona, since 24 December of 2011, and have had virtually no access to the Internet, or to long distance telephony during that time. Additionally, communicating with the world via Chronosphere or email have been comparatively low priorities.

The extreme daily hysteresis in the ambient temperature and humidity in Northern Arizona rapidly degrades coatings and causes the underlying structures to fall to ruin. One example of what I am doing to defend against this is to protect high damage areas of buildings with FRP (fiberglass reinforced paneling) treated with a UV protective coating (photo above). I might also add that these conditions make the use of nails in wood construction inadvisable. Within the space of a year nails, even under painted surfaces, will be extruded ~2-3 mm from the lumber they are embedded in. After ~5 years, they may have backed out of the wood so much as  a result of the relentless daily cycles of expansion and contraction (of the wood) that they simply fall out! Screws and glues are the only way to build here.

I arrived in Arizona to find serious damage to the roof of my home, as well as a large number of deferred maintenance tasks crying out for completion.  I also discovered that the phone/internet access cable to my home, as well as the fiber optic trunk, had been accidentally attacked by a neighbor’s backhoe. In fact, over 100 ft of phone cable had been uprooted from the ground and requires reburial – a task I’m attending to now.

The telephone cable to my home was uprooted from a point on the adjacent property right up the junction box where it enters the house.

Added food, emergency lighting, and other reserves (above).

An additional 1,000 gallons of water has been brought on line and connected to the house pumping system (above) for a total capacity of 3,000 gallons.

As the world economic and political situation continues its decline I am also increasingly working to prepare for the likelihood of even harder time ahead.  I have increased long term food reserves, added an additional 1,000 gallons of water storage capacity and implemented a crude rainwater collection system.

Generator,house power interface (above).

I’ve also completed installation of the back up generator switchover system which allows a seamless (and safe) transition of the house from grid to 5 kw of generator power. I am currently working on the support systems for a small (~ 250 watt) solar panel/battery bank system (battery house, charge controller and inverter)

Heavily insulated and heated battery shed.

Another high priority has been to create the infrastructure required to allow year round cultivation of greens and root vegetables. As a child, I was responsible for maintaining our two “hotbeds” which provided our family with Bibb lettuce, Musclun, bunching onions and salad lettuce for most of the winter. That system relied on fermenting manure in a glass covered wooden frame that was largely buried in the ground to provide both heat and fertilizer.

Unfortunately, the large hysteresis in daily temperature here, coupled with the presence of abundant sunlight, creates real problems for that system of cultivation absent nearly constant attention.  Ambient temperature typically fluctuates between 50 to 60 degrees F during the day, to as low as the teens or low 20s at night. Days are often cloudless and bright which means that the temperature in any kind of glassed-in enclosure could easily and rapidly exceed  120 degrees F! Thus, such an enclosure would have to be opened and closed at least twice a day; with any failure to do so likely resulting in the loss of the crops.

Initial excavation and stone-laying of the cultivation chamber. The tank visible in the background is a 1,000 gallon propane tank.

Nearly completed stonework with finished grading.

Until very recently, scrap Kaibab stone was available free here. Even now, it is only $20.00 for a level pick-up truck bed full. This has allowed me to construct a large, well insulated, earth sheltered and heat-sink protected cultivation chamber.

 Construction is well underway on the sunlight admitting glass and environmental module that will be bolted to the stonework.  The cross members seen  in the photo above will soon be decorated with an automatic, solar powered climate control system. When the internal temperature exceeds the safe limit, a muffin fan is activated to bring in cooler air from the outside. In the summer, cool, moist air is generated and delivered via an underground network of pipes that also uses evaporative cooling. Watering is also automatically controlled. The entire set up was built to be resistant to penetration by radionuclides. This is a far more difficult challenge than keeping a stock of soil protected (which can be done quite simply by using earth covered tarps).

This project has been an especially high priority for me because it is no longer economically possible for me to have access to fresh greens, or similar, highly perishable vegetables. I live an hour’s drive from any affordable shopping of this kind, and the prices of these items has also skyrocketed. With consumer petrol prices predicted to be near $5.00 per gallon by this summer, I will have to reduce resupply trips from every two weeks to once a month – and possibly longer. I believe that the prolonged absence of this kind of food from the diet is a serious health risk – as well as being an added misery.

Another food related project is the construction of a  chicken enclosure…

Heat wasting windows have been “replaced” with high grade insulation and firewood stores have been increased (above). The porch light is a high output, high efficiency LED bulb (60K hour life) brought back from Europe along with a suitcase full of others! The yellow coating was done by me.

Wood, like stone, is abundant here, and for a small fee to the Forrest Service it is possible to cut a great deal for the cost of the time, gasoline and wear and tear on the chain saw. I have thus increased my firewood reserves, and plan to increase them further. Sometime ago I “eliminated” all the windows in my home, or more properly, heavily insulated them with expanded polystyrene and fiberglass faced with a double sided, multilayer reflective heat barrier. This has reduced heating and cooling costs by over 90%. I am staggered at the massive amount of heat leak that occurs through so called “energy efficient” double pane windows.  Most people aren’t in their homes during the daytime and when they are they are usually watching TV or on the computer. LED lighting is now so cheap (in Europe) that it is vastly more economical to light your home with electricity and dispense with energy gobbling windows altogether.  If you need to look outside – well, that’s what cameras are for – and they can see in the infrared too, which means you can see what’s going on in the dark.

Chronospohere, at least as it has been pursued so far, has failed to gain traction. I will explore what I think are the reasons for this at a later date.

For the present, I am busy and productive and working within my (small) resource constraints. Progress is slow because almost everything I do is on a no cash basis using items recovered from the waste stream, bartered for, or purchased as scrap for one cent on the dollar (or less). It is also slow, since I am doing it myself and learning as I go along. I am blessed with a good library of books on everything from electrical wiring to woodworking. The only books thrown out more consistently in the UK and the US than the Bible are ‘self help’ and ‘how to’ books. I am becoming increasingly convinced that many people buy such books with the expectation that merely owning them will somehow magically confer mastery of their contents. Probably the same is also true of the Bible.

I am attending to the large backlog of personal correspondence that has accumulated during my period of enforced isolation from the Internet, so, if you have written me, I apologize for the tardiness of my response in advance.  — Mike Darwin








]]> 30
Status Report: 28 July, 2011 Fri, 29 Jul 2011 03:46:06 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]>

Figure 1: Chronosphere performance data from 29 June through 28 Jul, 2011. The large bump up in views on 07-29-2011 represents the effect of the posting of Robert Ettinger’s passing into cryopreservation and the impact from targeted mailings of a media kit to ~ 100 major media outlets around the world.

By Mike Darwin


One of the most valuable things I learned from cryonics is just how long and how hard a business it is to build an organization. Or even to build a base of readers and subscribers if you are in the business of producing a newsletter, a magazine, or yes, even a blog. Above are the stats for Chronosphere from 29 June through 28 July of this year (stats for the year to date are present in Figure 5, below).

I’m doing this update much sooner than I planned, because I wanted to show, objectively, the power of a single well planned and well timed intervention on “public” awareness and on readership. Public is in quotes because it is misnomer; the people who’ve come here and who will stay here as readers are a unique and highly distilled fraction of the public. Aside from the fact that they can read, and do so at a high level, they know how to use the web and they are at least intellectually curious enough to have come to light here. Most importantly, some subset of these people are nascent or actual cryonicists/immortalists.

The Worst Press Release in Cryonics History?

It is common practice and prudent public relations management to have media kits prepared and ready to go for any unexpected contingency. A representative media kit is shown in Figure 2, below, and contains detailed information on every aspect of the organization’s operations and public programs, as well as resource information and the best examples of prior media coverage. Such a press kit will also have “supplied images” that the media can use, as well as documentary (and if available, interactive) CDs or DVDs which tell the organization’s story in a tight, coherent way. In the case of cryonics, at a minimum this would mean lay and technical white papers on the issues of cryo-injury and the repair of freezing or vitrification damage, detailed written and visual guides to how cryopreservation is carried out, scientific papers, scientists’ statements and other third-party data supporting the feasibility of cryonics, promotional literature, samples of any magazines or newsletters, and finally, a specific press release, as appropriate. It is also appropriate to have a separate, concise document that deals with common misconceptions and which provides a credible answer to basic and often asked questions, such as how much cryonics costs, who will revive cryonics patients, how will patients adjust to life after being displaced into the future by decades, or even centuries, and so on.


Figure 2: A typical media kit for a technology-oriented enterprise.

Such press kits were generated in cryonics as early as the late 1960s(obviously, minus CDs or DVDs) and Alcor at one time maintained an extensive press kit that was kept in stock at all times through till at least 1991. Below (Figure 3) is the press release sent out by the Cryonics Institute on 25 July, two days after Robert Ettinger’s cryopreservation began. It is an amazing document, starting with title, and it becomes even more surprising from there.

Figure 3: Press release from the Cryonics Institute (CI) announcing that the father of cryonics, Robert C. W. Ettinger was pronounced medico-legally dead on 23 July and cryopreserved by CI in Michigan.

The first thing we learn from the press release is that Robert Ettinger was frozen. Is this true? Was he vitrified-frozen or simply frozen? Was he cryoprotected or straight frozen? Depending upon the realities, this document either represents enormous hubris, or enormous ignorance, because whatever else happened to Bob Ettinger on 23 July, being dead was not on the menu – not yet, anyway – and some of the media headlines got that right! After over 20 years of effort to remove cryonics and cryonics patients from the realm of death and the dead, the father of the cryonics movement gets “frozen” after he is “dead,” and this happens not in 1967, but in 2011. Incredible!

Early on in the classic 1974 Mel Brooks film, “Young Frankenstein, ” as Dr. “Fronkensteen” is concluding a lecture to a group of medical students, an unctuous-obnoxious student hurls leading question after leading question at the good doctor, finally concluding with: “But as a Fronkensteen, aren’t you the least bit curious about it? Doesn’t bringing back to life what was once dead hold any intrigue to you?” That was too much. Young Frankenstein, yells out, “You are talking about the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind! Dead is dead!

Of course, Dr. Fronkensteen is right, dead is dead, and everyone who isn’t a lunatic knows that. The dictionary definition of death is: “the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism.” That’s a good definition of death and it most certainly does not reflect the current state of Robert Ettinger.

The medical physicist and cryonics activist Dr. Brian Wowk was the first point this out in his 1988 essay, “The Death of Death in Cryonics,” I can also justifiably speak to this issue myself, since I am a peer-reviewed, medical journal published, ‘expert’ in this area, see the article “Pro-Con Ethics Debate: When is Dead Really Dead?” The use of this terminology by a cryonics organization, after so much reparative work and effort, is shocking. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the CI press release is a step back from the press release announcing Dr. Bedford’s cryopreservation, which was sent out on 14 January, 1967; 44 years ago (see Figure 4, below)!

Figure 4: The January, 1967 press release announcing the cryopreservation of Dr. James H. Bed-ford was more detailed, more hopeful and more informative by far than the CI press release announcing the cryopreservation of Robert Ettinger on 23 July, 2011.

To appreciate the degree of dysfunctionality in contemporary cryonics with regard  to public relations, it is probably necessary to go back in time to 1990, when Dr. Thomas K. Donaldson unsuccessfully sued the Attorney General of the State of California for the right to an elective cryopreservation in order to prevent the destruction of his brain by a malignant brain tumor. Much of the media coverage surrounding the Donaldson lawsuit was neutral to slightly sympathetic. And a disproportionate amount of the “supposed” public reaction was sympathetic, or asked questions in a positively loaded way. This was the case because there was a coordinated letter writing effort. Not only did many Alcor members  write letters themselves, many hundreds of hand written, typed and computer-typed (daisy wheel generated) letters also went out in packages from Alcor in Riverside, to re-mailers, who then re-posted them to local papers, TV stations, and the like, so that they would have local postmarks, and thus  and local credibility. This is how it is done in the real world of public relations.

Whether you approve of that kind of approach in public relations is neither here nor there in the context of how cryonics is being publicly handled today. Things have gotten so bad that the cryonics organizations themselves don’t know whether their patient’s are dead, alive, in suspended animation, or in a fourth, and far less certain state called cryopreservation.  That last state is the one the public most needs to be educated about, and it is ostensibly the job of the cryonics organizations to do it. This press release appears to have be written by David Ettinge, and one is tempted to shout out the question:

But as an Ettinger, aren’t you the least bit curious about it? Doesn’t bringing back to life what was once dead pose any contradictions for you?”


Figure 5: The number of views Chronosphere receives per month has been increasing steadily since its launch, and will likely reach or exceed 10K per month, by the end of July, 2011.

I do not know what the traffic is like on the various cryonics organization websites, and my inquiries for this data have gone unanswered in the past. Judging from the average number of hits per month Chronosphere is now receiving, my guess would be that for Alcor and CI, that number is orders of magnitude greater.

We have a lot of work to do.





]]> 11
Status Report: 15 July, 2011 Sat, 16 Jul 2011 01:25:43 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> One of the unfortunate things about being as isolated as I am from easy dialogue with others (something much of the cryonics community suffers from) is that I don’t have much opportunity to sit around and verbally discuss the meaning of events of (seeming) importance. I thus have only on my opinions, and those are of limited use, at best.

The statistics I present below are below are interesting and I’m fairly sure they contain important in formation. I’ll refrain from commenting on them much beyond labeling points on the graphic section to show what a given day’s post was.

31.          suPAR Power: A rapid, inexpensive, highly accurate method of predicting all-cause and disease specific mortality: 2011/07/15

30.          The Armories of the Latter Day Laputas, Part 5: 2011/07/11

29.          The Armories of the Latter Day Laputas, Part 4: 2011/07/07

28.          In Camera Historia, Trans Time, Inc.: 2011/07/05 and In Camera Historia,” Air Hearse”:  2011/07/07

27.          Casual Conversation, 29 June, 2011: 2011/06/30

26.          Future Babble: A Review and Commentary: 2011/06/29

25.          Induction of Hypothermia in the Cryonics Patient: Theory and Technique, Part 2: 2011/06/29

24.          Induction of Hypothermia in the Cryonics Patient: Theory and Technique, Part 1: 2011/06/28

23.          Commercial Air Transport of the Cryopreservation Patient: 2011/06/26

22.          Going, Going, Gone… Part 1-3: 2011/05/31

21.          A Visit to Alcor: 2011/05/29

20.          Cryonics, Nanotechnology and Transhumanism: Utopia Then and Now: 2011/04/19

19.          Cryonicists, Teach Your Children Well: 2011/04/14

18           You be the Judge: Understanding and Evaluating the Quality of Human Cryopreservations from Cryonics Organization Literature and Case Report Data, Part 4: 2011/04/11, 2011/04/05, 2011/04/04

17.          Michael G. Darwin, a Biographical Précis: 2011/04/04

16.          Letter to the Aspirants: 2011/03/18

15.          1968 AD > Cryonics > Reboot: 2011/03/17

14.          We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: A Personal Meditation on the Consequences of Increasing Social Acceptance for Contra-cultural Undertakings: 2011/03/13

13.          Chronosphere is Not a Blog!: 2011/03/12

12.          How Not to Get Ahead in Cryonics: Using Google Ngram Technology to Expose Flawed Decision Making in Cryonics: 2011/03/10

11.          Poisoning the Well: Measuring the Cultural Penetration of Cryonics Using Google Ngram Technology: 2011/03/07

10.          I Know this is Going to be Shocking: A Review of Wearable Continuous Monitoring Systems to Detect and Treat Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Cryonicists: 2011/03/16

9.            Pearl: 2011/03/05

8.            Last Aid as First Aid for Cryonicists: 2011/03/06, 2011/03/04, 2011/03/01,2011/02/28

7.            Maxim, Pumps, and Flow Measurement: 2011/02/27

6              Response to Maxim’s Rant about Automation in Cardiopulmonary Bypass: 2011/02/26

5.            Last Aid as First Aid for Cryonicists, Part 1: 2011/02/26

4.            Don’t Ask, But Do Tell: 2011/02/24

3.            Does Personal Identity Survive Cryopreservation?: 2011/02/23

2.            The Pathophysiology of Ischemic Injury: Impact on the Human Cryopreservation Patient, Part 4: 2011/02/14

1.            Achieving Truly Universal Health Care: 2011/02/14

Unfortunately, the statistical plug-in that Chronosphere uses does not allow for the graphic data to be dynamically adjusted in terms of the periods of days displayed, or the dates of the weeks rather the number in which they occur in the year. Thus, I can only display stats from 06/16 through the present. The numbers assigned to the posts are arbitrary and do not reflect the count from the first post. — Mike Darwin


]]> 0
Status Report: 08 July, 2011 Fri, 08 Jul 2011 07:55:20 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]>

 As a scientist I am keenly interested in the outcome of my experiments. As a cryonicist I’m even more keenly interested in the outcome of Chronosphere, because I believe that a paradigm shift in cryonics is essential to its success, if not to its very survival. I will go further and say that the same paradigm shift is also essential to the survival not of just Mike Darwin, or any other individual of our species, but to humanity as a whole. However, I won’t belabor those points now. My purpose here is simply to report on one measure of progress, namely how many views Chronosphere receives per day.

Both the trend and the absolute numbers are important and by both criteria Chronosophere is progressing. At just under 4 months of operation the number of views per month is well over 8,000. The daily average is ~ 200, with a high of 340 and a low of 115. Most days over the past month have been well above 200.

It is possible to tell a little more about the character and the quality of the traffic by examining which individual posts are accessed. This helps to separate out casual browsers and stumbled upon hits from those genuinely interested in the content. My seat of the pants evaluation of that data indicates that roughly 50 people are paying reasonably close attention to what is being said here on a regular basis. Beyond that, the existing statistical tools do not allow much more to be inferred.

Other indices are even more subjective and unreliable, but I’ll report them anyway. Google searches related to cryonics and to topics in medicine touched upon in Chronosphere show significant use of the unique illustrations present in these posts. There is also increasing mention of Chronosphere posts in blogs and web commentary – interestingly most of which is unrelated to cryonics. Perhaps even more interestingly, on the various cryonics chat forums there is virtually no mention of either Chronosphere, or any individual articles or posts which have appeared here.

Thanks should certainly be given to Aschwin deWolf for his consistent referencing of those Chronosphere posts he deems worthwhile and relevant on his excellent blog, Depressed Metabolism. I believe there is now significant overlap in the cryonicist readership of both sites.

I also note with wry amusement that Chronosphere now beats out the “ChronoSphere Command & Conquer Wiki” and “ChronoSphere Red Alert” sites on Google searches where the search term is “chronosphere.” Both of these “other” chronosphere sites are related to the Westwood Studios video game franchise of the same name.

Finally, I am disappointed at the relative lack of commentary and of the total absence of others willing to contribute content to the site. Perhaps continued growth in readership will help to address this problem. – Mike Darwin

]]> 38
Casual Conversation: A Remembrance of Things Past Tue, 05 Jul 2011 03:21:02 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]>

“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.”

- Marcel Proust

By Mike Darwin

A Digital Ark

A couple of years ago I did a “document dump” of scanned/digitized cryonics historical materials to the CryoEuro Wiki, which is  hosted and maintained by Eugen Leitl ( I’ve been scanning the cryonics historical material in my possession for about 4 years now.  It is slow going and the results are often less than gratifying. I have 3 flatbed scanners at my disposal – two of which have been made ancient by the so far relentless march of Moore’s law. Still, they allow me the luxury of improving my efficiency a bit; while one scanner is arduously capturing a page and writing it to the hard drive, I can proceed to scan another page on another scanner.

I labor under such constraints because apparently (with the exception of Dr. Mike Perry) no one else gives a damn whether these resources survive or perish. Cynical words, I know, but also words that are true.

Why should anyone care? The past is the past and the science and technology of cryonics have moved on. The social, economic and political milieu that cryonics struggles in today is also greatly changed; perhaps so much so it might be argued, that the past is of relevance only as a curiosity, or as resource for future academics and historians of cryonics to use in writing learned dissertations and advancing peculiar theories about why things happened as they did, or turned out in the way they will? From my compromised vantage point (as a player in these events) it is hard for me to tell. My gut feeling is that the near complete absence of interest in this material, and in the historical epoch it chronicles, is a sign that something is wrong in cryonics. Or, maybe more accurately and promisingly, that something is simply missing at the moment.

Figure 1: The build up and collapse of sand piles exhibit the property of surface fractals – also called cellular automata. The spikes (green) in the graph at the right of the illustration above show the ups and down of the sand pile’s height over time. The inset (blue) graph shows the Dow Jones Industrial Average during January of 2009. The similarity in the pattern of activity between the DJIA and the behavior of sand piles is almost certainly not a coincidence.

I think that most who seriously study the history of cryonics will conclude that there appear to be cycles of activism and interest. There is nothing remarkable in this: the same is true in almost any area of human undertaking, and of human history in general: peace-war, peace-war, boom-bust, boom-bust… Dribble grains of sand onto a sand pile and you’ll see a similar (if not identical) phenomenon. In fact, it seems to be a fundamental property of living systems. Physicists Per Bak, Chao Tang and Kurt Wiesenfeld noted that as grains of sand are randomly added to a sand pile and it experiences build ups and collapses, this behavior exhibits the property of surface fractals – also called cellular automata, with the “avalances” obeying the Eden Growth Model (Figure 1). This is the same rule that underlies the growth of bacterial colonies on an agar plate. In short, there is nothing mysterious about it. The overall pattern of build up and collapse over time looks much like like the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the period of a month or so (see blue insert graph in Figure 1). So goes sand piles, so goes cryonics and so goes the world.

Sand Piles & Soothsayers?

The Bak–Tang–Wiesenfeld sand pile model is lovely to know about, but it won’t help you pick a high performing stock, or even tell you what the market will do – beyond the fact that it will most likely exhibit behavior similar to that seen Figure 1 – except every great (and equally unpredictable) once in awhile, when it will behave very, very differently (so-called Black Swan events).  Again, this is nice to know, but it is of little practical utility to the day trader, or the casual investor. And therein lies the rub – because we cryonicists are ostensibly in it for the long haul. And that’s where the history of cryonics becomes potentially very useful.

Figure 2: Alcor membership from 1972 to 2010. What can be learned from a careful analysis of these data? Is there a discernible reason(s) why growth in membership became nearly exponential, briefly, during the early 1980s?

Figure 3: The Alcor patient population from 1975 to 2010.

At the most basic level, it allows us to see what the pattern of activity has historically been like in cryonics. That does not necessarily mean that it will continue in the same way. However, there is now nearly 50 years of cryonics history. That’s a substantial baseline, and if you chart the progress of cryonics over that time by almost any measure, and you look at the primary historical record, you’ll immediately notice that in no way has cryonics behaved as it was predicted to do by the first generation of cryonicists (or for that matter, by any subsequent generation). There was no widespread “revolutionary” adoption of the idea, and if Alcor membership and patient statistics are examined, it is immediately apparent that growth was not only not logarithmic, it has been (mostly) linear (Figures 2 & 3). The Google N-gram for the frequency with which the word cryonics appears in published books (English language) similarly shows a lack of logarithmic growth (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Google N-gram for the frequency with which the word “cryonics” appears in books published in the English language from 1964 to 2010.  Does the shape of this curve reliably correlate with historical events in cryonics?

Beyond these basic observations, if we want to understand if there are any reasons for “bad” or “good” intervals on these, or other indices of how cryonics has performed over time, we will necessarily have to have recourse to history. Did anything happen of historical note to jump start Alcor’s growth in the 1980s? If so, what was it, and can anything be learned from examining the historical record in detail that might prove useful in assisting the growth of Alcor, and more generally the growth of cryonics, today? Do the pauses in growth and the occasional downturns that are in evidence to varying degrees in all of these charts mean anything? If so, are there lessons for us? What strategies were suggested (and tried) in the past, and did they work? Are the same kinds of errors being made now that were made a decade ago, or even 40 years ago? What kind of people, with what kinds of skills were responsible for growth spurts or paradigm shifts within cryonics? Indeed, what were the paradigm shifts, and did they matter?

Figure 5: The rates at which novel consumer technologies were adopted in the United States.

More generally, can we look to the ‘adoption curves’ of other technologies and draw any useful conclusions for cryonics? If nothing else, a quick glance at Figure 5 shows the profound delaying effect that the economic havoc of the 1929 stock market crash followed by the Great Depression and World War II had on some, but not all technologies. Are there implications for cryonics in such metrics both now, and in the future?

I don’t know the answers to these questions with certainty. But I do know, from experience, that carefully studying what worked and what didn’t, and paying close attention to membership and patient growth curves (not just in Alcor, but in cryonics as a whole) was essential to the success that Alcor enjoyed from ~ 1981 to ~ 1990. These data were critical in shaping the decisions that I and others made during that interval.[1] As George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Leaving aside the practical utility of the historical record of cryonics, I believe it is both fascinating and rewarding to peruse. It is also part of our duty as cryonicists to be aware of our history and to hold gratitude for, and give credit to those who worked to create it. Imagine waking up one day to find that all but the barest memory of your past had vanished? You know your name, where you work, perhaps where you were born, most of the things you need to get through the day; but nothing of where you came from, or what your experiences were 5 years ago, let alone 10, 15 or 20 years previously. Aside from the fact that much in your life and your experience would be puzzling and frustrating, there would also be the reality that you would have a suffered a terrible loss. The tapestry of our lives – the events, experiences and memories we hold as individuals, constitute the anchoring core of our being. Without them, we become shallow and lost. The same is true of institutional, scientific and academic disciplines. It is possible to participate in these disciplines without knowledge of their history; but only as a yeoman or a technician – as cog in the wheel.

The Corpus

The idea was to organize the material now residing on CryoEuro in such a way that it would be easily accessible. Materials would be grouped by type, by time and by the organizations that produced them.They were to have had brief, objective introductions explaining what they are and how they relate to others items in the archive. Alas, several years have passed, and this seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. While I doubt there are many (if any) others currently active in cryonics who will find this material of either great interest or great use, I can’t know that for sure, and what’s more, this effort is an investment in the future of cryonics. It may lie fallow for some time, but the fact that the data are there is important, and its wider dissemination should not be delayed further.

Since the materials are not currently cataloged or organized in any way, I thought it would be a good idea to at least provide the barest overview of the documents that are there, along with URLs that will allow the curious to sample them.

There is a good deal of the literature of the first cryonics organizations, as well as significant media coverage from the period. Science fiction writer Fred Pohl’s 1964 Playboy magazine is there:

as well as the Paris Match article (if you read French) detailing Dr. James Bedford’s cryopreservation:

The Paris Match article is almost a direct translation of the famous LIFE magazine article which was scuttled when astronauts Grissom, Chaffee and White were incinerated in an oxygen fire in Apollo 1.

There is low-end tabloid-style coverage of cryonics from 1968, such as the True men’s magazine article about Steven Mandel’s cryopreservation:

Critical commentary from influential thinks of the time, such as Isaac Asimov is also present:

as are later, more cynical articles, such as the 1978 Playboy piece, “Frozen Guys”:

There are also articles from the late 1980s documenting the Dora Kent incident, though the record as represented here is far from complete:

Most of the first (still extant) newsletters of the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY) are present starting in 1966 and going forward until Immortality, the successor magazine to the original Cryonics Reports ceased publication :

Promotional material from the early days of cryonics, such as the full color Cryo-Span brochure have been carefully scanned and restored:

The full proceedings of the First Annual National Cryonics Conference which was held in 1968 is also available:

Isamu Suda’s Nature article documenting his claim that cat brains can recover EEG activity after days of frozen storage at -20oC was used by CSNY (and all succeeding cryonics organizations) as a promotional tool, and a copy of that article, as distributed by CSNY is present:

I believe that all of the issues of the Chamberlain’s extraordinary effort, Manrise Technical Review, are presented and accounted for. A sampling is here:

With the exception of the last 2 issues, all of Life Extension, later to become Long Life magazine has been scanned. Yes, that’s right; there was both a Life Extension, and a Long Life magazine long before the current efforts by the Life Extension Foundation and the Cryonics Institute:

A few issues of the  complete Cryonics (1980s) magazine (with illustrations) have been scanned.

Since I was informed that Alcor will shortly be scanning and uploading these issues of Cryonics to their website library, I have not proceeded further with this arduous task. [Because I am using a flatbed scanner which will not accommodate 8.5” x 14” images, each issue of Cryonics that I scan must be completely disassembled – aligning the pages is also an onerous task.]

The original, professionally published (color cover) of Cryonics: Reaching for Tomorrow is present, as well as this prototypical 1989 version:

There are also a fair number of scientific journal articles relating to cryobiology, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, cerebral resuscitation, cerebral ischemia and liquid ventilation, which are likely to be of interest only to researchers working in these areas. One classic paper which deserves mention is the original work of Ames, et al., documenting the no-reflow in the brain after cardiac arrest[2]:

Considerations Past, Present & Future

There is a staggering amount of material still in need of scanning – literally thousands of pages. I’ve tried to digitize the documents that seemed most historically relevant; but that is my subjective judgment and it is no doubt deeply flawed.

There will be accidentally omitted pages and other errors in these documents. These are mostly raw, unedited scans. There was no one to proof my work when I first undertook it, and that is still the case today. I apologize for errors or omissions but also want to be note that I did the best job I could, given my personal and technical limitations.

In many instances, documents which still remain to be scanned, exist as the only copy. This is a dangerous situation: several years ago the plastic sprinkler pipe in our home froze while we were away, inundating the whole house with countless gallons of water. Some of the archival material (fortunately a very small fraction) were damaged, and some (a few items) were completely destroyed.  The bulk of the archive was saved because it was stored in closets that were largely inaccessible to the 3-day long downpour from the ceiling. Since then, the materials have been repacked in covered plastic bins. Whilst this makes ready access very difficult and time consuming, it was a necessary tradeoff.

Dr. Mike Perry is similarly slowly laboring to digitize the cache of material he has accumulated. Sadly, a significant fraction of the CSNY archive was sent off to Underground Vaults and Storage in Kansas, and I’ve long since given up hope of seeing it again anytime soon (the cost of retrieval is ~$2,000). Mike has digitized all of Ev Cooper’s Life Extension Society newsletters Freeze-Wait-Reanimate as well as the all of the Cryonics Society of Michigan (now the Immortalist Society/Cryonics Institute) newsletters The Outlook and The Immortalist. Hopefully these will be available on-line soon, as well.

I will add to this archive as I can and I would encourage others to do so as well. If you have media articles, literature, correspondence, photos or items you think might be of historical import to cryonics, please contact either Eugen Leitl ( or me.



[1] I was President of Alcor from 1982 to 1988 and a critical force in management until shortly before my departure in 1992.

[2] After ~ 6 minutes of cardiac arrest it becomes difficult bordering on impossible to restore blood flow to the brain under normal clinical conditions. Even now, over 30 years later, the mechanisms which underlie the no-reflow phenomenon are not fully understood.

]]> 20