The Pathophysiology of Ischemic Injury: Impact on the Human Cryopreservation Patient, Part 3

By Mike Darwin


A rapidly growing body of evidence indicates that excitatory neurotransmitters, primarily the excitatory amino acids (EEAs) aspartate, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), homocysteine and cysteine, which are released from neurons during ischemia, play an important role in the etiology of neuronal ischemic injury.112-114 Those areas of the brain which show the most “selective vulnerability” to ischemia, such as the neocortex and hippocampus, are richly endowed with excitatory AMPA (alpha-amino-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole proprionic acid) and NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) glutamate receptors.115

Glutamate is the most abundant EAA in the brain serving as a neurotransmitter, a metabolite, and a neurotrophic molecule116,117 It is compartmentalized in neurons and released to the extracellular space primarily to accomplish its role as a neurotransmitter. Under normal conditions extracellular glutamate is rapidly pumped back into the neurons. However, in ischemia and in some pathological states such as Huntington’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), glutamate re-uptake is impaired or inhibited.

Glutamate and other EEA release begins as soon as membrane depolarization occurs, and continues throughout the first 10-15 min of GCI, until equilibrium is reached between the intra- and extracellular spaces.117 Elevated extracellular levels of glutamate open the NMDA-gated Ca++ receptor channels and increase intracellular Ca++. High extracellular levels of glutamate also interfere with cysteine uptake, resulting in the depletion of cellular glutathione; the most abundant intracellular antioxidant molecule, further exacerbating IRI.118, 119

Figure 18: Two possible biochemical cascades that induce post-ischemic excitotoxicity.

The primary targets of excitotoxic injury are the neuronal cell body and dendrites (possibly due their rich endowment with membrane glutamate receptors), with relative sparing of axons, glia, and ependymal and endothelial cells. Glutamate activates three major families of ionophore linked receptors (NMDA, aamino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA), and kainate) as well as the metabotropic receptors that activate a wide variety of second messenger systems.120 Although glutamate release concurrently activates NMDA and AMPA receptors, in vitro studies demonstrate that glutamate toxicity occurs in two distinct phases. The first occurs when excitotoxicity is rapidly induced by brief, intense stimulation of NMDA receptors as in GCIRI, which are critically dependent on the presence and influx of extracellular Ca++ through the NMDA-gated receptor channel complex. The second wave of excitotoxicity, which is commonly seen in penumbral neurons in RIRI, is generated by a slowly triggered process when there is prolonged stimulation of AMPA/kainate receptors that have limited Ca++ channels.121 Metabotropic glutamate receptors do not initiate excitotoxicity injury; instead they serve to amplify the injury once it has begun. This amplification via the slowly triggered process is also operative in GCIRI in hypo-perfused regions post ROSC.

The cascade of events responsible for glutamate excitotoxicity includes three distinct processes:

1)  Induction, whereby extracellular glutamate efflux is transduced by receptors on the neuronal membrane to cause intracellular Ca++ overload, which leads to lethal intracellular derangements.

2)  Amplification of the derangement, with an increase in intensity and involvement of other neurons.

3)  Expression of cell death triggered by cytotoxic cascades.121

Excess release of Ca++ and its intracellular influx is thought to be the primary trigger for a variety of complex, deleterious intracellular processes that result from the activation of catabolic enzymes, such as phospholipases which lead to cell membrane breakdown, arachidonic acid, and free radical formation, and endonucleases which lead to fragmentation of genomic DNA and energy failure due to mitochondrial dysfunction.

Some subpopulations of neurons in the brain are selectively vulnerable to excitotoxic injury (and thus to ischemic injury), possibly from differences in excitatory synaptic inputs, distribution and density of glutamate receptors, and possibly, differences in intrinsic defence mechanisms, such levels of antioxidants and efficacy of DNA repair. Perhaps the best evidence that excitotoxicity plays a cardinal role in CIRI is the fact that in many models of both GCIRI and RCIRI substantial neuroprotection can be achieved with the use of NMDA or AMPA receptor antagonists.122

In addition to the NMDA receptor mediated excitotoxins, there are at least two other excitatory molecules that appear to play a role in CIRI; dopamine and norepinephrine. Both of these neurotransmitters efflux into the extracellular space beginning at the time that membrane depolarization occurs.123-126 Currently there is only indirect evidence of their role in the pathophysiology of CIRI in the form of reduced histopathological injury when the levels of these neurotransmitters are reduced using barbiturates or isoflurane.127-128 Additional experimental evidence that these, and possibly other catecholamines, may be responsible for some of the injury in CIRI is that surgical ablation of the nigrostriatal tract (thus reducing striatal dopamine content) protects intrinsic striatal neurons from injury following global cerebral ischemia.129, 130 Similarly, depletion of catecholamine stores by a-methyl-paratyrosine exerts a marked protective effect on ischemic damage to synaptic terminals.131, 132 Although the precise mechanism of neuronal injury by dopamine is not known, its metabolites include hydrogen peroxide, the superoxide ion, and hydrogen radicals; all of which have been implicated in the neuron loss in the substantia nigra that is implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.

Initially there was much optimism that blockade of the NMDA receptor would provide protection against delayed neuronal death following global cerebral ischemia.133,134 However, the NMDA antagonists now clinically available have proved ineffective or too toxic in human clinical trials.135,136 The use of experimental NMDA receptor blocking drugs has shown significant promise in ameliorating focal cerebral ischemic injury in animal models of RCIRI, demonstrating a marked reduction in the severity of ischemic injury in the poorly perfused “penumbra” surrounding the no-flow area of the infarct.137 Furthermore, in vitro studies with cultured neurons have demonstrated that excitatory neurotransmitters cause neuronal injury and death, even in the absence of hypoxic or ischemic injury.138

In RCIRI, the NMDA receptor remains activated for a long period due to the prolonged interval of poor perfusion in the penumbra. However, in GCIRI there is good resumption of blood flow following restoration of circulation, with prompt uptake of glutamate and aspartate, and rapid inactivation of the NMDA receptors.139 Since acidosis is known to inactivate the NMDA receptor, another factor limiting the role of the NMDA receptor in mediating injury in GCIRI may be the rapid and pronounced drop in pH which occurs in neurons in global (as opposed to focal) ischemia. These are probably the reasons why NMDA receptor inhibitors have not proved effective in preventing GCIRI.140 Recently, attention has turned to non-NMDA receptor antagonists such as inhibitors of the kainate and AMPA receptors.141, 142 However, it is too early to tell if inhibition of these receptors will prove a viable therapeutic target.

While the mechanisms whereby excitotoxins cause cell injury are not yet fully understood, it is known that they facilitate calcium entry into neurons143-145 and that they are directly cytotoxic in high enough concentrations.  They are neurotoxic, even in cell culture where the medium is calcium free.146 In the case of kainate and AMPA receptor activation, the likely mode of injury is sensitization of the CA1 pyramidal cells during ischemia, such that when normal signaling is restored at the end of the ischemic insult, and normal intensity input from the Schaffer collaterals is resumed, lethal cell injury results, perhaps from abnormal calcium regulation in the CA1 cells.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Research that has taken place over the past decade has made it abundantly clear that the mitochondria are the motors of injury in IRI; they are both the target and cause of an enormous amount of reperfusion injury.147-149 While it has been understood since at least the 1ate 1960s that Ca++ loading of the mitochondria occurs during both ischemia and reperfusion, as evidenced by flocculent densities (consisting of Ca++ crystals) seen with transmission electron microscopy in the mitochondria of IRI injured hearts. However, it is only very recently that the mechanics of how Ca++ overload disrupts mitochondrial function and structure have begun to be elucidated.

If the mitochondria are the motors of IRI, then the mitochondrial permeability transition pores ((PT) pores) are the pistons in those engines The (PT) pore is a nonselective, high conductance channel in the mitochondrial membrane which normally remains closed, or briefly flickers open in response to mitochondrial Ca++ cycling. It appears to be composed of three macromolecules of widely divergent character; the VDAC (voltage-dependent anion channel), ANT (adenine nucleotide translocator) and CypD (cyclophilin D).150 The (PT) pore appears to exist only at junctions between the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes.151 High levels of Ca++ within mitochondria under the conditions of ischemia-reperfusion cause the (PT) pore to open.152 This may be because Ca++ binds to and activates Ca++ binding sites on the matrix side of the (PT) pore.153,154 (PT) pore induction is also induced as a result of the collapse of the voltage differential between the inside and outside of mitochondrial membranes (permeability transition, or δψ).155 Additionally, free radicals generated as a result of the interference of calcium with electron transport may also directly open the (PT) pore. The (PT) pore remains closed during the ischemic interval because it is inhibited in acidosis and the intracellular milieu during ischemia is profoundly acidotic.156 The pore is also inhibited by elevated concentrations of ADP156 ATP, 157 and NADH.158 Magnesium (Mg+) and other divalent cations also inhibit the (PT) pore, because they can compete with Ca++ for the Ca++ binding sites on the matrix side of the (PT) pore.159

Induction of the (PT) pore further increases mitochondrial membrane permeability, which in turn causes the mitochondria to become further depolarized, resulting in the abolition of Δψ. When Δψ is lost, protons and molecular species up to 1.5 kd are able to flow freely across the outer mitochondrial membrane160,161 and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production is compromised due to the absence of the electrochemical gradient across the mitochondrial membrane that is required to drive ATP production.

Figure 19: The biochemical cascade involved the opening of the (PT) pore in both regional and global cerebral ischemia. At left are shown normal (pre-ischemic) mitochondria and ruptured post-ischemic mitochondria. The drawing, center left, illustrates the current view of the mitochondrion obtained from single-photon confocal imaging as an irregular, heterogeneously shaped organelle, in contrast to the previous view that depicted a uniform sausage shape. The latter was apparently an artifact of fixation and the ability to view the mitochondrion only in ultrathin cross-section.

With the (PT) pore open, critical intra-mitochondrial metabolites, antioxidants (such as glutathione), and tricarboxylic-acid-cycle intermediates are lost to the cytosol. ATP is hydrolyzed and small electron transport proteins, most notably cytochrome C , diffuse out of the mitochondria. Under these conditions, ATP synthase may be activated and the mitochondria may begin hydrolysing, rather than synthesizing, ATP. ATP hydrolysis results in further impairment of high energy metabolism, resulting in further Ca++ deregulation, further (PT) pore opening, which continues in a vicious cycle; the result being decreasing phosphorylation potential. If this hypothesis is correct, (PT) pore opening is the critical determiner of when mitochondrial injury becomes irreversible.162, 163 (PT) pore opening also allows osmotically active solutes from the cytosol to enter the mitochondria, resulting in mitochondrial swelling ending in rupture of the outer mitochondrial membrane and the release of cytochrome C (as noted previously, cytochrome C is a trigger for apoptosis.)

Since it appears the opening of the (PT) pore is the primary cause of necrotic cell death in IRI, the discovery that the immunosuppressant, anti-rejection drug cyclosporine A, a cyclic a cyclic polypeptide (11 amino acids)164, 165 and to a lesser extent the immunosuppressant macrolide tacrolimus,166 are effective at keeping the (PT) pore closed and in closing it once it is opened (even under conditions of RCIRI and GCIRI) is of potentially great therapeutic importance. While neither drug crosses the BBB in the dose range used to treat rejection, cyclosporine A (CsA) does cross the BBB in a dose-dependent manner at high doses167 and has been shown to be effective at reducing infarct size in a mouse model of RCIRI.168 While the systemic dose of CsA required to deliver adequate concentrations across the BBB is not tolerable in a conventional clinical setting due to nephrotoxicity, it may be acceptable in the setting of human cryopreservation patient Transport, where acute renal injury from drug toxicity is not a consideration. A modified version of CsA is under development for clinical use, and consists of CsA delivered in micellized form, using an emulsification system consisting of  mono and di-triglycerides, polyoxyl 40 hydrogenated castor oil NF (Cremaphor™), DL-α tocopherol and propylene glycol. This product should have greatly enhanced permeability to the BBB and there is preliminary evidence, in the form of greatly increased CsA induced central nervous system (CNS) toxicity with this preparation, that it is, in fact, crossing the BBB. 169

There is also an accumulation of free fatty acids, long-chain acyl-CoA, and long-chain carnitines in both ischemic and reperfused mitochondria.170, 171 Of these alterations, the accumulation of long-chain acyl-CoA is perhaps most significant, since intra-mitochondrial accumulation of this molecule is known to be deleterious to a host of mitochondrial enzyme systems resulting in impaired ATP production.172

End of Part 3


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148) Schinder, AF, Olson, EC., Spitzer, NC, Montal M., Mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary event in glutamate neurotoxicity. Journal of Neuroscience. 1996. 16(19): p. 6125-6133.

149) White, RJ, Reynolds, IJ., Mitochondrial depolarization in glutamate-stimulated neurons: An early signal specific to excitotoxin exposure. Journal of Neuroscience. 1996 16(18):, p. 5688–5697.

150) Haworth, RA, Hunter, DR., The Ca2+-induced membrane transition in mitochondria II. Nature of the Ca2+ trigger site. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 1979. 195(2): p.  460-467.

152) Hunter, DR, Haworth, RA., The Ca2+-induced membrane transition in mitochondria I. The protective mechanisms. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 1979. 195(2): p. 453-459.

153) Haworth, RA, Hunter DR., The Ca2+induced membrane transition in mitochondria II. Nature of the Ca2+ trigger site. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 1979. 195(2): p. 460-467.

154) Ichas, F and Mazat, JP., From calcium signaling to cell death: two conformations for the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. Switching from low- to high- conductance state. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 1998. 1366(1-2): p. 33-50

155) Schinder, AF, Olson, EC, Spitzer, NC, Montal, M., Mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary event in glutamate neurotoxity. Journal of Neuroscience. 1996. 16(19): p. 6125-6133.

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158) Haworth, RA, Hunter DR., The Ca2+-induced membrane transition in mitochondria II. Nature of the Ca2+ trigger site. 1979. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 195(2): p. 460-467.

159) Haworth RA and Hunter DR., The Ca2+-induced membrane transition in mitochondria II. Nature of the Ca2+ trigger site. 1979. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 195(2): p. 460-467

160) Schinder, AF, Olson, EC, Spitzer, NC, Montal, M., 1996. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary event in glutamate neurotoxicity. Journal of Neuroscience. 16(19): p. 6125-6133

161) White, RJ, Reynolds IJ., Mitochondrial depolarization in glutamate-stimulated neurons: An early signal specific to excitotoxin exposure. Journal of Neuroscience. 1996. 16(18): p. 5688–5697.

162) Crompton, M. and Costi, A., A heart mitochondrial Ca2(+)-dependent pore of possible relevance to re-perfusion-induced injury. Evidence that ADP facilitates pore interconversion between the closed and open states. 1988 Eur. J. Biochem. 178, p. 489-501.

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On the Need for Prosthetic Nocioception in Cryonics

By Mike Darwin

Cryonics: A Failure of Nocioception

“The Birth of Cryonics”

Figure 1: Worldwide there are currently 67 people  known to have congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, or CIPA. It is an exceeding rare genetic disorder that renders those who have it unable to feel pain, or to sense temperature. Far from being a blessing, this inability to feel pain or discomfort, or to sense extremes of temperature, curses the person with CIPA to live in a world free from the normal feedback that allows us to learn how to behave safely, and to avoid constantly and unintentionally injuring ourselves. Regrettably, humans are not the only entity to suffer as a result of the lack of nocioception, so do some of their institutions, most notably, cryonics organizations.

Onto 50 years ago now, the newborn that was cryonics was held up before the world and cried out lustily. And the world heard that cry and took note. From the tabloids to the learned journals, the infant’s birth was cataloged and commented upon. Some greeted it with wonder, some with puzzlement, and some with the contempt that was reserved for the bastard child of any culture at that time.

The infant appeared healthy, and fought and struggled its way into life with the best of them. But hidden, locked within its DNA, was a potentially fatal defect. The tragedy was that this child could not feel pain. Whereas the normal growing child would learn quickly, automatically, and without instruction not to touch things that were too hot, or too cold, too sharp, or jagged – or how to run and play without rending flesh, or breaking bones – this child would not – could not learn. For this child, every danger life presented  would require a consciously learned response – not something fast and instinctive, but something laborious, and artificial. The simple act of eating a meal could result in a severe scalding, or the inadvertent and unfelt amputation of the tip of the tongue while chewing. This child would never feel pain, and was therefore damned to a life of unintentional self mutilation.

If cryonics had been a human child, then seven years ago the scientists and physicians who study such things would finally have discovered that cause of this remarkable affliction was the disarrangement of a few base pairs, on something called the SCN9A gene. [1] But they would still be powerless to fix it.

In 1986 I wrote an article entitled the ‘Myth of the Golden Scalpel,[1] which first delineated the problem of ‘no feedback’ in cryonics. The problem with cryonics is that neither the patient, nor their family (or other interested parties), will experience any objectifiable results or outcome from the procedure; at least not in their lifetimes.[2,3] As I wrote at the time: “There is no feedback: no normal corrective market mechanisms; no crippled patient, no person in pain, and no loss suffered and reported upon as a result of flawed cryonics procedures. A badly cryopreserved patient looks as good as, or better than, a well cryopreserved patient. Shortcuts, missteps, and even outright negligence that severely injure cryonics patients cannot be detected or remedied if the patient, or those caring for him, has no way of knowing that such damaging events have occurred.”

Thus, as is the case of the child born with no nocioception – no ability to feel pain, cryonics will be vulnerable to errors and disasters that would have easily been avoidable if only someone, somewhere, suffered now – and not a hundred years from now.  I saw this as a corrosive, single point of failure that would ultimately degrade, or even destroy cryonics as a whole, unless what I termed “artificial” or “surrogate” feedback mechanisms, such as” laboratory evaluation of markers of injury, meticulous documentation of the physical procedures employed, and surrogate markers for brain viability were put into place and adhered to.” [3]

The “Golden Scalpel” article was a response to intense criticism of the application of an evidence based, medical model to cryonics, and the associated increase in costs and, perhaps just as importantly, the accompanying disempowerment of ‘amateurs.’ Prior to the entry of professionals – or people working to create professionalism in cryonics – cryonics was a ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) undertaking, and anybody could (and did) undertake to cryopreserve people. A corollary of this was that anyone’s opinions about how cryonics should be practiced were as good and as valued as anyone else’s. Much of this criticism came from members of the Bay Area Cryonics Society (BACS) and the Cryonics Institute (CI).

Figure 2: Before the arrival of Fred and Linda Chamberlain, Art Quaife, myself, and a few others, cryonics procedures involved no observation, measurement, or recording of physical or biological data of any kind. Patients were perfused with a small, fixed volume of low concentration cryoprotective solution, usually in a Ringer’s solution carrier, using an embalming pump. Cooling to solidification was uncontrolled and unmonitored; and was achieved by packing the patient in dry ice after wrapping him in aluminum foil. The pictures above are from a 1968 cryopreservation.

The kinds of procedures being used before the application of an evidence-based medical model to cryonics are best described as more akin to ritual, than science (see Figure 2). There were no tests, measurements, or evaluations performed to inform the people carrying out the cryopreservation procedures whether things went poorly or well, and whether the ‘standard’ procedure (or a modified one) was good or bad for a given patient. For instance, should patients with long ischemic times get a different treatment than patients with short, or very little ischemic time? Perhaps a more rapid increase in CPA concentration should be used, or even no CPA perfusion at all under some circumstances?

How and why such decisions are to be made should be documented and have a scientific basis which is continually being informed by ongoing research.

Figure 3: In the US each year there are in excess of three quarters of a million deaths  due to medical error (iatrogenesis). Is US Health Really the Best in the World? Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH JAMA, July 26, 2000 – Vol 284, No. 4. p. 483

In conventional medicine, where personnel at all levels are extensively trained, those who control the discipline are highly educated and skilled professionals; there is licensing and government oversight, and extensive documentation of procedures and record keeping, lethal and morbid injuries are still surprisingly common. As you can see in Figure 3, in the US alone, there are over three quarters of a million deaths each year due to medical error (iatrogenesis).

This is a staggering number of deaths, and the associated cost is an estimated $282 billion! And keep in mind, this does not include the patients who are injured and do not die, or the many patients whose death or injury is either not detected, or not reported.

Figure 4: Surgical instruments left inside a patient, the wrong organ or limb being removed, and decubitus ulcers (bedsores) are but three of a wide range of common and completely avoidable iatrogenic errors.

As bad as the problem is, it would be much worse, if it were not for the fact that in medicine the patients being treated provide feedback. If you injure a patient delivering medical care, the odds are good that the patient will show both symptoms and signs of your error. He may suffer pain, become gravely ill, behave abnormally, lose sensory or motor function, be disfigured, or die.

The image at the right in Figure 4, above, of a decubitus ulcer – a bedsore or pressure sore, in common parlance – is due to failure to properly position and turn the patient. Bedsores are surprisingly common because the patient does not feel the discomfort until after the injury at the pressure point(s) has occurred. Patients in extended care facilities are also often effectively ‘voiceless objects,’ who are frequently demented and are often unable to speak articulately for themselves, even when compos mente. All too often they are also being warehoused and cared for by under-trained or under-motivated personnel.

Medicine also benefits from diagnostic modalities, such as the x-ray image at left in Figure 4, which allows for errors to be uncovered more effectively – and thus be corrected or mitigated – where it’s possible to do so.

Unfortunately, the cryonics patient can provide none of the feedback a living patient does, and as I have often said before, a patient who is straight frozen invariably looks far better, and far more lifelike and at peace, than does a patient who has received the best available care.

This is one of the reasons that cryonics has remained as small and as dysfunctional as it has, because leaving the general ability of this culture to perceive the value of cryonics out of the equation (nil), progress is rendered difficult, if not impossible, by the lack of feedback. Where feedback comes easily, is straightforward, and readily verifiable in cryonics, such as keeping patients refrigerated to liquid nitrogen temperature, the quality of care will at least be reasonable, because there is an objective ‘floor’ below which it is difficult to fall. The exception being any situation where even that part (storage) of the cryonics operation is shielded from scrutiny, as happened in the case of the Cryonics Society of California (e.g., Bob Nelson and Chatsworth). Feedback matters – in fact it is absolutely essential to the survival of any complex system, whether it be a human child, or a cryonics organization.

Cognitive Prosthetics

I have at least two developmental cognitive defects, perhaps related to inadvertent heavy metal intoxication when I was a toddler. I have severe cuts in my ability to recognize and manipulate numbers, and I have an inability to orient myself geographically, or to use maps effectively (small children are also unable to read maps, and this ability cannot be forced before certain biologically determined developmental milestones are reached). The relevance of these two (serious) handicaps to this discussion are that first of all, I do understand the problem of feedback inhibiting cognitive defects intimately, and, perhaps more importantly, I’ve recently come to understand that it is possible for technology to develop workable, if not foolproof cognitive prostheses, just as it is increasingly developing better prosthetics for lost limbs, and even internal organs (i.e., joint replacement, lens replacement in  cataract and left ventricular assist devices).

Figure 5: If we want to attract more members – especially members who will be active in cryonics, and even serve as successors in its conduct, we must correct the ‘no-feedback’ problem, while at the same time involving and empowering those members in the correction process itself. The no-feedback problem in cryonics can only be corrected effectively and durably by making it a community wide responsibility – something that until very recently was not even technologically possible.

The advent of sophisticated calculation tools available as ‘clouds’ via my PC, has done much to help compensate for my vestigial math skills, and more dramatically, the advent of compact, hand-held GPS technology has proved liberating in a way I cannot begin to fully communicate. I can now travel freely – I do not have to persuade someone to go with me if I want to go someplace unfamiliar. As  a result, my sense of anxiety and frustration whilst navigating unfamiliar cities has been replaced by cautious confidence. This has radically transformed my life by allowing me to travel freely, and to see and experience things I would never have previously been able to. Thus, for the first time, truly sophisticated cognitive prosthetics have been demonstrated to work, and to work reliably and robustly enough to allow a profound improvement in a severely handicapped person’s performance (and enjoyment) in life.

Augmenting Feedback in Cryonics

Technological advances have already made vastly improved artificial or augmented feedback possible in cryonics – they just haven’t been used. There are likely three reasons for this. The first is ignorance: GPS devices had been on the market for a decade before I found a slightly damaged one that had been discarded, repaired it (mostly out of curiosity), and only then experienced the powerful transformation in my life this technology made possible: a transformative technology I had lost out on for 10 years, only because I was effectively ignorant of its real capabilities!

The second problem, however, is a much harder one to surmount, and that is the problem of active resistance to change. To some extent, this is intrinsic in all individuals and institutions. We would go mad, and never get anything done if we were literally, constantly trying new things, instead of exploiting the tools and skills we have already mastered. But beyond that, and especially in the context of cryonics, augmented or prosthetic feedback means more work – a lot more work. And even more importantly, and obnoxiously (at least to some people) it means that, for the first time, outside forces will increasingly drive the direction and pace of their work.

Once feedback is introduced, it is no longer possible to decide upon, and then carry out a course of action without the real world intruding, and changing your direction, from time to time. In the case of my GPS, since it ‘knows’ where I am going long before I do, it can at least prepare me for a course change, and let me know that in 500 feet I’m going to have to make a right turn – or a left one – as the case may be. For me, this is wonderful and welcome instruction on how to reach my destination, because I know I’m lost without it. But, if you don’t think you are lost (or you really aren’t) then the feedback from the GPS telling you where to turn next will be an annoyance at best, and a deeply resented incursion into your autonomy, at worst.

Finally, some of the tools I’m about to describe will necessarily invade peoples’ sense of privacy. I say “sense” of privacy, because the whole concept of privacy as we know it is in the process of being obsoleted by technological advances. In a very real sense, we are returning to an environment which existed earlier in the history of the West, when dense urban environments, poverty, and population pressure had pretty much abolished privacy. In much of the Third World this is still the case: for instance, in much of the urban Arab world (Cairo is a good example) there is almost no easily accessible private space; absent a good bit of money to pay for it. Extended families live together, someone is always home, there are no private rooms except for married couples (until they have a child) and there are no, ‘no-tell motels,’ or similar venues. Literally every space is surveilled (or was before the recent revolution there) and there are strict rules on who you can check into a hotel with. Thus, the most common refuge for an average couple interested in a dalliance, is to rent a small boat (Felucca) and go out on the Nile – if they have the money, and if they can trust to their ferryman’s discretion.

Starting Simple

Figure 6: Well, at least they can’t screw up patient cryogenic storage. Or can they?

I said earlier that patient storage is one of the few feedback-driven areas of cryonics that provides for a ‘floor,’ beyond which it is hard for care to descend. And that is true, with a few important caveats. The first is that storage must be completely transparent. In reality, this is only relatively possible, because while allowing journalists and members access for inspection is a safeguard, it is so only to the extent the surveillance is complete – and of course, it can’t be. What is in fact being relied upon is that those delivering care won’t take the chance that occasional interruptions in the quality of care will escape undetected, such as, for instance, allowing the liquid nitrogen level to drop to the point that part of the patient becomes exposed.

Figure 7: A typical camera array on a street in the city of London, UK. Such arrays are omnipresent there, and London has  become a panopticon.

Much more seriously, as was recently demonstrated in the case of the disgruntled former Alcor employee Larry Johnson, it is (given the current level of protection) quite possible for a deranged, or malicious employee to gain access to the patients and to do them harm without being detected.[2] It is chilling to read Johnson’s descriptions of how he evaded the inadequate surveillance camera coverage at Alcor.5

I do not want to seem too harsh on Alcor here, because Alcor did have cameras, and does lock its patient dewars. The Cryonics Institute does not even lock their patient dewars – this is an issue I have raised with their management several times over the years, but to no avail. Any careful reading of Johnson’s book, Frozen, should eliminate any doubt as to why locking access to the patients on multiple levels is not only desirable, it is essential.

In addition to further hardening facilities against intrusion, the best way to both build member confidence in the quality and consistency of cryogenic care, and to ensure that such care meets the highest standards at all times, is to make it completely transparent.

Consider London. London is now a city saturated with closed circuit TV cameras (CCTV).  A typical CCTV array on a London street corner is shown in Figure 7, and the density of CCVT cameras per 1,000 persons is shown in Figure 8. As  a consequence, it is now impossible to go anywhere in London without being captured on CCTV dozens of times per day. London, a city of 7.2 million people, is on the threshold of becoming an ‘urban panopticon:’it was estimated that  there was one camera for every 14 people in the city as of 2003, with that number expected to rapidly rise.6 Privacy, as we have known it in the past, effectively no longer exists.  And should you think this is only an urban phenomenon, consider that in the UK as a whole there are 4,285,000 cameras for the country’s 60 million residents, with that number expected to double within the decade.

Figure 8: Number of cameras per 1K people by region, in the city of London, as of 2003.6

Thus, two ways suggest themselves for making patient storage much more transparent to members, while at the same time improving the level security for the patients:

1) Place streaming webcams, operating 24/7, in the patient care bay that can be monitored at all times by any Alcor member in good standing.

2) Include in that data stream, or as an auxiliary data stream, continuous, or frequently updated temperature and/or liquid level monitoring data for every patient dewar. For those who have family members in storage, they can and should be provided with a labeled data stream, showing the temperature in the vessel where their relative, or significant other (SO) is stored.

Figure 9: In an era of very inexpensive cameras, and web video streaming technology, every Alcor Cryopreservation Member should have the ability to look in on the patient care bay at any time. This will build confidence, and it will also allow members to show family and friends the degree of intimacy and access they have with their cryonics organization.

In an era where people of average, or even modest means can bear the burden, both in time and in money, to enable such streaming video for a bitch and her pups, or an owl and her chicks, this is a perfectly reasonable safeguard to ask be put in place for cryopatients in storage. We are already at a point where our enemies have used these advances in imaging and computing technology against us: isn’t it time we started using them to our advantage?

Going Further: There’s an App for That!

A critical reading of the various case reports published by cryonics organizations makes it clear that there are truly horrible problems that are recurring over and over again in patient transport. Patients routinely arrest before the Standby Team arrives, after the team has stood down, or they arrest with no help on the horizon beyond a mortician who will come, with no particular sense of urgency, and more or less pack the patient’s head in ice.7 Cryopatients routinely experience many minutes or even hours of ischemia, not only absent cardiopulmonary support, but absent even cooling of any kind. In one CI case a few years ago, a patient went for 4-hours after a witnessed and expected cardiac arrest with no ice, or other refrigerant applied to her head! This story is in no way remarkable except that in this case, both the patient and her spouse (attending her) were committed, signed up cryonicists! How could this happen?

The answer is that it happened because of lack of information, lack of education, lack of preparation, and the complete absence of even the most basic tools to cope with an emergency that was not just a remote possibility, but an absolute certainty, given that the patient was actively dying.  Over the past few years, people in medicine (outside of cryonics) who have read some of these case reports online have remarked to me, “What is the matter with these people? Are they stupid, or do they just not care?” Perhaps Benjamin Franklin comes closer to the truth with his observation that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Are we cryonicists stupid, insane, or are we just not paying attention?

Figure 10: The Polycom Practitioner Cart HDX series enables medical professionals to provide patients access to care regardless where they are located. Featuring the full range of HD resolutions, including 1080p and 720p at 30 frames per second (fps) and broadcast quality 720p at 60 fps.. This is an example of the kind of technology being employed medicine today. While certainly advanced, it is no longer considered cutting edge, and devices such as the ‘Practitioner’ are now routinely commercially available items. 8

For over two decades now, egregious errors in the stabilization and cryoprotective perfusion of patients have been occurring and they have increased both in severity and frequency. Most of these errors are have been due to an inadequate knowledge base and also as a result of inadequate supervision of staff.  Both of these deficiencies could be at least partially addressed by the presence of skilled personnel in the field, or in the operating room, who cannot be physically present for the procedure. In the past, the managements of cryonics organizations have categorically refused to consider the use of virtual, or Telepresence consultants to assist in remedying this problem – as well as in improving data capture and documentation.

This behavior is hard to understand, given that cryonicists are disproportionately computer scientists, programmers and engineers with, ostensibly, an excellent understanding of the technological capabilities now available for high bandwidth data transmission over the web. In an era of Skype, high quality webcams for less than $40, and increasingly universal web access, why aren’t cryonics organizations using this technology?

I have participated in two human cryopreservation case via Skype, and, at least from my perspective, I believe I made a material difference in both patients’ care. With a moderate amount of effort, a reservoir of medical and technical consultants could be assembled to assist with cases in real time – and to provide specialized information in unusual circumstances. What I am proposing here is the creation of a real-time, web-based oversight and supervisory group . Also on that oversight group, in my opinion, should be at least one knowledgeable and assertive Alcor member who is not present in a formal technical capacity. It’s astonishing how often someone who does not have extensive training in cryonics, medicine, or related areas is the first one to spot a problem.

Figure 11: Consultants, both paid and volunteer, should monitor every part of the cryopreservation procedure using broadband transmission of data, and Telepresence via Skype, or other videophone or videoconferencing providers.

To repeat, at a minimum, one  powerful way to ensure improved performance in cryopatient care is to constitute an oversight team of medical professionals and others with relevant expertise, to oversee each case in real time. This should be supplemented with high quality fixed and floating videography of all cases – videography that will be reviewed by the oversight team, along with all of the case data.

The advent of compact, reliable and wearable video recording equipment that can be deployed on the persons of stabilization Team members, as well as the ready and affordable availability of continuous, forensically certifiable, digital video recording equipment (with the capability of uninterrupted recording of 2-weeks of ~250 to 450 frame per second high quality color video (each terabyte of memory now costs approximately $400.00) have also not been exploited by cryonics organizations).

Figure 12: Cylon Body Worn Surveillance System. Wearable DVR: 16 x 9 screen size 720 x 576, resolution 4”, display video playback – MPEG-4 SP with stereo sound. Near DVD quality up to 720×480 @ 30 f/s (NTSC), 720×576 @ 25 f/s (PAL), AVI file format. WMV9 up to 352×288 @ 30 f/s, and 800 KBit/s. Exview Camera: Instant auto focus, Hi Resolution – 1 Lux 2 CIF image, rugged, waterproof, heat resistant and  can be integrated into helmets and headwear. (Photos courtesy of The Audax Group, Plymouth, South Devon, UK,

High capacity digital video recorders which allow for fast and easy data searches, provide self-schedule management, automatic data backup,  e-mail event alert, and offer IP Address Dispatch (for use with dynamic IP), and control of multiple systems from a remote location9 are now in wide use in law enforcement, government and business. In-house and in-field (mobile) versions of forensic video systems are rapidly becoming the standard of practice for law enforcement where they are used to protect police officers against accusations of abuse or misconduct.10,11

One example, widely used by law enforcement around the world is the Cylon Body Worn Surveillance System (Figure 12). The unit consists of a compact, waterproof DVR, and a high resolution color camera (worn on a headset) as shown in Figure 4, above. The DVR can store 400 hours of Mpeg-4 quality full color video and audio recording on it 100 GB hard drive and has a battery life of ~12-hours at its peak, 30 fps recording rate. Since the unit is built for law enforcement, it has time/date stamping and event marking capability as well as sophisticated graphical user interface software which allows for rapid search and retrieval of recorded material

Figure 13: Smartphone displaying the complete, real-time streaming data-set from a patient in the Intensive Care Unit to his physician – who can be anywhere he can get a signal. Just like the TV ads says – “There’s an App for that!”

It is more than a little bizarre (and ironic) that cryonics organizations, largely comprised of and operated by technophiles focused on the leading edge of information technology, have failed to adopt these advances, whilst governments, the military and law enforcement agencies have rushed to embrace them in their earliest implementations.  How is it possible that physicians, one of the more conservative of the professions, are using Smartphone technology to monitor their patient’s in ICU (including their vital signs, ECG, mean arterial pressure, central venous pressure, oxygen saturation, and just   about any other parameter that can be hooked to the web), and cryonicists  are not? And why is it possible for me to log on to my computer in Ash Fork, AZ and watch Piccadilly Circus in London, or the ongoing construction of the Olympic Complex in London, in real time, but not be able to see how my friends, loved ones, and former fellow Alcor members (now patients) are being cared for?

If we seriously plan to live in the future, we’d best learn to do so as it arrives, because as it stands now, at least in terms of patient care transparency, and feedback generation, the future for us, was yesterday.


[1] CIPA patients have a defect in th e voltage gasted sodium channel SCN9A (NaV1.7). Patients with such mutations are congenitally insensitive to pain and lack other neuropathies. There are three mutations in SCN9A: W897X, located in the P-loop of domain 2; I767X, located in the S2 segment of domain 2; and S459X, located in the linker region between domains 1 and 2. This results in a truncated non-functional protein. NaV1.7 channels are expressed at high levels in nociceptive neurons of the doral root ganglia As these channels are likely involved in the formation and propagation of action potentials in such neurons, it is expected that a loss of function mutation in SCN9A will lead to abolished nociceptive pain propagation.

[2] Clearly, in addition cameras, there needs to be intrusion protection with the patients care space being accessible only by a coded entry system (cards or numbers) .

An upend example is the Toshiba EVR RAID-5 (redundant backup system) 32 channels DVR 480 fps (15 fps per cam) security video recorder which can accommodate up to 4 terabytes of memory and retails (1 terabyte) for just under $6,000. Such a system would allow continuous video surveillance of every room of a large residence with 6-weeks of audio-video storage capacity.


1) Darwin, M. The myth of the golden scalpel. Cryonics. 7(1);15-18:1986, p Retrieved 2010-08-31.  Retrieved 2010-09-04.

2) Dawin, M. On technology. Message-Number: 3088 posted to CryoNet on 09 Sep 94 00:54:02 EDT:  Retrieved 2010-08-31

3) Darwin, M.  Quality control and cryonics. Message-Number, 17803: posted to CryoNet on Mon, 22 Oct 2001 01:19:44 EDT:  Retrieved 2010-08-31


5) Johnson, L, Baldyga , S. Frozen: My Journey into the World of Cryonics, Deception, and Death. ISBN 9781593155605, Vanguard Press (October 6, 2009).




9) Toshiba EVR Series Security DVR With 4 Terabytes of Memory. Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., 2006. (Accessed at

10) Castro H. Police cars get digital cameras; Seattle department first to use new wireless capability. In: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter; 2004.

11) Digital video recorders give more reliable, accurate footage to police. The Enquirer. (Accessed September 8, 2007, at

12) Cylon Body Worn Surveillance System. Audax Group, 2007. (Accessed September 9, 2007, at

Posted in Cryonics Technology (General), Philosophy | 6 Comments

The Pathophysiology of Ischemic Injury: Impact on the Human Cryopreservation Patient, Part 2

The Pathophysiology of IRI

While a wide range of post-insult interventions are currently being investigated in animal and clinical trials, and despite almost universal agreement that CI is a multifactorial insult, there has been little or no research aimed at developing a multimodal method of managing the multiple insults and compromises to brain metabolism that are known to occur.

Figure 11: The big picture. The complex and interwoven cascade of events depicted above underscores the multifactorial nature of cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury. Mono-modal  drug treatment will not be effective in achieving neurosalvage in the presence of such a complex and interdependent pathophysiology.

Before discussion of specific pharmacological and biophysical means for prevention and/or amelioration of ischemic injury are described in detail, it is desirable to briefly review the requirements for adequate cerebral perfusion and the basic mechanisms of cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury (CIRI) as they are currently understood.

Normal cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the human is typically in the range of 45-50 ml/min/100g of brain tissue, as long as mean arterial pressure (MAP) is in the range of 60-130 mm Hg.53 When CBF falls below 20 to 30 ml/min/100g/brain tissue, marked disturbances in brain metabolism begin to occur, such as water and electrolyte shifts, with regional areas of the cerebral cortex experiencing failed perfusion.53 At blood flow rates below 10 ml/min/100g/brain tissue, sudden depolarization of the neurons occurs with rapid loss of cellular ionic homeostasis.54

Figure 12: These eleven mechanisms are currently thought to underlie the injury seen after global cerebral ischemia-reperfusion. PARP activation and subsequent apoptosis, hyperglycemia and the post-resuscitation syndrome (which is characterized by deterioration of brain blood flows and electrical activity in conjunction with the development of multisystem organ failure) are unlikely to be of significance in the human cryopreservation setting since these events require prolonged (hours to days) of ongoing metabolism to present and mature.

The Mean Arterial Pressure (MAP) necessary for cerebral viability following extended resuscitation efforts in dogs has been found to be above 40 mm Hg. It has been speculated that a minimum MAP of 45 to 50 mm Hg is required to preserve cerebral viability in man.55

Unfortunately, as is now well documented, conventional closed-chest CPR is generally incapable of consistently delivering MAPs >30 mm Hg in man.56 A clinical and laboratory evaluation of manual and mechanical CPR (using a pneumatically driven chest compressor and ventilator) demonstrated that only 3 of 15 acute cardiac arrest patients presenting for emergency room resuscitation had MAPs above 40 mm Hg.57 Even in the patient experiencing optimum machine-delivered CPR, lung compliance and blood gases tend to deteriorate rapidly during CPR, perhaps as a result of pulmonary edema secondary to high intrathoracic venous pressures.58

As the foregoing analysis makes clear, most SCA patients will suffer significant periods of cerebral anoxia, ischemia, or hypoperfusion resulting in currently irreversible brain damage. This effectively excludes these patients from receiving more effective cardiopulmonary support such as open chest CPR  (OCCCPR),59or the use of extracorporeal circulation utilizing a membrane oxygenator60) as a bridge to definitive repair of their defective coronary circulation.

Mechanisms of Ischemic Injury

Early observations on the mechanisms of ischemic injury focused on relatively simple biochemical and physiological changes which were known to result from interruption of circulation. Examples of these changes are loss of high-energy compounds,61 acidosis due to anaerobic generation of lactate,62 and no-reflow due to swelling of astrocytes with compression of brain capillaries.63 Subsequent research has shown the problem to be far more complex than was previously thought and involving the action and interaction of many factors. 64

Biochemical Events

Figure 13: The acute biochemical changes which occur as a result of the interruption of cerebral perfusion consist primarily of ion shifts and the release of ascorbate and the excitatory neurotransmitters glutamate and aspartate. The movement of sodium (and accompanying water) into the intracellular compartment begins within 30 seconds of the onset of ischemia, as does the leakage on intracellular potassium into the extracellular space. The release of ascorbate and excitatory amino acids becomes of significance in the range of 3-5 minutes after the failure of perfusion.

Within 20 seconds of interruption of blood flow to the mammalian brain under conditions of normothermia, the EEG disappears, probably as a result of the failure of high-energy metabolism. Within 5 minutes, high-energy phosphates have been exhausted (adenosine triphosphate (ATP) depletion65 and profound disturbances in cell electrolyte balance start to occur: potassium begins to leak rapidly from the neurons and glial cells, and sodium and calcium begin to enter the cells.66 Sodium (Na++) influx, particularly in the astrocytes, results in a marked increase in cellular water content.67 Concurrent with the rapid shift in ions there is marked leakage of ascorbate from the neurons and glial cells. Ascorbate, in the presence of free iron (see discussion under Free Radicals below) is one of the most potent pro-oxidants known.


Normally, calcium (Ca++) is present in the extracellular milieu at a concentration 10,000 times greater than the intracellular concentration. This 10,000:1 differential is maintained by at least the following four mechanisms: 1) active extrusion of calcium from the cell by an ATP-driven membrane pump,68 2) exchange of calcium for sodium at the cell membrane driven by the intracellular to extracellular differential in the concentration of Na+ as a result of the cell membrane’s Na+/K+ pump,68 3) sequestration of intracellular calcium in the endoplasmic reticulum by an ATP-driven process,69 and 4) accumulation of intracellular calcium by oxidation-dependent calcium sequestration inside the mitochondria.70-72

The loss of cellular high-energy compounds during ischemia causes the loss of the Na+/K+ gradient which virtually eliminates three of the four mechanisms of cellular calcium homeostasis. This, in turn, causes a massive and rapid influx of calcium into the cell.73

Mitochondrial sequestration, the remaining mechanism, causes overloading of the mitochondria with calcium and diminishes their capacity for oxidative phosphorylation. Elevated intracellular Ca++ activates membrane phospholipases and protein kinases. A consequence of phospholipase activation is the release of free fatty acids (FFA’s) including the potent prostaglandin inducer, arachidonic acid (AA).

While reperfusion also restores ATP levels it will, as a consequence, allow active uptake of calcium by the mitochondria, resulting in massive calcium overload and destruction of the mitochondria. Ironically, a consequence of this Ca++ induced mitochondrial lysis is the creation of nano-domains of cytosol containing (transiently) very high concentrations of Ca++. This can result in further Ca++ (over)loading of nearby mitochondria.

The degradation of the plasma membrane by phospholipases almost certainly damages membrane integrity, further reducing the efficiency of calcium pumping. During the reperfusion phase after cerebral ischemia, calcium accumulates in mitochondria, and a burst of free radical formation occurs, conditions that favor the activation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore ((PT) pore). As a result of this injury to the mitochondria cytochrome C is released, resulting in activation of at least three caspases. The caspases are one of the proteases in the cytochrome C pathway for triggering apoptosis. In vivo models of global and regional cerebral ischemia have demonstrated the release of large amounts of caspases 3, which is a known apoptosis-inducing protease. More recently, in vitro studies have demonstrated that other caspases are also being released. Attention has focused on caspase-9, which is released from isolated mitochondria on treatment with calcium, as possibly the primary signaling molecule for initiating apoptosis.

Similarly, in neuronal cell culture models, apoptosis-inducing agents trigger translocation of caspase-9 from mitochondria to the nucleus. Of greater relevance has been the very recent demonstration in vivo, in a model of transient global cerebral ischemia, that caspase-9 is released from the mitochondria. This study demonstrated accumulation of caspase-9 in the neuronal nuclei of hippocampal and other vulnerable neurons exhibiting early post-ischemic changes, preceding apoptosis. Loss of mitochondrial barrier function during neuronal injury from ischemia, and subsequent calcium influx, may therefore, play an important role in liberating certain caspases.74-77

Figure 14: Damage to cell membrane components results in the production of pro-coagulant, pro-inflammatory, and vasoconstrictive ecisanoid molecular species, via the arachodonic acid cascade.

The production of AA as a result of FFA release causes a biochemical cascade ending with the production of thromboxane and leukotrienes,78,79 and the release of platelet activating factor.80 These compounds are profound tissue irritants,81 which can cause platelet aggregation,81clotting, vasospasm, and edema with resultant further compromise to restoration of adequate cerebral perfusion upon restoration of blood flow.

Free Radicals

During ischemia, the hydrolysis of ATP to AMP leads to an accumulation of hypoxanthine.82 Increased intracellular calcium enhances the conversion of xanthine dehydrogenase (XD) to xanthine oxidase (XO).  Upon reperfusion and reintroduction of oxygen, XO may produce superoxide and xanthine from hypoxanthine and oxygen.83, 84 Even more damaging free radicals could conceivably be produced by the metal catalyzed Haber-Weiss reaction as follows.82, 83,84-87

O2- + H2O —-Fe3 ——> O2 + OH-+ OH-

Figure 15: Hydroxyl radical trapping in forebrain of ischemic rats with 20 min of global forebrain ischemia followed by 2-hr of recirculation. Hypothermia = 30 to 30.5 degrees C, noromothermia = 36.5 to 37 degrees C, hyperthermia = 38.8 to 39 degrees C. Striatal microdialysis salycilate technique.

Iron, the transition metal needed to drive this reaction, is present in abundant quantities in bound form in living systems in the form of transferrin, hemoglobin the cytochromes and others.  Anaerobic conditions have long been known to release such normally bound iron.88,89 Indirect experimental confirmation of the role of free iron in generating free-radical injury has come from a number of studies which have confirmed the presence of free-radical breakdown products such as conjugated dienes90 and low molecular weight species of iron.91 Paradoxically, the damaging effects resulting from the release of free iron from cytochromes, hemoglobin and possibly other iron-containing proteins during ischemia (iron delocalization) is likely greatly exacerbated by the endogenous antioxidant and free radical scavenger ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Ascorbate (reduced vitamin C) is an important enzyme cofactor, neuromodulator, and antioxidant that is stored at millimolar concentrations in the cytosol of cerebral astrocytes. Approximately 80% of the body stores of ascorbate are in the brain, and ascorbate is released in large quantities during ischemia.92 Despite its status as an antioxidant, in the presence of free iron, ascorbic acid is one of the most potent facilitators of the Fenton-Haber-Weiss reaction known, and its solo administration during reperfusion following ischemia is associated with increased neuroinjury.93, 94

During reperfusion and re-oxygenation, significantly increased levels of multiple free-radical species that degrade cellular and capillary membranes have been postulated: O2-, OH-, and free lipid radicals (FLRs).  O2- may be formed by the previously described actions of XO and/or by release from neutrophils that have been activated by leukotrienes (see discussion below of the role of leukocytes in ischemia-reperfusion injury). Figure 1-16 is a table listing the free radicals currently known or suspected to be implicated in cerebral and systemic ischemia-reperfusion injury.

Figure 16: Multiple free radical species with diverse chemistries and stoichiometries are now known or suspected to mediate ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI). The implication of this is that multiple radical scavengers will be needed to treat those components of IRI which result from free radical activity. There is unlikely to be one “magic bullet” that quenches all of the offending radical species.

Nitric Oxide and Peroxynitrite

In 1992 Dawson, et al., 95 reported that nitric oxide (NO) a free radical gas synthesized from the amino acid l-arginine by the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS), is produced in a wide range of tissues including, notably, the vascular endothelium, macrophages, polymorphonuclear white blood cells (PMLNs) and brain neurons and glial cells. These investigators also reported that NO was serving at least two functions; in the vascular endothelium it appears to be the long sought after “endothelial relaxing factor,” and in the brain it appears to function as a neurotransmitter, well as regulating cerebral blood flow and moderating inflammation.95, 96 To date three isoforms of NOS have been identified: the constitutively expressed neuronal (n-NOS) and endothelial isoforms (e-NOS) and the inducible isoforms (b-NOS).95,96 Neurons expressing n-NOS appear to be most densely concentrated in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and striatum; all areas that are selectively vulnerable to IRI.97,98 While it is apparent that NO is essential for cerebral vasoregulation and signal transduction, it is also clear that it is toxic when present at supraphysiologic levels. The direct cytotoxicity of NO is due to its inhibition of complexes I and II of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and it may inhibit other enzymes involved in high energy production, as well.96


An additional mechanism by which NO may cause injury during reperfusion is via the formation of the free radical peroxynitrite due to the reaction of NO and the superoxide anion98 Peroxynitrite generation, in turn, leads to the formation of other reactive oxygen species (ROS); hydroxyl free radicals, and nitrogen dioxide, the latter resulting in nitrosylation of tyrosine residues in proteins.

Peroxynitrite has been demonstrated both in vitro and in vivo to cause damage to both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, resulting in activation of poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase (PARP), which is part of the cellular DNA repair system.99-101 Activation of PARP results in mitochondrial “futile cycles,” which consume from 30% to 60% of cellular high energy production, via massive depletion of NAD; resulting in direct (necrotic) cell death from the failure of high energy metabolism.102 So, while NO is essential for normal signal transduction, and is even protective against ischemia by virtue of its vasodilatory effects, when produced in large quantities during the ischemic interval it becomes both directly and indirectly toxic.

Figure 1-17: Cascade of signal transduction leading to apoptosis.

PARP activation triggers apoptosis in experimental models of sepsis and ischemia103,104 and increases mitochondrial metabolism during injury resulting in amplified oxidative stress and the generation of additional damaging free radicals and cytotoxic wastes. Free radicals, with or without PARP activation, may also be a primary initiator of nuclear factor kappa B (NFk B) production.105, 106

In GCIRI, constitutive NO activity, of both the endothelial and neuronal isoforms, is markedly increased as a consequence of NMDA, AMPA, and metabotropic glutamate receptor stimulation secondary to excitotoxicity (see “Excitotoxicity” below).107, 108 The activation of the metabotropic receptors causes a rise in intracellular Ca++, which in turn leads to sustained expression of NO by the microglia and other inflammatory cells (Ca++-independent inducible isoform) in the 24 hours following the ischemic event.109


53) Dearden, NM., Ischaemic brain. Lancet. 1985. 2(8449): p. 255-9.

53) ibid.

54) Hertz, L., Features of astrocyte function apparently involved in the response of central nervous system tissue to ischemia-hypoxia. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1981. 1: p. 143-53.

55) McDonald, JL., Systolic and mean arterial pressures during manual and mechanical CPR in humans. Ann Emerg Med. 1982. 11(6): p. 292-5.

56) Del Guercio, L., A comparison of blood flow during external and internal cardiac massage in man. Circulation. 1965. Sppl 1: p. 171-80.

57) McDonald, JL., Systolic and mean arterial pressures during manual and mechanical CPR in humans. Ann Emerg Med. 1982. 11(6): p. 292-5.

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59) Barsan, WG, Levy, RC., Experimental design for study of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in dogs. Ann Emerg Med. 1981. 10(3): p. 135-7.

60) Anstadt, MP., et al., Pulsatile reperfusion after cardiac arrest improves neurologic outcome. Ann Surg. 1991. 214(4): p. 478-88; discussion p. 489-90.

61) Macdonald, RL, Stoodley, M., Pathophysiology of cerebral ischemia. Neurol Med Chir. (Tokyo). 1998. 38(1): p. 1-11.

62) Kaplan, J., et al., Mechanisms of ischemic cerebral injury. Resuscitation. 1987. 15(3): p. 149-69.

63) Ames, A III., Cerebral ischemia II. The no-reflow phenomenon. Amer J Pathol. 1968. 52: p. 437-53.

64) Siesjo, BK., Pathophysiology and treatment of focal cerebral ischemia. Part I: Pathophysiology. J Neurosurg. 1992. 77(2): p. 169-84.

65) Siesjo, B., Cell damage in the brain: a speculative synthesis. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1981. 1: p. 155-85.

66) Brooks, K.J, Kauppinen, RA., Calcium-mediated damage following hypoxia in cerebral cortex ex vivo studied by NMR spectroscopy. Evidence for direct involvement of voltage- gated Ca(2+)-channels. Neurochem Int. 1993. 23(5): p. 441-50.

67) McDonald, JL., Systolic and mean arterial pressures during manual and mechanical CPR in humans. Ann Emerg Med. 1982. 11(6): p. 292-5.

68) Carafoli, E., Curr Topics Memb Transport. 1978. 10: p. 151-216.

69)  ibid.

70) Blaustein, M., The regulation of intracellular calcium in presynaptic nerve terminals. Proc NY Acad Sci. 1978. 307: p. 195-212.

71) Kumar, K., et al., Ultrastructural and ionic studies in global ischemic dog brain. Acta Neuropathol. 1987. 73(4): p. 393-9.

72) Fiskum, G., Mitochondrial damage during cerebral ischemia. Ann Emerg Med. 1985. 14(8): p. 810-5.

73) Kristian, T, Siesjo, BK., Calcium in ischemic cell death. Stroke.1998. 29(3): p. 705-18.

74) Raichle, ME., The pathophysiology of brain ischemia. Ann Neurol. 1983. 13(1): p. 2-10.

75) Krajewski, S., et al., Release of caspase-9 from mitochondria during neuronal apoptosis and cerebral ischemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci. U S A, 1999. 96(10): p. 5752-7.

76) Matsumoto, S., et al., Blockade of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore diminishes infarct size in the rat after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1999. 19(7): p. 736-41.

77) Siesjo, BK., et al., Role and mechanisms of secondary mitochondrial failure. Acta Neurochir Suppl. 1999. 73: p. 7-13.

78) Rao, AM., et al., Arachidonic acid and leukotriene C4: role in transient cerebral ischemia of gerbils. Neurochem Res. 1999. 24(10): p. 1225-32.

79) Boado, RJ., et al., Differential expression of arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase transcripts in human brain tumors: evidence for the expression of a multitranscript family. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 1992. 89(19): p. 9044-8.

80) Lindsberg, P.J, Hallenbeck, JM, Feuerstein, G., Platelet-activating factor in stroke and brain injury. Ann Neurol. 1991. 30(2): p. 117-29.

81) Aktan, S, Aykut, C, Ercan S., Leukotriene C4 and prostaglandin E2 activities in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid during acute cerebral ischemia. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1991. 43(4): p. 247-9.

82) Tien, M., An investigation into the role of hydroxyl radical in xanthine oxidase-dependent lipid peroxidation. Arch Biochem Biophys. 1982. 216: p. 142-51.

83) McCord, J., Oxygen derived free radicals in postischemic tissue injury. N Eng J Med. 1985. 312: p. 159-63.

84) Kleihues, K., Purine nucleotide metabolism in the cat brain after 1-hour of complete ischemia. J Neurochem. 1974. 23: p. 417-25.

84) Rhenchrona, S., Brain lactic acidois and ischemic cell damage: I Biochemistry and neurophysiology. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1981. 1: p. 297-311.

85) Fridovich, I., Superoxide radical: An endogenous toxicant. Ann Review of Pharmacol Toxicol. 1983. 23: p. 239-57.

86) McCord, J., The superoxide free radical: Its biochemistry and pathophysiology. Surgery. 1983. 94: p. 412-14.

87) Tien, M., Comparative aspects of several models of lipid peroxidation systems. In Lipid Peroxides in Biology and Medicine, K., Yagi, ed., 1982. New York, Academic Press: p. 23-39.

88) Krause, GS., et al., Natural course of iron delocalization and lipid peroxidation during the first eight hours following a 15-minute cardiac arrest in dogs. Ann Emerg Med. 1987. 16(11): p. 1200-5.

89) Oubidar, M, et al., Ischemia-induced brain iron delocalization: effect of iron chelators. Free Radic Biol Med. 1994. 16(6): p. 861-7.

90) Nayini, NR., et al., Post resuscitation iron delocalization and malondialdehyde production in the brain following prolonged cardiac arrest. J Free Radic Biol Med. 1985. 1(2): p. 111-6.

91) Babbs, C., Role of iron ions in the genesis of reperfusion injury following successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation: Preliminary data and a biochemical hypothesis. Ann Emer Med. 1985. 14: p. 777-83.

92) Hillered, L., et al., Increased extracellular levels of ascorbate in the striatum after middle cerebral artery occlusion in the rat monitored by intracerebral microdialysis. Neurosci Lett. 1988. 95(1-3): p. 286-90.

93) Santos, MS, et al., Synaptosomal response to oxidative stress: effect of vinpocetine. Free Radic Res, 2000. 32(1): p. 57-66.

94) Wie, MB, et al., Phenidone attenuates oxygen/glucose deprivation-induced neurotoxicity by antioxidant and antiapoptotic action in mouse cortical cultures. Neurosci Lett. 1999. 272(2): p. 91-4.

95) Dawson TM, Dawson, VL., Snyder SH. A novel neuronal messenger in brain: the free radical, nitric oxide. Ann Neurol, 1992. 32: p. 297–311.

96) Dawson TM, Dawson, VL., Nitric oxide: actions and pathological roles. Neuroscientist. 1995. 1: p. 7–18.

97) Samdani AF, Dawson, TM., Dawson VL., Nitric oxide synthase in models of focal ischemia. Stroke. 1997. 28: p. 1283–8.

98) Dalkara T, Moskowitz, MA., The role of nitric oxide in cerebral ischemia. In: Welch KMA, Caplan LR, Reis DJ, et al, editors. Primer on cerebrovascular disease. Philadephia: AcademicPress; 1997. p. 207–8.

99) Lo, EH, Bosque-Hamilton, P, Meng, W., Inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase: reduction of ischemic injury and attenuation of N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced neurotransmitter dysregulation. Stroke,.1998. 29(4): p. 830-6.

100) Endres, M., et al., Ischemic brain injury is mediated by the activation of poly(ADP- ribose)polymerase. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1997. 17(11): p. 1143-51.

101) Sun, AY. and JS., Cheng, Neuroprotective effects of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors in transient focal cerebral ischemia of rats. Chung Kuo Yao Li Hsueh Pao. 1998. 19(2): p. 104-8.

102) Tokime, T., et al., Enhanced poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation after focal ischemia in rat brain. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1998. 18(9): p. 991-7.

103) Krajewski, S., et al., Release of caspase-9 from mitochondria during neuronal apoptosis and cerebral ischemia. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 1999. 96(10): p. 5752-7.

104) Doutheil, J., et al., Activation of MYD116 (gadd34) expression following transient forebrain ischemia of rat: implications for a role of disturbances of endoplasmic reticulum calcium homeostasis. Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1999. 63(2): p. 225-32.

105) Hickenbottom, SL, Grotta, J., Neuroprotective therapy. Semin Neurol, 1998. 18(4): p. 485-92.

106) Szabo ,ST, de Montigny, C, Blier, P., Modulation of noradrenergic neuronal firing by selective serotonin reuptake blockers. Br J Pharmacol. 1999. 126(3): p. 568-71

107) Bhardwaj, A, Northington, FJ., Ichord, RN., et al. Characterization of ionotropic glutamate receptor-mediated nitric oxide production in vivo in rats. Stroke. 1997. 28: p 850–6.

108) Bhardwaj, A, Northington ,FJ., Martin, LJ., et al. Characterization of metabotropic glutamate receptor-mediated nitric oxide production in vivo. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1997. 17: p. 153–60.

109) Samdani, AF, Dawson TM., Dawson VL., Nitric oxide synthase in models of focal ischemia. Stroke. 1997. 28: p. 1283–8.

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Thus Spake Curtis Henderson, Part 6

By Charles Platt and Mike Darwin

Beverly Greenberg nee ’Gillian Cummings, with her father, in July of 1972. Photo by Mike Darwin.

“One day the phone rang, and there was this woman on the other end of line and she said, ‘I want you to freezer my father.’ Calls like this would happen, maybe every couple of weeks. Invariably they amounted to nothing. But Beverly Greenberg was different. She was going to freeze her father and that was all there was to it. He had been embalmed and dead for a couple of weeks. We had to dig up Herman Greenberg. Fred Horn and I went to the cemetery where he was buried in Philadelphia and supervised his disinterment. We took him back to Long Island in Fred’s station wagon and put him on dry ice. His wife Doris didn’t mind helping us; she was having a good time, getting her picture taken by Beverly.

Beverly Greenberg called herself ‘Gillian Cumming’s,’ and she made a movie of her father being encapsulated, took thousands of pictures.  I had to keep running rubbing alcohol over his face to stop it from turning white with frost.

“We wrapped him in aluminum foil just like we did all the bodies in those days. Foil looked good. Better than naked. And fully clothed didn’t look right either. It also kept the body from getting that frosty-coke-bottle effect.”

“It didn’t seem real, freezing people, at first. We were mostly travelling around with Harry and Paul and all the hippies, it was a party atmosphere.”

“A pre-cooled stretcher, bearing the body, was moved into the pre-cooled tank (dry ice), using an engine lift. I was always terrified of puncturing the tank, because a microscopic hole will ruin the vacuum. The metal walls of the inner can were thinner than a dime.”

Curtis Henderson placing Herman Greenberg into liquid nitrogen storage in 1971. Photo by Gillian Cummings.

“CSNY and Cryo-Span were barely limping along when Beverly showed up. She had a bulldog commitment to cryonics and incredible energy, and she was smart, really smart. I think she was probably our last chance to make a go of cryonics in New York with CSNY and Cryo-Span. But Beverly died, and her mother never wanted any part of this, so her father was buried somewhere here on Long Island.

“Beverly used to sleep in the facility, because my wife wouldn’t let her come here. And the police said she died of carbon monoxide. I think it could have been Valium – and alcohol – along with the cold. She used to run the engine for a short while in her car, where she slept, in order to warm up during the night. Maybe she fell asleep or maybe she didn’t run the engine and got hypothermic.”

CSNY patient Herman Greenberg immersed in liquid nitrogen; the liquid level is midway on his forehead. This photograph was made in 1971 by his daughter Gillian Cummings (nee’ Beverly Greenberg).

The police went in there and found that there were bodies. The health department came and wanted to fine me $1,000 a day. After Greenberg was buried, I only had one body at that point, the father of a guy named Michael Baburka. I told him I had to shut down and so he took the tank and put it into a mini-storage place.”

“It became more and more obvious that to do this, we had to be better funded, none of this back-alley stuff. We were going to end up getting sued; it was going to blow up in our faces. So, the retreat was necessary. Nelson didn’t see this; he sailed the whole thing into the ground. Beverly went out there to Chatsworth and got into that facility, and saw that everybody had thawed out; that was one reason for the big fight with Ettinger. Mike Darwin had gone out there a year or two earlier, and he figured out the same thing, and started telling Ettinger that the bodies were thawed at CSC and that Nelson was a fraud, but Ettinger wouldn’t listen. He backed Nelson. Alcor has the files to prove it. Ettinger was still referring people to Nelson, and we felt he should have known. Why didn’t he go and see? How could he deal with Nelson if Nelson wouldn’t let them see his facility? Our facility was open 24 hours a day. There were pictures and films. But Nelson showed nothing.”

The  Future? World Domination!

“If you revived someone tomorrow, in the prime of health and youth, I still don’t think it would move this thing faster than its going. People don’t change. People react to what happens to THEM. Certain people are born to accept the idea of cryonics, and certain people aren’t. I have never really seen anybody who didn’t grab this idea right away, but got sold on it at a later date as a result of a sales pitch.”

“In the future, you’re going to have big problems when it becomes perceived that this thing is making money. You’re going to have a lot of fraudulent people saying they can do it cheaper. There is another aspect that I never understood why it didn’t catch on, and that is the glass coffin idea. People spend $20 grand on a coffin, and the whole ad pitch is preservation, which it doesn’t do. Technically you could build a glass coffin and fill it with liquid nitrogen. But I’ve never been able to sell anybody on it. Just the idea of perfect preservation; you’d keep it covered to restrict radiant heat. It would be expensive, but there are people who spend that amount of money all the time. I would have thought that that would have caught on, even if coming back didn’t.”

Brenda Peters (left) asks: What does Henderson want to do when he is revived? [1]

“World domination, of course! If I were to wake up and come back into whatever the world is, I’d probably have to deal with – even these last two or three years, I’ve started taking an EMT course – Donaldson’s papers – every day it seems like there’s a whole new technology you should be learning. You probably are going to have to spend an awful lot of time learning. Most of the people involved in this are constantly reading, digging into things.”

“Right now, I’d like to get this house functioning so we could rent out rooms and it wouldn’t cost me any money. I’d like to talk my friend Janet Pinkney into buying a motor home, or a boat, even better. And this summer, wooden boats are going to be given away. Nobody wants wooden boats, they’re all into fiberglass. I was happiest in my big old boat. You could live comfortable, move all over the place. On the road, I wouldn’t go anywhere in particular, I’d just KEEP GOING.”

“For 90 percent of your life you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I could only put up with this once.’ So why are you living? And of course there really isn’t an answer. You’re living because you’re living, that’s all. So, you either decide that life is worth living, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, life is something to be gotten over with. You hear that kind of thought expressed all the time.”

“One day you’ll be driving along and you hear about an airplane crash. And you think, ‘Those people were going to die sooner or later anyway.’ You’re different from them. You’re almost a different form of life. From an emotional point of view, you think of yourself as different. Ettinger once said, when I was a lot younger, ‘At my age, I’m sitting here, and what am I doing here? Why aren’t I in the South Seas?’ If you’re leading a normal life, somewhere there’s a voice telling you that if you’re lucky, you’ve got another 7 or 8 years here. So the older you get, without cryonics, well, I don’t see how it cannot affect their attitude.”

“I had a roomer up here, this man really made me think about death, because he was younger than me; he’d been a Marine officer in Korea. He would come home each night and drink a six-pack of beer; he had a car he kept immaculate. But Ruthie, one of my other roomers, said he had colon cancer. Ruthie had been an OR technician in the army, she said he was getting sicker and sicker. I got to know him, he was terribly depressed, going to the VA hospital, and one night, he was really bombed, and we both knew that the next time I took him to the VA was the going to be the last ride. When I got him there, I found they had people all lined up holding their files, it was like a Charles Addams cartoon where they have everyone waiting in line to get into hell. You just knew this was the end of it. And the only answer is to get drunk and stay drunk. You get the feeling of real loneliness and abandonment; that this is it.”

“If cryonics does nothing else, it certainly allows people to die with a feeling of hope. It does more than that for me; it takes away the feeling of the inevitability of death. Then any event in the future can be part of your life.”

“Now when you get into it, taking the EMT training, you begin to see what a fragile creature you are. Every technician sees these problems, feels he’ll never surmount them. That’s one of the big problems when you talk to cryobiologists as well: the immediate problem seems so insurmountable, the idea of going the whole way and doing this seems impossible. But that’s always been true of every field.”

“The Egyptians could have made hot air balloons; the Romans could have sailed across the Atlantic and colonized the Americas. But they didn’t. And no one knows why they didn’t. So, it could be the same for us, with cryonics. We can do it right now, but most of us don’t.”

“When you find yourself in the generation that’s now dying, you realize that now you’re in the front wave, you’re next. I don’t think it affects you right away, it comes on you gradually, down the line, seeing your own children grow up – so, yes, after my father died, this happened to me. But I don’t think it had anything to do with me getting into cryonics.”

In the Modern Diner:

“We were freezing people after they had been dead or embalmed.”

“It was show business. I never wanted to freeze people if I had to dig them up and they’d been embalmed. But Ettinger said, ‘Freeze ‘em, they’re better off frozen than not frozen.’”

Mike Darwin at the Cryo-Span facility in West Babylon, Long Island in August of 1972. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“Mike Darwin, when he first came in 1971, started carrying on, insisting on a medical-type freezing. I knew nothing about a medical-type freezing. So it was out of the question. We were making it up as we went along. He would take samples of people’s flesh, and he’d carry on about how it hadn’t been perfused properly, it was no big news. He was 15 or 16 the first time he came here; he was very eager. He lived in Indianapolis, so we used to stop there when we were on a trip. Later on my wife, Diane, took a great dislike to him. Diane, I don’t think, had ever had personal contact with gay people, and one time Mike was talking to his boyfriend on the phone, and it blew her brains.”


“In December of ’72, Mike Darwin and Greg Fahy were out here. Mike had taken off from high school on his holiday break and Fahy was a grad student with Armand Karow down in Georgia.[2] They came out here to see how things were going with cryonics on the East Coast. While they were here, sleeping in the facility, one our members died, a woman named Clara Dostal. Saul went over there and pounded on the door (he didn’t have a key to the place) and woke them up and told them they had to freeze her. So, there it was, Mike Darwin’s big opportunity to do medical-type cryonics. They went over to the St. James funeral parlor and Mike starts running around asking for this and asking for that. He and Greg have all these papers spread out and they’re fooling with Fred’s embalming machine. And then, in the dead of night, poor Mrs. Dostal rolls in the door and these two kids, Mike was maybe 17 at the time, and Greg was maybe 20, start perfusing her.”

Clara Dostal on dry ice storage at the Cryo-Span facility in West Babylon, Long Island in December of 1972. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“We finished up early in the morning of the next day, and after we put Dostal on dry ice, I said I needed a drink. So, we headed out to this bar that was close to the facility. It was right there in amongst the cemeteries and not very far from the garbage dump. I look at Mike Darwin and he is green, absolutely green, and he is just saying over and over, ‘I can’t believe things could be this bad, I can’t believe things could be this bad. This thing is never gonna work. This thing is never gonna work.’ Reality had finally sunk in, and I guess it was at that moment that Mike decided he was going to remake cryonics in the image of medicine, or die trying.”

“It wasn’t long before Richard Dostal and Caire Halpert, Dostal’s son and daughter, were unhappy too. Soon enough, they started speaking to Nelson, and he told them he’d take care of things. But they’d already ordered their tank from MVE. He told them he’d do it cheaper. Dostal had been in dry ice at Farmingdale for two or three years and it was expensive.[3] It was five dollars a block. So they said they were going to give the body to Nelson, and so far as I knew, they were going to put her in the tank with DeBlasio in Butler, New Jersey. I didn’t know there was already another body from California with DeBlasio. Anyway, so, Dostal said the tank was going to be needed in New Jersey, which it was. But Nelson never came there, and the tank lay in the field at the cemetery in a wooden crate wrapped in a sheet of plastic for about a year.

“In any case, a guy from Maryland – I forget his name – two of his people’s heads are at Alcor, now, the ones Trans Time wouldn’t keep – he turned up on my doorstep in shorts and sandals on a bitter cold night in February of ‘73.[4] Mike Darwin had sicced him on me after he and Greg Fahy had frozen the guy’s father in Maryland. He comes in, he’s walked all the way from MacArthur airport; he couldn’t get a taxicab. He had frozen his father and needed a place to store him. But by now, I had had it up to here with cryonics. I think I’d gotten rid of everyone but Baburka.[5] In fact, I think I’d even gotten rid of him. He was put in a mini-storage facility around here. There was that much room (motions with his hands indicating a space of a few inches) between the top of the tank and roof. There was so little clearance that you could not take the lid off to fill it with liquid nitrogen. I said, ‘you’re never going to be able to fill it up with liquid nitrogen,’ but – never mind, that’s another whole novel. Baburka drove around in a 1940 Cadillac hearse that hadn’t been registered or insured since 1948.”

Trans Time

Art Quaife

“Anyway, I was totally out, finally clear of those bodies. I had a real good deal working for Bell and Howell. I said I’m never going to store bodies again, but this guy kept insisting, and he has a roll of $100 bills. Meanwhile I’m so broke; I’m burning the old wooden boat in the fireplace to keep the house warm. So, I go to the phone and I call Art Quaife, who says he has a freezing facility in the Bay Area, Trans Time. In the meantime, this Dostal woman still owes me $1500 for dry ice, and her tank is lying in a field in the cemetery. She wanted to be an actress. That’s why she went along with the freezing of her mother, because she thought she was going to get on television. So, I called Art Quaife, I said I got a man here who needs a place to store his father, who’s he’s just frozen in Maryland, and he doesn’t care what it costs. So there was a long silence, and then Art says, he don’t have nothing. All he has is a house that hangs off the cliff and tilts, and you walk in the door and you feel like you’re falling straight to Alcatraz.”

“In the meantime, Paul (Segall) and Harry (Waitz) had been asked to leave Stony Brook because all kinds of exotic chemicals, namely drugs, had been found in the trunk of Harry’s car. So him and Paul got into their Volkswagen minivan and went out west and set up something they called Fort Addison, in Berkeley; which again, was a house full of girls. They all managed to get on welfare. Paul kept inviting me out there, he said he could arrange for Diane and me to get on welfare and live there. But Diane took one look at Fort Addison and all the girls, and decided that that was not going to be. That was a little later, when we finally got out there.”

At left, the building that housed the first Trans Time, Inc., facility in Emeryville, CA. Photo by Mike Darwin

“So I said to Art, ‘this guy’s got plenty of money, why don’t you rent a facility, you need a truck with a hydraulic lift’ – I gave him a whole list of things to get. And I said; now I’m going after that tank. I got a friend of mine (John Bull) and we rented a truck with a hydraulic lift. And the guy from New Jersey is going along with this. There’s a feeling of unreality because every place he went with these credit cards and $100 bills, and we’d been starving, and now we’re renting trucks, and a private plane – he was like Howard Hughes. So we went to Jersey, and he was going to give Dostal $5,000 in cash for that tank. He’s counting out the money, and of course, I was there for the $1,500 she still owed me for the dry ice.”

Interior of the Trans Time, Inc., facility in Berkeley California in 1981. The dewar wrapped in black plastic at the right of the photo above contained the patient from Cumberland, Maryland. Photo by Mike Darwin

“Then he said he wanted me to come with him to California. I was working in a record factory and Diane’s saying to me, ‘You lose this job over cryonics and I’m leaving you.’[6] Women were constantly telling me things like this – like, ‘if we get out of this alive you’re never going to see me again.’ So I told the guy, my wife and my youngest kid have to come to California with us. And he says, ‘don’t worry about a thing, he’d pay for everything.’[7] He got the body, he got the tank, bribed somebody at Kennedy to get it on a plane or something, I don’t know.”

The first two Trans Time patients immediately prior to the dewar being hoisted into an upright position for cool down to liquid nitrogen temperature. Photo by Jim Yount.

“We got to Berkeley, to Paul Segall and his commune, and this guy gave him the credit cards to go out and buy food and so on. You have no idea how unreal all this was. We got all the stuff together, made a cart with wheels to move the tank—and that’s how Trans Time got created.[8] And sometimes, when I see Art Quaife writing about how single-handedly, from one room, he started Trans Time, I feel—well…”

Paul Segall

“Paul and Harry provided all the labor, and this guy was feeding them from McDonald’s. They rented a place; they took the tank in there.”

The Second Great Cryonics Melt Down

Commenting on the Second Great Cryonics Meltdown in Butler, New Jersey:

“I hadn’t heard from John Bull or DeBlasio for a couple of years. One day I get a phone call, and they tell me they need me. Well, relations hadn’t been good. I was always out there taking the risks. This time, I thought, it’s going to be different.”

“They told me the tank holding DeBlasio and Dostal is leaking, and can I get out there and help them? So I went out to Mount Holiness cemetery, and there it was. Nelson’s idea had been to buy a number of cemetery plots and build a concrete vault underground. So now the bodies are buried in a cemetery and it’s supposedly all legal. This one in Jersey was really nothing but a concrete well with a wooden hatch over it. And it was half-full of ground water, rain water, whatever. They had a big back-hoe pulling the tank out of the ground, with vapor hissing out all over the place. It looked like they were launching a missile. What had gone wrong was, instead of topping up the tank with nitrogen themselves; they contracted with a delivery service from General Dynamics.”

Ann DeBlasio’s dewar being hoisted out of the vault in Mt. Holiness Cemetery in Butler, New Jersey, in July of 1980. Left to right: John Bull, Nick DeBlasio and the two cemetery workers who operated the backhoe. Photo by Mike Darwin.

“Now, even if you keep a tank in a very dry room, water vapor forms like a rind of ice around the top of the tank. But these people knew nothing about liquid nitrogen, nothing about cryogenics. They didn’t know that you had to gently work the lid off, for fear of putting a hole in the vacuum jacket. I’m sure the delivery man got there, and the tank was covered with ice, and he gave it a good swift kick to knock the lid off, and he put a hole in the vacuum jacket. So the thing goes like Mount Vesuvius. You know, when Nelson writes that his tank leaked and he didn’t notice it, he’s full of you-know-what. Because you will notice a liquid nitrogen tank leaking, believe me. You will hear it. Each liter of liquid turns to 800 liters of gas–NOW! You’ve got a bad leak, because you start losing your insulation, and there are no mistakes to be made about it. You will know it.”[9]

“Anyhow, they hauled it up, and Bull has this big truck. He was in the vending machine business. So we got it in the back of his truck, and the thing is roaring; the vapor is boiling off. We pull out onto the highway, and he says, suppose the cops stop us. And I’ve got a grin on me, and I say, ‘It’s all yours, John.’”

“So we got this mess to John’s house up here in Medford in this truck and I still didn’t realize it wasn’t Dostal in the tank with DeBlasio’s wife. It was some woman from California who Nelson froze. Later on, her son was the one who paid Mike Darwin to come here and give her a decent funeral.[10] At that time, Mike was desperate for a tank, but that was later on.”

“First of all, Bull wants to pull into my house, but my wife came running out and she’s going to call the police immediately if we attempt to get those bodies out of the tank there. So, we went to Bull’s house. Meantime, they’d built a giant dry-ice box and they were going to put both bodies in it. Now there’s the job of getting the bodies out of the tank. This was impossible. They had thawed out, been refrozen and were frozen in place. So then they got the bright idea they were going to melt them by putting a garden hose in there. That turned the whole inside into solid ice. I mean, it was like ‘The Three Stooges.’ Anyway, I told them, there’s nothing to do but let it melt. And we had to wait about two days for it to do that in the truck outside John Bull’s house, not far from here.”

“The stretcher wouldn’t come out, nothing would come out. So I got the wrenches and crawled into this tank. DeBlasio’s wife was in pretty good shape, but the other woman, whoever she was, was nothing but a puddle at the bottom of the tank. So, we finally got ‘em out and put ‘em in the dry-ice box. Afterwards, I went upstairs to the bathtub and I had a pint of vodka, I drank the pint of vodka and I soaked for a day up there, and I could still smell it. And Diane burned my clothes. Anyway, Bull sent the tank to be repaired by some place in Jersey.[11] DeBlasio was cheap; he wouldn’t send the tank to MVE to get it properly fixed.”

Mike Darwin preparing to remove the decomposed bodies of two former cryonics patients from the first MVE dewar in July of 1980.Photo by Joe Allen.

“I didn’t hear from them for a while. Another year went by. I get a call from Mike Darwin, and he tells me the thing has melted down again. They had fixed it and put it all back in there. Mike says it’s melted down and he’s made this deal to come and get the tank, and DeBlasio’s agreed to have his wife buried. That tank was the first tank at Alcor.[12] Mike came and I met him in a motel, we went out to Mount Holiness, and he had contacted a funeral parlor in Brentwood. It looked just like the Addams Family mansion. And here’s Gomez, and the woman with the long black dress. And I mean his name really was Gomez! Anyway, Mike put the tank behind the funeral parlor in a Ryder rental truck, and we said there’s nothing you can do, you got to wait till it melts, no matter how bad it stinks. And it stank, believe me. I told them there was no way I was going back in one of them tanks with them bodies in there in that condition. No way! So this time Mike went in and got the bodies out. And he got his tank. He was staying over at my house while he was doing all this. Back then, I had a beautiful vegetable garden in the back, and Mike has this guy with him, and they’re talking back and forth like a man and a girl, you know.[13] Diane – she couldn’t take it. She blew up, and Mike never came back here till after Diane was gone.”

“I was doing a lot of drinking. My second wife drank like a fish. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time at AA. I’ve learned a lot. It doesn’t work, having two alcoholics in the house. Sooner or later one convinces the other to go out on a binge, riding around on a motorcycle, losing your false teeth, one thing and another.”

“Many times cryonics was the thing that was blamed for our problems, and it certainly didn’t lead to a tranquil home. Diane was a party-girl, if things were going good, fine, but if things were bad, if it looked like Dostal was going to serve papers on me and drag me into the suit against Nelson, Diane panicked. And in many ways, it was true; I was running between the raindrops. So, cryonics didn’t contribute to a happy home. The time we went to California, she ended up spending most of time in a motel room with the kids, because she wouldn’t go over to Fort Addison, and I didn’t blame her. But the thing is I can’t say my marriages would have survived without cryonics. The second one would have certainly broken up, because that was mutually assured destruction.”

“My parents fully believed that drinking came from capitalism, and in a communist world there wouldn’t be any drinking. The communists didn’t drink, didn’t have marital troubles, because all these things came from the evils of capitalism.”

“I had it up to here a couple of times with cryonics, but it wasn’t cryonics, it was the way we were doing it. This is why, when they started Alcor, we talked about it many times, that we would never touch anybody except somebody who was prepared ahead of time and fully understood what they were getting into. DeBlasio certainly didn’t comprehend what he was getting into, and Mandel’s mother didn’t comprehend—the only one who really did was Hearst. He worked at the University of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh. He had a beautiful house; his wife was an architect who designed it. And he could afford it, it wasn’t a strain. If it’s going to change someone’s lifestyle to have someone frozen, sooner or later, you’re going to have problems. It got to the point where if someone called me and said they had to have someone frozen and they didn’t care what it cost- I’d hang up.”

“Hearst did a lot of the research on urine tests for drugs. He lost his grant, and he thought there was going to be a nuclear war anyway, so he packed everything up and moved to New Zealand. He said he didn’t want to keep his father anymore, so he asked us to bury him, and we buried him.”


When Beverly died, that was really the end. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was. You know, Mike came here when he was seventeen, and he lived in my house. But what was important was that he came back when Beverly died. Mike and Gregory Fahy were the only ones who stood by me in the early seventies, they were the only ones who came to try and help when Beverly died, when everyone else ran away. Even Ettinger ran away.”

“Getting someone out of a tank is feasible if the tank has been functioning. It’s a tricky business, but it can be done. What you’ve got to do is get the liquid level down, then you lay the thing down on its side, and most of the nitrogen left is going to pour out. You’re not dealing with ice. The minute you’ve got ice, you’ve got bad news. So, I got Greenberg out, and I put him in the truck and pulled into the cemetery, and it was a Saturday and all these funerals were going on. By now, I’d had it, my life was falling apart. Diane had run back to her mother’s, all that baloney. So I was in no mood to fool with anybody. I pulled up to the office, I said I’d got Greenberg here and could they give me a hand to unload him. These guys came and looked at him, totally white, all covered in frost, and they didn’t want to touch him. I said, I’m going to roll that thing over and he’s going to fall out and bust in a million pieces right here on the pavement. So they give me these three guys, they put the coffin next to the truck. I lifted the lid off, they took one look in there, and he looked perfect but he was snow-white. Those boys stepped back and they said no way, they wouldn’t touch him. So I tipped the box up and he rolled right into the coffin, and that was the end of that.”

“I don’t know that all this makes cryonics look very good, maybe more like a freak show. Actually it was very tragic. Beverly had spent a lot of money, a lot of time getting her father frozen. Once again it emphasized the whole weakness of a relative, or any one individual being responsible for the frozen person.”

Time ravaged tank and time ravaged man: Curtis Henderson with the CC-101 in the back yard of his home at 9 Holmes Court in Sayville, LI, NY in 1992. Photo by Charles Platt.

Postscript: After 82 years, at 04:15 EST on the morning of Thursday, June 25th, 2009, Curtis Henderson’s heart ceased to beat. A team of technicians was standing by to start the cryopreservation procedure. A few days earlier, critically ill with end stage liver failure, he refused all further life supporting treatment and requested that he be allowed to be cryopreserved. Today, he rests in liquid nitrogen at the facilities of the Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Michigan.See:


Charles Platt

My sincere thanks to Charles Platt for conducting these interviews with  Curtis Henderson, and for so generously allowing me the opportunity to present them to the world. -MD


[1] Brenda Peters is a long-time cryonics activist, cryopreservation team and research team member, and was the President of CryoCare, a cryonics membership organization created when Alcor underwent schism in 1993. MD

[2] Greg Fahy was a first year graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). He had selected MCG because Armand Karow was one of the few organ cryopreservationists still doing research in the US at that time.

[3] Mrs. Dostal was frozen on 10 December, 1972, and RM was frozen 09 February of 1973 (Unpublished Case Data, Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Patient A-1056, 09 February, 1973). So, only a year had elapsed from the time of Mrs. Dostal’s freezing.  The facility was technically in West Babylon, but everyone referred to it as being located in Farmingdale, which was the larger community a street or two east of Eads Street. MD

[4] The “guy from Maryland “was RM, Jr., who was from Cumberland, Maryland.

[5] In April 1974 Henderson froze Michael Baburka, Sr., who was then stored privately by his son for a few months before being thawed and, still in his MVE dewar, buried in Potter’s Field on Long Island Sound. MD

[6] The “guy from Maryland” was RM, Jr., and he was from Cumberland, Maryland. He was a very nice man who deeply wanted and believed in cryonics, as did his mother, KVM. They owned the liquor store in Cumberland and were quite wealthy and influential – very respected in Cumberland. All three were “the born-not-made-type” of hard-core cryonicist. I stayed at their home, which had a spectacular view of a mountain opposite it – the whole front of the home was glass. This was at the height of the Nixon and Greenspan’s Phase I, II, III economic plan which had caused total havoc, including terrible gasoline shortages as a result of the Arab Oil Embargo and Greenspan’s price controls. They had to bribe people for fuel and it took awhile to get enough aviation gasoline (under the table) to fly RM, Sr., out – so I spent the night and day at their house and flew out with RM, Sr., to Detroit where Ettinger had a “dry ice box” – a pitiful thing made of an air shipper and fiberglass batting. GF flew back on a commercial flight so as not to miss any more classes or get kicked out of grad school for freezing dead bodies.

[7] I was very skeptical of RM, Jr., until he showed up at the Augusta, Georgia airport in a chartered plane (big enough to take all the equipment and 4 passengers) and opened a large box of Kruegerrands – gold, gold, gold. “You can take this in lieu of cash,” he said, “There wasn’t time to get to the bank”. No need to take the gold – I trusted him from then on out. Gold has this magical effect on people. I never forgot that, and I always made sure Alcor had physical custody of gold and a fair bit of it. $5,000 worth of gold was what was poured out onto Constitutional Attorney Chris Ashworth’s desk when I was being arrested in the Dora Kent case. It worked then, too. MD

[8] Actually, Trans Time began storing patients starting with RM, Sr., whom Curtis and I referred to them. The rift with Ettinger was over the horrible conditions that existed at CSM which I discovered when I froze his mother: filth, bugs, glycerol in used milk bottles from the Palmolive Soap Company that was so impure it had a yellow-green hue, a perfusion machine built by Walter Runkel in which the rubber tubing had rotted away inside; thus it kept dumping batches of perfusate into the heat exchanger bath! MD

[9] A slow vacuum failure can and has gone undetected – that’s how Trans Time warmed up HH’s father to circa -50 degrees C. However, Nelson probably never had a decent vacuum on the Cryo-Care tanks and when they failed they failed spectacularly – the outer jacked likely iced-up like a badly frosted freezer and a jet of vapor would have come out of the vent tube. The fill and vent tubes were forever freezing up due to poor design. If the vent tube occluded you got a jet of LN2 out the fill line! If they both iced up at the same time you would have had an explosion. MD

[10] It was the patient, DL’s son PL, who paid Soma, Inc., to come out and extricate the remains.

[11] The company was Cryofab, located at 540 North Michigan Ave. Kenilworth, NJ  07033.

[12] That was not Alcor’s first whole body dewar. I sold the DeBlasio dewar to Trans Time and used the proceeds to help with the expense of moving IABS, Soma, Inc., and myself to California. The first Alcor dewar was bought with money provided by Dick Jones to get out from under paying Trans Time $16,000/yr to keep RM and KVM frozen after RM, Jr., was killed in an auto accident. It was a brand new dewar from MVE, ordered under the pretense of being used for  high temperature (-196 oC) superconductor research. I created a dummy company to order it and had a fake drawing of this big long equipment package made. Since I hated side-rails and fill tubes, they didn’t suspect a thing. It’s an easy dewar to pick out from the pack because it is the only one with the MVE logo on it. MD

[13] This was a misperception, and a puzzling one at that. Joe Allen was not gay and I have no recollection of our ever interacting in the way described. Joe is very slightly built – almost child-sized. Perhaps in Diane’s mind this meant we were homosexual lovers. Joe Allen lives with his wife and 4 children in Australia where he relocated to over 20 years ago.

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Cryonics and the Creation of a Durable Morality

By Mike Darwin

Morals with an Expiration Date?

Forty-seven years ago, when cryonics was brand new, a nearly universally asked question was, “What if you are married and your wife dies and is frozen, and you subsequently remarry, and you and your second wife are frozen, as well. What happens when all of you are revived?!” This was a deadly serious question, asked with creased brows, and great concern. It wasn’t asked because people were trying to be snide or clever, but rather because it reflected a deep moral concern about the sanctity of marriage, which cryonics called into question at that time. Today, the only people in most of the Western world who are much exercised about marriage are homosexuals, who haven’t had an adequate taste of it, and polygamists, who would have no problem with being recovered from cryopreservation to find they had two wives – and who might well be disappointed that they didn’t have more. The mid-20th century angst about the revived cryonicist with two wives, as seen from the perspective of the early 21st century, seems quaint, and more than a little archaic.

Today, no one asks that question about cryonics, or raises it as a serious objection to the idea of medical time travel, in general. The reasons for this shift have profound implications for cryonics, and for cryonicists, implications that that will be explored here, directly.

Marriage as a Bellwether and an Example

Historically, whether monogamous or polygamous, marriage has been a bedrock social institution, because of its economic, and perceived eugenic functions. Since it also has historically constituted the fundamental functional unit of society, it has carried enormous political weight, as well. Because of the crucial importance of marriage to the social and economic order of society it has, universally, been considered too important to be left to the discretion of the young and inexperienced people who are going to engage in it at, or shortly after reaching reproductive age; and this meant that historically, in virtually all cultures, marriages were arranged, brokered, or otherwise largely determined by the society as a whole (via a multitude of proscriptions and regulations), and, of course, by the families of the bride and groom. Since marriage was a principal mechanism whereby wealth was consolidated or diluted, the economic incentives for control of it were extraordinarily powerful, even absent considerations of social standing, or ‘good breeding.’

The explosion of wealth, and the ability to become self-made, and experience vast social mobility in a single lifetime, are completely artifacts of the Industrial Revolution and rapidly advancing technology. When the resource pie was finite, careful attention to how it was divided up was essential to the survival of both families (as institutions), as well as to individuals who married.

Until the late 18th century, parents were in virtually complete control over whom their children wed, and they had the corollary power to dissolve marriages undertaken absent their approval. The quaint custom of the groom asking the bride’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, is a vestige of what was once a very serious and essential step in the process of achieving a durable legal union.

From a social perspective (again rooted in the conservation of wealth and status), the institution of marriage was also enforced through the status of children: a child born outside an approved marriage was a “fillius nullius” – a child of no one, entitled to nothing and what’s more, socially nothing. State enforced sanctions (not to mention social ones) against children born out of wedlock were powerful tools used to stabilize, and further the institution of marriage. A few blocks from my childhood home in Indianapolis, was a ‘home for unwed mothers.’ It was a multistory brick structure with wire grates on all of the windows in which “foolish and immoral girls” were incarcerated until they gave both birth – and their babies up for adoption.

Well into the 19th century, European and American husbands had the right to physically imprison or punish their wives (and children). Again, as a child in a working class neighborhood, I can attest that wife beating was a commonplace that, while technically illegal, was mostly frowned upon, rather than prosecuted. Husbands had disproportionate control over the marital assets (as opposed to total control in the 19th century) and it was understood that children were to support their parents in their dotage.

The Advance of Technology and the Erosion of Traditional Marriage

The primary engine of change to the institution of marriage was technological advance and increased wealth. These decreased the pressure on both families and their children to both ‘marry well’ and to care for parents in their old age, because, for the first time in history, average people were increasingly able to both generate and retain enough wealth during their productive lifetimes to have saved enough to ‘retire on.’ Indeed, the whole idea of retirement is a direct product of the enormous wealth generated by technological advance, since at all prior times in human history the resource pool was always at, or near subsistence levels, and people worked until they could no longer do so, or they died. Prior to the 18th Century, the idea of healthy, potentially productive people no longer working, and consuming, rather than generating assets, would have been not only unthinkable, but morally repugnant, as well.

The Industrial Revolution changed that, and a consequence was that ideas such as love and intimacy began to become important to ‘courting’ couples and their families, and this was the first major destabilizing force to be brought to bear on marriage. Marriage thus increasingly became a negotiation between the would-be bride and groom, with the increasingly strong expectation that happiness should be an outcome, as well as economic and social well being, both for the married couple, and society.

Literally at the same time cryonics was being introduced as an idea, the birth control pill was introduced (1960). As is always the case with any fundamentally transformative technology, it would take (at a minimum) one human generation for the social effects to begin having a major impact – and this is precisely what happened in the case of ‘The Pill.’  Beginning in the mi-1970s, and continuing through the present, the pill, operating in concert with many other changes brought about by increasing wealth and rapidly growing demands for competent workers in all sectors of the economy (leading in part to the increased education and employment of women), dramatically eroded the stability of traditional marriage.  An explosion of divorce, cohabitation, and the emergence of the gay rights movement were but a few of the results of these changes. There was also a large increase in the average age at which people marry; especially amongst the educated and affluent.  At present, half of all Americans aged 25-29 are unmarried, and the idea of marriage as prerequisite for sexual activity, or long-term intimate relationships, is now almost passe. Currently, ~ 40 percent of children in the US and UK are born to unmarried parents, and homosexual unions, and even gay families with children, are both commonplace and widely tolerated, if not accepted. Certainly, it would be considered socially unacceptable to actively attack, or otherwise marginalize such families, even in fairly conservative parts of the US, and most other Western countries.

Defining Morality and Ethics

The word morality is derived from the Latin moralitas, which translates as “manner, character, or proper behavior” that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good = right, and bad = wrong. A moral code is a set of mandated behaviors that exists within an institutional or philosophical framework, and a moral is any given obligatory behavior within a moral code. Immorality is the active opposition to morality, while amorality is usually defined as unawareness of, indifference towards, or disbelief in given moral code.

Morality has two principal social definitions:

It may refer refers to personal or cultural values, codes of conduct, or social mores that distinguish between right and wrong in society. Defined in this way, morality is understood as not to be making any claims about what is objectively right or wrong, but rather to what is considered right or wrong by an individual, or some group of people, such as a religion or culture (contemporary secular Jews nicely exemplify the latter). This definition of morality might more properly be referred to as ‘descriptive ethics.’

The ‘normative’  definition of morality defines unequivocally, in absolute terms, what is right and wrong, regardless of what the individual thinks. This definition of morality is absolute, and is accompanied by ‘definitive’ statements such as, “That act is immoral” rather than descriptive ones, such as, “It is the opinion of many in the community that said act is immoral.” This ‘absolutist’ view of morality is challenged by moral nihilism, which rejects the existence of any moral truths, whilst the absolutist view is, conversely, supported by moral realism, which supports the existence of fixed and unchanging moral truths. Without venturing into complex areas of debate such as normative ethics, the definitions above will serve for what needs to be said here.

Donation After Cardiac Death (DCD): Another Example and Critical Bellwether for Cryonics

As is obvious in the discussion of marriage above, technological advance has rendered what were once considered formerly absolute and indisputable moral truths irrelevant, or at the very least, called them into question. This is analogous to what has happened with respect to the traditional medico-legal definition of death, and the resulting moral and ethical[1] chaos that has resulted. An excellent example is the fallout from the collision of the conventional (and incorrect) binary paradigm for defining life and death in medicine, with the reality of the information-theoretic paradigm, in the form of the current explosive debate over Donation after Cardiac Death (DCD). In brief, what DCD consists of is the retrieval of organs from people who are not brain dead, but who either cannot be resuscitated from cardiac arrest, or who choose not to be. One example would be the heart attack victim who receives prompt CPR, but whose heart cannot be re-started. In such cases, if CPR is continued until the patient can be connected to a cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) set-up, his organs may be retrieved for use in transplantation. [1,2]  Similarly, an increasing number of patients on chronic ventilator support, or who have left ventricular assist devices (such as former Vice President Cheney now has), and who are not candidates for heart transplantation, may decide they have ‘had enough’ of such treatment, choose to withdraw from it, and want to donate their organs for transplantation.

Schematic of the procedure used in Donation after Cardiac Death (DCD): the procedure used precisely maps that developed by cryonicists decades ago to support post-pronouncement viability in cryopatients, with the notable exception that the brain is actively excluded from such support in DCD. [1]

The problem with this is that all of existing law was drafted around the assumption that only people who were brain dead would be candidates for organ retrieval. [3] The idea that people with potentially viable brains, let alone people who are fully conscious and medically stable whilst on life support being able to give organs (and their lives!), let alone choosing to do so, was inconceivable when the law was drafted nearly 40 years ago. Indeed, the law was put into place long before the Brother Fox and Karen Quinlan cases, amongst others, established the legal right of patients, or their surrogates, to forego life sustaining care. As a consequence, medicine is now being forced to confront the fact their definition of death is arbitrary, largely a function of technology, in no way absolute, and what’s worse; mostly comes down to a choice on the part of the patient as to when he decides he is dead, as opposed to when the physician decides he is dead. This is all very confusing, embarrassing and stressful for the still paternalistic (and often non-scientific) discipline that is medicine. [4,5,6]

DCD has lead to a fracture within the medical community [7,8] wherein some centers, such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, have taken patients who want ventilator support withdrawn, placed femoral cannulae under local (spinal) anesthesia, turned off the ventilator after effectively anesthetizing the patient, waited until the patient’s heart stops, and then restarted circulation with CPB. They also, of course, give paralytic neuromuscular blocking drugs (as is routine in all visceral organ retrieval) to prevent the thoracoabdominal incision, and the terminal drop in blood pressure (when the organs are removed), from causing muscle vesiculations (twitching) or actual limb movement as a result of stimulation of the nocioceptive pathways in the spinal cord (pain is a local phenomenon first and a central nervous system one secondly with the process proceeding up the spinal cord to the brain). [9,10]

To be blunt, this procedure resulted in all hell breaking out. [11,12,13] Bioethicists, such James Bernat and Leslie Whetstine, accused the surgeons and neurologists involved in this undertaking of every ethical evil, including homicide.[14,15] A compromise position is to restore circulation in the body using a special balloon-tipped aortic catheter that prevents ‘all ‘ flow to the brain. This results in a ‘resolution’ to the ‘paradox’ of removing organs from a patient with a ‘viable, or potentially viable brain.’ Of course, from our perspective as cryonicists, this whole exercise is nothing more or less than a procedural contortion designed to avoid confronting the reality that death is not a binary condition, and that if you are going to allow people to withdraw from medical care they no longer want, and that they (rightfully) consider an assault, then the corollary to that is that they also get to decide when they are dead. [16] That means that they have the perfect right to ask for, and receive a treatment (i.e., in the presence of informed consent) whereby they are anesthetized, cooled, subjected to blood washout, and their organs removed – at which point they are indeed DEAD, in the sense that their non-functional condition is now irreversible, or not going to be reversed, because they do not want it to be. When, exactly, they become irrecoverable from an information-theoretic standpoint is irrelevant, because they don’t want to be recovered, and no technology currently exists that will allow them to be recovered.

We, as cryonicists, could argue that if such patients were cryopreserved, they might possibly be recovered in the future. But if they do not want cryopreservation, then they are dead when they say they are dead, and when they meet the current medico-legal definition of cardiorespiratory death (i.e., no heartbeat or breathing and no prospect of their resuming). The medical response to this fairly straightforward situation has been, as expected, convoluted and irrational, and profoundly dangerous to cryonics. The recent paper “Clarifying the paradigm for the ethics of donation and transplantation: Was ‘dead’ really so clear before organ donation?” [17] is an excellent window into current medical policy, not just on the issue of DCD, but on the application of any kind of circulatory support to patients who have been pronounced dead on the basis of clinical (cardiac) criteria.  This article is one of the most cited in current DCD debates, and the closing sentence in its abstract says it all (emphasis mine):

“Criticism of controlled DCD on the basis of violating the dead donor rule, where autoresuscitation has not been described beyond 2 minutes, in which life support is withdrawn and CPR is not provided, is not valid. However, any post mortem intervention that reestablishes brain blood flow should be prohibited. “In comparison to traditional practice, organ donation has forced the clarification of the diagnostic criteria for death and improved the rigour of the determinations.”[17]

Cryonics is thus in real trouble, and cryonicists are clueless. DCD is an ethical 3rd rail in medicine, and I am in intimate communication with what is going on. Quite the opposite of ‘enabling cryonics’ in a medical setting, as some individuals believe (most notably those currently managing Suspended Animation, Inc., (SA) of Boynton Beach, FL), it is very likely to shut it down. Any attempt to integrate cryonics with DCD, as SA has recently been attempting to do, will very likely explode, both in the faces of cryonicists, as well as those of any health care personnel involved. I know, and have coauthored, reviewed, or  given input on, articles by Whetstine, Crippen, Bleck and others who are respected world authorities on the ethics of DCD, and here is the short and simple answer as to what is now happening. [16, 18-20]

DCD is now a significant source of transplant organs in the US, and comprises rought 1/3rd of such organs in the Netherlands. It is growing at a nearly exponential rate (at left).

If DCD is to go forward, it will do so only on the basis of absolutely ensuring that no aspect of the procedure conserves, or in any way augments brain viability, or preserves brain structure, post-pronouncement. The people involved are very much aware of cryonics, and of the information-theoretic criterion for death; and most (but not all) either actively or quietly see ECMO and CPR in DCD as ways to shut cryonics down, or at least to greatly reduce its viability. There are myriad reasons for this; most not rooted in any overt hostility to cryonics, but rather in indifference and lack of understanding of any life saving potential in cryonics, as well as a quite justified (usually beneath the surface) discomfort/misunderstanding that cryonics is a 3rd rail in DCD (tit for tat, there), and that it has the potential to come into conflict with DCD, and thus with organ procurement. It is my opinion, that with one or two possible exceptions, people in cryonics today have little or no understanding of just how ‘ruthless’ organ procurement and DCD people are with respect to their own agenda. In fact, they (DCD professionals) show admirably more spunk, cunning, and naked self interest than I’ve ever observed in cryonics; and they are highly competent, articulate, and used to dealing with controversy, as well.

The UK has already adopted standards for determining and pronouncing death that expressly prohibit the application of CPR, or any modalities that restore flow to the brain or conserve brain viability. I have made inquiries, and been informed that failure to follow these Guidelines would be a serious breach of professional conduct, resulting in any licensed person being struck off; and that such action would very likely constitute a criminal act in the UK, as well (prosecution to be at the discretion of law enforcement and the prosecutor). [21]

Forty-Seven Years Ago: The right moral questions were not asked nor answered – by us.

I was not present on the scene when cryonics was birthed in 1964, but I did arrive 4 years later. I thus have the unique advantages of have been there not just as a witness, but as an active participant in the promulgation of cryonics almost from the start of my involvement. This is relevant in that I can attest to the fact that no one at that time was doing anything other than operating in a reactive mode. We tried to answer their moral questions, instead of asking our own. At the time, we thought the those questions were just as foolish and irrelevant as now seems the case, two generations later. If you have two wives, you have a limited number of choices, and you’ll clearly have to make one – but at least you will be alive! Divorce, bigamy, a wife and mistress, or dumping both wives, beats being dead – and that is clearly a solution most of the rest world has come to see as eminently reasonable, and to adopt over the past 30 years, or so. But we were young and inexperienced and, above all, we were both ignorant, and eager to please. We desperately wanted cryonics to be accepted, and to be integrated into society – the society of 1964, of 1974 and even of 1984.

And then Dora Kent happened, and at that point we really should have come out from under the ether, and realized that what cryonics is really about, is revolutionary. The reason that we had gotten nowhere in 20 years, in terms of having cryonics more widely accepted, is not because of some failing on our part to craft the message just right. For years, almost from the moment it became apparent that the world was not going to embrace the idea with a bear hug of enthusiasm, a gnawing and highly counterproductive self doubt set in. What were we doing wrong? What public relations (PR) trick, or bit of finesse were we failing to understand, or master? This made us prey to an endless stream of PR kooks and creeps, as well as to some genuinely good men, who were simply as confused and misguided as we were – and for the same reason – because they too believed cryonics was a good idea.

Imagine, just for a moment, that a group of gay people show up at gathering of heterosexuals and try to sell them on the advantages of being gay, with the objective of convincing them to become practicing gay men and lesbians. Or, if you happen to be gay, you can imagine the reverse (except mostly, I imagine, you don’t have to). How successful would such an undertaking be? Clearly, it would wouldn’t be successful! Not only are straight people not gay people (or vice versa) they never will be – and all the PR and clever presentation, or even outright cash payments, are not going to change that!

The immediate objection to this analogy will, of course be, “Well, cryonics is different, it isn’t biologically determined.” To wit I would respond, “How many people have you converted to cryonics?” The answer is, usually, “None.”  And that’s because the mechanisms that prevent people from understanding cryonics, and personally embracing it, are arguably as deeply embedded in most peoples’ personalities and psyches as is their sexual orientation, their religion, or their favorite color – at least for now.

To recruit people to cryonics is a generational undertaking that requires, at a minimum, changes in the culture media in which new human beings are incubated. It cannot, and will not be achieved by finding just the right slogan, launching just the right public relations campaign, or achieving that one singular event, such as cryopreserving just the right celebrity (it used to by that cryopreserving any celebrity would do the trick, however, since baseball great Ted Williams chose cryopreservation, that particular magic bullet has disappeared from the lexicon of quick fixes). And this situation is not our fault, anymore than death, or gravity are our personal responsibility. It just is, and we must accept it for what it is, stop blaming ourselves, and stop wasting time on foolish and nonproductive efforts to find the “magic bullet” that will make more cryonicists (like the Philosophers Stone that will turn dross into gold). Or, worse yet, waste our time talking about such nonsense, the way the Alchemists did for untold centuries, instead of getting down to the hard business of real chemistry and real physics.

The Life of Cryonicist Qua Cryonicist

Mathew Sullivan

“I’m fine with “looking beyond the lifespan of institutions (including nation states), but Mike (Darwin) is speaking from the perspective of organized resistance that is independent of the objectives of nation-states and any other human institution. I don’t see us as separate from society, but very much a part of it.Our true objective should be to evolve our process so that we can readily and seamlessly integrate with the medical establishment as various elements of the establishment open up to us.”

– Mathew Sullivan, January 13 2011 at 7:57 PM [2]

Ayn Rand

“”Mankind? It is an abstraction. There are, have been, and always will be, men and only men.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

I would change that to go one step further: man, only man.

Has there ever been a history written from the viewpoint not of a nation’s development through its outstanding individuals, but of these individuals’ desperate fight against their nations, for the sake of the development and advancement for which the nation so noisily and arrogantly takes credit after it has made a martyr of the “developer” and “advancer”? History is a deadly battle of the mass and the individual. A scientific task for me: to trace just how many of mankind’s “geniuses” were recognized and honored in their own time. And since they were not—as most of them weren’t—is there any ground for the conception of any national cultures, histories and civilizations? If there is any such thing as culture and its growth—isn’t it the culture of great individuals, of geniuses, not of nations or any other conglomerations of human creatures? And isn’t history the fight of mankind against advancement, not for it?”

Ayn Rand, May 21, 1934

The moral questions we should have asked ourselves as cryonicists, no later than 07 January , 1988, [3] were what are the moral duties of a cryonicist, first to himself, then to the patients in storage, and finally to other cryonicists? Those were and are the important moral questions in cryonics, not whether cryonics is immoral because it might cause a man to have two wives, or even more unthinkably, a wife to have two husbands!

What are the moral obligations of a cryonicist to himself, to his cryonics organization, and to his fellow cryonicists – animate or cryopreserved? From these questions flow other, powerfully pragmatic questions:

What is the moral thing to do if a cryonicist is dying and his brain (and thus his soul) is being eaten away by cancer, but the state says it would be homicide to cryopreserve him until long after his brain is gone, and his heart stops beating. In other words, until long after we know he his dead, even if they haven’t a clue?

What is the moral obligation of a cryonicist to himself if a nation-state, or some other “conglomeration of human creatures” demands that he go into battle and risk, or give his life for a war that he believes is pointless, or even cruelly counterproductive?

What is the moral obligation of a cryonicist to another dying cryonicist who is in unbearable agony and asks for surcease, and for freedom from the likelihood of significant, and equally likely irreversible peri-arrest ischemia?

And here, I will stop in my questioning, and observe that during the great dying that was the AIDS epidemic here in the US from~1983 to ~1996, many gay men acquitted themselves with greater courage and valor than any cryonicist that I know of has – because, by the thousands, in bedrooms and hospice rooms, and even in hospital rooms, they gave that release to those whom they loved – and did so without hesitation, without regret, and without ever speaking a word about it. I would estimate that 1 death in 3 in this cohort of dying men was ‘assisted,’ and mercifully so. We cryonicists should, on our best day, aspire to such courage – and to such compassion.

Mathew Sullivan’s words above are a sure and certain sign of both the moral, and the practical failure of cryonics, to date. Coming as they do from a cryonicist, they are shameful, and worthy of our pity, more than our censure, because, above all, they are foolish.[4] At the core of the philosophy of cryonics is the cry and the admonition of Alan Harrington: “Death is an imposition upon the human race, and is no longer acceptable.” [22] Harrington did not speak of death as an abstract, nor did he speak of death in terms of the species. Rather, he titled his work The Immortalist, and he spoke of the biological immortality of the individual; of individual men existing for a potentially infinite, or indeterminate length of time – not of immortality for the herd, or the species.

Even if we could be, which we can’t, do we really want to be “not separate from this society, but very much a part of it?” Look around you; we are surrounded by madmen who cannot even grasp the penultimate importance of their own lives, and who run headlong into the arms of death for the basest and most senseless of reasons. Is that mindless rabble what we want to identify with and become, or failing that, have them accept us? Should “our true objective be to evolve our process so that we can readily and seamlessly integrate with the medical establishment as various elements of the establishment open up to us?” Do we want to integrate with a  medical establishment that persists in foolish, and above all irrational incantations and rituals, rather than in the exercise of science and reason, to determine when death is? In there is a typographical error in that sentence, because were we to “seamlessly integrate” with medicine, we would be forced to devolve our processes, not evolve them.

Curtis Henderson, Esq.

Two years before he entered cryopreservation, I accompanied Curtis Henderson on as visit to a physician. He was hard of hearing and irascible, and it was often difficult for him to communicate well with those from whom he sought treatment. As he was being examined, he made a reasonable complaint about how awful it was to be in his physical condition – aged, hard of hearing, on the anticoagulant drug Coumadin, which required frequent blood tests… The treating physician admonished him that he, “…should be grateful for his state of health at the age of  80, and for the excellent medicine which made it possible.” To which Curtis replied, “What is the matter with you people? You come in here day after day and you see people disintegrating – do you understand me – disintegrating right in front of your eyes. You can’t possibly miss it! Don’t you realize that this is going to happen to you, that it’s going to be you sitting here in my place?  And that very soon after that you will be dead! It isn’t my heart or my liver, it is aging – aging is the problem. Fix that and you won’t have to put up with likes of me ever again!”

Mike Darwin

The doctor looked at me in that expectant, patronizing way that the young do when the elderly ‘act up,’ expecting some calming and reassuring words to spill from my mouth, no doubt accompanied by a condescending smile. Instead, what he got was a hard, cold stare and the unflinching words, “You should listen to the man, because he happens to be absolutely right.”

At the launch of the cryonics movement, Robert Ettinger got it right when he said, “This is not a hobby or conversation piece: it is the principal activity of this phase of our lives; it is the struggle for survival. Drive a used car if the cost of a new one interferes. Divorce your wife if she will not cooperate. Save your money; get another job and save more money. Sometimes a fool will blunder through, but don’t count on it. The universe has no malice, but neither has it mercy, and a miss is as good as a mile.” And then he lost his nerve, or lost his way, or maybe some of both. It’s an easy thing to do in a world full of threatening, coercive, and scary, crazy people.

So, what are the answers to those moral questions that I asked in the preceding paragraphs? The immediate answer, is that for now it is for us cryonicists to know, and for the rest of the world to find out. We can hope that they will come to their senses and that they will progress from the confines of that barred crib, in that dark nursery in which they were  raised. And we should try, as best we can, to help them out of the darkness and into the light. But never, absolutely never at price of our lives, or of our sovereignty as cryonicists. We do have obligations to nation states, as well as to those of our fellow men who persist in their pursuit of mortality. But those obligations are of our choosing, not theirs, and they will be fulfilled on our terms and in our own good time.

And as to what those obligations are? Well, again, that’s a secret we share – something for us to know and for them to find out.


[1] Morals define personal character, while ethics stress a social system in which those morals are applied. In other words, ethics point to standards or codes of behavior expected by the group to which the individual belongs. This could be national ethics, social ethics, company ethics, professional ethics, or even family ethics. So while a person’s moral code is usually unchanging, the ethics he or she practices can be other-dependent.


[3] When the Riverside County Coroner’s Office served a search warrant on Alcor, and six people, including me, were arrested in handcuffs.

[4] Foolish: not sensible: showing, or resulting from, a lack of good sense or judgment.


1)  Verheijde JL, Rady MY, McGregor J Recovery of transplantable organs after cardiac or circulatory death: Transforming the paradigm for the ethics of organ donation. Philos Ethics Humanit Med 2007 , 2(1):8. PubMed Abstract | BioMed Central Full Text | PubMed Central Full Text

2) D’Alessandro AM The process of donation after cardiac death: a US perspective. Transplant Rev 2007 , 21(4):230-236. Publisher Full Text

3) Beecher H, Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain-death A definition of irreversible coma. Special communication: report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death. JAMA 1968 , 205:337-340. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text

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11) Bernat, J. L., A. M. D’Alessandro, F. K. Port, T. P. Bleck, S. O. Heard, J. Medina, S. H. Rosenbaum, et al. 2006. Report of a national conference on donation after cardiac death. American Journal of Transplantation : Official Journal of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons 6, (2) (Feb): 281-91.

12) Bernat, J. L. 2010. How the distinction between “irreversible” and “permanent” illuminates circulatory-respiratory death determination. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2010;35:epub ahead of print.

13) Bernat JL Are Organ Donors after Cardiac death Really Dead? J Clin Ethics 2006 , 17(2):122-132. PubMed Abstract

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20) Mamula, KB. Defining death sparks debate: Need for organs raises tough questions. Pittsburgh Business Times. Date: Monday, December 24, 2007, 12:00am EST – Last Modified: Thursday, December 20, 2007, 12:46pm EST. Defining death sparks debate | Pittsburgh Business Times

21) Simpson P. Letter from Dr. Peter Simpson, Working Party Chairman President, Royal College of Anaesthetists soliciting comments on the Revised Code of Practice for the Diagnosis and Certification of Death in Britain. In; 2007.

22) Harrington, A. The Immortalist. Celestial Arts; First Printing edition (February 1, 1977). ISBN-10: 0890871353

Posted in Philosophy | 8 Comments

Thus Spake Curtis Henderson, Part 5

By Charles Platt and Mike Darwin

Cryo-Span, Corporation

“Late in 1967 these two young hippies showed up, Paul Segall and Harry (Frosty) Waitz. Paul was a biology student at Stony Brook and he was hell bent on making aging research and cryonics into big time scientific undertakings. It was a crazy time, the 60’s, the Vietnam War, the protests.

Entrance to the Cryo-Span facility, Unit C, at 171 Eads Street, West Babylon, NY, July, 1972. Photo by Mike Darwin.

Paul and Harry would go handing out cryonics literature at funerals, wearing their long hair and beads. This didn’t go over  too well with the cemetery management at Washington Memorial Park. Cryonics was a constant media attraction; camera crews and journalist were always coming round and reporters would enquire about cryonics at the cemetery offices. It was a terrible hassle for them.  Campbell, the cemetery director had left, and another person came in. They wanted more rent, but basically they wanted us out of there. We were a lot of trouble for them and the constant media presence wasn’t conducive to the nice, quiet, ‘final resting place’ they were selling to the dearly beloved. And we weren’t happy there, because we were keeping bodies in the garage, and the people who worked on the grounds were always joking about the frozen bodies and leaving their lunch on the dry-ice boxes.

Another thing that was a real problem was that there was no way for us to lock the door. The groundskeepers used the room where the bodies were stored as a lunch room and they would throw their cigarette butts on the floor. This used to enrage Nick DeBlasio. He said it was disrespectful, and it was. However, there was nothing we could do about it. The facility was used to store grounds keeping equipment and supplies for the cemetery, and that was just the way it was.  If you’re going to do this, you’ve really got to have your own place, so you can control the situation, so people aren’t always coming in, and so family can visit and you can be sure that the place will be clean and orderly.”

Aerial view of 171 Eads Street, Unit C, in West Babylon, New York where the Cryo-Span facility was once located. The landfill is still active (2008) and cemeteries still surround the small industrial park. The red balloons mark the location of the Cryo-Span bay. Photos by Google Earth.

“There was a group of CSNY members that wanted to find another facility. They were unhappy about the way I was doing things. They found a church in Suffolk County, and bought it. Thought they could store cryonics patients legally in a cemetery. They decided they would dig under the church and build a facility. They didn’t tell the people who were using the church every Sunday. DeBlasio went down to Brookhaven Town Hall and asked for a building permit to store bodies. They turned him down, so he went ahead without it. Halloween night, the local citizens all gathered around this church with torches. That was the end of their operation which, ironically, they called ‘Cryo-Crypt.’ After that, we used to have meetings in the church once a month. Time went on, and finally they weren’t making the mortgage payments, so Fred Horn called me and we met at a diner somewhere. He said he would take over the payments. I didn’t have any money. Eventually Fred Horn sold it to Suffolk County and they made it into Cathedral Pines Park.”

“So, we had a parting of the ways. Nick Deblasio, John Bull, Mrs. Mandel, they split off from CSNY and formed their own organization, Cryonics International. DeBlasio came and got his wife and carted her off to a hole in the ground Nelson and he had dug in a cemetery in Butler, New Jersey. Nelson showed up at Washington Memorial Park, crated up Steven Mandel in our tank, and took him off to his other hole in the ground in a cemetery in Chatsworth, California. I packed up our remaining patient, Hurst, and we rented this industrial bay in West Babylon; 171 Eads Street, unit C. We sublet most of the space to the business next door and just occupied the front; we had the small office and some of the open space behind it and the roll up door.  It wasn’t much, but it was ours, and we could control what went on there, and who came and who went.”

“I think one of the reasons the place came so cheap was that it was located right in the middle of a bunch of cemeteries with a landfill just a street or two over. The landfill was this gigantic heap of garbage several stories tall. It was a skyscraper of garbage with thousands of gulls constantly circling around it. In the summer, well, let’s just say the aroma coming off it wasn’t Chanel Number 5. “

The First CSNY Freezing: Steven Mandel

Diane Pummel Henderson (R) during the encapsulation of Steven J. Mandel in 1968. Photo by Curtis Henderson. Diane is impregnating the natural rubber vacuum hose with silicone vacuum grease to decrease its gas permeability. Red rubber hosing for this this application  has now largely been replaced by specialized formulations of plastic tubing.

“My second wife, Diane, was seventeen when I got mixed up with her. She ran away from home. Her father sent the police out looking for her, so she couldn’t stay here. She stayed with Paul Segall in Lindenhurst. Segall and his crew, he called them the Chinese Army, they got a $200,000 grant for an alternative life style. I don’t know how much of an alternative it was. I took Ettinger there on one of his visits. The place was just wall-to-wall mattresses with half naked young women lying around. I mean, there it was, he was looking at a scene right out of his book (Man Into Superman); “…acres and acres of bare boobies and behinds,” and he just cried; his eyes filled up with tears and we had to get him out of there. Anyway, I first met Diane where she worked, at her father’s gas station. I had to wait till she was 18 before we could get married – just a few weeks.”

Steven Jay Mandel, a 24 year old New YorkUniversity aeronautical engineering student, was the first CSNY patient; cryopreserved on 28 July, 1968.

“We were having this big party over at Paul Segall’s, it was early in the morning on a Sunday morning, and the phone rang, I remember getting up off the floor. It was Stephen Mandel’s aunt (Rose Leslie) calling, he had just died, and she said do you intend to freeze him? So I went over to Fred’s, there was a lot of excitement, and he said go ahead, we’ll do it. The perfusion was done with a Porti Boy embalming pump. A big glass dome, looks like a big juicer. We didn’t have any money, but Fred said he would cover the initial expenses. He got the body in his station wagon from the hospital. He knew people there, picked up bodies all the time. He brought Mandel back, and someone told the newspapers, so we got reporters. Fred and Paul perfused him with glycerol. His mother said he had an insurance policy, but later the insurance company reneged, saying he had some kind of intestinal disease. Actually I think he died of a hospital screw up.[1] After he was perfused at the funeral parlor, we put him in a body bag with ice and rock salt for a few hours, and then Fred, Segall and some others moved him into the temporary storage box and covered him over with dry ice. He stayed at Fred’s for awhile until we were able to lease the space at Washington Memorial Park cemetery. Then we moved Steven and the tank out to Washington Memorial Park.”

Steven Mandel during cryoprotective perfusion on 28 July, 1968. The rod-like silver tool projecting from the neck wound is a mortuary ‘vein drain:’ a device equipped with a plunger, supposedly to snare and remove clots. It is ineffective at doing at this, and in fact is a serious obstruction to  venous return. It was abandoned (by me) in cryonics after tests on animals demonstrated it to be seriously harmful, as opposed to simply useless. Photo by Karl Werner. A PDF of the issue of Cryonics Reports magazine, detailing Steven Mandel’s cryopreservation is available at:

“We kept him out there at the cemetery in a room off the garage. What Fred did was, he held his disposition paperwork in abeyance, as if he was storing the body awaiting instructions from the family for burial and final disposition. A doctor signs the death certificate, the funeral director should then sign it and it goes back to Albany with his license number on it. Fred never took the last step, and nobody ever called him on it, and he kept the paperwork.”

“As I said before, in these cases we were always dealing with a third party. Half a dozen people were always calling, they were sick or dying, and they always said, ‘My husband will take care of it.’ But they never did. You never heard from them.”

Steven Mandel on dry ice storage at Washington Memorial Park, Long Island, New York. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

Selected media coverage of Steven Mandel’s cryopreservation is available at:


The photo above shows the inner can of the Cryocapsule prepared for receipt of the patient. The dome of the end-cap of the inner can has had a section cut from it to allow for insertion of the patient. If the photo is examined closely, the residue of the cutting oil used to lubricate the abrasive cutting wheel can be seen to have streamed down the surface of the inner can head. This oil then becomes a contaminant in the vacuum space, which will slowly vaporize under high vacuum conditions. Because the inner can will be at liquid nitrogen temperature (-196oC), or liquid nitrogen vapor  temperature (~ -150oC), during operation, it becomes effectively impossible to ‘out-gas’ this oil, and thus to obtain a stable high vacuum (~2.5 x 10-6 torr). Photo by Curtis Henderson.

Steven Mandel on stretcher prior to insertion in the Cryo-Care, Cryocapsule on 05 September, 1968. Photo by Curtis Henderson. A PDF of the issue of Cryonics Reports magazine, detailing Steven Mandel’s encapsulation is available at:

Placement of thermocouple probe to monitor temperature descent of the patient during cooling to liquid nitrogen temperature. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

The Cryo-Care Cryocapsules were ‘sealed in the field’ units, meaning that the inner can of the dewar had to be welded shut after the patient was placed inside. This created endless problems due to condensation, cold-induced distortion of the metal, and difficulty re-approximating the cut-out radius of metal back into the end of the inner can head. The result was usually a micro-porous weld that would not hold vacuum. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

Fred Horn

“All of this was possible because of the connections that Fred had. This put us in the center of the whole cryonics thing. Nelson had frozen one person previously in California, but he was very secretive. He also froze Marie Sweet. Nelson had made the arrangements and they went looking for money to pay for it afterwards. There wasn’t any.”

Fred Horn simulates cryoprotective perfusion on Diane Henderson, for a photo used to illustrate the full-color Cryo-Span promotional brochure, which was produced in 1969. The pneumatically driven chest compressor was made (briefly) by the Westinghouse Company, and was branded as the ‘Westinghouse Iron Heart’ by its manufacturer. Photo attributed to Saul Kent. A PDF of the Cryo-Span brochure is available at:

“Fred Horn was a playboy. He got out of the Air Force; he’d been assembling nuclear weapons. He took the mortuary science course, he borrowed money, Long Island was booming, he built the funeral home; he had his apartment above it. Then, after we got involved with him, half the time we were practically living in his apartment. He was always getting into trouble, went through a series of divorces, a real adventurer type. There was a bar across the street, he got in a fight because the bikers would come and raise hell while he was having funerals. So he bought the bar. He also had a boat. We chopped the top off the boat and moved it into the bar. We used the deck of the boat for the top of the bar. I think it’s still there in St. James. And the funeral parlor paid for all this. The bar was called the Admiral, or something. Fred is down in Florida now, he retired some years ago and he’s got a yacht down in Ft. Lauderdale that he takes tourists and fishermen out on.”[2]

Minnesota Valley Engineering (MVE)

“The people (patients) who were given to us, we put them in dry ice, and then waited till the tanks came. The only tank we ever bought ourselves was the first Hope tank, which Nelson stole. DeBlasio came to us about a year later. We had been talking to Schuster, at a gin mill near the cryobiology conference in 1967; he owned a small company called Minnesota Valley Engineering.[3] He made tanks for the Minnesota Valley Breeders Association, where they froze sperm from bulls, in New Prague, Minnesota. The whole town is Czech immigrants who settled there in the late 1800s.”

The first MVE dewar, 1969 (at left).

“Schuster said he was interested in building tanks, but he didn’t have the tooling to make the tank big enough. But then he purchased another company, which gave him the necessary resources.[4] Schuster purchased Hoffman Cryogenics which made the A-8000, a short version of the MVE whole body tank. Some of Shuster’s original tanks are still in use, have been in continuous operation since the ‘60s at places like 21st Century Genetics in New Prague.”

Interior of the first MVE dewar shortly after delivery. The fill tube is at the bottom, center, of the photo. After-market automobile seat-belts were used to secure the patient to the solid aluminum stretcher.

Unlike all previous human cryogenic storage units, the MVE dual patient dewars stood upright, thus avoiding the need to seal the annular space of the units under field conditions. Since the units had the same configuration as a thermos bottle, opening at the top, the vacuum space could be evacuated under factory conditions, where a ‘bake-out’ of the superinsulation, at a temperature well above 100 degrees C, was possible. This increased the out-gassing of oils and water vapor sequestered in the superinsulation blanket, and covering the interior surfaces of the inner and outer cans; contamination that occurs as a result of handling during assembly of the unit. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“Schuster was the best prospect for a tank that worked, because the Hope tank, well, you used to have to keep the vacuum pump running all the time. The basic tank that Schuster and I designed is still the way they’re being made in cryonics, now.”

Nick and Ann DeBlasio

“Then Nick DeBlasio came along; he said he had to freeze his wife. She had died from complications from her breast cancer; something went wrong with some treatment or other. He put up something like $11,000. It was quite common for people to come to me at least a day or more after the person had died. Some of them had even been embalmed.”

Unloading the MVE dewar that would hold Ann DeBlasio at the Washington Memorial Park Facility in Coram, Long Island, New York. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“DeBlasio was a retired New York City policeman, he carried a cannon, and he emphasized it by pointing it at you. He was always threatening to shoot people. We had an appointment to meet him at a diner up on Route 306. His wife was in North Shore Hospital. He said he would give us $11,000 cash. The tank was going to cost about $5,000. He absolutely believed his wife would come back. He also sued the hospital – and won.”

Ann Deblasio, on dry ice inside the MVE ‘Forever Flask,’ awaiting the arrival of the priest who was to consecrate the dewar. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“At that time we were just about to get going on our second cross-country trip. We had formed Cryo-Span and wanted to get to grips with Nelson. So I said to DeBlasio, you buy the tank, and we’ll go and fetch it.”

Ann Deblasio being inserted into her MVE dewar on 15 August, 1969. Photo by Curtis Henderson. A PDF of the issue of Cryonics Reports magazine detailing Ann DeBlasio’s encapsulation is available at:

“I never made any money on the tanks. We thought the remaining money would cover everything, with some further monthly payments for liquid nitrogen. Think back now, it was a ridiculously small amount of money for what we were thinking of doing. We had to build frames and racks, there were the vacuum pumps – there was never any money.”

This spectacular photograph was taken by Curtis Henderson as he filled DeBlasio’s dewar with liquid nitrogen for the first time. The view is ‘downward looking’ from the open neck-tube of the unit. The liquid nitrogen level is just below the patient’s shoulders. This photo was made with a Polaroid camera and film, and is extraordinary for its clarity, as well as for its composition and perspective. Henderson was the first to master the art of taking photos under these almost impossible conditions.

“I sent the $5,000 to Minnesota, where the tanks were custom built. DeBlasio’s wife was being kept on dry ice at Fred’s, in the basement, in a box. The tank took a while to build—a couple of months. Shuster did it by welding two of his standard larger tanks together. We drove out there to get it ourselves. We stopped off in Detroit, where we stayed with Ettinger, sleeping in his basement. The whole trip took about a month.”

The first MVE dual patient dewar (at right in the photo above) under construction at MVE’s plant in New Prague, MN, in 1969. The unit was fabricated by ‘stretching’ the MVE A-8000, a standard biological specimen storage tank (used to store semen, tissue cultures, etc.) which had a 25″ wide neck-tube opening , so that it was tall  enough to accommodate human patients. The dewar shell at the left  in the photo was another custom built tank for another customer, unrelated to cryonics. MVE is currently owned by Chart Industries, and the A-8000 is still manufactured, although the product has been renamed the 800 Series. See page 18 of the Chart industries catalog at:

End of Part 5


[1] The embalming pump was a Turner Porti-Boy. Mandell had Chron’s disease and Curtis is very perceptive (we’ve never talked about this) in thinking Mandell should not have been operated on. The pictures of him on the embalming table show a very chacectic young man who was obviously in the final stages of malnutrition and wasting. He had had a partial colectomy and colostomy years before. When he developed another bowel fistula there were two choices – put in drains and try to improve his nutritional status, or operate. He died of “adrenal failure” as the first cause of death. This translates to death from anesthesia and surgical stress in a very, very sick patient.

[2] Fred Horn died in 2007 from osteoporosis (complications following a fall and a fractured hip). MD

[3] Edward Schuster was the principal stockholder and founder of Minnesota Valley Engineering (MVE) in New Prague, MN.  MD

[4]The company Schuster acquired was Hoffmann Cryogenics, Inc. MD

(~ -150oC)
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The Pathophysiology of Ischemic Injury: Impact on the Human Cryopreservation Patient, Part 1

By Mike Darwin

Figure 1: All you need is a pair of hands?


There are, at a minimum, five obstacles that must be overcome in order to allow the restoration of human cryopreservation patients to life and health:

  1. Reversal of any ischemia or ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) suffered during the peri- and post-cardiac arrest intervals before definitive stabilization in the solid state can be undertaken.
  2. Repair of injuries, gross, microscopic, ultramicroscopic and biochemical, secondary to the cryopreservation process.
  3. Cure for the underlying pathology(ies) which caused the patient’s terminal illness.
  4. Replacement of any missing or discarded tissues/organs resulting from medical interventions (i.e., amputation, excision, ablation) or from neuropreservation.
  5. Control over and reversal of the aging process.

Figure 2: The red arrows in the photo above point to areas of completely failed cryoprotective perfusion in the patient’s skin and peripheral tissues. The cause of these infarcts is post-arrest red blood cell (RBC) aggregation and micro- and macrovascular clotting secondary to prolonged warm and cold ischemia. While this patient received prompt post-arrest manual cardiopulmonary support (CPS), anticoagulation (50,000 IU sodium heparin) and external cooling (ice packs) these efforts were insufficient to prevent global vascular obstruction sufficiently severe that it seriously compromised cryoprotective perfusion. While the photo reveals only infarction in the skin, and in some cases the underlying tissues, animal studies have revealed that when this kind of vascular obstruction is observed in the skin under these conditions, it is invariably the case that the visceral organs are similarly affected.

Contemporary Human Cryopreservation Organizations (HCOs) can do little to address the last three obstacles to recovery listed above, since advances in these areas sufficient to allow recovery of today’s human cryopreservation patients, will require many decades, involve a vast interdisciplinary effort, and cost many billions or even trillions of dollars. Maturation of the enabling technologies required to implement nanoscale repair of cellular injury and tissue engineering and rejuvenation, will require the efforts and resources of the global biomedical community well into the foreseeable future, and perhaps beyond.

Figure 3: The black arrow points to multiple emboli in a pool of cryoprotective perfusate effluent which seeped from the sternotomy wound during perfusion of this patient. These emboli consisted of aggregates of red cells ranging in size from ~10-20 μ to ~ 3-5 mm in diameter, as well as blood clots in a range of sizes. This type of injury is largely preventable if patients receive effective cardiopulmonary support (CPS) and appropriate anticoagulation. Peri-arrest prophylactic medication with clopidrogel, combined with other agents, offers the prospect of completely inhibiting this kind of vascular obstruction in almost all human cryopreservation patients.

The implication of this is that where HCOs can make the most difference for the least expenditure of resources, is to focus their efforts on minimizing (and ultimately eliminating), the damage their patients suffer from IRI, and from CPA perfusion and cooling to storage temperature (currently -196 ºC). While these may seem three discrete and unrelated problems, they are, in fact, powerfully related. IRI causes vascular obstruction which impedes, or in some cases prevents adequate cryoprotection of the patient’s tissues (see Figures 2 & 3, above), resulting in greatly increased cryoinjury during subsequent deep cooling. Infarcted areas may also lead to serious exacerbation of the osmotic injury attendant to cryoprotectant loading, and the biochemical damage inflicted by IRI may exacerbate cryoprotectant toxicity, and make injured cells more susceptible to further ultrastructural degradation, or even lysis.

IRI occurs in both the peri-arrest (Standby) and post-arrest (Transport) phases of cryopreservation. These are two parts of the cryopreservation process that HCOs have the most control over, and the minimization or elimination of IRI is the core goal of Standby, Transport and pre-solidification stabilization operations. The conventional medical and biomedical context in which IRI is being researched are the areas of global cerebral ischemia and reperfusion injury (GCIRI: principally resuscitation from cardiac arrest), and regional cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury due to myocardial infarction and stroke (RCIRI). Since these are morbid states that are of enormous public health concern, billions of dollars have been spent on developing a better understanding of the underlying pathophysiological processes in GCIRI and RCIRI, as well as on ways to treat them. Since the brain is exquisitely susceptible to both kinds of ischemia (global and regional) extensive research, both public and private, is currently underway to understand their mechanics and develop effective treatments.

It is within this context of mainstream biomedical efforts to reduce IRI injury in medicine that efforts within the human cryopreservation research establishment are best understood. This understanding can come only with a solid foundation of knowledge about the history (and context) of IRI in mainstream medicine, attempts to prevent it or treat it, and the emerging understanding of the pathophysiology of IRI. Much of the rest of this article, and subsequent ones, will be spent on providing education about the history of CPR, the pharmacological interventions being developed to treat it, and the use and effects of hypothermia on systemic IRI, primarily when used as a treatment for GCIRI, secondary to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)[1]). Much of this discussion will take place not just in the context of human cryopreservation, but in the broader context of resuscitation medicine and public health. This perspective is being used here because the author believes it is important to understand the magnitude of the public health problem IRI constitutes, and the current focus and likely direction of research in this area – research that will hopefully, if paid attention to, have a direct and positive effect on human cryopreservation Transport operations in the future.

Finally, while few, if any, in contemporary medicine would admit it, there is reason for reciprocity between conventional medical research into disease-specific treatments for IRI, and human cryopreservation research and the development of drugs, procedures and devices aimed at minimizing IRI in human cryopreservation patients. Both spheres of activity necessarily rely on closed chest cardiac compression and mechanical ventilation (i.e., CPR and CPS) to minimize or halt ischemic damage as a result of cardiac arrest, and on non-invasive or minimally invasive methods of cooling to induce hypothermia. Consequently, clinicians and researchers in both as areas are working to improve the efficacy of CPR/CPS and to find improved ways to rapidly induce hypothermia. Similarly, the development of effective pharmacological interventions is a critically important goal of research in both human cryopreservation, and in conventional medicine in the setting of cardiac arrest and stroke.

RCIRI as a result of stroke, and GCIRI secondary to cardiac arrest, both share many elements of the same pathophysiology. As a consequence, pharmacological intervention to prevent, reverse or at least reduce this injury, also share a great deal of commonality. Advances in research to improve the medical management of stroke and GCIRI have historically served as the foundation upon which human cryopreservation Transport protocols and technology have been built. If  human cryopreservation research into these areas expands in scope and quality, it seems likely that insights gained, and technologies developed in improving the care of human cryopreservation patients, may be of value in mainstream medicine as well.

For these reasons, this article has been written to address both spheres of endeavor; Transport of the human cryopreservation patient with its attendant peri- and post arrest ischemia, and treatment by mainstream medicine of patients suffering from stroke and cardiac arrest. The use of strategies to deal with GIRI will be discussed, not only in the context of human cryopreservation Transport and stabilization operations, but in the context of the medical benefits that may accrue to the community of IRI patients as a whole.

Closed Chest Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation/Support (CC-CPR/S): Limits and Promise

In 1960 Kouwenhoven, Jude, and Knickerbocker reported the use of closed-chest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CC-CPR) in 20 patients with a 70% overall survival rate. [1] In the decades that followed, an international program of enormous scope and cost was launched to implement CC-CPR at every level of emergency care, including the instruction of millions of laypersons in the technique.

In the intervening three decades since CC-CPR was first introduced, with the enthusiastic statement by Kouwenhoven, et al., that, “Anyone, anywhere, can now initiate cardiac resuscitation procedures. All that is needed are two hands,” [2] many studies have been published documenting its ineffectiveness (i.e., survival rates, at best, under 20%) in maintaining cerebral viability in cases of cardiac arrest both in hospital [3,4] and in the field. [5,6,7] Indeed, there is evidence that the survival rate of patients experiencing in-hospital cardiac arrest has declined since CC-CPR replaced open chest CPR (OC-CPR) in the 1960′s.8 In the thirty years since its implementation there has never been a formal, organized assessment of the utility of CC-CPR in terms of cost vs. benefit, either financially or medically.

In patients who survive following resuscitation with CC-CPR, the incidence of both transient and permanent neurological deficits and reduced quality of life are high. [9-12]

In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the inadequacy of CC-CPR, with a call by some to return to OC-CPR13 and vigorous research by others to optimize CC-CPR to address the dismal survival rates and usually poor neurological outcome. Increasingly, public healthcare policy is coming to reflect the reality that neurologists, cardiologists and intensivists have long understood: “CC-CPR doesn’t work.” This is reflected in the recent policy change by the American Red Cross, wherein bystanders are now instructed to call for help and activate the Emergency Medical System (EMS) first, and start CPR second, instead of the other way around. [13] This change reflects a growing awareness that CC-CPR is largely ineffective and that a patient’s best chance for recovery is early defibrillation and associated definitive therapy (see Figures 4 & 5, below). [14]

Figure 4: Dismal rate of survival after cardiac arrest.

This may seem an extreme statement, particularly to those who have not witnessed the all too common tableaux played out in intensive care units around the world of the brain dead, or vegetative cardiac arrest victim, consuming tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical resources.

The staggering cost of CC-CPR in teaching, health care, and patient/family emotional and financial resources, when weighed against the dubious benefits, suggests that society might have been better served if the CC-CPR program had never been implemented. Thus, the conclusion seems inescapable that CC-CPR is most effective at producing individuals who either are brain dead, or in a persistent vegetative state.

The problem with CC-CPR (or any in-field resuscitation technique) is primarily cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury (CIRI) since the brain is selectively vulnerable to and usually fails to recover from ischemic intervals much in excess of 4-6 minutes. While mechanical, or other device-oriented means of optimizing CC-CPR may well be developed, and the first-response use of defibrillators may become more commonplace, the fundamental problem of ischemic time before restoration of adequate circulation remains.

Figure 5: Survival in various US cities following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and CPR. Survival is consistently (and not surprisingly) greatest in those patients successfully defibrillated within a few minutes of cardiac arrest. Mortality in other cohorts is primarily from ischemia-reperfusion injury or failure to achieve return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC).

The magnitude of the problem is staggering: Each year in the United States there are 540,000 deaths from myocardial infarction (MI) [15] (with 350,000 of these deaths occurring before the patient reaches the hospital) as a result of a non-perfusing arrhythmia, principally ventricular fibrillation. [16] This mode of SCA is also responsible for the majority of the 190,000 in-hospital deaths from MI, which typically occurs within the first 24 hours following admission. [17] Especially tragic is that 50% of these deaths occur in persons ~50 years of age or less. [18] An estimated additional 20,000 incidents of SCA occur as a result of asphyxiation, drowning, electrocution, and genetic or developmental predisposition to lethal arrhythmias (i.e., Wolf-Parkinson’s White Syndrome, congenital thickening of the interventricular septum, idiopathic arrhythmic disease) and other non-atherosclerosis related causes. This latter category of SCA typically occurs in individuals whose mean age is less than 25. [19]


For many of these 540,000 people in the United States who will experience sudden cardiac death (SCD) in the coming year, there will be little or no possibility of rescue. Cardiac arrest will occur without warning, often in situations not conducive to activation of the EMS, or will not be discovered until many hours after it has occurred. However, for many of those patients, there will have been a warning that they are at increased risk of SCA. A prior myocardial infarct (MI), familial history of arrhythmic disease, or iatrogenic risk such as CABG or angioplasty, will often provide ample warning that SCA could occur. In MI alone, the incidence of SCA resulting in death within the first year following infarct is 14%. [20] The development of more sophisticated markers for SCA in post MI patients, such as increased R-R interval regularity, is also making it possible to identify, with increasing accuracy, those who are at risk of SCA. [21] This begs the question: “What might be done to provide both neuro- and systemic protection against ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI) in this high risk population before it occurs?

Because terminally ill human cryopreservation patients are certain to experience IRI within a relatively short, predictable time frame (~6 months) it has been possible to pre-medicate them to minimize the amount of IRI they will suffer as a result of both peri-arrest shock, and post arrest IRI. While experience with this approach is very limited, it appears promising, and there can be little question but that it should be used for human cryopreservation patients as often as possible where feasible. Insights gained from this experience, especially with the use of benign and inexpensive, but nevertheless powerfully protective molecules such as melatonin and CoQ10, may have important implications in mainstream medicine for the prophylactic treatment of patients at risk for heart attack, SCA and stroke.

At this time the principal conventional medical management of SCA consists of initiation of manual, “bystander” cardiopulmonary resuscitation, so-called Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS), followed by “definitive” treatment of the arrhythmia, beginning with defibrillation and continuing with the application of Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), [23]

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Outcome from SCA

ACLS consists of the application of an algorithm of manual CPR, electrical defibrillation and pharmacologic therapy aimed at restoring a perfusing cardiac rhythm and sufficient  blood pressure and cardiac output to sustain life until definitive treatment of the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest can be achieved (e.g., coronary revascularization, implantation of an automatic defibrillator, or life-long anti-arrhythmic therapy). [24]

As is shown in Figure 4 below, the time to survival without neurological deficit following cardiac arrest in the absence of BCLS, declines rapidly, following a sigmoidal curve, with survival absent neurological deficit being ~95% following 1 minute of arrest time, and 0% following 9 minutes of arrest. [25] Put another way, 50% of patients will experience significant morbidity or death after 4 minutes of circulatory arrest.

Figure 1-6: Probability of survival without severe neurological deficit as a function of time following cardiac arrest.

What is not shown in this table is that the effect of immediate bystander CPR on survival is negligible in most studies, [25,26] with the primary benefit being observed in patients who’s time from the initiation of BCLS, to successful cardiac resuscitation, was greater than 8 minutes.27 There is evidence in the literature that morbidity is improved with prompt by-stander CPR [28] providing that EMS response is also rapid, although this remains controversial. [24,25] A corollary of this is that the overall survival rate following SCD, with, or without, serious neurological morbidity ranges between 1% (New York City, NY) to 17% (Seattle, WA). [29] The mean survival (defined as survival to discharge from the hospital) in the United States as a whole, is generally agreed to be, at best, 15% 30 with ~70% of these patients experiencing lasting neurological morbidity (ranging from “mild” cognitive impairment to total incapacitation in the Persistent Vegetative State (PVS). [31-34]

The primary cause of non-survival in patients experiencing SCA is failed cardiac or cerebral resuscitation. Arguably, it is failed cerebral resuscitation, since most underlying causes of refractory cardiac arrest could be treated by ‘bridging’ supportive technologies, such as emergency femoral-femoral cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), until myocardial revascularization and hemodynamic stabilization could be achieved. [35] When this technology is applied to patients who are candidates for good neurological outcome, the survival rate is increased. [36-38] These technologies are not typically used on patients who are unsuccessfully resuscitated (no restoration of adequate cardiac rhythm and perfusion), because of the justified perception that currently irreversible brain damage would have occurred, during the prolonged period of cardiac arrest or CPR/ACLS. [39] Similarly, it is for this reason that most attempts to achieve cardiopulmonary resuscitation in-hospital, in patients who are not hypothermic or intoxicated with sedative drug(s), are terminated following 15 minutes. [40,41]

It is noteworthy that both past and present ACLS protocols contain no drugs aimed at treating the primary cause of failed or morbid resuscitation from SCD: post-ischemia-reperfusion encephalopathy (American Heart Association. Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Ed. Richard O. Cummins. Dallas: American Heart Association, 2006).

21st Century Medicine’s Program of GIRI Research in a Canine Model of SCA

Over the past 15 years a vast number of therapeutic interventions have shown great promise in animal models in the laboratory. [42-45] However, none of these has been successfully applied clinically, despite numerous attempts. [46,47] These reasons include: a) the inappropriateness of many of the animal models being used to validate pharmacologic or other means of therapeutic intervention, b) failure to address the multifactorial nature of the pathophysiology of ischemia-reperfusion injury, and c) the inability to rapidly induce systemic mild therapeutic hypothermia (33oC-34oC) which, (arguably), has been shown to be one of the most potent interventions in achieving improved outcome from prolonged periods of cardiac arrest and the resulting normothermic systemic and, particularly, cerebral ischemia, they inflict.

Figure 7: The 21CM canine resuscitation model consisted of an interval of normothermic ischemia followed by extracorporeally assisted restoration of blood circulation and induction of mild therapeutic hypothermia (MTH) using a combination hollow fiber membrane oxygenator and heat exchanger. Following CPB initiated reperfusion the animals were defibrillated as soon as possible and weaned from extracorporeal support. Induction of MTH to target temperature was achieved within 6-10 minutes of the start of CPB.

Figure 8: Outcomes in the 21CM canine resuscitation research program.

In 1994, 21st Century Medicine (21CM) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, began a program of research to investigate the used of multimodal drug therapy, combined with mild, post resuscitative hypothermia (33C-34C). By Early 1996, 21CM was achieving routine recovery of dogs from ~16+ minutes of normothermic ischemia with 75% overall long term survival (<3 months) with ~ 75% detectable neurological deficit in the survivors. These extraordinary result were achieved by a multimodal drug protocol, using a slightly modified version of Safar, et al.’s model of cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), with hemodilution and prompt institution of mild therapeutic hypothermia (33C-34C), to achieve initial restoration of circulation and oxygenation. [48-51]

Neurobehavioral and histological evaluation of randomly selected survivors from this study demonstrated no detectable deficits in 75% of the surviving animals (exceptions were some neuronal loss in the cerebellum, which was not associated with any demonstrable long-term disability, or motor deficit).

It is noteworthy that no other investigators have come close to demonstrating these kinds of survival times, following whole body normothermic cardiac arrest in dogs, with such low levels of neurological deficit.

Figure 9: Active Compression-Decompression High Impulse CPR/S Device with for use with an Airway Impedance Valve

In emergency medicine, as in human cryopreservation, it is not feasible to initiate extracorporeal support within a few minutes, in cardiac arrest under field conditions, and yet the generation of adequate perfusion at a relatively high mean arterial pressure (80-90 mm Hg in the setting of MI and post arrest cardiovascular depression) is essential to survival under these conditions. The implication is clear; a method must be available which allows for the generation of adequate perfusion, at adequate MAPs, using some modality of closed chest CPR/S.

A major focus of BioPreservation, Inc., (BPI) research was the development of a heart-lung resuscitator (HLR) using closed chest CPR/S that could deliver effective perfusion in human cryopreservation patients. This device wwas developed, and demonstrated the ability to deliver prolonged periods of close chest CPS with mean arterial pressures (MAPs) which are either physiologic, or supraphysiologic, in human cryopreservation patients. It is especially noteworthy that these were patients who had experienced short intervals of cardiac arrest (legal death) preceded by long periods of peri-mortem shock, as a result of terminal cancer and end stage liver disease, and who were not candidates for ACLS and restoration of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). [52]

The device combines three technological innovations developed in clinical CPR which have not heretofore been integrated: high impulse CPR, which consists of rapid, forceful compressions with a hold time equal to ~50% of the duty cycle, active decompression of the chest using a silicone rubber suction cup on the upstroke part of the duty cycle, and a specially constructed valve which closes the airway during upstroke to maximize negative intrathoracic pressure which greatly increases venous return to the heart thus improving pre-load (effectively “priming the pump” with blood for the next compression). A more presented in a subsequent article here.

Many of the therapeutic drugs which have proven effective in the 21CM pilot study of sudden cardiac arrest (prolonged systemic ischemia) are likely to be far more effective if administered prior to the insult (see Premedication, above), rather than after a prolonged period of ischemia, and human cryopreservation patients enjoy the advantage of being able to use some of these molecules without waiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, since several are available as over the counter (OTC) nutritional supplements.

Additionally, because the time and place of their impending cardiac arrest will often be known in advance (i.e., terminal patients) a subset of human cryopreservation patients will enjoy the ability to begin protective cooling during the insult period, as opposed to having to wait for several hours before cooling can begin, let alone reach therapeutic levels, as is currently the case in mainstream medical patients today (i.e., in human cryopreservation patients external cooling can commence immediately after cardiorespiratory arrest and the pronouncement of legal death).

The 21CM protocol, with modifications, now serves as the basis for Alcor’s human cryopreservation Transport Protocol. The details of the pharmacological basis of this approach to moderating ischemia-reperfusion injury in human cryopreservation patients will be discussed in a subsequent article. The objective of the 21CM CRS program was to achieve, at minimum, the equivalent of one standard deviation of improvement in outcome following SCA and CPR (Figure 10, below). This goal was more than reached. It is hoped that application of the CRS protocol to human cryopreservation patients will significantly reduce the devastating ischemia reperfusion injury that is currently all too common. To understand the character and extent of this injury it is now necessary to explore the pathophysiology of global and regional cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury (GCIRI & RCIRI).

Figure 10: Graphic exposition of the effect of improving neurologically intact survival following CPR in SCA by one standard deviation.

End of Part 1

[1] Erroneously called sudden cardiac death (SCD).


1) American Heart Association and National Research Council, Standards for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and emergency cardiac care (ECC).  J Amer Med Assoc (Suppl.). 1974;227: p. 833-68.

2) Ibid.

3) Weale, FE, Rothwell-Jackson, RL., The efficacy of cardiac massage.  The Lancet. 1960. 1: p. 990-96.

4) Eisenberg, MS, Harwood, BT, Cummins, RO, Reynolds-Haertle, R, Hearne TR., Cardiac arrest and resuscitation: A tale of 29 cities.  Ann of Emer Med. 1990. 19: p. 179-86.

5) Kentsch, M, Stendel, M, Berkel, H., Early prediction of prognosis in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.  Intensive Care Med. 1990. 16: p. 378-83.

6) Troiano, P, Masaryk, J, Stueven, HA, et al., The effect of bystander CPR on neurologic outcome in survivors of prehospital cardiac arrests. Resuscitation 1989;17: p. 91-98.

7) Bossaert, L, Van Hoeyweghen, R., The Cerebral Resuscitation Study Group.  Resuscitation. 1989. 17m Suppl.: p. S55-S69.

8) Del Guercio, LRM, Feins, NR, Cohn, JD, et al., A comparison of blood flow during external and internal cardiac massage in man.  Circulation 1965. Suppl. 1: p. 171-80.

9) Troiano, P, Masaryk, J, Stueven, HA, et al., The effect of bystander CPR on neurologic outcome in survivors of prehospital cardiac arrests.  Resuscitation. 1989. 17: p. 91-98.

10) Bengtsson, M, et al., A psychiatric-psychological investigation of patients who had survived circulatory arrest.  Acta Psychiat Scan. 1969. 45: p. 327.

11) Lucas, BGB., Cerebral anoxia and neurologic sequelae after cardiac arrest. In Stephenson HE, ed. Cardiac Arrest and Resuscitation, 4th Ed.  St Louis:The CV Mosby Co. 1974: p. 681-707.

12) Myerburg, RJ, Conde, CA, Sung, RJ., Clinical, electrophysiologic, and hemodynamic profiles of patients resuscitated from prehospital cardiac arrest. Amer J Med. 1980. 68: p. 568.

13) Del Guercio, LRM., Open chest cardiac massage: An overview. Resuscitation.1987. 15: p. 9-11.

14) Luria, MH, Knoke, JD, Margolis, RM, et al., Acute myocardial infarction: prognosis after recovery. Ann Inter Med. 1976. 85: p. 561-63.

15) Wong, M.J, Lenihan, MJ., Advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 1995. 7(2): p. 227-37.

16) de Vreede-Swagemakers, J.J., et al., Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the 1990′s: a population-based study in the Maastricht area on incidence, characteristics and survival. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1997. 30(6): p. 1500-5.

17) Association, A.H., American Heart association and National research Council, Standards for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency cardiac care (ECC). J Amer Med Assoc. 1974. 227 (suppl): p. 833-68.

18) Sakai, A., Sudden deaths among male employees: a six-year epidemiological survey. J Cardiol. 1990. 20(4): p. 957-61.

19) Safranek, D.J., M.S. Eisenberg, Larsen, MP., The epidemiology of cardiac arrest in young adults. Ann Emerg Med. 1992. 21(9): p. 1102-6.

20) Skogvoll, E., et al., Out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation: a population-based Norwegian study of incidence and survival. Eur J Emerg Med. 1999. 6(4): p. 323-30.

21) Weale, F., The efficacy of cardiac massage. Lancet. 1960. 1: p. 990-96.

22) Eisenberg, M., Cardiac Arrest and Resuscitation: A tale of 29 cities. Ann of Emer Med. 1990. 19: p. 179-86.

23) Kentsch, M., et al., Early prediction of prognosis in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Intensive Care Med. 1990. 16(6): p. 378-83.

24) Troiano, P., et al., The effect of bystander CPR on neurologic outcome in survivors of prehospital cardiac arrests. Resuscitation. 1989. 17(1): p. 91-8.

25) Bossaert, L, Van Hoeyweghen, R., Bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The Cerebral Resuscitation Study Group. Resuscitation. 1989. 17(Suppl): p. S55-69; discussion: p. S199-206.

26) Stueven, H., et al., Bystander/first responder CPR: ten years experience in a paramedic system. Ann Emerg Med. 1986. 15(6): p. 707-10.

28) Lombardi, G., J. Gallagher, P. Gennis, P., Outcome of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in New York City. The Pre- Hospital Arrest Survival Evaluation (PHASE) Study [see comments]. JAMA. 1994. 271(9): p. 678-83.

29) McCarthy, M., Looking after your neighbors Seattle-style. Lancet. 1998. 351: p. 732. 15.

30) Bengtsson, M., A psychiatric-psychosocial investigation of patients who had survived circulatory arrest. Acta Psychiat Scan. 1969. 45: p. 327.

31) Roewer, N., T. Kloss, and Puschel, K., Long-term result and quality of life following preclinical cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Anasth Intensivther Notfallmed. 1985. 20(5): p. 244-50.

32) de Vos, R., Quality of life after cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Resuscitation. 1997. 35(3): p. 231-6.

33) Roewer, N., T. Kloss, Puschel, K., Long-term result and quality of life following preclinical cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Anasth Intensivther Notfallmed. 1985. 20(5): p. 244-50.

34) de Vos, R., Quality of life after cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Resuscitation. 1997. 35(3): p. 231-6.

35) Phillips, S.J., Resuscitation for cardiogenic shock with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation systems. Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1994. 6(3): p. 131-5.

36) Younger, J.G., et al., Extracorporeal resuscitation of cardiac arrest [see comments]. Acad Emerg Med. 1999. 6(7): p. 700-7.

37) Matsuwaka, R., et al., Emergency percutaneous cardiopulmonary support for patients with cardiac arrest or severe cardiogenic shock. Nippon Kyobu Geka Gakkai Zasshi. 1996. 44(11): p. 2006-10.

38) Myerburg, R., Clinical, electrophysiologic, and hemodynamic profiles of patients resuscitated from pre-hospital cardiac arrest. Amer J Med. 1980. 68: p. 568.

39) Peterson, M.W., et al., Outcome after cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a medical intensive care unit. Chest. 1991. 100(1): p. 168-74.

40) Gener, J, et al., Immediate and 1-year survival after cardiopulmonary resuscitation at an intensive care unit. Med Clin (Barc). 1989. 93(12): p. 445-8.

41) Peterson, M.W, et al., Outcome after cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a medical intensive care unit. Chest. 1991. 100(1): p. 168-74.

42) Gener, J, et al., Immediate and 1-year survival after cardiopulmonary resuscitation at an intensive care unit. Med Clin (Barc). 1989. 93(12): p. 445-8.

43) Kim, H, et al., Amelioration of impaired cerebral metabolism after severe acidotic ischemia by tirilazad post-treatment in dogs. Stroke. 1996. 27(1): p. 114-21.

44) Iwatsuki, N, et al., Hyperbaric oxygen combined with nicardipine administration accelerates neurologic recovery after cerebral ischemia in a canine model. Crit Care Med. 1994. 22(5): p. 858-63.

45) Vaagenes, P, et al., Amelioration of brain damage by lidoflazine after prolonged ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest in dogs. Crit Care Med. 1984. 12(10): p. 846-55.

46) Abiko, H, et al., Cerebral protective effect of flunarizine in a canine model of cerebral ischemia. No To Shinkei. 1987. 39(9): p. 847-54.

47) Borger, M.A, Weisel, RD., Calcium channel blockers in myocardial and cerebral ischemia: a clinician’s review from bench to bedside. Can J Cardiol. 1999. 15(3): p. 333-40.

48) Hickenbottom, S.L, Grotta, J., Neuroprotective therapy. Semin Neurol. 1998. 18(4): p. 485-92.

49) Safar, P., Cerebral resuscitation. Mt Sinai J Med. 1981. 48(4): p. 385-8.

50) Safar, P., Long-term animal outcome models for cardiopulmonary-cerebral resuscitation research. Crit Care Med. 1985. 13(11): p. 936-40.

51) Safar, P. and N.G. Bircher, Resuscitative cerebral hypothermia after cardiac arrest [letter; comment]. Crit Care Med.1994. 22(10): p. 1703-4.

52) Darwin, M., Effects of ACD-CPR and vasopressin on human cryonics patients following 1-5 min of cardiac arrest. Unpublished Results, 1996.

Posted in Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury | Leave a comment

Thus Spake Curtis Henderson, Part 4

Villains as Heroes

Back at the house commenting on a portrait hanging over the fireplace in the living room:

Nguyen Van Thieu, former President of South Vietnam (at right).

“Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, he led the attack at Pearl Harbor. That was a great attack. That shook ‘em, didn’t it? He showed them. It was a wonderful attack. See, I was brought up to believe that the Japanese were particularly loathsome fascists. But somewhere along the line I read a book called The Brave Little Match Man, and it was about a magic tree that was cut down and made into matches. The spirit of the tree was in the matches. The Japanese soldiers in China took the matches with them, this precious light to bring civilization to China, all the good things – railroads, drugs… Anyway, at the end of the story the brave little match man sets himself off to blow up the dam to save the Japanese army and all the rest of this stuff. So it showed me that fascists could be heroes.”

“Actually, it’s not Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto , it is Nguyen Van Thieu   and he led the Vietnamese air force for a while and was last President of Viet Nam.[1] He’s another hero of mine. These days he runs a liquor store in Los Angeles. Life is cruel.”

The gun collection:

“This is a Japanese Arisaka Type 99, this is an Enfield from the First World War, another one from the Second World War, and you can see the deterioration of the British workmanship. This is the M-1 carbine, but I put a different stock on it. That there is an old hollowed-out hand grenade. And here’s an SS bayonet. This is an old French bayonet from the Franco-Prussian war. And the British bayonet, here, goes with the Enfield. And up here, that’s a flak helmet, that’s a US army helmet.”

The living room has large book cases full of New York State Statutes. There are also, bound volumes of the Cryonics Society of New York newsletter and a collection of model ships; the British fleet in WW II.

“That’s Ming the Merciless, you remember him? From Flash Gordon.”

But all your heroes seem to be villains.

“No, they’re heroes.”

Ann DeBlasio’s dewar is consecrated by the Rev. Severio Mattei, as her husband  Nick De Blasio (doorway), and CSNY mortician  Fred Horn, look on, 15 August, 1969. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“I used to have five people stored in tanks. Look, here’s a picture of a Catholic priest consecrating one of the tanks. I had them in Washington Memorial Park, up here in Coram, Long Island; the building where they stored peoples’ unclaimed (abandoned) ashes. Now, look at the photograph of this tank, this is the same one that’s lying out there now. We used it in the 21st Century show we did for Walter Cronkite, right there in that garage….”[2]

Film crew from the CBS-TV popular science program “The 21st Century,”  filming in Curtis Henderson’s garage in 1968.

“There’s been so many radio shows, so many TV shows, that’s why I don’t expect anything anymore. You get a lot of phone calls, maybe a thousand, but out of that, you only get one person to sign up.”

Cryo-Span truck in Death Valley, CA in 1969 (at right).

“Here, look at this picture: Death Valley. This was taken on our second big cross-country trip. We made that trip to see what was happening in cryonics at that time. Here’s my wife, see? And she used to complain I never took her anyplace – complained all the time.”

No Third Party Freezings

“The people I froze, they ended up different ways. Hearst, his son was doing research at University of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, and they cut his grant or something. He thought there was going to be a nuclear war, so he moved to New Zealand. So he couldn’t keep paying me to keep his father frozen anymore. And he was the best customer I had, because he had always paid his bills, and then he told me straight out, he’d had enough and it was time to bury the man, and that was it.”

Paul M. Hurst, Sr., Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“Basically, all my suspensions were third-party situations. Somebody would come to me and say, ‘Dad’s died, I want to freeze him and I don’t care what it costs.’ So the man in the tank, you haven’t made any deal with him. You have no real obligation to the man in the tank. Well, I could see all these pitfalls, which is why I always had the relatives buy the tank. So when the trouble came, they could take the tank and go. Often I could see it was an uncomfortable situation, but if I didn’t freeze them, then Nelson would freeze them at half the price – because, of course, he wasn’t freezing them at all.

Curtis Henderson (left) and Fred Horn (right) inserting Paul Hurst, Sr., into MVE dewar in 1969 (below).

But never mind that, we’ll get into that, that’s a day’s discussion alone, and by the time it’s over I’ll be frothing at the mouth and they’ll have to put me in an iron lung. That’s a quart bottle of vodka story, right there. The point being that if it’s a third-party situation,  you’re dealing with this third party. [3] The man in the can, he ain’t going to bother you, because he’s the man in the can. These people running around outside, their lives change, things happen to them. Pretty soon they start saying they never liked that old geezer anyway. See?

Diane (nee’ Pummel) Henderson in the Ettinger family swimming pool showing her Medic-Alert cryonics bracelet in the summer of 1966. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

Now you’ve got troubles, because they don’t like to admit that. I went through this with any number of people. They don’t want to actually say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to keep him frozen, pop him in the ground.’ They start with complaining that I’m charging too much, the liquid nitrogen level isn’t high enough, and why didn’t I get them on the last TV show. That was one of the biggest complaints. They come here and see people making a TV show, and they complain if I don’t get them on it. My wife used to complain, too. She hated female reporters, she’d always make snide, jealous remarks, and so then she had to read in the paper that she was Mr. Henderson’s plump, middle-aged wife. I told her she had to stop insulting these female reporters. But – the third-party situation – we didn’t ever get all the money up front. That was a mistake.

Steven Mandell’s Cryo-Care CC-111 Cryocapsule being filled with liquid nitrogen at Washington Memorial Park Cemetery on Coram, L.I., New York. Mandell’s dewar was #005. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“Meanwhile we were laying out money for dry ice, rental on the place where the bodies were being temporarily stored. And the relatives were starting to find reasons why not to go ahead. The tension grows, and at some point – actually, much as I hate Nelson, in a way he did me great favors. He took these people away from me! He stole that tank. You know, I clapped when he loaded it on a truck and ran out of here. Mandell’s mother had no intention of paying, she never did pay anything. We had paid about $2,000 for the liquid nitrogen to keep that tank cold. And you had to run that pump day and night. Every time the power utility gave us a brownout, not only would the pump stop and lose the vacuum, but the end of the tank would fall off! I had C-clamps on it so it wouldn’t fall off. When the power failed and the vacuum pump quit running, the suction from the vacuum in tank would suck the oil out of the vacuum pump. All that oil loaded with crap from the air would be pulled into the vacuum space, and no amount of valves or anything seemed to stop that. It was a horrendous tank. Nelson took that one.”[4]

Long view of Steven Mandel’s Cryo-Care dewar in 1968, showing the vacuum pump required to run continuously in order maintain an adequate vacuum. Photo by Curtis Henderson.

“We used to sit here at night, when things really got bad, and talk about the future of how we would do things, and out of that came the policy of freezing only people who were signed up and had made preparations. Now at least you’ve got a piece of paper saying he wants to be frozen. The other way, you’ve got a man’s wife, five years down the line saying, ‘Oh, he never knew anything about cryonics and I only did this in a moment of grief, and these fraudulent people came along and told me they were going to bring him back’ – and the woman at that moment has the legal say, and the cryonics company doesn’t have anything.

The facility at Washington Memorial Park (at right) was extremely small and cramped. Few pictures showing the entire facility are now known to exist – none of high quality.

“In the closing days of our being at Washington Memorial Park De Blasio got unhappier and unhappier about things. The liquid nitrogen level wasn’t high enough, the cigarette butts on the floor, and this and that – and he got in touch with Nelson. Meantime, he’d gotten his share of the $200,000 settlement from the hospital that killed his wife. So now he had money. Nelson talked him into building a facility over here in Mount Holiness cemetery in Jersey, and putting the tank over there. So he took his tank and put it over there.

The second interview with Henderson was conducted on February 8, 1992.  The following text was typed while Curtis talked:

[Henderson’s brothers are named Donald and Lynn. Donald, the youngest, lives in Edwina, PA, he is in the Merchant Marine and participated in a military sealift bringing tanks back from the Persian Gulf. Lynn, the Trotskyite, is the middle brother, lives in Minnesota.]

Curtis Henderson (left) and his brother Lynn Henderson (right) at Lynn’s home in Minnesota during the summer of 2006 ( at right).

“Lynn used to work for the railroad and is retired now. Once or twice a year I call to tease him about the demise of world socialism, and when he gets into a screaming rage, I hang up.”

Donald Henderson was Curtis Henderson’s father. His mother was named Eleanor.

“My father died around 1966, before I got into cryonics. Died of emphysema and to the last day of his life he was sneaking cigarettes, like they all do.”

“The EMT course I took to get in Mike Darwin’s good graces really gets to you. You think of the people you’ve known, and the things they’ve died of and you see the inevitability, and your own mortality.”

“We bought this house in 1960. My wife found this house and it cost $14,999 and I thought for that kind of money, you can buy anything. I started building the bomb shelter pretty much after I bought the house. Lynn went to Cuba and came back with all these tales about how wonderful the revolution had been, and when I heard that, I built the shelter.”

Robert Duncan Enzman, Ph.D., at the Cryonics Institute ~2008 (at right).

The scientist at Raytheon who set us up with the New York Academy of Sciences for the Conference was Dr. Robert Enzmann and he had a sister named Jane. Robert Enzmann was kind of eccentric, had three PhD’s, and was also the biggest liar that ever lived; claimed he was freezing bodies in Boston. But his sister Jane, well, in those days a woman doctor looked like a Russian babushka, but not Jane. She was about 30 or 35, but she looked about 18 with long blond hair. She liked to party at Trader Vic’s…she really didn’t practice medicine much.”

“We used to drink together, and she also had free samples of every dope you can imagine. She kept the pills in a big bowl so you could grab a handful, help yourself. I’d go there and wake up three days later with my car towed away and my head as big as a balloon. I had a maid out on Long Island to take care of the kids, but the maid was more trouble than the kids.”

“Jane was really into alcohol and drugs. She used to have 2 parrots who said things like ‘I never did this before.’ Jane would sign up for expeditions; she went to India and got one of these intestinal parasites, and they cured it with one of those drugs that damage the liver. At that point she should have given up alcohol and drugs. But she didn’t. I got married to Diane, my second wife, mostly because Jane wasn’t the housewife type.”

End of Part 4


[1] Nguyen Van Thieu, was the penultimate president of South Vietnam a ruthless but competent general. Elected in 1967, for eight years he was the lynchpin of the US’s fated war in South Vietnam. Presiding over the country during the bloodiest period of the war, he stood at the center of the storm of world affairs his name and photo constantly in the media. When Thieu took command of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) he began executing deserters and turned the ARVN into a credible fighting force.  Thieu, leading the ARVN, took back Hue. But alas, this was 1972 and Nixon signed the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. Thieu’s picture replaced Adolf Hitler’s over the fireplace in the Henderson home sometime in 1973. MD

[2] The 21st Century was a popular TV future oriented science program. The cryonics episode aired 24 March, 1968 on CBS TV. MD

[3] Actually, two of CSNY’s patients wanted cryonics and made efforts to pay for it and executed the necessary paperwork. Mandell had an insurance policy but was not past the 2-year contestability period and he joined CSNY and filled out the very early paperwork. Dostal had executed all of the CSNY paperwork and had a will and trust – I saw these documents myself at the time in 1972. Both Beverly and her mother insisted that they had had numerous conversations where they all agreed that they would be cryopreserved when they died. This was not the case for Ann DeBlasio and Paul Hurst.  MD

[4] The Cryo-Care unit needed a costly automatic shut-off vacuum valve for power failures. It closes the pump off from the vacuum in the space between the inner and outer cans. If you don’t have this, the vacuum in the annulus of the dewar sucks virtually all of the oil out of the vacuum pump and into the Superinsulation™. Once this happens the unit has to be completely reworked. Now, your vacuum really is dependent upon continuous pumping! Any failure or disconnection of the pump leads to vacuum failure in a few hours, at most. Henderson kept Mandell’s dewar half full. Twelve hours or so after Nelson disconnected the pump to move the dewar, Mandell was at or near 0oC and on his way to thawing out. I’ve no doubt Steven had thawed or nearly thawed by the time he reached California. Ironically, Nelson took the wrong pump – a very poor quality (and old) roughing pump which could not have maintained an efficient vacuum on the Cryo-Care dewar. In fact, Curtis bought the larger pump not just as a back-up, but because the smaller pump could not keep the vacuum hard after the contamination of the annulus. That model of CryoCare dewar, the CC-111 full of LN2 would be empty of nitrogen with the patient up to between -50 to -80 o C in 12 hours based on failure tests done at Cryo-Care. MD

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Thus Spake Curtis Henderson, Part 3

By Charles Platt and Mike Darwin

Cryo-Care Equipment Corporation

“At that time, the media were looking at cryonics from the point of view of sensationalism. They wanted to see someone get out of a coffin, you know? Saul and I went on across the country, and we found nothing genuine till we got to Ed Hope’s place in Phoenix, Arizona. That was another whole kettle of fish. He was actually building tanks. And he had two engineers working with him, he called his company Cryo-Care, and he had a woman in one of his tanks. Hope may be still alive, I haven’t heard from him in a long time. He’d married a wife from Germany, and he was doing well, importing wigs.[1] He had two wig shops in Phoenix. Ed Hope wore a wig. It used to blow off at bad times. Ed Hope was the kind of guy who’d be pinching waitresses, chatting to airline stewardesses.”

E. Francis Hope (at left).

“We spent a couple of weeks there, actually working on these tanks, learning about high vacuum and helium-leak detectors, and all the rest of it. This was evolving away from the idea of having people do things for us. We could see that if we were going to do something, it was going to be a do-it-yourself back-alley kind of thing.”

From left to right: Ed Hope, Rick (last name not known) and Ted Kraver, the three principals of Cryo-Care Equipment Corporation. Ted and Rick were former NASA engineers who departed NASA as the US manned space program wound down.

Ed Hope and two Cryo-Care employees wrap the inner can of a ‘Cryocapsule’ with alternating layers of aluminized Mylar and fiberglass spacer. Photo by Curtis Henderson, 1966.

Cryo-Care CC-101 Cryocapsule with bolt-on inner header. A lead gasket was to be used to affect a seal between the header and the body of the inner can, thus isolating the vacuum space from the liquid nitrogen. This system proved unworkable and was abandoned.

Photograph of first woman cryopreserved by Cryo-Care in 1966 upon removal from storage and conventional inerment. Photo by Ted Kraver.

Bob Nelson, aka Frank Bucelli

Robert F. Nelson (at right)

After we left Phoenix we went to California and met Nelson, who had started the group there. All these people were very unhappy with Ev Cooper, and for the same reasons we had been; his vagueness, his need to control every aspect of operation, and so on. So, we met Nelson. They say he was charismatic, but I didn’t think so. He said he had this electronics business – he’s telling me these things and I’m sitting there with his credit-check and knowing all the while his real name wasn’t Robert Nelson it was Frank Bucelli.[2] The fact was his wife was supporting him, working as a teller in a bank. He carried on about all his technical knowledge, and so long as he was talking to someone who knew nothing about it, he could get away with it. But already I was building up a body of knowledge and I was beginning to be able to tell what was genuine and what was bullshit. Essentially, I taught myself basic cryogenics, hands-on. And boy, it got to be real hands-on.”

“I can’t explain why people believed Nelson. He was full of energy, willing to grab the flag and charge the enemy—the opposite of Ettinger. Proceed: regardless of the odds, regardless of the consequences, regardless of anything. He was the leader of this group, very enthusiastic, overjoyed that we gave them permission to use our stationery. We were the big people from New York in our big Buick; we did a very good job of putting on an image, of course. Even now we still have the same kind of situation, cryonics is a stage show, and we don’t really have very much substance. Anyway, we projected a great image, moving and doing things. We were the only ones putting out a newsletter, printed on one of those old copying machines, with the wood alcohol fluid that stunk to high heaven–we were the big shots.”

“We headed back to New York through Las Vegas. In those days you could get a steak dinner for about two dollars and a half; as long as there were fools to gamble, you could live like a king. Anyway, we’d called this guy named Tom Tierney, and there were all kinds of weird clicks on the line. [3] We were sitting in a restaurant, and here come the police. We were marched off to jail. They said they knew we’d got the money, where was the money? And Saul says, ‘No, no, officer, we just freeze bodies.’ Saul walked them back to the trunk of the Buick which was stuffed full of cryonics literature. That backed them off a bit. Anyway, we went into the clink. After a long night, it seems that Tierney was in the counterfeiting and gun-running business. And not only that, a Buick just like mine had been picked up here on Long Island in Patchogue, two days before, with a million dollars in fake $20 bills in the trunk. Well, fortunately when Tierney sent us his contribution, he sent us a check.”

“We came back through Detroit, where Ettinger was going to have his big annual meeting. And we were like Caesar coming back from Egypt, you know. It really was just like that. Everywhere we’d gone; our visits had turned the groups into cryonics societies. So we got to this big dinner and Ettinger announced he was starting the Cryonics Society of Michigan.  And that was the end of Ev Cooper’s Washington operation.”

The original Chamber of Commerce brochure from which all cryonics Phoenixes are descended.

“When we were in Phoenix, I got a thing from the chamber of commerce, I got the emblem redrawn and Paul Segall had a patch made up. There was an explosion of activity, it looked wonderful, we’d ordered one of Hope’s tanks, and nothing could stop us now. We came back to 306 Washington Avenue bathed in glory. Now we were going to really do it. It was the dawning of a new age, and so on and so forth.

But, of course, it wasn’t.”

Growing Up Red

“My father was a professor of economics at Columbia. In the 1920s, every New York intellectual was a communist, and of course he was bitten by the same bug; all the economics professors were tired of capitalism. It was the Depression and the economics professors and academics were holding dinner waiting for the revolution. Everything that was happening was happening in Russia, blah, blah, blah. He wanted to go to Russia. My grandmother, who had a lot of money, didn’t approve of taking a kid to Russia, where people were starving and the revolution was going to be crushed by the good fascists.[4] So you see I was inundated with two different political philosophies from a very early age.”

The “Little Red School House for Little Reds” is still in operation in New York City today in the building. This is a contemporary photo of the structure. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“My father later started one of the unions that were to become part of the CIO. The civil rights movement was started by communists; that’s a fact.”

“We moved around constantly. I traveled around a lot and I was in a communist school, the Little Red School House.[5] We used to play at war all the time, the big kids were the Russians, and little kids were the Americans. The Americans always had to surrender at the end. Eventually my grandmother put me in a private school; South Kent School in South Kent, CT. Kent was a rigorous private boy’s school that provided a classical education. You studied from 6 AM to 9 PM. There were long assignments; Shakespeare, Milton, the Canterbury Tales – a strict classical education.”

“I had two younger brothers. Eventually there were terrible fights in the family. My old man stayed a Stalinist, I guess, till the day he died. So anyway, my parents were fighting all the time. My mother died when I was about eleven.[6] I wasn’t really close to either of them. My grandmother had hired this French woman during the First World War who had stayed with her all her life, who was always with the family, and really I was closer to her. My grandmother had trust money that her father had never got a chance to spend – my parents, these were the kind of communists who sit in a nine-room apartment on Central Park West, with servants waiting on them, while they’re talking about helping the working class. The arrogant superiority of them – they knew capitalism was doomed, and the intellectual community mostly agreed with them. I was nine or ten years old, at summer camps, where they’d have the League of Women against War and Fascism. But to me, playing soldier was heaven. I was into Beau Geste. The Foreign Legion was considered the most fascist thing in the world, but to me, it was the place to go.”

“Even though you may not believe in all of the Marxist trappings, when you’re there in the morning, and you sing the Internationale[7] –  it’s a feeling, I guess, like religion. You’re in a group, and you’re constantly told you’re the elite. You’re going to conquer the world. And it affects you. And you could see the connection. Most of the Nazis came out of the old Rosa Luxemburg converts for the communists.[8] It’s hard to picture it now, but everybody was looking for answers in one of these movements. Lindbergh’s wife wrote a book called The Wave of the Future, in which the Nazis were the future. Meanwhile, the Left was saying, ‘I’ve seen the future and it works.’ I remember my early teenage years when the trials started in Russia, I’d be lying half asleep and I’d hear the adults arguing over this. My parents were Stalinists, so they could always find an excuse why this was going on. The people on trial were traitors, Trotskyites, and so forth. And meanwhile the Depression was going, there were demonstrations in the street, all that kind of thing.”

“I spent a summer with my grandmother in a cottage that she rented in Newport, Rhode Island. That was a happy time for me. I met a girl named Judy Cowey; well, I couldn’t breathe when she was in the room. At that time Betty Grable was the ideal of female beauty, but Judy was much prettier. It was a good summer. My uncles were extreme right-wing; they talked about Roosevelt as ‘That Man in the White House.’”

“When you’re young, you don’t think of death. And certainly in those circumstances, I did not consider the possibility of my death. When there was the Hitler-Stalin pact, the communists and the fascists uniting, well, we felt the old world didn’t have a chance. Everything was going to change for the better with coming of the new world order.”

“There were constant philosophical arguments in the family. There were all kinds of people going in and out of the apartment.”

“I went into the Army Air Corps right from boarding school, when I wasn’t really seeing my parents anymore. I never graduated high school. If you joined the air cadets, they gave you your high school diploma; which, of course, was wonderful. I had a big old 1932 Harley, and I made the Air Cadets, I had a big shoulder patch with a propeller on it.”

“But the Germans and the Japs quit before I ever had a chance to engage in combat. The frustration! VE Day and VJ Day, everyone’s cheering and throwing their hats up in the air, and the air cadets are looking like there’s a funeral going on. In the end they made us teletype operators to replace WACS.”

“I was an avid science-fiction reader. And I had a lot of self-confidence. The Air Corps helped there; they gave me all these tests, and the class was whittled down till the last four or five made it into the cadets, me among them. We were treated like officers, special passes to leave the base. I had everything going for me, if I’d stayed in, maybe I would have been an astronaut, I don’t know. But I decided to get out; I had the big motorcycle and $70 pay.[9] It felt like a million dollars. And I had a vague indefinable feeling that maybe I was going to get out of it; I wasn’t going to die. Death was something that was never going to happen to me.”

“After the war, everyone was going to school on the G.I. Bill. I got into a place called the Pennsylvania Military College, studying electrical engineering. Then I switched to political science. But I always had a talent for engineering, I worked on my own cars, I had part-time jobs in garages. At school, that was a great life. They paid me to go to school, so I had enough money; I had a motorcycle, a new convertible.”

“Then there was the Korean War. But in that war we were fighting the communists, so there were no commissions for the likes of me.”

“The more I saw of the working class, the more I realized that they didn’t consider themselves ‘the working class.’ They considered themselves individuals, in most cases.”

“I got a job in a tank factory, welding Army tanks. I was one of the first stainless-steel welders in the country, welding big thick armor plate. Why I didn’t die there I’ll never know. People were getting burned up and electrocuted all the time. I never thought twice about it. I was breathing fumes – that was before pollution controls and all this OSHA workers safety stuff.”

“During the McCarthy years, that was an unreal feeling. Of course, those people were all communists. I knew them from my childhood. I’d met them. Why they couldn’t just stand up and say, ‘of course I’m a communist, so what?’ But they lied about it, they betrayed each other. You know, 99 percent of people have this loyalty toward whatever you want to call it: the system, the country. And they have a guilt feeling. But I never had that. I always thought of myself as an individual first, and I think you’ll find that all through cryonics.”

“Then I went to law school. Did I seriously want to be a lawyer? I said so, then, but I don’t know. Again, I was leading a very good life. There was no hardship. I always could get part-time jobs, and most of them were enjoyable. I even loved the tank factory – the sound, the banging, and the crashing. It was like being in hell! I loved it.”

“I graduated law school, and I got a job with the Hardware Mutuals Insurance Company. But at some point, I think you say, ‘What’s this got to do with me?’ Then I married a girl I met in law school. I never took my grandmother’s advice, but of course, she knew what she was talking about. I should have married the judge’s daughter, or at least been nice to the judge’s daughter.”

“I did pretty well investigating cases. In those days, you know, insurance companies investigated claims, they fought them. Now they just pay them and raise the premiums.”


Did cryonics ruin your life?

“It certainly did in a conventional sense. Absolutely. I didn’t do the things I was supposed to do. Cryonics was an excuse that allowed me not to do the conventional things that would have led to success as a lawyer, or anything else. Cryonics was a cause, a fascination.”

“After we got back from our trip across the country, it was only a couple of weeks, it seems, before Nelson, in California, got involved in freezing Bedford. From then on, for the next few years, history revolved around the struggle between cryonics in New York and cryonics in California.”

Pillbox surface terminator of the Henderson Family nuclear blast shelter at 9 Holmes Court, Sayville, Long Island, New York

Leaving the house:

“I’ve been cleaning this up [the bomb shelter] because now I think maybe we will have a nuclear war, the way things are going with the Russian republics. This thing was a labor of love, here.”

In the basement: pegboard over a work bench, a welding mask and tools. A knife switch with bare terminals controls the lights in the shelter.

“This door was supposed to work hydraulically, but I stripped the car batteries out because I’m using them for cryonics, now.”

“Watch your head down here.”

Interior of the underground blast shelter constructed by Curtis Henderson at the height of the Cold War.

A stack of old ammunition boxes rests in an alcove off the main tunnel. The air is amazingly cold. There’s an alcove for a chemical toilet, and a hand-cranked air pump. The bunker is concrete four feet thick, and four feet of earth on top of that. We climb a rusty steel ladder up to the observation bunker. It took him two years to build the whole thing:

“A labor of love.”

“The composition of the concrete was one part Portland cement, one part of sand and one part of chipped granite. That was what the Japanese used for their fortifications on an island where they really gave the Marines a bad time.”

After leaving the bomb shelter we enter the garage.

“That Buick needs a new carburetor. I have to resurrect it again. Everything here, the kitchen or whatever, it’s always being resurrected.”

There are two large Japanese motorcycles in the garage. One is Curtis’s; the other belongs to his son.

“Mine normally lives in the living room.”

We climb wooden stairs to an attic above the garage. There are big old rusty file cabinets full of ancient cryonics literature spotted with age and cobwebs.

Curtis Henderson (left) and Mike Darwin in the summer of 1972 at the Cryo-Span facility on Long Island, New York.

“Mike Darwin once said he came here and discovered that cryonics was run by two guys, one of them an alcoholic, one of them a beach comber. I was the alcoholic, Saul used to go to Fire Island and lie on the beach and at the end of the month he came up with a newsletter.”

At the Modern Diner:

“My son Robbie, he put up the flag. Robbie, from the time he was an infant, spent time on my big wooden boat in the bay. I guess it’s only natural – there used to be oysters in the bay, and clams. This used to be the big slaving center here; the South Beach was used as a great pen for slaves. They’d be sent from there, north or south. Of course, now they call the South Beach Fire Island. Actually Fire Island is down at the other end. But if you go to the library here you can see the records of the slave transactions.”

“Long Island was settled from the east, not the west, in the early days. People came by boat. Everything was by boat. When I first came here, a lot of the clam boats were still the old Dutch hulls, 200 years old.”

Henderson looks reflective, apparently thinking of those days before cryonics.

“That little airplane, I loved it. I could do anything with it. I could land in thirty feet with that plane.”

“By now my divorce had proceeded to its final stages. I have three sons. Don’t have children, they worry you to death. My first wife went off to Florida, but I ended up with custody of the two kids, which was a real problem. She was complaining they were being dragged all over the place, and she had pictures of Robbie and Jamie sleeping in the tank. But the judge didn’t buy it. You know, Robbie was named after Robert Ettinger.”

The First Cryonics Conference

“In 1966 we had this discussion group, and the newsletter and we were not really moving forward at the pace we felt we had to. We had a tank that John Flynn bought, claimed that he was going to do all this research, freeze a chimpanzee… But he didn’t. He eventually stored it in a cave in the Bronx where a man had a collection of nickel violins – violins where you put a nickel in, and it would play. He wasn’t paying for the storage, so we had to bring the tank back here. He still says it’s his, but I say there’s $10,000 storage on it.”

“There was no serious way of putting liquid nitrogen in that tank. Hope tried to create a vacuum, but the next tank that Hope made had a welded inner chamber, made of high-grade stainless steel. That tank in the yard is made out of an old oil tank. The new tank was a better design. We bought the second tank for $3,000. Saul and I paid for it out of our pockets. We had written to every funeral parlor on Long Island, and got literally no response, except from Fred Horn at St. James funeral parlor. We went over to see him, and the only reason he was interested was he had broken his leg skiing and he had nothing better to do.”

National Observer covering the first Cryonics Conference held at the New York Academy of Sciences in March of 1968. An easier to read PDF version of this article is available here:

“Fred became involved and we began to buy equipment and chemicals. With some difficulty I got hold of 10 gallons of DMSO from the Crown-Zellerbach paper company. We were getting set up. So, we decided to put on the first cryonics conference.[10] The way this got started was, we met Robert Duncan Enzmann, who lived on Adams Street in Lexington. He worked for Raytheon. I remember during the Vietnam War, he was working on these secret weapons systems, and he talked about hitting a rocket with another rocket. Seemed pretty far-fetched then, but he knew what he was talking about. He had three PhDs. He had connections with the New York Academy of Sciences, next to the old Knickerbockers Club. He said sure, have the conference there. So I went down in my clean collar and brand-new suit, and paid the $100 for the Cryonics Society to have its conference there, no one knowing what the Cryonics Society was.”

The complete proceedings of the First Annual Cryonics Conference are available here:

“And Saul did the work, setting it up, writing letters, visiting people who claimed they were doing anti-aging research, all sorts of things. Then one day Enzmann said he had a sister who’s a doctor. She had this apartment right by the children’s zoo. And here’s another thing about writing a history of cryonics, it’s full of things that I really don’t want – well, I’m not running for President, but maybe I might. But she turned out to be a very attractive young girl. So I started running around with her. Her apartment was just a few blocks from the Academy of Sciences, so I ended up staying there while we were setting it up.”

“The conference was a fantastic success. We had the two tanks, all painted up with the name on the side. I’d sold my plane, because its motor was shot. The compression was so low; you had to use three batteries in series to get it started, to spin the motor fast enough. See, now it was getting away from being a discussion group, a fun thing, to something that was consuming money.”

Dr. M. Coleman Harris, M.D., circa 1968-69. Dr. Harris, a highly respected physician and an Editor of the medical journal Annals Of Allergy at the time, was one of the founders of the Bay Area Cryonics Society.

“Meanwhile there were these terrible fights in California. Nelson said, “What do you mean you told the people in San Francisco they could start a cryonics society?” He said, ‘I’m the California Cryonics Society.’ At first I wouldn’t take him seriously. I said, ‘the man is a medical doctor, he can incorporate anything he wants, and he doesn’t need our permission.’[11] But Nelson said, ‘California belongs to me.’  It was ridiculous, but he didn’t see it as being ridiculous. You see, our whole policy was to set up a cryonics society in every little town. The only way you’re going to get this to work is to be spread really thin so you get those two or three people in each community, who this appeals to. So we started the idea of coordinators, to get lots of little groups. But Nelson was seeing it more as an empire.”

“Nelson saw the world as being structured from the top down; you’ve got a strong leader, and he makes everyone do things. But it doesn’t work that way. You can’t push people into their places. People do what they feel comfortable doing. You have to wait for people with the talent and the inclination to do what they want to do. You can’t go out and say, I want volunteers! You, you, and you! You know what you get? You get someone saying, ‘I don’t want to carry the flamethrower.’ That’s what you get.”

“The day before the conference, we’d done everything. We’d sent out press releases, and I showed up with the truck with the two tanks on it and a dry-ice box. Then the girl at the Academy office asks me, what’s all that? I couldn’t resist a joke, I told her, ‘I don’t get out of these boxes till the sun goes down.’ Then Admiral Johnson suddenly realized what was happening, and what we were really all about. Now he’s reading in the paper that the body freezers are taking over his institution. But it was too late to stop it. So it was one of our great coups. And it was a great conference. I don’t think it’s been duplicated since. So once again, it looked as if everything was going to go; this was going to be it.”

End of Part 3


[1] Hope’s wife was very unpleasant and loathed cryonics. She was a rotund babushka of a woman. MD

[2] Henderson had also had a Pinkerton report prepared on Nelson which disclosed, among things, a criminal past in Boston, Massachusetts.

[3] Henderson and Kent went to visit Tierney because he had given $1,000 to LES. MD

[4] It was Henderson’ maternal grandmother who put a stop to it; the Henderson’s were not self-supporting and his Grandmother threatened to cut off the financial support. MD

[5] The Little Red School House (sometimes simply referred to as LREI or ‘Little Red’) and infamously referred to as the “Little Red School House for Little Reds” was founded by Elisabeth Irwin in 1921 in New York, NY. It is widely regarded as the city’s first progressive school. Founded as a joint public-private educational experiment, the school tested principles of progressive education advocated since the turn of the century by John Dewey. Little Red postulated that the lessons of progressive education could be applied successfully in the crowded, ethnically diverse, public schools of the nation’s largest city. Nevertheless, in 1932, the school turned to private funding, with tuition ranging, today, from $24,240 to $27,200. MD

[6] In 2007, Henderson told me that his mother committed suicide by drinking a bottle of witch hazel. She had been a long-time alcoholic and suffered from bouts of intense depression.  MD

[7] The Internationale (L’Internationale in French) is a famous socialist, anarchist, communist, and social-democratic anthem and one of the most widely recognized songs in the world. The Internationale became the anthem of international socialism. Its original French refrain is C’est la lutte finale/ Groupons-nous et demain/ L’Internationale/ Sera le genre humain. (Freely translated: “This is the final struggle/ Let us join together and tomorrow/ The Internationale/ Will be the human race.”). MD

[8] Rosa Luxemburg (Polish: Róża Luksemburg,) (5 March 1870/71 – 15 January 1919), was a Jewish Polish-born German Marxist theorist, socialist philosopher, and revolutionary for the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, the German SPD, the Independent Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party of Germany .In 1914 after the SPD’s supporting German participation in World War I, she co-founded, with Karl Liebknecht, the revolutionary Spartakusbund (Spartacist League), that on 1 January 1919 became the Communist Party of Germany. In November 1918, during the German Revolution she founded the ‘The Red Flag,’ the central organ of the left wing revolutionaries. She regarded the Spartacist uprising of January 1919 in Berlin as a mistake, but supported it after it had begun. When the revolt was crushed by the Freikorps (monarchist army remnants and right-wing freelance militias collectively), Luxemburg, Liebknecht and hundreds of left-wing revolutionaries were captured, tortured, and killed. Since their deaths, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht achieved great symbolic status amongst democratic socialists and Marxists. See:  MD

[9] Approximately $875 in 2000 dollars ($70 ÷ 0.080 =$875 ): Robert C. Sahr, Political Science Department, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR: ttp:// MD

[10] The first annual Cryonics Conference was held on 01-01-1966 at the New York Academy of Sciences. MD

[11] The Medical Doctor was M. Coleman Harris, M.D., a blue-blooded, patrician of San Francisco and editor of the prestigious journal ‘Annals of Allergy.’ Harris was an allergist – wealthy, conservative, and impressively intellectual. MD

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London at Apogee: A Reflection on the Criticality of Life Affirming Values to Economic Viability and Personal Survival

By Mike Darwin

Figure 1: London, 2012, still magnificent, but declining from apogee.


Timing is (almost) Everything

Most of the essay below was written on 16 June, 2008. It was written as a post (including all of the financial graphics) for a critical care medicine list-serve called CCM-L – a venerable, but at the same time quirky and eclectic forum, for discussing critical care medicine and topics that could transform it, for good or ill (even if they are seemingly far afield from the brass tacks of medical technology, per se). Sometime ago, I’m not sure quite when, I was alerted to the work of the economic analyst (and economist) Michael Mandel’s in the form of his seminal article, “Why the Jobs Crisis is Actually an Innovation Crisis”, by something I saw in an e-communication from the Cato Institute. Mandel’s analysis started me working to rewrite my CCM-L piece into a more rigorous (and less personal) exposition of my ideas. Subsequently, Mandel’s article prompted a more exhaustive and insightful analysis of the current financial meltdown by the even more prestigious economist Tyler Cowen.

Figure 2: Andrew J. Galambos (at right).

I downloaded Cowen’s e-book The Great Stagnation, within days of its e-publication. I agreed with both men’s ideas, and especially liked Cowen’s emphasis on how badly scientists are treated in our civilization and the truly catastrophic effect this has had on innovation and technological progress. In fact, two people in the cryonics community who have known me for some years, Steve Bridge and Danila Medvedev, will, I think, attest that I’ve been going about this idea at length, and bordering on hysteria, for years. In the case of Steve Bridge, it has been for at least 30 years! So, I was very receptive to Cowen’s arguments, because they fit precisely with what Andrew. J. Galambos taught me in 1973-4. (In exchange for the many wasted hours I spent listening to him, the idea of the primacy of intellectual property in creating wealth, and of the high cost of mistreating its creators, made it all worth while).

However, as I read Cowen’s arguments, I realized that he was was fundamentally wrong about a critical issue – namely his assertion that productivity has not increased dramatically sincethe early 1970s as a result of technological advance – in particular stunning advances in computer and informational handling technologies, as well as the associated increased automation in manufacturing. I believe that he and Mandel suffer from not moving about in the world enough and looking at, and really seeing and understanding industrial and manufacturing advances first hand and in the context of 2oth century technological history.

Consider what l am doing now. I am ‘publishing’ the equivalent of a book every couple of weeks! And not just any book, but a lavishly illustrated and very nicely formatted technical book with enormous amounts of research and references. In 1982, it would have taken several times the amount of effort, and a week or two in time, to generate one technical paper 10 pages long, with almost no art, and very few references. Researching papers was nightmarish, and involved driving into Los Angeles, an hour away, and searching the card catalogs at the UCLA Medical Library… Preparing a single article for publication took at least half a dozen people, if you include the printers’ staff.

This would all be of less relevance if the same increase in productivity was not also clearly going on across the board, in the whole of the economy. And it is, and Mandel and Cowen would have realized that this is so, if they ever were closely interfacing with a robust cross-section of industries over a decade’s long period of time.

Because of cryonics, I had to see, interface with, and become familiar with the manufacturing processes of businesses of many kinds. I toured Dow Chemical’s Zionsville research and production facilities, and spent countless hours learning to do tissue culture there when I was 12-13 years old, in 1966-7.  So, Mandel and Cowen are clearly wrong about the increase in productivity being slowed to the extent they assert. They are, however, absolutely right that the average man on the receiving end of this technological bonanza has been seeing increasingly flat gains in personal wealth, and now is seeing net losses. That is real. But what they are failing to see, and the question they are failing to ask is, “why did this happen and where did all the wealth from that increased productivity go?” Somebody undoubtedly got richer!

The answer is in my 2008 CCM-L post: this wealth was stolen by hidden taxation and largely hidden (and unappreciated) inflation coupled with irrational and unsustainable expenditures in areas such as health care and Defense. My rough guess is that conservatively, 60 to 70% (more now) of each individual’s productivity is taken from him before he ever gets his paycheck. The decaying, and now failing infrastructure in the US is proof positive that this wealth isn’t going to fund basic and ‘good’ things government can do – such build and maintain roads, dams, utilities, land reserves –  and maintain basic public health. INSTEAD, IT IS BEING STOLEN AND WASTED.

So, whilst not disagreeing with either Cowen or Mandel, my point is that they miss the elephant in the room, and if their suggestions for ‘fixing’ things were implemented tomorrow, it would merely result in ever increased thievery, and certainly in no net long term gain for the real producers of wealth.

I have reproduced here my by 2008 post, with minor edits for grammar and punctuation, as it first appeared, minus some irrelevant personal dialogue at the beginning. To this material I have added my analysis of Cowen’s and Mandel’s works, and I have highlighted this added text in gray type. I believe that these two men have indeed identified a critically important idea underlying the current economic crisis and slowdown in innovation. But I do not believe that it is, as Cowen asserts, primarily due to “exploitation of the low hanging technological and natural resource fruit on the tree.” It instead due to theft, and more importantly in the long run, to the debased treatment of the real engines of wealth creation and technological advance: the scientists and all the others in our civilization who innovate and who produce new ideas. Most thinking people now (hopefully) understand that collectivism, when applied to industry or ordinary commerce, quickly destroys incentive and impoverishes the economies of those who practice it. What must now  be understood is that collectivism, with respect to intellectual property (the real font of all wealth and progress) is many orders of magnitude more destructive than it is when applied ‘only’ to the means of production.  Unfortunately, I believe that this realization will be even more transformative, than it will be long in coming.

- Mike Darwin, 22 January, 2011


As Good as it Gets, for Now?

While I was in London, in June of 2008, I met a banker from Citigroup; a very intelligent and savvy fellow from New York City. Most of you have met, or at least know of the type I’m referring to here; big apartment in Manhattan, house in Connecticut, spouse who is 10 years older and very senior in Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, Cooper and Smith. He was in the UK to try to contain massive losses to Citigroup from major clients and, to be blunt, try to save Citigroup itself! I was also told that of Band of America was holding so much suspect paper that it, too, might go-under.

I have long believed a major depression, i.e., collapse of much the apparent worth of the financial system in at least the US, was imminent (imminent in these terms means ~10 years + or – 5). What I was told during this lengthily and intense conversation in late June, made my mouth go dry – and I felt real fear. I have to say that no small part of my happy recreation and carefree time in the UK was motivated by a steadily growing gut feeling that the ‘party was almost over,’ and that this might well be my last chance to really enjoy a world that was at the apogee of 8,000 years of technological civilization. Sounds hyperbolic and melodramatic, but it is nonetheless true – the part about ‘apogee’ and ‘civilization,’ that is…

London, in particular, is at apogee; at no time in the 2,000 year history of the city has it been cleaner, wealthier – more equitably wealthy – healthier, more rational, safer, less prejudiced, more inclusive, more tolerant, better educated, or, arguably, happier. These things are not open for debate: they can be proved by both the objective numbers, and the evidence of the senses. If you visit London, and if you have the slightest inkling of the history of the city, it is obvious that things have never been so good for so many; rich and poor alike (and yes, it is possible for things to be better, even for rich people; dentistry, hip replacement, plastic surgery…) It may credibly be argued that London, and a few other cities like it, represent the absolute apogee in the quality of human life, wealth, technological sophistication and justice, in the entire history of our species.

People on average are more educated, enjoying vastly better health, are living vastly longer, suffering (physically) vastly less and are, in absolute terms, vastly wealthier than at any time in human history. In London, they are seemingly happier, or at least more visibly joyful, than most urban populations I’ve observed. London is one big happy party compared to Moscow, where ‘grim’ and ‘stoic’ are the operational adjectives. People are  relaxed; they laugh and talk in public spaces; they smile, incessantly listen to music on tiny devices, and chat on the phone and converse earnestly with each other on the tube, and even on the buses in the wee hours. I am no cheerful Pollyanna, and yet I notice these amazing and rapid positive, and largely technologically driven changes.

A Chance Encounter and an Historical Perspective

Where I differ from most people is that I could put this experience, this chance encounter, with a worried banker, into the context of just about all we know of human history. An arrogant statement, I know, but it is true. I felt both blessed and awed to be in a place, and at a time, where our species has made life the best it has ever been for 15 million people in one place at one time – and to have the opportunity to enjoy it at almost every level. I confess, there was a strong, indeed almost all-pervading sense of “after me, the deluge...”

Figure 3: Gold, the last refuge of the desperate ‘investor.’

My Citigroup acquaintance, and later a young banker from Credit Suisse, whom  I also talked to for several hours, explained the real mechanics of what had been done to the financial system, and how far-reaching and catastrophic they each thought it was going to be. Ironically, while they both had substantial personal means, they were also, as is often the case when you are inside a problem, totally at sea as to what to do personally to protect themselves. I told them that if it was as bad as they said it was, the only thing they could do was to get out debt, convert a fraction of spare cash to gold (preferably K-Rands) and take physical delivery of it; no gold shares, or mining stocks. I said that how much of their assets to convert to gold was a function of how bad they thought and felt it was really going to be – and how much they were willing to risk in terms of large, short-term losses from cashing out time-locked financial instruments, liquidating investments real estate at a suboptimum time, and, of course losing the productive return on their money until the worst of the deflation-inflation was over. Gold neither earns nor creates wealth, but rather is a costly storage mechanism for wealth that halts productive return on capital, is inconvenient to hold and use as currency, and is highly susceptible to theft – without recourse to recompense by insurance.

When I learned in full what the financial community had (most recently) done to precipitate this crisis I was at a loss for words, and so upset that I just sat in the dark and later that day told the good friend I was staying with, in detail, what I had learned. He was a bit sobered by it, but he was, and probably still is, too bewitched by what he sees as the silver lining to this situation (at least from his perspective), to understand how dire it could well become for all of us. He owns properties, and the structure of his investments is such that the falling value of currency and home prices is very advantageous to him, and he believes that his choice of investment properties is essentially secure against even grave economic downturn and contraction. So, I could not reach him with my ‘news’ that sky had indeed started to fall, and clearly I could not reach anyone else with my gloomy message. I thought back to my reading of Thomas and Morgan-Witt’s The Day The Bubble Burst in the early 1980s, about the 1929 Stock Market Collapse, and the ensuing global depression, and about Paul Krugman’s The Return of Depression Economics in 1999 (the book that inspired me to cut loose and start travelling and living (it up)) and, of course, Nassim Taleb’s masterpiece The Black Swan. I realized that this is always the case in such times and in such situations, so I quit playing Chicken Little, and continued to grab life  by the balls, (to be both crude and accurate) while I could.

Any fool can say that there will be another 1929, or a similarly bad crisis, and be right on the money, with only one niggling little problem: saying when it will happen with a useful degree of precision. I posted my timeline on CCM-L some time ago, and it ranged from tomorrow, to a year from then, or maybe two years, at most. However, this is neither sufficiently precise, nor does it carry sufficient weight, to have allowed me to be taken seriously. So, I mostly kept my mouth shut, both before and after my trip abroad.

One of the things always said, and widely believed whenever any economic system has gone non-rational, is that “it is a new paradigm” a “new economy,” and that the “underlying economic rules of the game have fundamentally changed.” I find evidence of this going back as far as the Roman Republic! So, when I began really howling about the bad track I saw US finance going down, way back when the Savings and Loan fiasco occurred, and Peter Keating went to jail (briefly), nobody paid attention to me, and they were absolutely right not to have: a whole generation of people came and went in that interval, and vast fortunes were made and lost. But on balance, more were made than lost.

How was this possible? Ironically, the answer turns out to be that the economic lunatics were right, there was a fundamentally new economic paradigm, and it had changed everything, but just not in the way they thought. I’ve actually written on CCM-L about this insight, and this paradigm change. But I’ll recap it here, because it is, shortly (a decade or two from now?) to become received economic wisdom, and part of the canonized explanation for why what is happening now happened, and how it happened.

Figure 4: Archetypal ‘modern’ kitchens spanning 80 years of US history.The slowing pace of everyday technological change is most evident in the transition from 1920 to 1940 – a point when so-called ‘low hanging fruit technologies’ such as electrification and civil engineering had matured.

Within the last few months, two prominent economists, Michael Mandel and Tyler Cowen have been writing about what they term is an ‘innovation interruption’ or an ‘innovation slowdown.’ Mandel puts his best case forward in his 2010 article, “Why the Jobs Crisis is Actually an Innovation Crisis”. In his ebook, The Great Stagnation Cowen, argues for this being an era of technological stagnation in considerably greater detail, and invokes a different primary causal mechanism, namely the idea that the US economy has been driven by a binge supper on the “low hanging technological and natural resource fruit” that was available until the early 1970s in  the US.

I first noted, and wrote about this slowdown in everyday technological  transformation, and working and middle class wealth, in the late 1980s, and I christened it the “Family Affair” paradox. Family Affair was a television sitcom that ran from 1966-71. The program was bland and unremarkable, but one thing I noticed watching a rerun, whilst confined to a doctor’s waiting room, was that nothing in the living spaces that the program played out in would have been out of place in 1989. The only noticeable changes were automobile styling and womens’ couture. Since I am a ‘classic movie buff’ with an insatiable appetite for films from the 1930s through the early 1960s, I noticed that it would be impossible to mistake an interior from 1940, for one from 1950 – let alone 1960. This phenomenon was brought home to me again some years ago when I toured “A kitchens of the 20th Century” exhibit at the Smithsonian, in Washington, D.C. The slowing of apparent technological change and growth in wealth (spaciousness and quality of finishes), mirrored what I had seen in film and television – and what Mandel and Cowen assert their economic analyses also show.

Figure 5: Economists Michael Mandel (left) and Tyler Cowen (right).

It wasn’t just fashion or style that had changed; it was the large and very evident increase in the wealth of the working and middle class population, as reflected through those films. The magnitude of change had obviously greatly slowed during the interval from ~1970 to ~1990, but why?

Mandel and Cowen have a number of arguments to explain this slowdown, and far more importantly, they have the solid economic data to back it up. Their arguments are that at least these factors in play:

  • The US was still largely virgin territory at the beginning of 20th century. It still had vast fossil fuel reserves, a huge reserve of unexploited and agriculturally rich land, and a largely rural population of intelligent and ambitious young people who were uneducated – and thus could be turned into a valuable asset not previously available. That’s all gone now.

Figure: 6: Harvesting the low hanging technological fruit?

  • The most transformative basic technologies that have created widely distributed wealth and jobs were largely products of the 19th century scientists and entrepreneurs. Edison, Tesla, Ford, Dow, and DuPont did the ‘easy’ and highly profitable science that really produced widespread improvement in the standard of living, such as artificial lighting and widespread electrification. These ‘easy’ technologies have now been harvested, much as is the case, say, in physics. Newton could integrate physics and invent the calculus whilst sitting under an apple tree in Woolsthorpe. All he needed was his mind, and a considerable body of observation that required little technology, but a great deal of time and patience (both of which were at premium before the Industrial Revolution). Still, he did not require a large hadron supercollider, nor any other multimillion, let alone multibillion dollar infrastructure. Those days have largely vanished from physics; and from many other branches of science , where the ‘oil oozing out of the ground’ has been scooped up and sold. Science, like oil exploration, has had its easy pickings, after which point, discoveries get more difficult and costly to tease out of the natural world.
  • This civilization treats scientists like garbage. I have written letters to the London Times and to The Guardian expressing my sadness and frustration that while there are countless statues to soldiers and generals – there are none to Darwin, Newton, Telford, Turing, or the countless other British minds that essentially enabled scientific-technological civilization. My suggestion to put a statue of Newton or Darwin on the Fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square (which is empty of sculpture or statuary) was rebuffed in a snide email from an editor at The Guardian who suggested that I “return to the US, and erect such statues in my hometown.”

All of these observations are, of course valid, and no doubt contribute significantly to the technological slowdown. However, as attractive as I find these ideas, they do not begin to adequately explain the current economic situation, nor do they really explain why we are all not a lot richer than we are. I say this because by any measure of actual increase in the efficiency of production, we should be much, much richer than we are. Cowen, in particular, makes the point that advances in computer technology have not really improved the lot of the average citizen in the West, in terms of real wealth. And he is right. What he is wrong about is why this is so, because clearly, if you actually visit contemporary factories, all you see is automated production – production that is orders of magnitude more efficient than were pre-computerized methods of production. So, the question that should be asked is, “Where did all that extra wealth go; if it didn’t go into the average citizen’s pocket?

Below is a graph of the DJIA performance from 1900 to the present. It is how traders, investors and bankers like to look at the data, and if you look at it that way, you will be very reassured. In fact, no matter how you plot the data it confirms something very important: we (the West) have gotten richer as a civilization at greater speed than at any other time in human history (i.e., through productive means, that is, as opposed to violent conquest and pillaging).

Figure 7: DJIA average from 1900 through the present.

You can also see this if you look at the per capita oil consumption as a marker of economic activity, and more arguably, productivity from 1900 through the present, not only in the West, but across the globe. We have gotten undeniably wealthier and at a seemingly impressive rate.

Figure 8: Oil Consumption in leading economies from 1990 to 2005.

However, these data are misleading, because they only shows the overall share value and the absolute energy expenditure, and they do not show it in relation to the overall wealth generated, or more importantly, to the fraction of that wealth that is retained by the people who really create it. For instance, look at the curve for Japan if you want to see the future for the US, and much of the rest of the world; gold-rich nations with little debt and little bad paper from the US and Europe, will likely be spared some of the worst of what is to come.

Determining how much wealth has been diverted is a tricky thing to determine, because you have to subtract out various kinds of parasitism, which is very difficult to do on an objective basis. For instance, governments do provide real benefits and services for their citizens; clean water, transportation infrastructure, law enforcement, the justice system, sanitation and public health, and so on. These things are costly and necessary. But how costly are they in both absolute and relative terms, and what is essential, and what is simply waste, theft, or bad decision making? This is really hard to know.

When I first got interested in this issue my perspective was very simplistic: historically nation-states (and empires) collapse when the taxation burden on their populace exceeds ~30% of the GDP, or its equivalent. So, it would seem simple enough to look at the taxation rate and come up with a number as to how close to that historical margin we are at any given time, assuming, of course, that this number still applies, because in the past, peoples’ incomes were just barely enough, or a little more, than was required to keep them alive, or in a modest (very modest by today’s standards) zone of comfort. When I was a child, people did not have a lot of chattels, and essential items like shoes or school clothes were costly, and they were socially a ‘big deal’ to purchase. I would estimate that 10 to 15% of the kids in my primary school had shoes with holes in them that they lined with cardboard. It was a working class neighbourhood, and money was tight. That situation has almost vanished from the West, and in fact, we export discarded clothing and shoes to the Third World by the millions of metric tonnes each year!

So, 30% taxation on total earned income almost certainly does not equal the breaking point for parasitic load today, because that breaking point probably represents the fraction of earned (and available) income you have to take from a population before they start to be acutely uncomfortable, begin to be unable to buy necessities AND become fearful about their prospects for long term stability, and even for their personal survival. The huge absolute growth in wealth has thus destroyed the utility of this at least 2,000-year-old indicator for predicting how much theft is intolerable to the continued functioning of the socioeconomic system.

Figure 9: Regulatory burden constitutes a form of hidden taxation – and if the funds are squandered  that constitutes theft from the people who produced that wealth.

During the Nixon-Greenspan nightmare of wage and price controls that occurred as a result of inflation secondary to the Vietnam War and the Arab Oil Embargo and (a sharp rise in oil prices) in the early to mid-1970s, I was very concerned. I was only 18 at the time, and knew nothing about economics. However, I did know that the only way I got my second cryopatient frozen was by the expedient of his son bribing two people with substantial sums of cash to get access to petrol for the cars we needed to move about in, and to obtain aviation petrol to fly the Cessna (with the patient in it) from Cumberland, Maryland to Detroit, Michigan. Fuel was rationed by edict of the Federal government in 1973.

By1975 I had learned about the ~30% rule, and also learned a little about economics, having read von Mises (and discovered the ‘Austrian economists’), as well as Bastiat. I then tried to figure out how much taxation there really was. Initially, I was very reassured. But then, I realized something that I’ve not seen discussed elsewhere. The real extent of taxation was vastly greater than it appeared, because it was stacked, compounded and hidden in ways never before imagined, nor possible – indeed not even technologically possible – let alone socially acceptable.

I was buying a can of  navy beans beans in the Alpha –Beta grocery store in La Crescenta, California one day in 1974 and I looked at the picture of the beans on the can and thought of home, back in Indiana. Farms, farmers…and then it hit me. The farmer pays property tax on his land, and that tax has risen sharply to pay for all kinds of government services unheard of in the past. The farmer also pays sales tax on every item he buys, both for personal use, and in many cases, for the conduct of his business. He pays a hefty tax on the fuel he uses to run his agricultural equipment, and of course he pays income taxes, social security taxes, and many use or permitting fees, as well. He also pays Social Security and income tax charges on his workers, as well as state Workers Compensation Insurance on each employee.

The farmer then sells his beans to agricultural wholesalers who have many of the same tax expenses, and the wholesalers in turn sells to the processors; who have even greater tax burdens, because they has many of employees, and a generally broader and deeper interface with commerce. And more transactions mean more opportunity for taxation. The retailer who puts the can of beans on his shelf has even more of these expenses, and he must advertise, as well, which is highly taxed (TV licenses, lots of employees, and on and on). Finally, I walk into the store, having paid my SSI, income tax, and countless use fees (driver’s license, road toll fees, professional licenses, and on and on) and I buy my can of beans and then I pay the California state sales tax that was, I think at that time, between 1% and 2% (again, that was in 1974).

I realized then that real tax burden was both vast, and either not calculable, or very difficult to calculate. Since 1974, sales tax in California has increased to 7.25%, and local supplementary taxes (city or county sales taxes!) are allowed up to 8.75%. The average is around 7.5%. But that is just the tip of the iceberg in the increase in predation on income since 1974, because since 1974, truly vast amounts of costly regulation and fees have been put in place at every level, and on every kind of economic activity. The biomedical research operations I’ve managed over the years are a case in point. We began to pay the following fees and charges starting around 1980, which we’d never seen before:

  1. Biohazardous Waste Disposal Permit,
  2. Hazardous Chemicals Disposal Permit,
  3. Disposal and in-house tracking paperwork costs associated with 1 & 2 above,
  4. Dead research animals were reclassified as biohazardous waste meaning we could no longer use rendering plants that paid us for the carcasses, but instead had to pay for costly and documented incineration by specialized providers with no economies of scale,
  5. Lawn sprinkler backflow prevention system and yearly validation fees,
  6. Knox Box installation (to allow fire-fighters 24/7/365 access to our building by essentially providing them with a key!),
  7. Hazardous materials and fire inspection fee,
  8. Annual fire sprinkler testing, validation, govt. Mandated maintenance and inspection fee,
  9. All contractors working in the city of Rancho Cucamonga now required to purchase a city business license!

10. Sharp escalation in Federal licensing fees for  required permitting,

11. Imposition of state pharmacy board inspections and associated fees,

12. Imposition of the requirement that a tiny business (and others like us) have workers compensation insurance which we had to pay at the highest rate (nursing home because they could not classify us easily,

13. Huge increase in the cost of scientific and professional books because publishers and wholesalers were not allowed to carry over unsold inventory past the end of the fiscal year without paying property tax; you see the same thing with care dealers who MUST clear their inventory at their fiscal year end or pay taxes on all the cars they own sitting on the lot,

14. Enforcement (for the first time) of property taxes on all our of equipment and furnishings,

15. Requirement for building and planning permission for all construction of any kind; put in a sink, pay a huge fee plus the costs of the application, the professional drawings, and the city inspection after it is installed. Even non-load bearing simple devising walls or cutting a hole in wall to create a pass-through from one room to another required permitting and often inspection – all at a charge,

16. Countless new requirements that we use only certified or professional personnel in every area of operations from animal care techs (including the people who cleaned the kennels) to laboratory facilities and chemical suppliers used,

17. Total prohibition on the use of any expired product in animal research; this alone doubled our costs of carrying out experiments,

18. Required training for employees to prevent sexual harassment or other discrimination,

19. Explosion is costly signage requirements; we had to buy very costly signs to post sexual harassment laws, workers comp laws and employee rights, warnings to employees about defrauding workers comp, anonymous complaint system, lighted signs over all exits (thousands of dollars in wiring alone), countless safety signs (no mouth pipetting, caution slippery when wet, eye wash, first aid and safety signage,

20. All accessible pipes and cables had to be labelled at fixed intervals as to what they conducted and had to arrows showing the direction of flow; new construction had to be labelled before the walls were closed… Inspection of same for a fee.

I can’t even remember all of the fees, and if I did, it would run to many pages. Beyond these fees, there was the new practice of charging to any new construction or development, both ‘conditional use fees’ and infrastructure fees. So, for instance, if we wanted to put in additional parking spaces, we were told we would have to pay for installation of an electronic cross walk sign on the street corner 3 blocks away, at a cost of $11,000! Developers were told they had to pay for vast runs of city sewage or water pipe, or pay for sidewalks, stoplights, and other infrastructure formerly paid for by general taxes on everyone. Large projects, such as the local super Wal-Mart here in Yucca Valley, have been stalled for years; in this case because they want Wal-Mart to pay for an entire sewage/water treatment plant for the region (Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and 29 Palms). This would then allow these cities to switch from septic systems to sewage; at which point the cities involved will charge each householder about $4,000 for the sewer line and require them to pay for a private contractor to hook it up to the household drains; roughly another $3,000 cost, on average.

All of the above is hidden taxation, and often represents theft, or the shifting of taxes from productive creation or maintenance of civil infrastructure to wasteful, or actually destructive (actively destructive) spending. By the mid-1990s, I reckoned that actual taxation on productivity was in the range of 60% to 70%. It simply was not obvious, because so much of it was hidden, and it was not felt, because the wealth being generated by increased manufacturing and data handling efficiency was so vast, that it was now possible for people to be very comfortable on what amounted to the leavings from their real productivity.

Figure 10: Computerized and automated manufacturing have greatly improved economic productivity; but where have the profits gone?

Most of the increased productivity, and the means to siphon it off, have come about as a result of technological advances in computing, information handling, telecommunications, and the automation of manufacturing. Despite these obvious and huge increases in the efficiency of the process of production, distribution and sales at every level, people did not work less than they had in the previous few decades; instead they worked a lot more.

As an example, all of the benefit accrued from not having to wash clothes by hand on scrub boards, starch them, hang them out to dry, take them down and iron them, and to not have to spend 4-hours a day preparing meals (mostly from scratch), or not going to the market every day because of refrigeration, freezing, and the development of ‘Twinkie-style’ food preservation technology (no more weevils in cereal or flour) was effectively wiped out when women had to go to work. Now, two incomes were required to maintain the same, or a lower, standard of living. Granted, people were getting fundamentally new types of goods and services. But even factoring in the increased productivity, they had to work much longer and harder than they previously did, to get the same basic standard of living. This was not possible in the past, because people already worked just about as hard as they could simply to maintain a subsistence (survival) existence. There was no ‘play’ in the system.

Finally, not considered was what was happening to the real value of the currency. The easiest and second oldest ways for nation-states to steal from their people is by ‘manipulating’ the value of the fiat currency they issue (the first way is taxes). Greenspan, evil genius that he was, cleverly manipulated the Federal Reserve so that inflation never seemed an issue. However, the real story was there for anyone who wanted to look for it to see, in the form of the decline in the real purchasing power of the US dollar, over time, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 11: Purchasing power of the US dollar from 1900 to 2000.

I can’t (for the reasons just cited) show you the real fraction of wealth being taken from taxation in all its forms, but it is at least as great as you see above; and much of it is arguably addable to the loss in purchasing power from direct and indirect taxation.

Anyone with a picogram of commonsense, and who understands the laws of thermodynamics and the conservation of matter and energy on a practical, if not a theoretical level, knows that sooner or later something has to give; TANSTAAFL[1]!

What that breakpoint is (in objective terms, as the percentage of the GDP removed from productive use by the populace) and when it will come, is virtually impossible to predict. All that increase in productivity is fundamentally new, and it did change the paradigm. It changed the paradigm by allowing unprecedented theft of profits to go on at a higher percentage of the GDP, and for a longer period of time, than was ever possible in history before. Essentially what happened was that for the first time in history, the rate of increase in productivity more or less kept pace with the rate of increase of what can only be described as a historically unprecedented and savagely rapacious growth in the theft of wealth from its producers.

Arguably, critical care medical professionals are uniquely equipped to understand this, and then only ones who are older, who practice in the Third World, or visit and work there doing locum tenems. Historically, critically ill people died very rapidly. In fact, most people died in pretty good shape. I see this change reflected in cryonics from the time cryonics was first proposed in 1964, to the present. In the 1960s we used to get ‘high quality’ materiel in terms of patients. Cryopatients had mostly intact organ systems, mostly intact vascular endothelium, and were almost never massively oedematous: some congestive heart failure patients had oedema, but there simply were no ‘Michelin men and women’ (let alone Michelin children!). Application of externally imposed homeostasis now allows us to extend the dying process, such that survival is possible with levels of organ functioning so compromised, and systemic injury so severe, that these patients would have died long before they reached that state in 1964. We can do this because we have vastly better ‘half-way medicine’[2] and the vastly greater wealth to allow us to apply it. This is the perfect analogy for what has been happening in the current economy and it also directly responsible for some of the economic woe, both now and to come

Around 1995 we went from a situation where increased productivity was keeping pace with increased theft, to the beginning of true ‘critical economic illness,’ which can be defined as the point at which you must start incurring debts to maintain homeostasis (e.g., early volume replacement by fluid resuscitation in the patient in shock). The graph below shows household debt in the US from 1980 through the present (projected to 2010):

Figure 12: Debt as a percentage of personal disposable (i.e., non-confiscated) income.

What isn’t shown is that about 80% of this debt is now in the form of what is euphemistically called ‘short-term consumer debt,’ which is a very polite way of saying that the people who gave all these other people money, did so with NO SECURITY OR COLLATERAL!  And, they did so without asking, “Why are these people borrowing all this money at such obscene interest rates, year after year?” The answer is, of course, because they need to borrow it in order to maintain what they consider an acceptable standard of living.

A good corollary point, also not considered, is that people don’t generally borrow money under such crummy terms, and in such large amounts, unless they have used up all of their other liquid or liquefiable assets. That this was the case is shown nicely (or horribly) in the graph of personal savings as the fraction of household income from 1985 to 2005 below:

Figure 13: Personal savings as a percentage of disposable income from 1985 to 2005.

In fact, in the late 1990s, as you can see from the graph above, consumers began to hit a wall in their ability to take on debt, and this was ‘damaging’ to the house of cards that is the economy. At that time the true short term (unsecured) consumer debt was probably (realistically) around a trillion dollars, and the banks who had lent all this money absolutely had to have those credit card payments coming in, and preferably a little late, so they could tack on extra fees, and keep the revenue stream healthy. Unfortunately, people were tapped out of ready cash. There is, however, the important fact to consider (if you are a disreputable banker) and that is that about 2/3rds of the nation’s wealth is in homeowner real estate. That’s right, 2/3rds of all the value of the nation’s savings is in real estate that people mostly own to live in, or to rent to others to live in.

I also note that a few months ago, the US, for the first time in its history, went to a net negative savings rate; in other words, all the ready capital is gone (including most of the easily accessible equity in real estate).

Thus, we see the extension of the same no-responsibility, no-collateral lending practices that operated with credit cards, extended to real estate, begin at just this time. However, even that is not sufficient when you have pretty well gutted the value and fundamental productive capability of your economy (i.e., you have almost no manufacturing, you have mostly service industries, and you are running an inconceivable and unsustainable deficit in trade). The solution was to convert all this debt into securities and debentures, and then find  greater fools; in this case international banks and foreign governments who would buy this crap.

So, that $1.5 million home (whose price was driven up by a speculative frenzy enabled by ‘free and easy’ money for non-repayable loans) in an average neighbourhood in Orange County, California, is in reality owned by HSB, Deutschebank, Credit Suisse, China, the UAE, and who knows who else! And, not only is it not worth $1.5 million, it is (or soon will be) functionally worth NOTHING, because people have to be able  to buy it – and that requires that they have both money and access to credit; and they will soon have neither.

Figure 14: The incredible disconnect between price, earnings, dividends and probable real value of shares; and of  economic wealth as a whole.

And that brings me to the stock market. Look at the graph of market performance from 1870 to a few months ago (Figure 14). Now, if you assume a fundamental increase in productivity over and above what has been the historical average, starting around 1950 (the effective start of computerization, improved telecommunications and a large scale switch-over to automation in industry and agriculture) and you evaluate the actual growth in productivity based on dividends, or even draw a line between dividends and earnings, you will see a truly terrifying disconnect between price and real wealth. I’ve illustrated this with a yellow line that shows the likely real historical slope at which wealth is increasing. And that rate of increase is certainly not what you see below. So, if you want to know how big the market correction is ultimately going to be, then the minimum is to between 700 and 900 of the current DJIA. It may be lower, because some of the value of the healthy parts of the economy, such as  businesses which are currently sound, may be destroyed as a result of the fallout from lack of credit, lack of jobs, and consequently lack of money to buy goods and services.

What kind of cretin or fool could be persuaded that the real value of shares, real estate, or anything else in a stable, productive, non-speculative economy can increase by 70% to 80% in the time period from 1990 to 2008??? That would truly herald the arrival what another group of fools and idiots call ‘The Singularity’; a point in time (coming almost any day now, we’re told) where technological progress becomes, more or less, some large exponent of exponential! Belief in Singularities is common in people, because they certainly happen to individuals (windfalls) and to companies (Google). But historically, there is only one kind of singularity in technology, finance, and human civilizations, and that is the Negative Singularity, where a bubble collapses (tulips, the South Sea Trading Company, swamp land in Florida, hot stocks in the 1920s, or the Roman Empire).

Of course, government officials, stock brokers and bankers, don’t work lifetimes at their jobs anymore; they hop around like fleas from one dog to another. They might be able to hold five years of data in their heads, if we are lucky. But mostly, they exist in a world that endures only from quarter to quarter. I love that add from Scottrade on TV. I only remember one line from it, which goes something like “Our funds consistently outperformed the 5-year Lipper Average.” Five years is about it in the current financial world timescale. How long do you plan to be retired for, or to invest in your retirement, before you retire? Five years?????

Below are two graphs presented the way governments, bankers, stockbrokers and financial analysts like to present market data and, much more importantly, how they actually see the data in their tiny minds.

Figure 15: The DJIA  data as the ‘wizards of Wall Street’ want you to see it.

These data look very reassuring, because they are log plotted over very short periods of time. They do not reveal that what is in fact happening is the metabolic equivalent of uncoupled oxidative phosphorylation; lots of oxygen consumption, lots of substrate use (consumer spending), lots of heat produced (high share prices) and ZERO net production of ATP (no real economic growth or true increase in share value). The net effect of this for cells and organisms is death, and this is also true for economies and nation states that operate similarly.

In humans (and other animals) who suffer this kind of uncoupling, the desperate response is to turn to anaerobic metabolism, which is inefficient, inconvenient, and wasteful. The economic equivalent occurs at the point where every single productive investment vehicle is deemed unsafe and unsound, at which point people stop trying to make money, and start trying to just hold onto it. They do this in the time honoured way of buying precious metals, usually gold or silver, or other commodities or shares deemed bulletproof. This is the last-ditched effort to conserve wealth, because it means that much easier, more convenient, and more socially acceptable ways to deal with economic instability, such as investing in real estate, or even government bonds with low  (or in the case of Japan, essential no) interest rates, but presumably rock solid reliability, are no longer options. And, in looking at the Dow/Gold ratio as shown in the graph below, you see writ the final step in this decompensatory process, before Armageddon.

Figure 16: The Dow/Gold Ratio which is arguably the  more asccurate indicator of the real value of stocks.

The naive optimist will look at this graph and say, “Well, look here, gold prices have been trending down since 2004.” Yes, on this graph that is true because if you want data from 2004 through the present, you have to pay for it. Gold is at historically high prices and, as of yesterday, I can’t even imagine what the Dow/Gold ratio is now!

The reality of this is can be seen if we look at the real stock market returns over the same period which shows the typical displaced to the right delay in reaction, but which nevertheless maps the reality of an increasing number of investors fleeing every other kind of investment to ‘speculate’ in gold and: there is only one thing worse than speculation in gold; and that is when it isn’t speculation anymore.

So what can we expect? The short-term answer is, “I haven’t any idea,” and the longer-term one is, “A prolonged period of sheer economic hell at least comparable in intensity to the Great Depression of the 1930s.” What form it will take and what its particulars will be are not within my ken.

However, I can tell you that two almost certain consequences of this will be the emergence of a new crop of Hitlers, Stalins and Maos, as well as profound changes in the social and political order in all of the world’s large nation-states; and in many of the smaller ones as well – there accompanied by violence and chaos.

For those of you with liquid assets, the only thing I can suggest is to shelter them as best you can. It is a certainty that the US Federal Reserve will act to protect personal savings, and to bail out core financial infrastructure at any cost. And that cost will be further debasement of the currency. This will take many months, or even several years or more to play out, but it will escalate sharply as confidence in the currency is lost, and there is further erosion of productivity, and greater demand placed on a limited supply of precious metals, and other value-retaining commodities.

To quote the Bard:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.

Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat.

And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. “

Truer words were never spoken.

- Mike Darwin, 16 June, 2008

Afterword: Death and Expired Morals – the Primary Causes of Our Ruin

I don’t want to fail to acknowledge that there is “a whole lot of stealing going on” in the old fashioned sense of the phrase. There is, in fact, significant unjust redistribution of wealth within the economies of the West, and this takes many forms, the most obvious of which are the insane compensation packages and salaries now given to corporate management. With Steve Jobs being an example of a  possible exception, managers have little to do with generating the wealth that the corporations they oversee produce. No corporate CEO is worth millions of dollars per year in compensation. In Jobs’ case, the bulk of his compensation has come from shares in the enterprise he founded, an enterprise which has returned value only to the extent that it actually performs in the marketplace – which again, under normal conditions, is a function of the desirability and performance of the goods and services that customers are willing to pay for. The so-called ‘Robber Barons’ of the late 19th century were piker’s compared to today’s insanely overpaid corporate thieves.

Figure 17: Health care costs as a function of biological ageing.

However, the real problems bankrupting us (and make no mistake – there will be no durable economic recovery), are an expired system of morals, a debased system of values, and the resultant infusion of an inconceivable and unsustainable fraction of our wealth into the machinery of death. Ironically, one of the biggest capital-consuming death machines is the healthcare industry. No doubt, that will come as a shocking and counterintuitive statement to many, but is nonetheless a hard reality, and an artifact of our ‘halfway medical technology’, a kind of medicine first identified by the physician-author Lewis Thomas in 1974:

“Halfway technology represents the kinds of things that mustbe done after the fact, in efforts to compensate for the incapacitatingeffects of certain diseases whose course one is unable to dovery much about. By its nature, it is at the same time highlysophisticated and profoundly primitive… It is characteristicof this kind of technology that it costs an enormous amountof money and requires a continuing expansion of hospital facilities…It is when physicians are bogged down by their incomplete technologies,by the innumerable things they are obliged to do in medicine,when they lack a clear understanding of disease mechanisms,that the deficiencies of the health-care system are most conspicuous…The only thing that can move medicine away from this level oftechnology is new information, and the only imaginable source ofthis information is research. The real high technology of medicine comesas the result of a genuine understanding of disease mechanisms andwhen it becomes available, it is relatively inexpensive, relatively simple,and relatively easy to deliver.” —Lewis Thomas[3]

Figure 18: At left, rapidly diverging and increasing growth in the cost of health care relative to the GDP, and at right, the absolute costs of health as a fraction of the GDP from the 100 year period from 1970 to 2070. Under no foreseeable circumstances is either trend sustainable.

The problem with halfway medical technology is that it doesn’t really work in the presence of aging and progressive degenerative disease. To try to treat such conditions without curing them is to experience exponentially greater costs, with comparably lower rates of return. In the parlance of auto ownership, it is to possess a car that has become impossibly expensive to maintain, and has thus become a ‘junker.’ Such cars are, of course, sent to the scrap yard. In medicine there is a name for this too: euthanasia.

At present, roughly 2/3rds of every healthcare dollar is spent in the closing decade of life, and perhaps as much as 60% of that expenditure is to pay for futile attempts to prolong the lives of clearly moribund patients – in other words, money spent in the last year of life. Not only is this a very unrewarding expenditure of resources for all involved, it is also not sustainable

“In the parlance of auto ownership it is to possess a car that has becomes impossibly expensive to maintain, and has become a ‘junker.’ Such cars are, of course, sent to the scrap yard. In medicine there is a name for this too: euthanasia.”

Currently, US health care costs are consuming a staggering 16% of the GDP! This is up from 12% of the GDP in 2008! These expenditures are not sustainable, and what is more, they represent the expression and use of a moral system that has expired, and long ago began to sour.  The position of cryonicists that individual human lives are invaluable and worth saving, not just ‘temporarily,’ but indefinitely, represents the new and proper moral position for the technology we now command. Nothing can be done to save the lives of those of us who have exceeded the reach of our current, mostly halfway, medical technology – not even at the price of bankrupting the economy of the entire Developed world: Nothing, that is, with exception of the development of reversible brain cryopreservation. Only by creating an enabling technology that allows patients – all patients – who have exhausted current medical technology, to continue their journey to a future committed to rescuing them, will work. The only alternative is to turn our hospitals and extended care facilities into death camps that will operate on a scale that would shame and humiliate Mao, Stalin or Hitler.

We know that this is so, but unfortunately, they don’t, and they aren’t about to figure it out anytime soon. To develop reversible brain cryopreservation for humans would consume a trivial sum, compared to what is spent on delivering even a single futile halfway medical technology, such as caring for patients with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease for a single year. And yet, it won’t be spent. And if such technology were developed tomorrow, it would not be used. Regrettably, we are much further off from any reasonable prospect of developing reversible whole-body suspended animation, by cryopreservation or any other means – something that the brighter bulbs in this civilization might be able to accept and embrace. Thus, the die is cast, and the system will crumble, or be transformed in ways that are unthinkable to any feeling person who values individual human life. We must organize and prepare ourselves for this almost certain eventuality, and do what we must to ensure we do not succumb to the carnage, as well.

Figure 18: US military spending in current (2011) US dollars.

If you are wondering where a large fraction of the rest of the death machine’s operating dollars come from, look no further than to military expenditures. I am no ‘kumbaya singing pacifist,’ but these expenditures are insane, and they were completely avoidable. Had the US decided to construct Fischer-Tropsch plants at the start of the Arab Oil Embargo in the 1970s, to produce diesel from coal, cut back on wasteful energy consumption, worked to develop technologies for extraction of natural gas from shale, and made a commitment to continued large scale development of nuclear power (with ongoing research into Tokomak, and other fusion power research) there would be no Arab-Islamist threat today and there would have been no 9-11. We made these vipers rich with our intellectual and cultural capital – as well as our currency. We empowered them. Without Western, and in particular US petrodollars, the Middle east would be as it has been for the past ~1,500 years: an impoverished and insignificant pocket of mendacious people with a poisonous ideology.

Figure 19: Schematic of basic Fischer-Tropsch fuel generating process.

The Fischer Tropsch process (FT) was developed by Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch, working at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in the 1920s, in response to Germany’s crippling inability to get access to petrol during the end of World War I. When Germany lost access to imported oil during World War II, the FT-process was used by the Nazi government to produce substitute fuels. F-T production accounted 25% of the automobile fuel used in the Third Reich, with technology that is now 70 years old![4] The largest implementation of F-T technology in the world today are the plants operated by Sasol in South Africa. South Africa, like the US, has large coal reserves, but virtually no oil, and with the imposition of anti-apartheid sanctions, South Africa had no choice (so long as it wished to continue apartheid), but to develop a means to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels from coal. This they did, and with enormous success, and they are now, and have been, independent of Arab oil. [Sasol, the South African FT fuel production company, uses coal (and now natural gas) as feed-stocks and produces a variety of synthetic petroleum products, including most of the country's diesel fuel.]4

The whole sorry mess of the seemingly endless ‘ongoing crisis in the Middle East’ was thus avoidable. If we had but had the foresight, and the supporting structure of morals and values to take the responsible course of action, in response to the extortion that was the Arab Oil Embargo everything would be different today. In October of 1973, the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries  (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo “in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military” during the Yom Kippur war. This embargo lasted until March 1974.[5] As a consequence of the embargo, oil supplies were severely disrupted, and a deep recession was triggered througout the Developed World. Another consequence of the embargo was a serious fracture within NATO, which resulted in costly expenditures in foreign aid and defense spending. The unacknowledged price of the embargo was that the US had ‘caved’ by continuing to buy oil from OAPEC thus allowing the Arab states to increasingly determine global oil prices by arbitrarily controlling supply at critical points in time. A corollary of this was that OAPEC also now had a significant voice in determining US, and thus Western, foreign policy.[6]

The idea that the moral choices this civilization has made are at the root of our current predicament, and are very likely to cost all of us our lives if not reversed, is one causes of the fatal trajectory we are on. The second, and corollary cause, is that the core values of this civilization are at once deathist, and bankrupt. These are ideas that we will be exploring here in the near future. And not just exploring, but proposing viable alternatives to – alternatives that express the values and ideals of a cryonics movement about to be reborn.

- Mike Darwin, 08 February, 2011

[1] There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

[2] The physician Lewis Thomas described it in this way: “Halfway technology represents the kinds of things that mustbe done after the fact, in efforts to compensate for the incapacitatingeffects of certain diseases whose course one is unable to dovery much about. By its nature, it is at the same time highlysophisticated and profoundly primitive… It is characteristicof this kind of technology that it costs an enormous amountof money and requires a continuing expansion of hospital facilities…”

[3] Thomas L. “The technology of medicine.” In: The Lives of a Cell. New York, NY: Viking Press; 1974:31–36.

[4] Leckel, D. Diesel Production from Fischer−Tropsch: The Past, the Present, and New Concepts. Energy Fuels, 2009, 23  (5), pp 2342–2358. DOI: 10.1021/ef900064c Publication Date (Web): April 16, 2009

[5] How We Got Here: The 70’s the Decade That Brought You Modern Life–For Better or Worse. New York, New York: Basic Books, 2000. p. 318. ISBN 0465041957.

[6] Licklider, R.  ”The Power of Oil: The Arab Oil Weapon and the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and the United States”. International Studies Quarterly (International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 2) 1988;32;(2):205–226, [p.206]. doi:10.2307/2600627.
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