On Alcor News, it has obviously not been published on a regular schedule lately, and that is entirely my fault. Mike Perry provides some content, light editing, and mails the newsletter personally. He is always swift to carry out his tasks. I, on the other hand, am not. Right now, I have many responsibilities, some of which are a little more urgent than informing the membership of the latest news. I'm one of the biggest fans there is of dissemination of information, so please don't take that as a lack of regard for distributing the newsletter.
The original plan was for Charles to continue producing Alcor News, interviewing the staff and documenting issues during the month; but that plan fell by the wayside for various reasons. I wish I had more of his punctuality, and I will try a little harder to make it so.
When I do draft the newsletter, I have a tendency to recycle material from my monthly Board report and add any items relating to other staff members' areas and developing news. April's issue was delayed because of things like cases, and I still only had about an hour to put it together before leaving town again. Hence, the rough edges on some of the sections.
To get to a particular, it was not my intention to be deliberately obscure on the topic of whole-body vitrification. My goal was mostly to let people know that:
- We're working on it.
- We have a preliminary design for the changes needed in the operating theater.
- We'll be producing drawings and formal design specs shortly.
I think that in order to offer this, Alcor will need to change their fee structure significantly, and that would price us further out of the market. One possible solution is to offer tiered options for preservation. This might not be a bad thing, as we could conceivably start as low as patient care+cooling. I'm not a huge advocate of the straight freeze, but an array of options starting there and ending in perfected vitrification might not be a bad thing.
Our preliminary calculations indicate that storage costs alone will be 2 to 3 times higher for those patients. The simplicity of the existing system will also be destroyed. No more thermos analogies. Using individual storage containers with heaters and controllers and fans means a long list of new potential failure points. Though there are certainly ways we can network controllers, one of the primary intentions of intermediate temperature storage is to allow every patient to be stored at their ideal temperature.
We're having to consider sacrificing the proposed independent pod system and choosing a single storage temperature for all patients to make redundancy less of a worry. Given the cracking data and current preservation methods, that temperature would have to be about -115 degrees C to prevent macroscopic fractures. That is just too warm. I'd also like to see the ideal storage temperature get down to -140 degrees C, since we still have time-to-probable-revival to consider.... Assume for a moment that we perfect every aspect of this equation, that we can offer perfect preservation today, people still die not from the freezing process, but cancer, HIV, and old age. We won't want to wake anyone up until that damage can be prevented and reversed. Those research projects are going to take more time. Four or five decades is probably a pessimistic estimate of how long it will take, but the patients should be stored at a temperature that allows for the worst case scenarios. I don't believe -115 is cold enough for that. (See Hugh Hixon's old article on How Cold is Cold Enough?"
Changes the operating theater for whole-bodies is well-understood process. We just need to prototype until we settle on a complete design. The design we have already looks to meet all our needs, but only building and testing will tell. Few designs require no tweaking, but I expect that only two prototypes will be needed. The second should be the one we deploy for patients.
I fully intend to keep pushing this development forward. Despite the large reservations I have about the current state of the art, I desperately want vitrification perfected before I need it myself. And the sooner we get it done, the more people benefit. Some of these people we're preserving I really want awakened, so I'll just have to yell until we have that cure for cancer as well.
... I had more, but this'll probably do for a start.