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Yesterday one of the security guards at work threatened to beat me with a toaster! SQUEE!!! In his defense, it should be noted that I did threaten him with a power drill first... :-D

This probably had nothing to do with the fact that yesterday was Guy Fawkes day. Probably.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
You may need to go all Laser Lass on him. - ZM
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 16th, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
Here's my understanding...
Aside from the brain itself I haven't heard of either expansion or contraction being a real problem. Much of the body's water is replaced with cryoprotectants, and I suspect that that provides a buffer of sorts.

For the brain (assuming vitrification) it's a bit more complex, and your concern has some merit. Given that there are organs that are routinely vitrified, revived, and successfully transplanted I guess it's safe to say that subcellular "scrambling" isn't a significant problem, at least in theory. However, Alcor's process uses much higher concentrations of cryoprotectants, so while that ought to result in an even better preservation (electron micrographs seem to indicate as much) it also prevents us from restoring the organs using current technology due to cryoprotectant toxicity.

The other "gotcha"- the big one- is that in cryonic suspension the patient's temperature is dropped below the glass transition state, which results in cracking events. Don't quote me on this, but I believe that this IS due to differential expansion of different regions of the brain. Pressure builds up until a crack happens. The slow temperature decrease process that Alcor uses reduces cracking significantly, but it it still happens every time. One of Alcor's big initiatives right now is to try to eliminate it entirely.

Obviously cracking is bad, but if you take molecular scale repair technology as a given in the future then it's actually not as bad as it sounds. The cracking events are analogous to when a crystal breaks cleanly rather than when a glass shatters, so the original structure can still be inferred.

Great question!!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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