In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BRIEF PROPOSAL ON IMMORTALITY: AN INTERIM SOLUTION GEORGE M. MARTIN* It does not appear to be generally recognized by the scientific community or by the public at large that a comparatively modest investment in research could theoretically provide man with a partial and interim solution to the "terrible problem ofdeath awareness " recently discussed by SirJohn Eccles in these pages [?]. Eccles confessed that he had "no immediate solution to this heartrending problem that confronts each ofus" [i]. Speaking as a nonvitalist [2], I must confess that the only solution which appeals to me is one which preserves the central nervous system. The spectacular success ofcryobiological procedures in the long-term preservation ofviability at the cellular level [3, 4] suggests that, in principle, satisfactory whole organ preservation may yet be achieved. No doubt, there remain formidable problems—such as the heterogeneity ofcell types with varying responses to a given cryobiological procedure [3]. For our purposes, however, we are primarily concerned with heterogeneity within only two classes ofcells—neurones and neuroglia. There exist cell Unes [5, 6, 7] which, while admittedly not strictly comparable to their normal in vivo counterparts, could at least provide a first approximation ofthe cryobiological behavior ofthese cell types. Systematic in vivo studies could then follow, by using suitable experimental animals, including primates. The adequacy ofpreservation ofform and function could be monitored with some degree ofreliability, by die use of existing electron microscopic, electroencephalographic and biochemical techniques. Of course, until such time as retrograde axonal reaction to injury can be prevented, preservation will ofnecessityhave to be carried out in situ, presumably using perfusion techniques. So much for the interim solution, which, it seems to me, might be taken very seriously in the not too distant future, with a potentially enormous impact upon our social, economic , religious, and political institutions. The ultimate solution is pure science fiction. In fact, the rationale for implementing the interim solution is largely based upon two articles offaith. The first is the perfectly reasonable proposition that science will continue to grow—ifnot at its present exponential rate, at least linearly. The second, requiring a good deal more optimism, is the beliefthat Homo sapiens, during this critical phase ofhis natural history, will not destroy himself and his planet. We shall assume that develop- * Professor ofpathology, School ofMedicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98105. 339 ments in neurobiology, bioengineering, and related disciplines, perhaps over a period of centuries, will ultimatelyprovide suitable techniques of"read-out" ofthe stored information from cryobiologically preserved brains into nth. generation computers capable of vastly outdoing the dynamic patterning of operation of our ??10 cerebral neurones [i]. Wewould thenjoinafamily of humanoid "postsomatic" bioelectricalhybrids, capable of contributing to cultural evolution at rates far exceeding anything now imaginable. references i. J. C. Eccles. Perspect. Biol. Med., 12 :6i, 1968. 2.F. Crick. Ofmolecules and men. Seattle: Univ. Washington Press, 1966. 3.P. Mazue. Science, 168:939, 1970. 4.H. T. Meryman. Cryobiology. New York: Academic, 1966. 5.G. Augusti-Tocco and G. Sato. Nat. Acad. Sci. (U.S.), Proc, 64:311, 1969. 6.P. Benda,J. Lightbody, G. Sato, L. Levine, and W. Sweet. Science, 161 :37?, 1968. 7.J. Ponten and E. H. MacIntyrb. Acta Pathol. Microbiol. Scand., 74:465, 1968. MATHEMATICS A bibulous man from Oswego Would seldom walk straight, the way we go. Right and left he would swerve In a harmonic curve, Which expressed, he insisted, his ego. Joel H. Hildebrand 340 George M. Martin · BriefProposal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Winter 1971 ...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 339-340
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.