Re: Radioactive decay and long-term preservation

Spike Jones (
Wed, 20 Oct 1999 20:27:42 -0700

> Jeff Davis wrote:
> > monastery curriculum not to strong on the radiochemistry of coal, eh, spike?
> Spike Jones wrote: I meant, wood has some carbon 14 to start with, then
> over the eons it takes to form coal, yer 14 goes away, half every 6k years...

After reading over the replies, I realized we have two different ideas going on. For long term preservation in cryonic suspension, I am not too worried about a little ionizing radiation from the decay of potassium 40, or the resulting argon atom. Looks to me like a frozen brain would get very little damage from the radiation. I had in mind the damage due to the actual DNA molecule within the brain, getting a bit unhinged or becoming disfunctional when a carbon 14 atom decays to a nitrogen atom. I am not sure it would wreck the strand, but it seems like it would.

If we ate carbon-14-free food for several years before suspension, we would have few if any C14 atoms incorporated into our DNA, thus looks to me like we would have a better chance at long term suspension, eh Jeff?

As a side advantage, think of the great gags we could play on our buddies that work down at the carbon dating place: clip off one of your fingernails, ask her to date it for you, to calibrate her equipment. She would go nuts trying to figure out why your fingernail appears to be 10s or 100s of thousands of years old. {8^D spike