Re: C14 cryonics question

Peter Passaro (
Sun, 8 Nov 1998 22:53:45 -0500

Spike Jones wrote:

> for those who are up to speed on cryonics, a question please:
> our tissues are mostly carbon and carbon has an isotope (C14)
> with half life about 6kyr. when C14 undergoes beta decay, the
> remainder is a nitrogen atom. looks like the dna chain would
> be broken there. would the cell then be dead?
> on a nanobot to find and repair the break? have there been
> calculations done on this? spike

This is kind of a moot point. Only one in roughly ten million carbon atoms is a C-14 atom and with a half life of 6000 years this is not a very frequent event. As to whether it breaks the chain, that is dependent on the trajectory of the electron emitted by the decay. If this occurs, the cell is not dead by any means. Small errors in the chain are well tolerated, this is why you need five or six "hits" to a cancer related gene before it "malfunctions". If you wanted to repair it, no need to design a nanobot to do it, cells already carry an inherent repair machinery for all but the most severe of breaks.