Prometheus and Nanotechnology
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 22:17:07 -0700


Some seem to think that The Prometheus Project is not needed and
that the conventional methods of freezing a brain we use now
are all that is needed because Nanotechnology can always make
any repairs that are required. I don't think that is a valid
reason for not supporting this project. We don't know how much
damage the current methods of freezing cause to the brain,
personally I think Nanotechnology probably has a good chance of
repairing that damage, but I don't know that for a fact, and
nobody knows how long it will take to develop Nanotechnology,
and anyway "probably" is just not good enough. Think how
embarrassing it will be if years from now we find that there was
a simple way to preserve brains without damage and that method
was within the means of late 20'th century technology, but we
didn't find it because we didn't bother to look. A million
dollars a year for 10 years may seem like a lot of money to us
when we're begging for dollars, but it's peanuts compared to
money spent on far less important health research projects. In
spite of this it would be far, far, more money than was ever spent
on brain preservation, the low hanging fruit has not been picked yet.

Most people, myself included, thought that Nanotechnology or
advanced genetic engineering would be needed to repair a spinal
cord that had been severed, but now according to a recent report
by Cheng, Olson, and Cao (July 26, 1996 Science) a simple
surgical procedure may solve the problem, at least it works in
rats. In the same way, it's possible that Prometheus might find
something much simpler than Nanotechnology that would get the
job done, and even if does not it will certainly find new
knowledge for mankind that could help us all. This is virgin
intellectual territory, almost everything seen will be new.

John K Clark

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