Cryonics Goes Global
Russian and German Firms Are Beginning To Offer Cryonics Services.
But Should The Buyer Beware?
A Cryonics Society News Brief - May 2006
European Cryonics Providers
Cryonics has been an American phenomenon -- so far. The idea was first formulated by American physics and mathematics professor Robert Ettinger. The first and earliest organizations to actively supply cryonics services were created by Americans and housed on American soil.
But people interested in cryonics and cryonics services span the world. Some of those individuals over the years have formed strong active groups supporting cryonics, from the Cryonics Society of Canada to Cryonics Europe to Alcor UK.
But facilities that actually provide suspension services has been another matter. There's been talk about developing cryonics services facilities based in Europe or other areas of the globe for years. Has the time arrived?
Not quite. But it may be close. And global residents interested in cryonics services outside the US need to be wary. Because while some rising organizations seem clearly legitimate, others require a more careful approach.
One debatable provider is Sibirskiy Mamont, also known as Siberian Mammoth Inc. A report by Eworldwire, the London-based news service, says the service has proved to be "very popular" with "gangsters". The organization is said to provide neurosuspension-only treatment and storage facilities in the city of Voronezh, near Moscow. Sibirskiy Mamont also claims to be constructing a freezing complex in Siberia to provide full-body freezing in permafrost that it hopes will attract Western cryonics clients.
However, a number of Siberskiy Mamont practices suggest that the organization's approaches to cryopreservation leave much to be desired. Permafrost burial, for instance, occurs at so high a temperature that it is widely regarded as producing irreversible damage to brain cells.
And, in a bizarre move, the Deputy Chairman of Sibirskiy Mamont, Aleksey Duhopelnikov, reportedly made arrangements with a London audio books firm to produce audio entertainment for Sibirskiy's frozen clientele.
"Our scientists tell us that there are always possibilities of some neuron activities taking place even in a deeply frozen human brain," explains the Deputy Chairman of Sibirskiy Mamont, Aleksey Duhopelnikov. "Therefore we have decided to provide constant audio entertainment including music and Russian and English audiobooks, to our clients."
It is unlikely that deceased human brains immersed in liquid nitrogen will be able to enjoy the latest Oprah Book Club selection on audiotape. This practice suggests other Siberskiy Mamont procedures may be of equally doubtful value. Europeans or others considering Siberskiy Mamont as a provider may, at the very least, want to investigate further. Contact information concerning Siberskiy Mamont is not in evidence on the English-speaking internet, but questions regarding the audio publication may be directed to Ruslan G Fedorovsky at 44-1494-431119.
(Note: it has been since been reported to the Cryonic Society that Siberian Mammoth is a fictitious entity, supposedly created the London-based PR agency to promote the MP3 download site. Alexey Potapov, Executive Director of KrioRus, was said to have been informed of the situation by the PR agency in question.)
The leading contender for the first full-service cryonics provider in Russia and East Europe is, undoubtedly, Kriorus. This organization expresses a readiness to work with American cryonics services providers by performing the initial procedures, making arrangements locally, and then sending the patient to the United States for final preparations and storage.
Dr. Mikhail Soloviev, a Russian researcher held in high regard by American cryonicists, has made comments in relation to Kriorus, and Kriorus itself has a substantive web site online at www.kriorus.ru.
(English-speaking readers can read an English translation of the Russian site by going to the Babelfish free translations services site at http://babelfish.altavista.com/, specifying 'Russian to English', and typing 'http://www.kriorus.ru' in the appropriate field.
A press release by Kriorus also announces that it currently has two neurosuspension patients in storage already in an undisclosed facility in Zelenograda, near Moscow.
Kriorus was created in 2005 with a presence in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The company reportedly maintains patient liquid nitrogen storage facilities that include security protection. On April 24th and 28th of this year, the first Russian cryo-patients were placed in storage at those facilities, at temperatures of 196 degrees.
The first patient was Lydia Ivanovna Fedorenko, an 80-year-old former teacher of mathematics, who died on September 28, 2005. The patient was stored for several months at a dry ice temperature in a temporary container in Saint Petersburg. In April the container was transported from Petersburg to the new depository.
It is uncertain whether the Russian facilities have the capacities of their American equivalents yet. But for Russians and interested Eastern and Western Europeans, Kriorus seems clearly the most impressive facility available outside the United States.
The Elixir Of Immortality
Another interesting development is reports in the Russian press that a 35-year old Russian Aluminum tycoon, Oleg Deripaska, who graduated with honors from the Department of Physics of the Moscow State University, is financing a project called 'The Elixir Of Immortality' by the Russian press in conjunction with the Institute of Physical-Chemical Biology of the Moscow State University.
Estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth $1.5 billion, Deripaska provided $120,000 (US equivalent) to the Institute to fund the first six months of the project, which is apparently research effort aimed at stopping programmed cell death, and is expected to cost 600,000 over the next five years. Vladimir Skulachev, a member of the Russian Academy of Science, is personally overseeing the project.
More information is available at online at http://www.kp.ru/daily/23158/24704/.
German cryonics has had long had strong intellectual support from organizations like the German transhumanist group, De: Trans, and the German-based Society for the Scientific Challenge of Death. In Eugen Leitl, Germany gave to cryonics one of its most outstanding writers, critics, and researchers.
In terms of providing facilities and services, however, progress has been slow. And those interested in cryonics services should be aware that one organization, which may seem to supply such services, does not. Cryonics Institute Germany, despite the name, and despite the words "In agreement (Abstimmung) with Robert Ettinger, visit Cryonics Institute Michigan, USA" on its home page, has no affiliation with the Cryonics Institute and has reportedly ignored requests by the Cryonics Institute to remove the reference to Robert Ettinger as potentially misleading from its main page.
The Cryonics Institute has formally disassociated itself from Cryonics Institute Germany. But the link to the German site from the CI web page has lapsed. Readers who may imagine that Cryonics Institute Germany has ceased operations are mistaken. The organization remains online and apparently active at www.cryonics.de/home.htm. European readers aware of the Cryonics Institute and Robert Ettinger should not be misled. The organization does not provide cryonics services at all, but only preserves tissue and memorabilia.
As with Russia, however, genuine and solid providers of suspension services seem on the point of emerging.
Several years ago, two German businessmen named Dettman expressed an interest in investing $100,000 in starting a cryonics firm in Germany. The talks seem not to have led anywhere, but Rolf A. Sommer of the refrigeration technology company, Sommer & Gölbert, has given talks and reportedly made active efforts to build the technical infrastructure for such a project.
Sommer reportedly acquired a mortician's company, to guarantee that the critical time immediately after deanimation would be covered legally, and that easy access to the patient would be possible from the moment of death. Sommer has also publicly discussed the possibility of temporary storage of patients abroad, and given talks to "show that is is possible today to build a cryonics institution in Germany or Europe which is profitable".
But though no fully operating German facility has yet begun to providing comprehensive cryonics suspension services, the German organization to watch is undoubtedly Bio State Security Services, led by Michael Saxer and Norbert Nickles.
Saxer has been in the forefront of the struggle to both promote cryonics and provide cryonics services to German-speaking Europe. He's helped provide a web site and forums at www.kryonik.com, has had discussions with Alcor's foreign director Peter Toma, is personally taking perfusion and medical studies, has entered into talks with German government and funeral services officials, and has been instrumental in starting Bio State.
A sister organization run by Saxer and Nickles, Tierkryonikinstitut, formed in Kaiserslautern in 2004, already provides cryonic suspension services for animals and has cryopreserved a cat, which it continues to maintain.
Though not as yet fully operative, Bio State Security Services appears to be the leading candidate to be the first cryonics services provider in Central Europe. Europeans and others who are interested may visit www.kryonik.com or Bio State Security Services, or contact Michael Saxer at:
Telephone: 07147 - 27 27 36
Copyright 2006 by The Cryonics Society