X-Message-Number: 16416
Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2001 19:42:56 EDT
Subject: Dr. Strehler's Death...


Louis Epstein mentioned Dr. Strehler's death yesterday and provided the 
following link: http://grg.org/charter/BLStrehler.htm. 

This guy was an amazing man.  I will be studying his bibliography summaries 
more thoroughly in the future.  It was smart and good of him to prepare his 
website--as he says, do not depend on encyclopedias.

Louis comments: "A shame he didn't live to see the mortality of mortality 

Clicking on Strehler's picture (.jepg) from that URL to go to his own site, 
we may get some insight into his thinking for his decision not to be 
cryopreserved.  I have reprinted a pertinent section of Bernie Strehler's 
writing below which is found titled "Personal Interests" and located after 
his lengthy and totally impressive "Bibliography" section. (Note that the 
hyperlink at the top of that page titled "Personal Interest's" may not be 
functional on the site.)

Before that though, I have pulled some other excerpts from the site which are 
revealing to my argument to follow his text:

1)  See the picture (.jepg) at the very bottom of that page titled "My wife 
Theedy and my lost daughter Carol, 1956"

2)  Note the following from elsewhere: "Since my darling wife, Theedy, died 
of the flu on Feb. 12th 1998, the fifty years we spent together have become 
happy memories of a very sad survivor.  At age 74 there is not much point in 
finding a new soul and body mate. Que sera, sera!"

He last updated the page this last March.  Now, here is what he wrote 
regarding his interests (I have arbitrarily sectioned it into "paragraphs" to 
make it easier for you to read per Cryonet formatting as it was presented as 
a single block of text):

I have many continuing interests, mostly in exploring new ideas and in 
inventing things and enjoying music and friends. My greatest pleasure is 
discovering things and romance. My hero is a man named Jesus who was born 
2000 years ago and whom I try, sometimes unsuccessfully, to emulate. I'm 
grateful that fate permitted me to be here for a while but I'm not sure I 
would want to be cloned 30 or so years from now -- because I believe we are 
on a collision course with disaster because of population growth, terrorism 
and decreasing average human intelligence as a result of the selective 
reproduction of the less intelligent. I hope I'm wrong!!!! 

NOTE: The cloning of humans will eventually become possible and could have 
great benefits to our species if properly used. One of the difficulties with 
cloning is that one must select nuclei that have not been severely damaged 
genetically. Every body cell has about 50,000 potential genetic damage. This 
damage is usually a break in one of the DNA strands. When such a break 
occurs, a very complex set of repair reactions begin. These include the 
attachment of a substance to the location where the break occurred, the 
removal of adjacent DNA in the broken strands and then the resynthesis of the 
replacement on the basis of the information present in the unbroken strand. 
Finally, the newly synthesized strand is attached to the rest of the strand 
so as to complete the repair. This repair is a very efficient process and in 
99.9999..% of the time restores the DNA to its original state. However, some 
strand breaks lead to faulty repair, especially in regions of the DNA in 
which there are a considerable number of identical repeats of the same 

One of the most important of these repeating sequences are those that are 
responsible for the manufacture of ribosomal RNA, the structure on which all 
protein syntheses in the call take place. The repeated segments are present 
on 6 or 7 pairs of chromosomes and young cells have 10-12 copies of these 
repeating segments (2 for each pair of identical chromosomes). In most 
tissues there is a loss of some of these segments during aging. The locations 
of these segments can be visualized on chromosomes that are about to divide 
and can be stained with a silver stain, probably because the material at both 
ends of the repeating sequences have a substance that is able to reduce 
silver ions to silver atoms (as happens in photography). These staining 
sections are called Nucleolar Organizing Regions because they bundle 
themselves together so as to form a small body inside of the nucleus. This 
body is called a nucleolus and the staining areas are called "NORs" -- for 
nucleolar organizing regions! The number of NORs as well as the amount of 
rDNA has been shown (by Strehler and coworkers) to decrease gradually in 
non-dividing tissues such the nerve cells of the brain. 

So, if one wants to produce a non-defective clone one must first choose cells 
from growing cultures that have the normal number of NORs. A second 
difficulty in producing an identical copy of an individual (like a delayed 
twin!) is that one must use an enucleated egg cell as the recipient of the 
nucleus to be cloned as a new copy. But, because the cytoplasm of eggs have 
specific materials in them (such as mitochondria and a variety of RNA 
molecules whose functions are poorly understood but important, it is most 
DESIRABLE that the eggs used come from female descendants of YOUR MOTHER, 
because only the daughters of daughters of daughters... of your mother will 
have the same cytoplasm as your mother did. It is also probably very 
important that the eggs that are used as recipients of a HEALTHY nucleus 
derived from you also be very healthy ones. This means that they should be 
derived from the donor relative when that individual is just barely 
reproductively mature. This is important because the eggs that are produced 
early in life are more vigorous than those produced just before menopause.

When all these technicalities have been worked out it will probably be 
possible to produce good copies of you, but much research needs to be done 
before I would be willing to be cloned. Fortunately, human cells can be kept 
in culture and stored at the temperature of liquid nitrogen -- at which 
temperature practically no damage can occur to the nuclei -- except from 
radioactive radiation, UV light, cosmic rays and X-rays. Good luck. Although 
past generations believed that the world was deteriorating they were often 
right but occasionally WRONG. We'll see. Too bad that some of Sinatra's cells 
were not stored. The world can get along without another Bernie Strehler! 


(I note that Dr. Strehler appears to provide an additional supporting 
argument for George Smith's recommendation for having one's intact DNA 
cryopreserved early on.)

There can be little doubt that Dr. Strehler was well versed on cryonics.  
While he does not directly address the issue, I detect no skepticism 
regarding the logic of cryonics.  Once his wife died, and with the previous 
death of his child, the decision for him to remain unsigned up was a given, 
and had long since been made.  He likely calculated his best chance for a 
reunion with them and most of his friends (both currently living and 
deceased) was by his faith in Christianity.  

I have given a good bit of thought about the likely psychology and sociology 
forming the rationale for rational people to pass on cryopreservation.  I may 
write these thoughts up someday.  However, the Dr. Strehler has probably 
provided part of the equation for us.


David C. Johnson

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