X-Message-Number: 6693
Date: 06 Aug 96 00:38:17 EDT
From: Paul Wakfer <>
Subject: Prometheus Project FAQ

My sincere thanks to Brian Wowk for major help in preparing this FAQ.

What is the Prometheus Project?

      The Prometheus Project is a major scientific research initiative with
the goal of perfecting reversible long-term suspended animation of the human
brain within 10 years. The project will cost an estimated $10,000,000 over 10
years. Support in the form of conditional pledges is currently being sought
to establish the financial feasibility of the Project.

Why suspended animation of the brain?

      Current technology only permits suspended animation of the body for
about one hour (used during some types of neurosurgery). Extending this time
indefinitely would permit true medical time travel, allowing sick people
today to wait for years or even decades until cures for their illnesses are

      Perfecting suspended animation of the brain is the first step toward
achieving this breakthrough. It would be an assured means of radically
extending human life (assuming future tissue regeneration technology).

How is this technology different from cryonics?

      Cryonics today freezes people with highly damaging methods in the hope
that future technologies (like nanotechnology) will be able to repair them,
one molecule at a time if necessary. Whether memory or personality can
survive such a process is currently unknown, and inherently unknowable as
long as freezing injuries remain irreversible.

      Suspended animation of the brain would mean an end to this uncertainty.
Brains would be preserved with no injury, even by present medical criteria.
Nanotechnology would not be required for revival. Future tissue regeneration
technology using biological approaches would suffice. Revival would come much
sooner than for today's cryonics patients, greatly decreasing social
displacement and "risk time" spent in storage. The most nagging uncertainties
of cryonics would vanish.

Will this technology be legal?

      The goal of the Project is to develop technology for keeping the human
brain viable indefinitely. The technology must therefore be utilized while
the brain is still alive. Under current law, this can be done if death is
declared on the basis of cardiac arrest, and blood circulation/oxygenation is
artificially restored within five minutes. The technology and infrastructure
for doing this already exists within the cryonics community.

      Technology for keeping a brain viable indefinitely may even allow a
legal challenge to the designation of cryonics patients as "dead". Brain
viability is the gold standard by which patients today are judged living or
dead in critical care medicine, even if all organs are replaced by artificial
systems. A patient with a viable brain is legally a human being, not a

What is the evidence the Project can succeed?

      The science of organ cryopreservation is an established branch of
cryobiology. Conventional medical research interests, such as the Red Cross,
have made substantial investments over the past decade to perfect cryo-
preservation of transplantable organs. This work has shown steady progress,
with viable kidneys now recoverable from temperatures as low as -45'C. Much
colder temperatures are expected soon, as the most difficult technical
problems now seem to be solved.

      There is thus now a wealth of knowledge concerning organ cryo-
preservation that did not exist ten years ago. Much of this knowledge is
directly translatable to the problems of cryopreserving *any* organ,
including the brain. Furthermore, a "head start" of sorts exists for the
brain, as it is already known to be recoverable by very simple methods from

        The project budget and timescale is a conservative estimate of the
effort necessary to successfully adapt existing organ cryopreservation
knowledge to the specific issues of brain preservation and to apply the
neurobiological techniques necessary to show restoration of the memory and
other mental attributes.

How will success be demonstrated?

      The Project will likely proceed in three stages, each requiring perhaps
2 or 3 years for completion.

      Stage 1: Development and demonstration of good histologic preservation
               by light and electron microscopy after rewarming from -140'C.

      Stage 2: Recovery of mammalian brains after rewarming from -140'C,
               with viability and restoration of memory demonstrated by
               electrophysiological study of isolated brains.

      Stage 3: Demonstration of complete neurological recovery in a large
               animal model after *in-situ* cryopreservation of the brain
               to low sub zero temperatures.

Who will work on the Project?

      The Project will seek to retain the most qualified scientists
available. Scientists with specific and proven expertise in organ cryo-
preservation and neuroscience will be sought. A state-of-the-art laboratory
dedicated to the full-time pursuit of the project goal will be established.

How are funds being raised?

      The Project, proposed by cryonics activist Paul Wakfer in June, 1996,
is currently in the discussion stage. Before proceeding with detailed
planning, it is necessary to determine whether sufficient support exists for
this Project *in principle*.

      At this time, the Prometheus Project is essentially a pledge campaign
asking a strictly hypothetical question:
1) *If* $1M/yr in pledges for 10 years is collected, and
2) *if* satisfactory scientific and business plans are developed, and
3) *if* the researchers and their projects are satisfactory to the you, and
4) *if* a corporation is formed to employ these scientists to execute these
    projects which issues a prospectus and share offering for that purpose,
4) *then* how much would you be willing to contribute, beginning in 1998, to
    share purchases of equal amounts for up to 10 years, in that corporation.

Are investments being solicited?

      No. No money is being requested and no investments are being solicited.
If sufficient interest in the form of conditional pledges is demonstrated, a
company will be formed, a prospectus issued, and investments solicited. Until
that time, pledges and all other discussion of finances are purely

What if sufficient funding cannot be obtained?

      It is hoped that sufficient "in principle" support for the Project can
be obtained by late 1997, with pledgors approving the Project plans in time
for a research start in early 1998. If more time is required, the pledge
campaign will likely continue as long as is necessary to reach the funding

What if the Project is not successful?

      If reversible brain cryopreservation is not demonstrated within 10
years of research commencement, additional funding will be sought, and the
Project will continue as long as necessary until this goal is accomplished.

      Brain cryopreservation is largely virgin territory in cryobiology: The
Prometheus Project will be directing 100 times more resources at this problem
than has ever been directed at it before, under the anticipated direction of
the best cryobiological minds in the world. Major (and publishable) advances
are certain, and this will likely generate the additional interest necessary
to keep the Project going for longer than 10 years if necessary.

What if the Project is successful?

      The result will be published in a major scientific journal, with
explicit mention of the profound medical implications. We believe that as a
result cryonics will receive unprecedented scientific attention, and ethical
debates will rage. The technology will be deployed among cryonics service
providers, and options for legally challenging the status of cryonics
patients as "dead" (and otherwise increasing their rights) will be

      The research company should then be able to raise additional funds to
perfect suspended animation of the head, and ultimately all organs of the
body. This additional fundraising will likely take place outside the cryonics
community, perhaps through a public offering of non-voting shares,
capitalizing on the publicity surrounding the Project success.

Who will have access to the technology?

      It is anticipated that much (perhaps most) of the Project research
results will be available in the public domain. Indeed, regular publication
in peer-reviewed journals is an important Project objective. However patent
protection will be sought for the final perfusate formulas and other
innovations that permit reversible brain cryopreservation. This will be done
to ensure that Project contributors receive proper consideration for their
support should any profits materialize from this development.

      Project technology (perhaps in the form of pre-packaged perfusates)
will be made available to all cryonics organizations at a reasonable cost. 
An incentive plan that would allow shareholders to return shares to the
research company in exchange for products at discounted rates is currently
under discussion.

How can I find out more?

      For more information see the list of all Cryonet messages mentioning
the project at:


a description of the project, and testimonials at:


and the honor role of pledgers at:


In addition, keep reading the newsgroup sci.cryonics or subscribe to the
Cryonet list for all the latest Prometheus Project news.

To subscribe to CryoNet, send email to: 
with the message _body_ (not subject line): subscribe cryonet

How can I help?

      Tell everyone you know who is interested in longer life about the
Prometheus Project. If you are a member of a cryonics organization, encourage
your organization to promote the Project and its goal. If you would like to
make a Project pledge, contact:

Paul Wakfer  email:        Voice/Fax:     Pager:
US:     1220 E Washington St #24, Colton, CA 92324 909-481-4433 800-805-2870
Canada: 238 Davenport Rd #240, Toronto, ON M5R 1J6 416-968-6291 416-446-9461
(Currently in California)

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