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June 30, 2005

Abstinent geckos and zombie dogs

Uncomfortable truths from the world of science:

050607_geck_animation_03

Geckos that forego sex and instead clone themselves are able to run farther and faster than relatives that reproduce the more conventional way. [Live Science]

And...

Boffins create zombie dogs

SCIENTISTS have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.

US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years.

Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.

The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.

But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.

Plans to test the technique on humans should be realised within a year, according to the Safar Centre. [NEWS.com.au]

[Hat tip to Loren Beyerstein.]

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So, these zombies -- are we talking flesh-eaters or brain-eaters?

um, I think that smell is horseshit.

What makes you say that, RM? The Safar Center for Resuscitation Research is a part of the medical school at the University of Pittsburg. Nobody has replicated their results, AFAIK, but it's a little soon for that. They're certainly a legitimate research team.

Here is their page on their http://www.safar.pitt.edu/content/programs/safar/hs_sa4.html>Hemorrhagic Shock and Suspended Animation Program.

They've been using a dog model of severe hypothermia and rewarming for almost 20 years now:

We have investigated hypothermic preservation strategies and are beginning to do the same with pharmacologic strategies. Tisherman, et al (J Trauma 31:1051, 1991) developed and used this dog model since 1988. After severe normothermic hemorrhage, profound hypothermic circulatory arrest (5-10°C) of 2 hours, after resuscitation and rewarming with CPB, could be reversed to survival, but so far with brain damage.

This week's big announcement is that they're now able to bring the dogs back from their super-cooled state without brain damage.

So, the philosophers out there are saying "Wait a minute, these are anti-zombie dogs! They're just the same old dogs we knew and loved before we stopped their hearts, perfused them with chilled brine, and shocked them back to life again. And yet, they probably still like to eat brains."

But which dog wouldn't like to ear brains?

Oh, my god! I really cannot support this. Having reached the age where I can get discounted meals at Dennys, I am of the opinion that we have to gracefully accept the fact that someday we are going to die. And this is not a bad thing. Really. Why should such a natural event as death be the sole domain of religion?

Oops. I meant "solely the domain of religion" not "the sole domain of religion." A senior moment.

So I wonder where they're planning to get human volunteers from "within a year"?

"Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution."

Hasn't something like this been done for surgery on the brain? I recall seeing a surgery on a distended vein or artery in the brain that required that the blood flow be stopped for the surgery. Problem was, that stopping the blood flow to the brain kills the patient, so they chilled the guy.

I don't think they replaced his blood, I think they ran it through a cooler and back into his body. Blood probably has a limit on how cold you can make it before doing damage though.

Poor geckos, everybody wants to talk about the dogs.

Wasn't there some supposed old educational video about Russians doing the dog thing?

"I am of the opinion that we have to gracefully accept the fact that someday we are going to die. And this is not a bad thing. Really."

Would you care to explain why it's not a bad thing? I'm curious, as all you did was make the statement. If you're relying no the fact that death is natural, then I don't see why we shouldn't except, say, infant mortality, plague, alzheimer's, cancer of various forms, sensory decay (glasses seem terribly unnatural) and so on and so forth. Because to all of those I find it easy to append the statement, "It's not a bad thing. Really".

"Poor geckos, everybody wants to talk about the dogs."

This is easily explained. Who wants to hear that celibacy makes us faster, better, stronger, smarter, when we can talk about zombie dogs?

This sounds like the old sci-fi chestnut about putting people in suspended animation for long space trips. Space Seed here we come!

WRT the human volunteers for the next phase of experimentation, maybe they could ask some College Republicans; hear they're not busy volunteering for anything else right now.

Anyone know where I can get one of those gecko treadmills? My cats are getting a little chunky and could use some exercise.

And anyone who thinks that extending human life indefinitely would be an unalloyed good needs to read Kurt Vonnegut's short story, "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow."

(At least, I think that was the title. The one with "anti-gerosone.")

Excellent! Zombie dogs and super-gecko clones! This is what science is all about! Although, I'm still banking on cybernetic resurrection instead of simply being made into a corpsicle and then jumpstarted for round two. I've already got a will written up and funds set aside to have my brain frozen upon death. The best guess right now is that memory operates through a combination of structure and activation of gene sequences that regulate the production of chemicals that assist or impede transmission of signals, and, if that's it then this should be retrievable froma frozen brain. Not with any current technology, grant you, but it strikes me as completely do-able with foreseeable advances in already known sciences. Plus, with the 90 nanometer node of semiconductors in full production, 65 nanometer technology hitting the shelves in a few months, and major development done on 45 nanometer technology and a good start on the 32 nanometer node, sub ten nanometer transistors should be easily done with conventional technology within a decade, and monomolecular transistors and self assembling circuits within 20. If we propose that we can make a pretty good fully functional model of a neuron with a hundred transistors and handful of resistors and other devices, then this means a ten nanometer technology should be able to fit a neuron simulator into a 200 nm cube, allowing for interconnects, support devices, and so on. Not to mention, it would have mazimum firing speeds of 20-30 GHz. Good old fashioned organic neurons are more than ten times this size, plus their maximum firing speed is only about 100 Hz. So, a reconstituted human brain built on a nanotechnology ULSI analog platform would be much, much smarter than an organic one. The hardware is here, or coming soon. Right now it's "just" a software problem, and I think the software problem can be solved by extremely powerful and massively parallel systems capable of imaging brain structure down to <1 um and sequencing genes on a massive scale. I bet a robotic system that would systematically take apart a brain, record the position of synaptic connections and the gene activity in each cell, and present you with a "blueprint" could be built today. It might cost a billion dollars and take a year to perform this action, but as technology comes down in price and goes up in speed, it'll become easy to do. This would be much better than making corpsicles, since a "human" that fits in a box the size of a soupcan and needs neither air, water, nor food, instead getting power from solar panels and/or nuclear reactors, would make a much better interstellar astronaut than a corpsicle.

Well. So, they are comparing a parthenogenically reproducing gecko to a 'close relative', eh?

Doesn't sound kosher to me.

Alex Earl - concerning death not being a bad thing, I was not trying to make a particularly profound point. What I had in mind is that death is not totally bad, something to be avoided at all costs, something to be afraid of. I think that sometimes our drive to prolong life becomes obsessive to the exclusion of other values. And I certainly didn't mean that reasonable efforts shouldn't be made to save a life, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. One of life's little jobs is to confront one's own death and apply whatever is learned to the present. If I were young and faced with a fatal disease, I might feel differently. But I am old, death is not far away, and I view death more as a friend than an enemy. It doesn't seem worthwhile to become consumed with avoiding it.

I for one welcome our new cloned lizard and canine zombie overlords.

The dog story is legit, as Lindsay points out. While the science is fascinating, its also a little bit creepy. In the right hands it could do wonderful things. But in the wrong hands, as alot of science eventually winds up in these days, it could do horrible things.

Everybody knows that zombies only eat brains if their masters command them to.

Steve,

If that's the case, then who commands Zombie Joseph Beuys?

Has anyone actually found where they'be published this stuff in a peer-reviewed medical journal? Or anywhere that isn't the "popular press"? This sounds a helluva lot like Cold Fusion (or the way it played out). I browsed their web site and couldn't find a thing.

Until they do my snark meter is tingling and I'm leaning Rented Mule's Way towards "Horseshit"

I thought you had to be British to be a boffin.

WRT the human volunteers for the next phase of experimentation, maybe they could ask some College Republicans

So I take it this would be the clinical trials before the human trials begin...

mojo sends

The suspended animation dogs were in the June '05 issue of Scientific American. I'd look it up, but I gave the magazine to my girlfriend.

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