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Bret, Sarah, Molly and Ada
Members since 2005 By Deborah Johnson
Bret Kulakovich in his ofﬁce.
Bret & Sarah, May 2005
round 9:45 p.m. on a clear summer evening near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 3-year old Molly takes her dad’s hand and walks out into the yard. They stand together, gazing up at the night sky. A few minutes later, a bright dot in the sky is spotted. Molly’s dad points to it and, for the ﬁrst time, Molly sees the International Space Station as it silently glides overhead in its orbit above Earth. Molly also likes to help her dad work on their 7-foot satellite dish so they can watch NASA channels, Russian channels and even Arabic channels. And, on the night when the rain and temperature conditions are just right, they quietly walk down their country road together, so they can watch the salamanders awaken from their winter rest, cross the road and move off toward their springtime activities. This is the kind of rich and rewarding life the Kulakovich’s are looking forward to for many, many, many more years. That’s why all the Kulakovich’s—Bret, his wife Sarah, 3year old Molly, and 1-year old Ada—joined Alcor. “Cryonics brings more to life than ﬁrst meets the eye,” says Sarah. “I view it as a part of the journey. It makes me feel more connected to history and the whole, long journey of man.” Being connected to history comes naturally to Sarah, who was born in a tiny hamlet in Bourton, Wiltshire, England. Their hamlet had no store or post ofﬁce and everyone lived off the land. Her grandmother, who will Cryonics/Summer 2006
be 100 years old in January, was a lacemaker. Growing up, history was in every nook and cranny of the home her family has lived in for ﬁve generations. Sarah says fondly, “Our home was like a moment in history and it was all around me everyday.” As an artist and graphic designer, she carries that deep sense of mankind’s history into her work. “This non-verbal communication keeps me in tune with the human spirit,” she says. Bret, who co-founded bonﬁreproductions.com with Sarah, shares her love of visual arts, and an interest to move toward more scientiﬁc, grantdriven work. With a BFA in Photographic and Electronic Imaging from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, he has applied his multimedia skills to educational projects, such as the National Science Foundation’s Simulations for Calculus Learning (SimCalc), and works with faculty at a Boston liberal arts college to realize media projects for education. His website, www.bretorium.com, showcases his many talents. Bret is currently completing his masters in Media Production at Emerson College. The couple’s artistic and insightful dispositions are reﬂected in their decision to join Alcor. Sarah says thoughtfully, “Our Alcor membership has shifted time for me and added an entirely new dimension. I may be able to extend time to do new things, like take writing courses and go back and get an entirely different college degree.” www.alcor.org
Sarah & Bret, wedding photo, May 2000.
Bret, her husband of 6 years, shares her enthusiasm for extended life, saying, “I would enjoy seeing some measure of space exploration achieved. And exploration of the bottoms of the ocean.” He continues, “I think we are poised to reach a new level of understanding in physics and the brain. It would be good to actually see that.” This idea of more time, plus an optimistic view for the future are part of the reason they chose to include Molly and Ada in their plans for cryopreservation. “We believe this is a gift to them,” says Sarah in her peaceful, soft-spoken manner. “And if they want to change their minds later on, that’s ﬁne.” Sarah’s ﬁrst exposure to cryonics was through Bret, but, interestingly, she already had a family connection. Her father was a student of Marvin Minsky. Dr. Minsky was one of the pioneers of artiﬁcial intelligence and is a scientiﬁc advisor to Alcor. When Bret ﬁrst talked to
her about cryonics, she says, “It was instantly obvious to me that it would work and it had validity.” Since then, she has supplemented that ﬁrst grasp of the concept with more information and study. Bret’s connection to cryonics was much earlier. He read science ﬁction as a young boy, and then in the early 1990’s, he discovered extropy (the theory that cultural and technological development will expand indeﬁnitely and in an orderly, progressive manner throughout the universe). During his college years at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where he was studying design and astrophysics, he happened across a magazine with an article about Alcor. “I had heard about cryonics, but this was the ﬁrst time I realized someone was actually doing it and they (Alcor) had patients at their facility.” “I like people saying things are possible,”
Bret remarks. “Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t, but it is possible. And it’s more and more probable as time goes on.” For those who doubt it could ever work, Bret says that time is on his side. “If there’s only a 1 percent chance of cryonics working today, then at some time in the future it will be 2 percent. And so on.” It’s one of the concepts Bret introduces when he talks to others about cryonics. “I don’t want to be seen as eccentric or extravagant. I don’t evangelize,” he notes. So, he crafts his thoughts and insights about cryonics to meet the interests and needs of the people with whom he speaks. Sarah, who is passionate but reserved, says, “So many people have only heard about the surface of cryonics and they miss the richness.” It is this thoughtful and respectful approach to others that is helping steadily spread the word about cryonics and Alcor. You can contact Bret and Sarah Kulakovich at: kulakovich_family@bonﬁreproductions.com.
left to right: Bret and daughter Molly; Ada and Molly enjoy a day at home; Sarah and daughter Ada
Rafal Smigrodzki, M.D., Ph.D.
Member since 2002 By Deborah Johnson
Karen, Nymeria and Rafal Smigrodzki
rom the time he was nine years old, Rafal Smigrodzki was interested in cryonics. As a young boy growing up in southern Poland, his imagination was captured by a Polish science ﬁction story. Translated as The Threshold of Immortality, it tells of a writer who has been “uploaded” into a pseudo biological substrate. Although this particular story ended badly—with superstitious peasants burning down the lab—Rafal knew then that science could have answers to living beyond the expected number of years. “By the time I ﬁrst learned what cryonics was and heard the urban legends of Walt Disney being frozen, I was already hooked,” says Rafal. Raised in the industrial town of Piekary Slaskie (pop. 70,000), he was always interested in science, possibly inheriting it from his father, who was a doctor. “It was an enduring interest of mine,” says Rafal. “For me it is a way of thinking.” That way of thinking eventually led Rafal to the United States, where he is both a practicing clinician in neurology and the chief clinical ofﬁcer for a private biotech company.
As a physician he enjoys working directly with patients. “I like having a direct impact on people. They are grateful if you do something good for them.” Rafal’s real passion, however, is the work he does in the solitude of the lab, focusing on the development of an effective treatment for diseases caused by damage to mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria are the power plants of the cell and contain a part the body’s genetic material. “When mitochondrial DNA is corrupted, it may produce diseases whose symptoms include epilepsy, diabetes, loss of memory and early death. These are quite horrible diseases and right now are untreatable,” comments Rafal. His work focuses on developing methods of intracellular delivery of mitochondrial DNA for therapeutic purposes. His voice exudes passion as he talks about the possibilities of the research. “It’s the most exciting thing you can imagine.” In fact, he is so committed to the outcome that for the ﬁrst two years he devoted his time to the company with no compensation. Fortunately, a recent grant from the National Insti-
Smigrodzkis’ Virginia home
tutes of Health will provide a salary along with funds for the research. It is only natural that Rafal would be involved in leading-edge research. His list of credentials includes: a medical degree in Poland, an M.D.- Ph.D. from Heidelberg University in Germany, a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurobiology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a neurology residency at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, and a movement disorders fellowship at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Rafal’s keenness for mitochondrial DNA research merges nicely with his long-held interest in extending his life. “If we can treat mitochondrial disease, then we can also address the mitochondrial aspects of aging, of the decaying of cells,” he remarks.
His hope is that in 15 years, the research he is involved in will have an impact on the common diseases of aging and be beneﬁcial to many people. He also hopes to “surf the wave of progress,” where science and medicine are continually coming up with treatments for aging and therefore extending life spans out in front of him. But according to Rafal, if the progress is not fast enough, then a cryopreservation through Alcor is his “Plan B.” He is realistic in his outlook and says it is smart to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Either way, he sees human life as having no limits. Rafal believes those who would be inclined to reverse a cryopreservation and revive him would be honest and caring people. He assumes that by the time his cryopreservation is reversed, science would have conquered aging and he would have the opportunity to be restored to health and youth. When asked what he would do, waking up in the future, he is quick to reply, “Imagine waking up, surrounded by nice people, and you’re young and healthy and, through a perpetual trust I hope to be able to establish I would have sufﬁcient ﬁnancial means.” With laughter in his voice he adds, “I would ﬁnd something to do.” Rafal is a pioneer for the future but, for today, he is happy with a pretty normal existence at home. He is married with a new daughter, Nymeria, with whom he hasn’t had much time, due to his work. “I don’t know too much about being a dad, since I had to be away from home temporarily during the last year doing clinical work. I am really looking
Karen and daughter Nymeria
forward to spending time with my family right now,” he says. In his rare spare time, Rafal enjoys computer games like “World of Warcraft,” which is a multiplayer online game with 5 million players. As a counterpoint to intellectual endeavors, he likes working with his hands. Plans for home renovations include new windows, a carport and stone facing on the foundation of their home in Virginia. Like most Alcor members, Rafal hopes to share his limitless future with his family. He and his wife, Karen, have discussed membership for the entire family. “I think signing up with Alcor is the reasonable thing to do for everyone who values life. It is based on sound scientiﬁc principles and it is based on hope,” he says. “I’m optimistic; I have faith in the future.” You can contact Rafal Smigrodzki at: firstname.lastname@example.org. ■
Rafal and dogs Bart and Azor
Member since 2003 By Deborah Johnson
Anthony overlooking his home town of Monaco
Anthony in front of the rocket that would carry Dennis Tito into the history books as the ﬁrst space tourist. April 26th 2001, Baikonur, Kazakhstan
here aren’t too many people who would think of Beirut fondly for its golf courses and beaches. But then there aren’t too many people who grew up in the Middle East, went to boarding school in England, have received a personal phone call from Steven Spielberg, and call Monaco home. Anthony Waller is—to say the least—an interesting and unconventional person. “I am deﬁnitely British for many generations back,” says Anthony in his proper British accent. “But 80 percent of my life I’ve lived outside of England, including Beirut; Kuwait; Germany; Venice Beach, California; Holland; and South Africa. For the past 17 years I’ve lived in Monaco.” Anthony considers himself a citizen of the world, rather than just of England. After many years of living abroad, he feels he has a different view of the world than many people. “I feel like the whole world belongs to me, not just one country, and if everybody felt like that, we would all be richer.” Because he understands ﬁrst-hand what it’s like to be the foreigner, he is extremely tolerant of all races and cultures. “The only thing I can’t tolerate, is intolerance itself ”. He adds: “I dislike borders, yet I like differences.”
It is probably this unconventional upbringing, along with an early passion for ﬁlmmaking that eventually led him full speed into his career as a writer and director. Among Anthony’s credits are “An American Werewolf in Paris,” starring Tom Everett Scott, and “The Guilty,” starring Bill Pullman and “Mute Witness,” with a guest appearance by Sir Alec Guinness. His current project is in production in Namibia and Hungary, starring Adrian Paul (of the “Highlander” series), Melissa George, and Nick Nolte. At age 11, Anthony knew he wanted to make movies. His ﬁrst effort was a 3-minute cartoon that took him 10 months to create. “I was tenacious, even then,” he comments. “Imagine an 11-year old boy working on something for 10 months.” His novice movie making continued in boarding school in England. His ﬁrst break came from a classmate’s father, renowned producer David Puttnam. At a school event, Lord Puttnam saw one of Anthony’s ﬁlms and was captivated by its quality. “He came up to me and told me that he would be proud to have made that ﬁlm. It wasn’t until later that I learned he was a famous producer, soon to become head of Columbia Pictures.” Lord Puttnam was also chairman of the National Film School and suggested that Anthony attend—as the youngest student ever. www.alcor.org
Anthony shooting in Munich’s Arriﬂex studios, 1987
During his studies there, he was picked by John Schlesinger to receive the Shakespeare Scholarship in 1981 for a further year of study at the Munich Film School in Germany. There he went on to work as a celebrated editor of TV movies and commercials. But his heart was in directing and he was determined to make it happen. So, he saved up enough money to ﬁnance the production of two music videos for two unknown bands (who both subsequently received record contracts). Anthony exploded onto the scene and became one of the most sought-after directors of commercials in Germany. In 1984, he began realizing his goal of working in feature ﬁlms by ﬁnancing, writing, producing and directing “Mute Witness”, about a young, mute make-up artist who witnesses the making of a “snuff movie”. “I met Sir Alec Guinness one evening in Hamburg, Germany, and somehow talked him into a brief cameo role in this ﬁlm and he agreed to shoot the scene the
Anthony & Sir Alec Guinness
next day before his return ﬂight to the UK,” says Anthony remembering that pivotal moment. “I didn’t have a crew or even the script, and didn’t even live in Hamburg myself, but somehow overnight I pulled it together and we ﬁlmed with Sir Alec the next morning.” Although it took eight years before Anthony had saved up enough to resume shooting—subsequently setting the story in Russia—he says it paid off—and Sir Alec related the experience in his memoirs, “Diary of a Retired Actor,” after the movie was released. Interest from Hollywood immediately followed. “I didn’t believe it at ﬁrst when I heard ‘Steven Spielberg is on the line.’ It’s what every ﬁrsttime director in the world yearns to hear.” Two years later, he was directing “An American Werewolf in Paris.” And three years after that “The Guilty” with Bill Pullman. Although he was a hot property at that point, Anthony wasn’t interested in settling for just anything that came along. “I had all kinds of offers to do slasher and gore ﬁlms, but frankly I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed.” So, the Hollywood roller-coaster ride cooled down. But his youthful tenacity continued to serve him well. The next ﬁve years he spent developing movies that are close to his heart, including a dramatization of the space race of the 60’s told from the Russian perspective. Anthony describes his current ﬁlm “Nine Miles Down” as a spine-chilling journey into the psyche of a man struggling to escape his tortured past. He comments, “It pits science versus superstition, where, for a change, the popular yet irrational demonizing of science is shown to have tragic consequences.” For a sneak preview on what to expect, one can view the project’s website at: www. ninemilesdown.com
It’s really not much of a stretch to imagine that someone with Anthony’s expanded worldview would ﬁnd the idea of cryonics instantly appealing. In 2002, an ex-girlfriend who was making a TV documentary on cryonics took him to the Alcor conference in Newport Beach. “Amongst others, I met and listened to Ray Kurzweil and Greg Fahy and was completely fascinated.” He started the membership process right away and completed it the following year. In his future movie projects he would like to ﬁnd ways of incorporating his newfound interests in cryonics and related subjects into his movies in a more positive light than they are currently treated in mainstream cinema. “I see Alcor and cryonics as a last resort; a ‘life-boat’ that I hope I will never have to need.” Anthony comments, “I want to stay alive and healthy for as long as possible.” Like many cryonicists, he’s hoping that science and medicine will solve the challenges of aging while he’s still vital, making cryopreservation unnecessary. Right now, he wants to live life to the fullest. “There really is no point in living if you’re only going to vegetate in front of the TV,” says Anthony. As he looks into the future, he hopes to see the further exploration of outer space as well as the oceans on earth. “There’s so much possible in the future. I’d like to experience the interface between the human brain and computer technology,” he says. “Imagine if we could link telepathically with something like a bird and actually experience ﬂight from the bird’s perspective.” With Anthony’s creative drive, this may be his next movie idea and, with a little luck, a part of the future for all of us. You can contact Anthony Waller at email@example.com. ■
Member Profile: Chana de Wolf
By Deborah Johnson
t all comes down to providing patients with the best cryopreservation possible,” says Chana de Wolf, Alcor’s research associate since September 2006, who joined as a member of the organization in February 2007. Chana is responsible for creating the new cardiopulmonary bypass lab at Alcor, and she appears to be the right person at the right time. Her undergraduate, graduate and doctoral work has honed her research skills. Her journey from the small East Texas town of Athens to Alcor was an interesting spiral, to say the least. In 1994, as young as age 14, her love of science was apparent. After her family moved from Athens to Waco, she was placed into her high school’s gifted and talented science program. Chana speaks of it fondly and says she relished the experience. “My teacher encouraged my exploration of neuroscience in particular,” she recalls. At only 14-years-old, she already had a burgeoning interest in the brain, which was nurtured through a long-term research project for class. The challenges of the project led her to the then-neophyte Internet. That’s where Chana managed to find a primitive bulletin board system and connect with a scientist who would become her mentor over the following years. “He was working on a new clinical concept; penetrating the blood-brain barrier via the olfactory route with agents that could help prevent neurodegeneration,” comments Chana. “He” turned out to be William H. Frey II, the co-founder and director of the St. Paul-Ramsey Alzheimer’s Research Center. Not surprisingly Chana’s 10th grade science , project – on monitoring the effectiveness of intranasal administration of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) – won first prize.
Cryonics/Second Quarter 2007
Photo by Murray Ballard.
By 2003 she had earned her master of science in cognition and neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas, where she worked in the Neurophysiology of Aging and Memory laboratory There, she performed . single-cell electrophysiology of brain slices, with a specific interest in determining how insulin receptors affect neuronal excitability in the hippocampus, a structure important for the consolidation of memories. Chana remarks, “I’m glad I took a sort of circuitous route. I have learned a lot and feel that I have a good background to pursue my interests and to work here at Alcor.” Chana balances her keen interest in science with lighter endeavors, like flying kites. She especially enjoys power-kiting and loves visiting windy beaches and flying out over the water. And she’s also quite enamored of her dogs – Darwin and Monkey Darwin is a 5. year-old Boston terrier and Monkey is a 3year-old pit bull. Chana will now be sharing her time with her new husband, Aschwin de Wolf. They were married on April 7, 2007. Aschwin, previously an employee of Suspended Animation, Inc., pulled up stakes in Florida and has joined Chana, Darwin and Monkey in their home in Phoenix. “Since we share a love of cryonics and met at the Alcor conference, it’s only fitting that we brought an element of that to our wedding,” Chana says. “David Pizer served as our officiant and Steve Van Chana with her poster presentation at the Society for NeuroSickle made liquid nitrogen science conference in 2005. ice cream for all our guests at the ceremony .” mental psychology with a minor in biology Chana first discovered cryonics and and honors thesis in cognitive neuroscience Alcor through her long-standing dedication to (“Detection of symmetry in depth: Effects of protecting the right to control one’s own increasing skew angle”). “Experimental psy- body While she has an interest in body mod. chology was fascinating and really gave me a ification in general, her academic bent lead good background in experimental design, but her to study the capabilities of technology to ultimately I found the focus on cognition, improve the quality of human life. with little regard for biology or neuroanato“Then I looked up Alcor,” Chana my, too abstract for my tastes,” Chana remarks. “And I became interested in Alcor explains. “Fortunately by the time I was ready right away It didn’t take long for her to pur, .” for graduate school, neuroscience programs sue membership with Alcor. “I think it is were becoming commonplace.” important for a researcher in the field to be as
The following year Chana was admitted to the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS), a prestigious early-entrance residential college program for advanced math and science students. There, she was able to connect with other students like herself and earn college credit for her advanced studies. But her experience at TAMS was shortlived. After only a year, Chana left Texas and was able to use her college credit to gain admittance to Temple University in Philadelphia. Upon completion of her junior year at Temple, she returned to Texas to finish up her bachelor of science at the University of North Texas, in Denton. “In the late 1990s universities knew about neuroscience – it was the ‘Decade of the Brain’ – but there weren’t many programs focused on it yet,” Chana comments. So she created her own curriculum. In 2001, she received her bachelor of science in experi-
Chana and Aschwin de Wolf wed in an outdoor ceremony on April 7, 2007.
involved in cryonics as possible,” she says. “Being a member is the best way to remind myself of the personal aspect of cryonics – that every other member and patient is a person who wants the same thing I do – and to convey that involvement to others.” Today she is working toward creating a , sustainable research lab at Alcor. ”I want to establish a framework where basic, cryonicsrelevant research is performed at Alcor,” Chana comments. Alcor’s research and development department is striving to increase visibility and credibility. Chana knows from her academic background that it’s imperative to publish research findings in peer-reviewed publications. She hopes that after the cardiopulmonary bypass lab is established, it will yield publishable results. “I am so excited to be able to bring my expertise in different fields to the research lab at Alcor,” she says. “There’s always room for improvement.” You can reach Chana at: firstname.lastname@example.org
___________________________________ Email us if you’re interested in being profiled for Cryonics magazine: email@example.com
Cryonics/Second Quarter 2007
Maria Entraigues and Ruy Folguera
By Chana de Wolf
s a child, Maria Entraigues would fly with her parents to Spain each year to visit her family. While there, she especially liked watching performances by her uncle, a well-known Spanish singer. Maria fondly recalls attending his concerts, which nourished her budding desire to become a performer herself. “My uncle encouraged me early on,” she says. Later in life, as lead singer for the house band at the Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Maria was already beginning to live her dream. But that dream got a little bigger in 1991 when band auditions were held and she met Ruy Folguera, a talented pianist who easily passed the trial. Maria and Ruy began dating shortly thereafter, brought together by their love for music. Ruy is the progeny of a long line of mathematicians and engineers, but he was always most interested in music and film and sought to be a composer. He was especially enamored with the combination of music and film, and remembers recording movie music on tape as a young boy. Encouraged and inspired by one another, Maria and Ruy both applied for and received scholarships to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, where they lived from 1992 until 1995. Maria is now a degreed voice performer, while Ruy earned degrees in commercial arranging and film scoring, which refers to writing the background music for a movie or other production. Since moving to their current residence in Los Angeles, California, in 1995, Maria and Ruy have continued to combine their talents in such a way that allows them to work together on many creative projects. Sometimes Maria is even able to keep up her acting chops with roles in movies such as the Woody Allen film Picking Up the Pieces, which Ruy scored. Most recently, Ruy did the electronic music and orchestrations for Rush Hour 3, while Maria worked as music direction assistant.
Maria at a music video shoot for the end titles song she co-wrote with Ruy called “Free Our Love” for the film “The Magnificent Ambersons,” which Ruy scored.
As part of their careers as performers, they often get to travel when a director asks them to compose the music while a film is being shot. Their next project, in which Maria has acting and singing roles, takes them to Romania to work on the movie Dare To Love Me, a musical directed by famous director Alfonso Arau about the life of Carlos Gardel. “We work on movies together a lot,” says Maria. “We’re lucky that way.” With a studio in their L.A. home and an endless supply of Hollywood productions seeking soundtracks, it may seem like their luck will never run out. But Maria knows better. “Since I was a child I have been obsessed with the fact that we have to age, deteriorate, and die and that there’s still no way out of it.” This obsession drove her to zealously research anti-aging subjects in her spare time. “I always have my little laptop with me,” she says. “I keep reading as much as I can on subjects related to life extension, medicine, biology, genetics, transhumanism, and bio-nanotechnology. I think I first read about Alcor ten years ago, but somehow I thought it was only for very wealthy people and kind of a long shot anyway.” Then, around three years ago, Maria began reading about Dr. Aubrey de Grey and
Cryonics/Fourth Quarter 2007
Maria and Ruy at the premiere of the movie “Zapata.” Ruy scored the music for the movie and Maria sang and co-wrote songs for the soundtrack.
his plan for defeating aging called Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS). Realizing that she might be of help in communicating his ideas, she offered her services as a Spanish translator for his website. While attending Dr. de Grey’s second SENS conference in Cambridge in 2005, Maria and Ruy met Dr. de Grey in person. “It was there, while at dinner, he passionately explained to me why I should become an
Maria and Ruy are licensed pilots and are shown here flying their personal airplanes.
Alcor member,” Maria recalls. “I had no doubt then.” As a next step, Maria and Ruy attended the 2006 Alcor conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Having had such a positive experience at SENS, Maria was already convinced that she should sign up with Alcor. Ruy was “hooked” on the idea, but still needed to hear more about it. “Going to the conference was perfect,” Maria in the Alcor patient care bay during her tour Maria recalls. “We met of the facility at the 6th Alcor conference many members there and had the chance to ask them questions. The presentations were ence, enabling her to work on humanity’s very educational, and the tour of the [Alcor] biggest problems with her own hands. facility was impressive. In a way we were able “Becoming an Alcor member has, in a way, to see that this is real, and we left the confer- put me at ease in the sense that I am doing my part towards helping something I really ence really believing in it.” But that doesn’t mean they are totally believe in,” she reflects. “I feel special to be convinced that one day cryopreserved peo- part of an exclusive group of pioneers trying ple will be repaired to a healthy state. to achieve probably the biggest milestone in “Nobody can guarantee that yet, but we the history of humanity.” really believe in the project, and we underContact these members: stand that this is an option we have now. In Maria Entraigues: firstname.lastname@example.org reality, it is the only option we have now, Ruy Folguera: email@example.com and even though the whole concept sounds farfetched to most people, it is plausible.” The more Maria and Ruy informed themselves about the cryonics experiment, the more reasonable it became to them. It was a mere two months after the Alcor conference that Maria and Ruy formalized their memberships with Alcor. And their adventurous spirits don’t stop there. Maria, who has fostered a lifelong fascination with astronomy and space exploration, woke up one morning in the not too distant past with a strong urge to leave earth. “I have always wanted to go to space,” she proclaims. Instead of becoming an astronaut, she did the next best thing – she learned to fly. Although many cryonicists would tremble at the thought of taking up such a risky hobby, Maria feels that pursuing her true happiness is one of the most important aspects of being a life extensionist. “What is the point of living a long life if you don’t use that time to do what you enjoy most?” she asks earnestly. Because of her interests, Maria sometimes wishes she had dedicated her life to sci-
Cryonics/Fourth Quarter 2007
Wes Du Charme
By Chana de Wolf
es Du Charme dedicated his early life to understanding how people work together. After obtaining a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1969 he entered the field of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology, which seeks to influence productivity and satisfaction in the workplace by utilizing psychological theories and research methods. It was with the logical mindset required of such an occupation that Wes first read K. Eric Drexler’s book, Engines of Creation, in 1990. Though he had heard of cryonics before, he had never seriously considered it for more than a few moments. Confronted with Drexler’s evidence for the inevitability of human manipulation of matter at the molecular scale, Wes recalls that, “suddenly, cryonics made sense.” And suddenly, Wes was on a mission. As a researcher and writer who had “always been interested in what the future will hold,” Wes embarked on a quest to inform himself and others of the possibilities for dramatically extended lifespan. After extensive investigation into both nanotechnology and cryonics,
and six months devoted to writing, Wes published a book in 1995 called Becoming Immortal: Nanotechnology, You, and the Demise of Death about nanotechnology-driven possibilities for extending life and resuscitating cryonics patients. Motivated by his desire to live a long life and see the future and to obtain credibility as the author of a book about cryonics, Wes joined the cryonics experiment as an Alcor member that same year. I/O psychologists are by definition interested in organizational or group behavior, and Wes’s concerns about the future of cryonics leave no question that he is intensely interested in the underlying psychological issues surrounding the subject. He wonders, why do some see so clearly, and thus feel so passionately, the need for cryonics while others so easily dismiss it? Worse still, why do so fe w people accept rational arguments in favor of cryonics? “Obviously,” Wes declares, “we would all be safer if cryonics were more popular. We are all more at risk because the idea is not well known and is not well accepted. There are many ways things can go astray even in the best of circumstances.”
Wes jokingly regards the cold Idaho winters as a cryonics training program.
Wes with his wife, Ida, who is also an Alcor member.
Cryonics/First Quarter 2008
The answer to this problem: membership growth. “I think significantly increasing our membership is the key to almost everything else. More members would translate into more dollars, which would allow us to develop along many fronts including publicity, marketing, lobbying, and research. Now, if I only knew how to increase membership….” By his own admission, his efforts at recruiting more Alcor members, even after having written a book on the subject, have been less than stellar. “I was already married by the time I first learned about cryonics, and my wife became interested through me.” Unfortunately, other than his wife Ida, none of his friends or family have become members, keeping a safe distance in the camp of the “generally supportive.” Wes feels that Alcor should devote more of its energy and resources toward marketing to encourage growth because “a larger organization has more clout, more resources, and more options for its members.” Now retired from his job in academia, his leisure activities include reading, keeping up with nanotechnological developments, and playing tennis several times a week. He also serves on committees in the small town of Rathdrum, Idaho, and is currently president of “Friends of Rathdrum Mountain,” a conservation group in the area.
Wes sharing time with his mother and wife.
Perhaps his most ambitious pastime over the past three years has been running a website designed to help other retirees find interesting new leisure activities. The site uses questionnaire/profile matching to direct customers to the most appropriate leisure activities from a database of over 1200 activities (decisiontimetools.com). His background in psychology and interest in cryonics have taught him that “living a healthy, happy
“We always say that barbershoppers live, on average, seven years longer than the rest of the population.”
lifestyle might add significantly more than just a few months or years to my lifespan.” By doing what he can to extend healthy lifespan now, Wes hopes to take advantage of medical advances that will significantly improve that capability in the future. Speaking most fondly of his favorite hobby, singing in a barbershop group, Wes chuckles, “We always say that barbershoppers live, on average, seven years longer than the rest of the population. I’m not sure that’s true, but I’ll take every bit of help I can get!” Wes can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wes (second from left) prepares to deliver a singing valentine with his barber shop quartet.
Cryonics/First Quarter 2008
Stephane and Magali Beauregard
By Chana de Wolf
In 2005, the Beauregards enjoyed the Christmas holiday in scenic Auberge du Lac Taureau (Quebec)
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams!”
extraordinary love and care of his paternal grandparents and an early education in the value of money gained as a newspaper street peddler from the age of thirteen. With temperatures ranging from 30ºC (86ºF) in summer to -35ºC (-31ºF) in winter, Stephane rose at 5:00 in the morning, seven days a week, before going to school. Later on, after a few different jobs in the adult working world, Stephane decided to create his own import/export business of collectible music items. It was on a trip to France for a convention that he met Magali. “I had to buy a return ticket for Montreal and she worked in the travel agency,” says Stephane. After communicating by email and phone, they decided to take a trip to Reunion and Mauritius Islands in the Indian Ocean to get to know each other better. Though Stephane was 32 years old and unsure about the idea of “true love,” as Magali walked in front of him one day he found himself wondering if perhaps she might be the woman for him. Throughout the remainder of the trip they developed such respect for one another that Stephane knew the answer. Several weeks later, he decided to prove his love and sincerity by moving to France to be with Magali. Consequently, they were engaged in 2002 at the top of the Eiffel Tower and married in 2003 at Beauregard Castle – a series of events that Stephane regards as very much “like a fairy tale.” So how did this fairy tale couple become involved in cryonics? Strangely enough, Stephane first learned of cryonics in a public restroom in France, where in 1993 he discovered a magazine article about Alcor. “I was very captivated but I hadn’t any pen and paper on me to note the address and phone number,” he recalls. “So I wanted to remember [the name] of Alcor in Scottsdale.” Many years later, he and Magali were at home watching Vanilla Sky and Forever Young – two movies that talk a little about cryonics, which reminded Stephane of Alcor. He and Magali then found the Alcor website, which they found so interesting that they decided to contact Jennifer Chapman to learn more about Alcor membership. In 2005, Magali and Stephane traveled to Scottsdale to tour the Alcor facility and
f you spend any time perusing the Alcor United web forums, you will undoubtedly run into posts by Magali and Stephane Beauregard, who always end their correspondence with the above quote. Such a bold and hopeful statement instantaneously paints a picture of two eager, forward-looking people – the kind of people whose dreams of the future are uplifting, if idealistic...the type of people who are always willing to share the beauty of their dreams with others and who continually strive to bring their hazy, beautiful dreams into sharper focus. And that picture would be accurate. Magali, a native of Amboise, France, credits her supportive parents and maternal grandparents, as well as a traditional education, with instilling the values that she now finds useful in her life. In high school, Magali began having horrible headaches. An MRI scan revealed a hypophyseal tumor that was so large the doctors recommended immediate surgical removal. Eventually, after two operations, two radiotherapy treatments, and a long course of medication, the tumor was stabilized. Rather than dwell on the negative, though, Magali prefers to recall that, in 2001, she met “the person who would become my best friend and the man of my life: Stephane.” Stephane grew up in LaSalle, Quebec, the French province of Canada. At age eleven, his parents divorced and were thereafter not always present in his life. Instead, he attributes the shaping of his mind and personality to the
This happy couple wed five years ago at Beauregard Castle in France (August 2003)
Cryonics/Second Quarter 2008
finalize their membership applications. They reasoned that cryonics is their “only chance to come back in the future” and that’s a chance they are willing to take. Like most cryonicists, Stephane and Magali express a deep love of living and feel that life as we know it today is too short to realize all their dreams and ambitions. Furthermore, they both feel that the hope of seeing each other again and continuing their journey together will lessen the pain of losing one’s beloved life partner. This is a psychological benefit that may be encouraging an increasing number of couples and families to join Alcor together.
Magali and Stephane pose with Alcor membership coordinator Diane Cremeens in the Alcor patient care bay.
Of course, Magali and Stephane have big dreams for Alcor, too. They envision an Alcor with offices in all the big cities of the world, with a team of researchers presenting groundbreaking scientific findings at medical and technology conferences, and a better-developed marketing department that will attract more publicity and sponsorship. More immediately, they would like to see Alcor automate the membership sign-up process and payment functions online and to investigate newlydeveloped global satellite messenger systems as a means of alerting Alcor to member health emergencies. They are also interested in the feasibility of implementing a software system that would allow cryonicists to upload as much information about themselves as possible in order to assist in stimulating memories and personalities upon resuscitation. Beautiful dreams aside, Magali and Stephane realize that cryonics suffers from a
lack of notoriety and, as a result, a want of members. Aside from the obvious challenge of reviving and rejuvenating its patients, they feel that the next most important goal for Alcor is to grow a more substantial membership base. To that end, Stephane and Magali do their best to increase positive awareness of cryonics. Today they work together in publicity, having created a phone directory in the area where they live. Stephane reports that in this line of business, where they constantly interact with many different people, they are asked about their Alcor bracelets every day. “So we explain the truth and we take a few minutes to talk about cryonics with them,” he says. Because they feel that it is interesting and important for cryonicists to know and learn about one another, Stephane and Magali also go out of their way to meet and stay in touch with other Alcor members. They were very happy to meet “extraordinary people of various countries” at the last two Alcor conferences (2006 and 2007), but were disappointed to learn that some Alcor members find it too difficult to keep in contact afterward. Stephane and Magali traveled back to Scottsdale in March of 2008, where they were delighted to attend the monthly Phoenix Cryonics Meetup. For Stephane, such meetings are a “great opportunity to talk about cryonics and meet other Alcor members.” Being Francophones themselves, Magali and Stephane understand the necessity of publishing information in a variety of languages. Thanks to their recent efforts in securing translations of Alcor documents, Stephane reports that “now French speakers around the world will be able to find information about cryonics directly on the Alcor website.” Taking it a step further, they also anticipate acting as volunteers to communicate with French-speaking prospective members and to write articles about cryonics in order to inform others and find new members. Stephane and Magali’s enthusiasm for cryonics is so apparent that even their friends and parents are infected by it. In fact, Stephane’s mother and some friends are beginning the application process because of their sincere efforts. Stephane affirms that by talking openly about cryonics they set a good example and are generally surprised by the positive reaction they receive from others. He also notes that oftentimes the people they talk to “did not know that this alternative exists.” It is this zeal for introducing others to their options, and the possibilities of the future, that drives Magali and Stephane.
Stephane steals a picture of Magali while enjoying a nature walk in Quebec, where the pair was celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary (2006).
Their vivacity is expressed through a number of other interests, as well. Magali likes to swim, take nature walks, make videos and photos, and draw. Stephane enjoys composing music, playing drums, and singing, as well as a variety of physical activities including swimming, walking, diving and skating. Having already visited more than thirty countries together, Magali and Stephane also maintain an active travel itinerary and visited Japan for their 5th anniversary in August 2008, where we know they continued to engage others in positive dialog about cryonics! I Contact Stephane and Magali Beauregard: email@example.com
Stephane and Magali celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary in Kyoto, Japan in August 2008.
Cryonics/Second Quarter 2008
Richard Leis, Jr.
By Jerad Kaliher
ichard Leis, Jr. has his eyes fixed on space. His pursuit of science has led him on a journey that is out of this world, Mars to be exact. At 35 years old he works as an Operations Specialist at the HiRISE Operations Center located at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The project plans to take approximately 10,000 images of the surface of Mars
twenty active members with an additional chapter in Phoenix, as well as over 100 participants on Facebook. Through the club he met several employees of Alcor and toured the facility for the first time in December 2007. He was impressed with what he was shown. After extensive investigation, meeting other Alcor members and touring the facility, Richard was ready to become an Alcor member. Expense was the first concern that came to mind. Yet he found how reasonable and viable the costs could be with proper insurance coverage. He signed up on the spot. Increasing Alcor membership is always on his mind. The best way, according to Richard, is to bring people who have an interest in cryonics together frequently and face-to-face. It’s what he was drawn to, the human element. To attract new members to his h+ club, the group has tried multiple experiments to capture interest. Attempts include posters with taglines like, “Do YOU want to DIE, neither do we.” They have elicited a wide range of responses, from glaring eyes to outright anger and finally, curiosity. It’s been one of his main challenges when facing loved ones with the option of cryonics. “People often dismiss you.” That doesn’t deter him from spreading the word. Richard’s wish is to extend what it is to be human. “With a whole universe to explore,
Richard describes the HiRISE project to a live audience. He is speaking with the public as high resolution imaging systems are inserted into orbit.
with hopes to obtain high resolution images of less than one percent of the planet’s surface. The job demands detailed methodology and scrutiny of complex scientific data. He applied the same mindset to cryonics from the start. As an adult Richard has been an active member of the transhumanist movement. He is the Treasurer of the Immortality Institute, whose mission is “to conquer the blight of involuntary death.” In 2006 he founded h+, or “humans plus,” a transhumanist club with roots in Tucson. Originally, he wanted to meet people who identified themselves as immortalists. They began meeting for lunch once a week. That trend eventually developed into a journal club. The club has grown to include
I couldn’t imagine undertaking much of it within an average lifespan.” This type of wide eyed wonder is what brought him to cryonics in the first place. Although his family has not expressed interest in membership, some of them have been fascinated by his enthusiasm for the subject. His passion for science, planetary systems and cryonics radiate from him. “After reading an article about the latest discovery I have the urge to tell everyone. Family and friends were often overwhelmed with the technical aspects of what I’d find.” So he found a more conventional way to share breakthroughs – he started a blog (www.frontierchannel.com). Writing began as an outlet for factual news. His aspirations have grown and he hopes to try his hand at fiction. One thing is sure; he needs all the time that science can muster. Mapping Mars, finding life elsewhere in the universe and writing about it may sound ambitious. Good thing Richard is well on his way. To him it was a simple choice, oblivion or a chance to be brought back. “There is such wonder to explore and experience, I’d just really hate to miss it.” I Contact Richard Leis, Jr.: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit Richard’s Blog:www.frontierchannel.com
Richard enjoys visiting his family near the Oregon coast.
Cryonics/Second Quarter 2008
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