Weekly Newsletter

Cryonics #

A Dying Young Woman’s Hope in Cryonics and a Future
Cancer claimed Kim Suozzi at age 23, but she chose to have her brain preserved with the dream that neuroscience might one day revive her mind. I really enjoyed this article. Unlike many of the readers, I’ve considered signing up for cryonics and went so far as to ask for it for my birthday (a request which my mother politely denied). I share Souzzi’s sentiments almost entirely, so it was touching to see the support she gathered on the internet. Despite this, I’ve had discussions with friends and family members who disagree with me strongly, so I understand the other perspective. Given this, I wanted to provide two articles that present my own and the opposing perspective on this topic. The following two articles dig deeper into scientific and philosophical views on this issue.

About That Brain-Freezing Cryonics Story in the New York Times
Neuroscientist Michael Hendricks argues that cryonics companies sell snake oil. The author cites his own neuroscience research as evidence that we are nowhere near preserving the brain in such a way that it can eventually be revived.

Ken Hayworth’s personal response to MIT Technology Review article
Ken Hayworth, a neuroscientist mentioned in the original NY Times article, responds to the the Technology Review article, arguing against its scientific and philosophical arguments.

I largely agree with Ken Hayworth. His evidence that we are moving in the direction of being able to preserve full brains makes sense to me. On the philosophy side, whenever I hear arguments stating that we can’t be copied, I think of the Ship of Theseus paradox. This thought experiment convinced me that any arguments against replicating the brain rely on false intuitions more than actual logic.

Biotech #

This Iconoclast Injected Life Into Artificial Body Parts
Profiles Laura Niklason, a scientist who spent 20 years working to grow functioning blood vessels in a lab. Niklason overcame skepticism from the scientific community and pioneered an approach to blood vessel growth that mimics mechanical stresses from the human body. I’ve noticed a trend in the newsletter articles about famous scientists and mathematicians – they all seem to fight against institutional skepticism towards their idea. While some might see this as depressing, I see it as uplifting. Every time someone tells me my idea is stupid, I can think of the good company I’m in. If these people, who are much smarter than me, overcame this much opposition, maybe I can too. Of course, the problem with this logic is that, often times, these doubters are right.

The Math That Shows Humans Could Live Ten Times Longer
The paper discussed in this article asserts that we’ve made false assumptions about the aging process. The authors of this paper argue that aging, rather than resulting from a steady process of decay, has been “programmed” into our genetic code. I’m incredibly excited about this research. I’ve known about this alternative hypothesis for the aging process since I discovered the work of Josh Mitteldorf, but seeing it here makes me more confident that we can use this new understanding to actually slow or even cure aging.

Future of Housing #

Life in Walter Segal’s self-build ‘anarchist’ estate
Profiles a set of affordable homes in England that the author believes are a good model for the future of affordable housing. These homes, built by Walter Segal, are lightweight, simple, can be built by homeowners with minimal help, and are easily modifiable.