Can Our Minds Live Forever?

By Michael Shermer

The soul is the pattern of information that represents you—your thoughts, memories and personality—your self. There is no scientific evidence that something like soul stuff exists beyond the brain’s own hardwiring, so I was curious to visit the laboratories of 21st Century Medicine in Fontana, Calif., to see for myself an attempt to preserve a brain’s connectome—the comprehensive diagram of all neural synaptic connections.

This medical research company specializes in the cryopreservation of human organs and tissues using cryoprotectants (antifreeze). In 2009, for example, the facility’s chief research scientist Gregory M. Fahy published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Organogenesis, documenting how his team successfully transplanted a rewarmed rabbit kidney after it had been cryoprotected and frozen to −135 degrees Celsius through the process of vitrification, “in which the liquids in a living system are converted into the glassy state at low temperatures.”

Can brains be so preserved? Fahy and his colleague Robert L. McIntyre are now developing techniques that they hope will win the Brain Preservation Technology Prize, the brainchild of neuroscientist Kenneth Hayworth. As I write this, the prize is currently valued at more than $106,000; the first 25 percent of the award will be for the complete preservation of the synaptic structure of a whole mouse brain, and the other 75 percent will go to the first team “to successfully preserve a whole large animal brain in a manner that could also be adopted for humans in a hospital or hospice setting immediately upon clinical death.”

I witnessed the infusion of a rabbit brain through its carotid arteries with a fixative agent called glutaraldehyde, which binds proteins together into a solid gel. The brain was then removed and saturated in ethylene glycol, a cryoprotective agent eliminating ice formation and allowing safe storage at −130 degrees C as a glasslike, inert solid. At that temperature, chemical reactions are so attenuated that it could be stored for millennia. If successful, would it be proof of concept?

Think of a book in epoxy resin hardened into a solid block of plastic, McIntyre told me. “You’re never going to open the book again, but if you can prove that the epoxy doesn’t dissolve the ink the book is written with, you can demonstrate that all the words in the book must still be there … and you might be able to carefully slice it apart, scan in all the pages, and print/bind a new book with the same words.” Hayworth tells me that the rabbit brain circuitry he examined through a 3-D scanning electron microscope “looks well preserved, undamaged, and it is easy to trace the synaptic connections between the neurons.”

This sounds promising, but I have my doubts. Is a connectome precisely analogous to a program that can be uploaded in machine-readable format into a computer? Would a connectome so preserved and uploaded into a computer be the same as awakening after sleep or unconsciousness? Plus, there are around 86 billion neurons in a human brain with often 1,000 or more synaptic connections for each one, for a total of 100 trillion connections to be accurately preserved and replicated. Staggering complexity. And this doesn’t include the rest of the nervous system outside the brain, which is also part of your self that you might want resurrected.

Hayworth admitted to me that a “future of uploaded posthumans is probably centuries away.” Nevertheless, he adds, “as an atheist and unabashed materialist neuroscientist, I am virtually certain that mind uploading is possible.” Why? Because “our best neuroscience models say that all these perceptual and sensorimotor memories are stored as static changes in the synapses between neurons,” which is what connectomics is designed to record and preserve, allowing us to “‘hit pause’ for a few centuries if we need to.” Imagine a world in which “the fear of death, disease and aging would have been mostly removed,” he says.

It sounds utopian, but there’s something deeply moving in this meliorism. “I refuse to accept that the human race will stop technological and scientific progress,” Hayworth told me. “We are destined to eventually replace our biological bodies and minds with optimally designed synthetic ones. And the result will be a far healthier, smarter and happier race of posthumans poised to explore and colonize the universe.”

Per audacia ad astra.

Update (2/9/16): On January 29, 2016, Robert McIntyre and Greg Fahy won the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize for their work preserving rabbit brains. The winning rabbit brain was in fact the one that this author witnessed while writing this article. The prize committee’s evaluation of 21st Century Medicine’s rabbit brain can be found here and the scientific paper describing the winning technique can be found here. Robert McIntyre has since gone on to start a neuroscience company called Nectome to further develop aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation.

Source: Scientific American (by Michael Shermer)

Image Credit: Izhar Cohen

listen hashtags and blogging are all well and good but if y'all really want to help kesha what you need to do is boycott sony. like, not just the music. you need to boycott movies they have a hand in creating and technology you’re thinking of buying and ANYTHING connected with the company. i understand it’s not easy (as sony is a ridiculously large company) but money talks and if sony sees a large drop in profits they’ll cut her without much of a fight as she will be costing them far more than she’s worth (especially as she is not making new music at the moment.) what you have to understand is that companies don’t care about how much people support kesha or how disgusting they’re being unless money is concerned. so put your money where your mouth is or shut up

We’ve made loans to about a dozen microbrewers and provided coaching to another 30. They are a lot of fun. For me personally, and for us as a company, it connects us with our small-business roots. And if one of these companies is successful enough that they take some market share from us, well, more power to them. I don’t worry about that. I worry about how we create a beer culture that respects the art of brewing and wants beer with flavor, taste, and authenticity. If we can create that environment, there will be plenty of business for all of us.

Hi everyone! My name is Katie, and I’m a sophomore in high school. I don’t know about you, but the idea of balancing a  job with everything that comes with school sounds so hard. Here are some of the ways I’ve figured out how to make money (all legal!!) while balancing a jam-packed schedule.

Swagbucks: This is my #1 site for making money. There are tons of companies that want your opinion on their services and products, and they’re willing to pay for it. What Swagbucks does is connect you with these companies through surveys. It’s very quick and very easy. You can also get paid to complete everyday tasks such as shopping and searching for things online. You can make a lot of money without putting a lot of time in! For swagbucks, you’re paid in giftcards.

Slicethepie: Slicethepie is another great opinion website! However, what makes slicethepie unique is that it pays you to give reviews on music. What you do is listen to 90 seconds of a song, then write a review of it. It’s super easy and it doesn’t even feel like work. You’re basically getting paid to get music recommendations, what’s not to like? For slicethepie, you get paid with a paypal.

Cashcrate: Another popular survey site. The surveys are often quite short and pay really well. You can get a check after making $20.

         other popular survey sites: clixsense, harrispoll, Global Test Market,     Surveysavvy

Mechanical Turk: If you’re at least 18 and have an amazon account, you can become a mechanical turk. By completing simple (and i mean simple) tasks such as writing a sentence to describe an image, you’re paid an amount that goes into your amazon account.

Enroll: If you like helping people and think you’re good at it, why not become a tutor? Enroll helps connect you with students. The first 2 sessions you do are free, but after that, you can get paid! Visit their website to learn more.

Qmee: Earn money for viewing ads while performing searches in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Amazon, or Ebay. If an ad interests you, click on it and get paid the amount indicated. It’s that easy to earn a few cents up to a dollar! For this one, you install it as an application on your chrome. You’ll also need a paypal.

final tips: for all of these sites, the best way to get the most $$$ out of them is to be patient and not cheat! Even small amounts of money add up in the end. I recommend checking each site you use for at least 5 minutes a day! You never know what opportunities might be there. If you cheat, it’s very possible that the site will find out and terminate your account and you’ll lose all your money :( Good luck and let me know if i can help!

an outtake that kind of just accidentally happened when i was working on my rhys tattoos ideas. gayperion #confirmed

Leeds Juicery  Design and Art Direction to consolidate brand identity Leeds Juicery.  An exciting new cold-pressewhited juice based in Leeds, UK with a unique approach and concept behind it’s product.   The identity focuses on capturing purity, meditation, health, and the ancient Indian medicinal science of Ayurveda that underpins the process and aura of wellbeing of the company.    Equally important is expressing the unique location, local produce and client connection the company strives towards. For memorability across wholesale, delivery and pop-up stalls. This is amplified through hand-written personal elements and a proud Yorkshire tone of voice. This personality combined with the clinical art direction forms a unique relationship.

See more:

I’m pretty sure Simon Cowell USED to be managed by James Grant, because he’s not listed among its clients now, and looking at the website through, he was listed until September 2009, but he’s not there anymore since December 2009.

Not there in Jan 2010, or in March 2010, or in April 2010, April 2011. I could go on but basically, he wasn’t there in 2014 either. I don’t understand why they’d take him off their website if they still represented him, seems kinda weird.

More so, I couldn’t find any news mentioning James Grant as Simon’s management anywhere after January 2010 (it could be that it wasn’t announced yet, if he was taken off in December 2009, the article’s focus isn’t on Simon Cowell).

I’m sure he’s still in good terms with them, because a lot of X Factor participants sign there, but tbh that doesn’t worry me? This company seems pretty solid, it’s got really big clients and it’s been in business for thirty years (in the 2008 screenshot you can see that a lot of their current clients were already there, so that’s an 8-year-long relationship that makes me think those artists are satisfied with their work).

We’ll see if it’s true, but I don’t see a reason to freak if it is. At all.


Glock 29SF

Customized subcompact 10mm Auto pistol, it has the appearance that the work was done by one of the handful of specialty shops who modify Glocks and other handguns. However the seller doesn’t specify who did the work and it may just be a lookalike. With an asking price of $2,510, it will have a hard time being sold. High end made to order Glocks are generally tailored to the buyer but it doesn’t help that this pistol has no provenance or connection to companies like Salient Arms or Agency Arms. (GRH)

Tips For Avoiding The Resume Black Hole

Many job seekers spend countless hours writing, polishing and blasting their résumés to dozens of companies. Then they wait and never hear a thing. Here’s how you change that and ensure your résumé is seen:

1) Have someone proofread your résumé.

2) Keep it simple. Avoid graphics and logos  that may “clog” how an applicant tracking system reads your resume.

3) Research the company’s hiring process.

4) Network and use your connections.

Read more.
Cher Donates 181,440 Bottles of Water to Flint, Michigan
Cher has made a much-needed donation to the people of Flint, Michigan. The “Strong Enough” singer is giving 181,440 bottles of water to the city, whose water supply had been contaminated with lead.

After reading about Flint’s plight—more than 100,000 people have been consuming tainted water since 2014—Cher contacted her friend Brad Horwitz, an investor in the spring water company Icelandic Glacial. Horwitz connected Cher to the company’s chairman, Jon Olafsson, and communicated her wish to make the donation. These bottles will begin arriving January 20 at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. From there, they will be sent to food banks and community centers for distribution to residents who live below the poverty line, a demographic that comprises about 40 percent of the city’s population. After use, the food banks will recycle the bottles and keep the money raised in the process.

“This a tragedy of staggering proportion and shocking that it’s happening in the middle of our country,” Cher stated. “I am so grateful that Icelandic Glacial has come on-board to help the city of Flint.“  

Help Asian Americans Reclaim our History in the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad!

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This historic photograph captured the ceremony celebrating the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which united east and west coasts of this country by a land route for the first time; yet, the thousands of Chinese Americans who helped build the railroad were conspicuously absent. Photo credit: Wikipedia

On May 10th of this year, the transcontinental railroad will be 145 years old. On that day in 1869, track laid by Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad companies finally connected, and insodoing created a railway that spanned 1,928 miles. For the first time in American history, it was possible to travel from coast-to-coast without sailing around the North American continent.

It is estimated that as many as 12,000 Chinese American labourers helped build the transcontinental railroad, predominantly on the West Coast. Working for a fraction of the pay of their non-Asian White counterparts, Chinese “coolie” labourers were assigned some of the most dangerous tasks, including blasting away rocks that lay in the path of the track. Unknown numbers of Chinese American men lost their lives in the course of laying the railroad. This was in part because of ongoing anti-Asian racism among the work crews; White labourers viewed their Chinese American colleagues with disdain,calling them “midgets”, “effeminate” and “monkeys”. Nonetheless, Chinese American labourers participated in the construction of virtually every railroad track on the West coast built during that era.

Yet, when the railroad was completed on May 10th, 1869, an event commemorated in a historical photograph that showed actual railroad workers crowded around the final spike as it is hammered into the ground, Chinese American labourers were left out of the photograph. They were literally erased from history.

Every year on May 10th, that historic photograph is re-created by the park officials who maintain the national park commemorating the site of the Golden Spike ceremony. And every year, park officials refuse to make any specific effort to make the Asian American community visible in the photograph recreation.

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Corky Lee has been documenting the Asian American Movement’s protest actions and historic moments for over the last 40 years.

This year, acclaimed Asian American photographer and historian, Corky Lee — whose iconic black-and-white photographs have documented some of the most landmark moments in the political history of Asian America — is organizing a “flashmob” style event to correct the historic wrong of that 1869 Golden Spike Ceremony photograph.

On Saturday, May 10th at 9:30am, Corky is inviting Asian Americans to join him at the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Tremonton, Utah (group transportation is being organized from Salt Lake City). He is hoping to get at least 145 Asian Americans to join him in recreating that historic photograph, but this time with the faces of Asian America front and center!

If you are 1) Asian American, and 2) able to get to Utah on May 10th, I urge you to please come out and help him in making this important project happen! Please help challenge the erasure of Asian Americans from the history of the transcontinental railroad.

Please join (and share)this Facebook Event page to help get the word out.

And, if you are able to make it to Utah on May 10th, please contact Ze Xiao (zxiao [at] slco [dot] org), who is coordinating transportation to the Golden Spike site for Corky’s photograph.

Facebook event here!