1.) I understand you developed an interest in cryonics from spending time on your grandmother's ranch in Termo? Please tell me more about that (the
My Grandparents had a windmill on their property that utilized the wind to generate water into a trough, the excess water drained into a man made pond. From the trough, water was drawn up into containers and boiled on the stove for drinking and cooking. One summer my Grandmother had stocked the trough with 5 large goldfish (6 inches or so in length). In between playing tag with my brother and my cousins or helping Grandmother with her potato patch, I would stop to watch the fish swim. The next Winter I returned to Termo and peered down into the trough where I had discovered that the cold air had turned the water to ice, the goldfish were frozen in motion, perfectly still. Winter came and went and another summer returned. Once again I approached the trough and to my surprise there were fish swimming about to and fro. I ran to ask my Grandmother if she had re-stocked the fish and she told me no, that they were the same fish. I was perplexed and intrigued. Although I knew my Grandmother would only tell me the truth, a part of my mind needed to prove it to myself, so I marked the side of one of the goldfish with a blue spot. Indeed as the seasons passed I saw for myself that my experiment validated my Grandmother's words. My blue marked fish withstood a full winter in a block of ice and returned to full activity by the next summer. It was my first inclination that life was not always what it may seem on the outside. What could this mean, for us? Years later, after discovering nanotechnology and it's relationship to cryonic suspension, those days came rushing back to me in a flood. Everything was connecting now, it was all beginning to make sense.
2.) Also, who is your grandmother, where did she live, and what impression were you left with from your Termo experience?
My maternal Grandparents were Les and Anetta Johnston who moved from Ohio to San Jose. They bought land in Termo in 1973 and eventually after my Grandfather retired in 1977, they sold their house in San Jose and while they would continue to work winters there, they lived their summers in Termo. They lived off of Grasshopper Lane, which I believe they built using red rock from the nearby quarry. My Grandparents were hard workers who had that old fashion mentality that fit so well with tilling the land. There were a lot of fascinating things about Termo that I remember. Grandpa and I were looking across the landscape with his binoculars one day and although the closest neighbors were five miles away, we heard music, the sound of bells lightly ringing in harmony, I looked up at him and he said "it's the wind, blowing through the mountain crevasses". My memories of Termo are always filled with a wash of golden sunlight and playful laughter.
3.) Where are you actually from, and where do you live now?
My wonderful mother Sue Fincher who worked at Lassen and Credence High Schools for many years, moved my brother and I from the bay area to Susanville in 1978 when I was nine years old. I lived in California until 1999 when I moved here to Seattle WA. Not only has my interest in advanced technologies brought me more work opportunities but it also brought me a loving relationship, which brought me to Seattle. in 1998 I had founded Nanotechnology Industries a nanotechnology web portal and news service. In those early years I sent out email requests asking for feedback about my web site to those who currently held esteemed positions. One of those emails was to the Foresight Institute (a non profit nanotechnology organization www.foresight.org) webmaster, James Lewis who became my husband in 2000.
4.) Have you returned to Termo lately?
My last visit to Susanville was in 2004. I haven't returned to Termo since the days of my youth, but will forever treasure the gift of the goldfish and the fond memories.
5.) Tell me more about cryonics and nanotechnology - how does it relate to my life, and why does it affect yours so deeply?
Nanotechnology is an emerging technology that has historical references that go all the way back to a famous talk called "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" given by Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman at the California Institute of Technology in 1959. In this talk he suggested that we could perhaps build machines that could manufacture at the atomic scale. Feynman described how by working on such a small scale one could fit the entire contents of the Library of Congress on the head of a pin. Years later, in 1974 Tokyo professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology in a paper entitled "On the Basic Concept of 'Nano-Technology." In 1986 MIT graduate K. Eric Drexler wrote the break through book "Engines of Creation". This book projected many future nanotechnological applications, new medical devices, cheap space travel, and economic and environmental benefits. This book is often cited as the work that brought nanotechnology to the forefront and sparked the interest of many. In 1990 IBM aired a national television commercial that featured the letters IBM spelled out of 35 xenon atoms, demonstrating that by using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) not only could one now see atoms with this tool, but they could be moved and manipulated. In 2000 the National Nanotechnology Initiative was established by President Clinton to fund nanotechnology research. In 2003 congressional hearings resulted in a permanent federal commitment to nanotechnology research and development.
So, what is nanotechnology? The root nano is Greek for dwarf and used as a prefix is a scale of measurement that equals one billionth (or 10 to the negative 9th power). A nanometer is a very small scale, smaller than a foot, smaller than an inch, smaller than a centimeter, smaller than a micrometer, it is so small in fact that it is invisible to the naked eye and requires a specialized atomic force microscope (AFM) to be viewed. If you were to split a human hair into 80,000 separate strands, each one of those strands would equal a nanometer. The first nanotechnologist ever, was in fact mother nature, filling and building the nanoscale with molecular structures in such diverse variables that they make up all the matter around us and with in us. Everything is made of molecules in one form or another, these are the building blocks of life and it's all on the nanoscale. What nanotechnology aims to do, is to arrange molecules into any pattern desired and build complex molecular machines and structures that would be every bit as intricate as the marvelous machinery of living cells.
These molecular machines would have specific capabilities and could even build copies of themselves.
What are we building? There is a lot of research being done with nanoparticles as a new form of drug delivery systems for use in cancer therapy and other diseases (for example Purdue University's tiny delivery vehicles) this is exciting work that we are waiting on with much anticipation. Other interesting items under development are: AngstroMedica's nanoparticulate-based synthetic bone, The University of Texas blood clotting carbon nanoparticles, University of Idaho’s food contaminants detector, Harvard University's cancer detecting nanowires, Biophiltre's filters that could lead to artificial kidneys and the list goes on. Currently there are nanotechnology products on the market: Eddie Bauer's stain resistant "Nano-Care' pants, Wilson's super bouncy tennis balls, Oxonica's UV absorbing sunscreen, L'Oreal's 'SkinChip' (measures skin's hydration) and ‘Plenitude Revitalift’ anti-wrinkle cream, Pilkington's ‘Activ' self cleaning glass, Smith & Nephew's ‘Anticoat’ wound dressings, Kodak's 'ColorLast’ inkjet printer paper, and Lee's wrinkle free fabric. These applications however, are quite mundane when compared to what lies on the horizon.
What could we build in the future? Quite simply, the possibilities are near endless, only limited by our imagination and the laws of physics. Picture a world without pollution, where the air, the ozone layer, oil spills, Chernobyl and the overabundance of trash could all be repaired at the atomic level. We could have self cleaning houses, invisible computers, super strong materials, flying cars, and fool proof safety measures. Hunger could become a thing of the past due to the at home manufacturing plants the size of a microwave oven producing objects and foods from inexpensive raw materials. Nanomedical devices such as those depicted in the Nanomedicine books by Robert A. Freitas Jr. could exist inside of our bodies, instantly detecting errors or damage to cells and repairing them automatically, there for preventing the progress of diseases, or even natural ageing.
This is the point where nanotechnology and cryonics converge. What if nanotechnology does not happen within my lifetime? What if its full capabilities don't arrive until ten years after I'm gone? While it's not my preference, I do have a back up plan. I am signed up for cryonic suspension through an organization called Alcor. Cryonics is when a person is stored at very low temperatures in liquid nitrogen in the hopes that future technologies will be able to revive them. Most people who are considering or are signed up for cryonic suspension realize that nanotechnology would be the perfect solution for reviving someone. Not only could nanotechnology repair your original ailment whether it is disease or simply old age, but also any damage done by the freezing. There have been new developments in methods of freezing, specifically vitrification, and with continued research there will be even more improvements to come. A lot of people say to me that they don't think it will work, that the odds are in their favor that they are right. My answer is that I simply want to be allowed to have the option available to me. When considering the odds, I can put it this way, if you are not cryonically suspended, then you have a 0% chance of coming back, but if cryonic suspension has only even a meager 0.1% chance of working, than the odds are actually on my side. I am willing to take the odds, even at their lowest, because I am still not taking any risk at all. If it doesn't work, I'm already gone, just the same as I would have been anyway, but if it does, well then I've everything to gain. Any chance is a better chance than the alternative. And with the love of my life by my side, even forever doesn't seem long enough.
6.) Anything you wish to add, such as personal, family, background, thoughts...? Anything I'm leaving out that you would like included for
readers of this area?
Throughout my life I wrote poems and enjoy artistic creative activities, such as drawing and multi media projects and crafts. At heart I am a traditional artist. I was introduced to nanotechnology by accident, I saw a movie on the local PBS channel called "Future Quest" which covered many emerging technologies, one of them being nanotechnology. I was immediately struck by how this advanced technology could one day benefit society. While I still maintain Nanotechnology Industries I decided to take things a step further and marry my artistic interests with the scientific. How better to illustrate a science that isn't here yet than by 3 dimensional animation.
I became certified in all three of the available classes provided by Discreet (a subdivision of AutoCad), creators of my 3 dimensional animation programs 3D Studio Max and Combustion. Since that time I have had the privilege of working in collaboration with author Robert A. Freitas Jr. on an animation project based on a design from his book called the Dermal Display a computer display for your hand that could monitor your body in real time. I've also created animations to generate funding for nanotechnology research at Washington University in St. Louis, MO in collaboration with Children's hospital. My work has been featured in books: Nanofuture by J. Storrs Hall PhD, Nanotechnology: Invisible Machines by Sandy Fritz, magazines: PC World, Fast Company and most recently in a movie Exploring Life Extension by the Immortality Institute.
I am very appreciative of the life I have. I would have never dreamed such opportunities could happen for me, now I know that I am not just a traditional artist at heart, but with some devotion, I am also a nano advocate and an animator at heart. I have truly found my niche, it is a place of passion. To the young kids out there with your dreams just budding in your hearts, it doesn't matter where you come from, how things began for you, or what you don't know, just try. You can learn and you really can create your own destiny, your vision awaits you - you've just got to grab it! And for you older kids, it's never too late for your vision. My vision is a world with nanotechnology. It may not be for everyone, but I hope to simply be able to have the option. The option for a world without hunger, without disease, a world without suffering, a better world.
Photos of my grandparents at Termo, the windmill is behind my Grandma and my Grandpa is working in the trough where the goldfish lived.
Major Companies you might recognize that are involved in nanotechnology:
My web pages and references
Visit my personal web page
My online paper about cryonic suspension
To visit Nanotechnology Industries
To sign up for the Nanotechnology News Service
Web sites of interest (mentioned in the article)
The Foresight Institute
Engines of Creation (free to read online)
Nanomedicine author Robert A. Freitas Jr.
National Nanotechnology Initiative
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
Story printed February 14, 2006 this full interview version and image was uploaded to the web site on 2.28.06.