Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Science

Mitochondria and the Prevention of Death 453

Posted by kdawson
from the wrestling-the-dead-back-to-life dept.
H_Fisher writes "Research into mitochondria — small structures within a cell that have their own DNA — suggests that they may be a cause of cellular death, according to Newsweek. The article The Science of Death: Reviving the Dead reports on people who have recovered from sudden death due to cardiac arrest through the use of medically induced hypothermia. The cooling process may help stop the death of brain and heart cells initiated by the mitochondria once they are deprived of oxygen. The article goes on to probe delicately at the question of where a person's personality 'is' between death and later revival, and describes several ongoing scientific studies of near-death experiences."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mitochondria and the Prevention of Death

Comments Filter:
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:34PM (#19883567)
    A person's personality goes off to Digg when they are Mostly Dead.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JonathanR (852748)
      Netcraft confirms it.
    • And then when you're resuscitated or reanimated it gets restored from the last save. B-)
  • Space Travel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:36PM (#19883575)
    While I dont see this as a fountain of youth. This research could be very useful for long distant space travel. Especially as we are pondering going to Mars. I wonder how well this could be coupled with cryogenics.
    • by gnuman99 (746007)
      Mars is 6 months away. It is NOT that far. People spend more time on ISS (International Space Station).
      • by QuantumG (50515)
        I think I'd rather build a good sized O'Neil Colony, put 10,000 people in it and take a few years to reach Mars. At least then you'd have something to do when you get there (colonize). Although, I don't know if there'd be much point.. Space colonies are a much nicer place to live than a dusty dead gravity hole.

        • by misleb (129952)
          What's wrong with a little gravity? You'd probably end up spending a lot of resources trying to recreate it on a long term space colony, might as well take advantage of the natural gravity of Mars. But I guess the advantage of a space station/colony gravity is that it is "optional." Mmmm, weightless sex. Sounds fun.

          -matthew
          • by QuantumG (50515)
            Yeah, spinning a habitat is pretty cheap. Especially when you habitat is not in interstellar space.. the Sun provides more energy than you can use. It's so damn easy and so much better to live in space that it is a travesty that it has been over 30 years since O'Neil worked it all out for us and we're still sitting here on this rock. We're still suffering poor crops and unpredictable weather. We're still burning fossil fuels and making radioactive wastes. We're still struggling with flus and parasites
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by ozphx (1061292)
            Ok I know this is slashdot and so my audience is fairly limited, but:

            Have you ever been going at it so hard you fell off? Can you see yourself thrusting away and then losing grip on your partners sweat soaked body. Can you imagine the frustration of seeing her slowly drift away just out of reach?

            Down on earth we have gravity. In space the only thing that will halt your flying man-juice is some undoubtably important computer a hundred meters away on the other side of the station.

            Can you imagine floating grac
  • Thanks, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Icarus1919 (802533) on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:39PM (#19883589)
    I don't want to troll, but I prefer not to get my science from MSNBC and other mainstream media sources.
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday July 16, 2007 @10:05PM (#19883785)
      Programmed cell death (apoptosis) is normally considered a good thing. Cell death is the front line against Viruses, toxins, and other pathogens. When a cell is hopelessly invaded it will immediately try to kill itself or be told to kill itself by it's neighbors? Why? Well first single cells by themselves don't have much defense against stuff so when the jig is up there's no point in trying to live on. An inveded cell is a danger to it's neighbors since the virus will use it's machinery to replicate. Thus it's a mutually assured destruction strategy. And the first thing most bugs do on entering a host is attack the signals for apoptosis. Indeed Cancer is dangerous because it's immortal.

      Thus it's interesting to find a way to override perhaps the most important response shared by cells in the body.
      • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Monday July 16, 2007 @10:56PM (#19884105)
        Cancer is immortal because the tumor cells have lost their chromosomal integrity; some of them are missing parts of chromosome arms that have the genes for triggering apoptosis. Part of an arm of chromosome 3 in particular seems to confer certain superpowers of cancer on cells that lose it; without it the cells can't recognize intercellular signals, but in general these genes do not aid cancer cells in their competition with one another. So as the population starts to evolve as a gene pool of individuals with distinct genotypes (variations on your original) that compete with each other to dominate the tumor, the cells that survive are the ones that lose the ability to control themselves for the greater good of the entire population (i.e. you).

        If taken care of, cancer cell populations can easily be kept alive for decades. HeLa cells [jhu.edu] were first cultured from a cervical tumor in a patient named Henrietta Lacks. There must be tons of HeLa cells in labs all over the world; all together they probably weigh hundreds of times as much as Henrietta ever did.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      I prefer not to get my science from MSNBC and other mainstream media sources.

      Yeah. The info about cryogenic treatment for resuscitation was fine, but conflating that with cryonics was off-base, and bringing in near-death experiences was just dumb. There's nothing supernatural about such experiences, take the right drugs and you can have them yourself [near-death.com].

  • Obliq quote (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Palpatine: Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?
    Anakin Skywalker: No.
    Palpatine: I thought not. It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life... He had such a knowledge of the dark side he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.
    Anakin Skywalker: He could actually save people from death?
    Palpatine: The Dark Side of the Force is
  • Brilliant (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joe_bruin (266648) on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:40PM (#19883605) Homepage Journal
    So what they're saying is that the Mitochondria, the organelles that use oxygen to generate ATP (the primary source of chemical energy in your body), cause death when they no longer get oxygen? I hope the Nobel prize committee is listening.
  • CRYONICS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cryophan (787735) on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:41PM (#19883609) Homepage Journal
    Most importanly, as this article alludes to, this new approach valdiates some of the science surrounding cryonics. As far as I can tell, cryonics is the only possible way for any of us to get our selves and our memories to the distant future where we can live superlong lives, or maybe even forever.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by misleb (129952)
      Or you could just get to the future only to find that you have to be genetically engineered from birth to live that superlong life and end up looking like as fool as you age, all alone with no friends or family, while everyone else is holding at 19 and partying all the time. But I guess I'm a pessimist sometimes. :-)

      -matthew

       
    • Re:CRYONICS (Score:4, Funny)

      by fbjon (692006) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:08AM (#19884953) Homepage Journal

      Most importanly, as this article alludes to, this new approach valdiates some of the science surrounding cryonics. As far as I can tell, cryonics is the only possible way for any of us to get our selves and our memories to the distant future where we can live superlong lives, or maybe even forever.
      Hey, that sounds like a great idea! Let's freeze all of humanity and wait for science to progress.
  • by PresidentEnder (849024) <<wyvernender> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:41PM (#19883615) Journal
    Miracle Max: See, there's a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead. Now, mostly dead: he's slightly alive. All dead, well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing that you can do.
    Inigo: What's that?
    Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.
  • 'to probe delicately at the question of where a person's personality 'is' between death and later revival'

    The same place your computer's conciousness goes when you turn it off.
    • or where any "personality" goes when it's sleeping.

      mr c
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by robably (1044462)

        or where any "personality" goes when it's sleeping.

        No, because when you are sleeping there is still electrical activity in the brain - "a succession of mental states continually re-created in our brains, even during sleep" as the article says.

        This is asking the question of where "you" go when the power to your brain is switched off. It seems probable to me that - as neurons and the connections between them are modified, weakened, or strengthened by the signals that pass through them - when power is rest

        • Re:easy question (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AndersOSU (873247) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:14AM (#19886963)
          Tell you what, get back to me when we figure out how to create an AI capable of passing a Turing Test.

          Seriously, this isn't an out of hand dismissal. To say that the brain, or consciousness is somehow like a computer is, to me, more of a stretch than espousing an afterlife, or a soul.

          Now I know that slashdot isn't likely to agree with me, and normally I'm loath to invoke a god-of-the-gaps, but if and when the time comes that we can fabricate intelligence in a box, we're going to have some serious rethinking of philosophy to do. Until then, I really do think that the burden to produce evidence lies with the mind-is-a-computer crowd, i.e. to me the mind looks a lot more unlike a computer than like it.

          My major concern, how do we know that consciousness as we know it doesn't depend on some yet unknown quantum effects or isn't somehow governed by Godel's incompleteness theorem? In other words, is the brain deterministic? If the brain is deterministic then don't concepts of right and wrong go out the window?
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:48PM (#19883669) Journal

    On Napoleon's Russian campaign, his surgeon general noticed that wounded infantrymen, left on the snowy ground to recover, had better survival rates than officers who stayed warm near the campfire.
    On Napolean's Russian campaign, wounded, left on the snowy ground......I think I'd rather die.

    --
    Looking to trade in for a newer girlfriend? Now there's a place!! [usedgirlfriend.com]
    • by Boronx (228853)
      The British noticed this in the Falklands where marines were left critically wounded for hours but survived.
  • by RiffRafff (234408) on Monday July 16, 2007 @09:55PM (#19883727) Homepage
    I was diagnosed with "sick sinus syndrome." Well, not until I had basically died a few times. The electrical impulses that cause the heart to fire, ceased. I flat-lined, and was essentially "dead." The first few times (twice at home, 2 or 3 times at the hospital) I came back on my own. There was no "where am I?" questions upon regaining consciousness; I knew where I was, and I knew _something_ had happened, but I didn't know what. It wasn't until the last "episode," after they had attached a heart monitor with the little sticky-pads that the doctors actually knew, for sure, that I was flat-lining. They immediately ran a catheter up my groin, into my heart, and attached to an external pace-maker. A day later they implanted a pace-maker. Now, almost three years later, the pace-maker's computer says it has never "paced." In other words, I haven't really needed it. :-/

    My point is this: when I was "dead," I never "left my body," I never saw myself and the doctors in the hospital from "above," I never experienced anything. It was like a light-switch was simply flipped. I was just gone. No angels, no bright light, nothing. So. My advice, for what it's worth, is that you should do whatever you need to do. Whatever you need to accomplish. If my experience is any indication, there is no second chance. Do it now. Don't expect anything else after you're gone. When you're gone, you're gone. There appears to be nothing else. And while that may not be what you wanted to hear, that was my reality.

    Don't live your life in fear of death, but don't take anything for granted, either. As Warren Zevon said, "enjoy every sandwich."

    (Of course, Zevon also said, "I think I made a tactical error by not going to the doctor earlier." So don't do that.)

    • by Renraku (518261)
      Maybe because all you had was a brief blackout caused by lack of oxygen to the brain.

      The drama doesn't start until the brain starts dying.
    • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Monday July 16, 2007 @10:09PM (#19883837) Journal
      I never saw myself and the doctors in the hospital from above...

      Well, I did. 11 years old, skull fracture from little league game (I was pitching, before the hard hat rule (which I was told I instigated)). No pre-knowledge or exposure to such states, or even the concept of mortality -- never a church goer. Genuine OOB perception, howling winds, players gathered around my supine body, sound of my dad calling me back (he was the team's manager). Followed by aphasia, surgery, long recovery.

      Nothing has ever been really spookey since. Meh, it's life. Do the next thing.

    • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday July 16, 2007 @10:42PM (#19884015) Homepage Journal
      It sounds like you weren't dead in any medical or scientific sense, just that your heart had stopped. There's been debate, probably since the dawn of humanity, as to when you can say someone is actually dead. There's always been problems of 'dead' people waking up, unless you actually practice cremation or draining the blood -- that's why we do it. There was a contest of sorts to make a medical definition of death back in the 1700s or 1800s -- the actual point where you could never come back. The guy who won proposed that putrefaction (when the body is actually rotting) was the only scientifically valid definition. I think the current medical definition is no heartbeat and no electrical activity in the brain.

      Anyway, I'll hijack this thread to talk about my own information about where the 'personality' is during a clinical death experience. I don't think it 'is' anywhere. It's like asking where windows is when your computer is off. Going through a coma or medical death is like rebooting the part of your brain that generates your personality. If you read about Hindu and Buddhist meditation, and also the experience of serious hallucinogen users, they talk about an experience called 'ego death'. It's where you still perceive everything you normally would, except there is no "I". The subjective perspective completely evaporates. You see yourself as objectively as you would the person sitting next to you, not attached to your desires or fears. Even though you can still perceive your own thoughts and internal body states, you still don't have the sensation of an "I" or a soul who is experiencing it. Your sense of ownership, or things belonging to 'you', including your own body and thoughts, just is gone. It's called the 'unseen seer' in Hinduism, or the invisible eyeball by the transcendentalist Americans of the 1800s.

      There is a part of our brain that generates this sense of self, the "I", and it can get shut down just like any other part of the brain, through bodily trauma, meditation, or drugs.
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        It sounds like you weren't dead in any medical or scientific sense, just that your heart had stopped.

        If the heart stops, it means you're dead. In both a medical and scientific sense. I should know. I'm a doctor.

        Now there's a question of REVERSIBLE death, and IRREVERSIBLE death. You're only LEGALLY dead when you are irreversibly dead. However if your patient has no pulse and no blood pressure, he's dead. So move your ass if you don't want him to STAY dead.
        • by lawpoop (604919)

          If the heart stops, it means you're dead. In both a medical and scientific sense. I should know. I'm a doctor.

          I don't see why we would base our definition of death based on the activity of the heart. It would be like saying someone is dead because they aren't breathing, or their kidneys aren't functioning. Yes, they will die in moments if their heart stops or they stop breathing, somewhat longer if their kidneys stop, but they aren't dead yet if you can intervene and get them going again. It seems to go back to the western idea that blood was the vital essence of life ( or breath, in the case of not breathing mean

    • by Dunbal (464142)
      My point is this: when I was "dead," I never "left my body," I never saw myself and the doctors in the hospital from "above," I never experienced anything. It was like a light-switch was simply flipped.

      Having done a ventricular fibrillation for a couple minutes and being "clinically dead", then reanimated - I completely agree with you. All that tunnel stuff is just sensationalist bullshit, like aliens, and all the other crap the media likes to feed to gullible women.
      • by jamesh (87723)
        I've had a few operations which involved putting me completely under (ear op, appendectomy, nose op), and with the exception of the appendectomy, it was literally like I was turned off and then immediately turned back on (of course it was more like 10 or 50 minutes later, but I didn't notice). I was about 7 or something when I had the ear operation, and was only under for 10 minutes, and bounced back afterwards like nothing had happened. Then appendectomy was obviously a more intensive procedure, and I reme
        • by eric76 (679787)
          I underwent open heart surgery when I was 20.

          When I woke back up being wheeled out of surgery, I had a definite feeling of the passage of time. I couldn't tell how much time, but it certainly felt like it was a while.

          I remember seeing a clock in the hallway as they rolled me along. To me, it felt like it was 9 pm rather than 9 am even though I had been wheeled in for surgery in the morning.
      • by antic (29198)
        "The "light switch" analogy is one I used myself. When it's off, you don't notice ANYTHING. Welcome to oblivion."

        Always surprises me that people think death is anything else. When you're done, you're done. I don't know an OOB experience to be confident of that.
    • by Phroggy (441)

      My advice, for what it's worth, is that you should do whatever you need to do. Whatever you need to accomplish. If my experience is any indication, there is no second chance.
      On the contrary, it sounds like you've gotten a few extra chances already.
    • by Quarters (18322)
      All you can say is that you don't remember anything, not that nothing happened. It's well known that the part of the brain that processes short term memories is one of the most fragile areas, for whatever reason. Short term amnesia covering a time from slighty before (sometimes as much as a week) an accident/injury up till the point the person regains consciousness is pretty much par for the course.

      I rolled a car once and ended up being rushed to a hospital. I had no serious injuries, no broken bones, no

    • by jadin (65295) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:04AM (#19884705) Homepage
      But this is precisely what the bible teaches about death. [note: no one is required to read this]

      Dead cannot think:
      Psalms 146:4 His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
      Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

      It also says the soul dies at death:
      Ezekiel 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinning, it shall die.
      Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

      Therefore the soul cannot think either. Aka no out of body experiences. Please note I'm not discussing heaven etc, just the state of the dead/soul.

      Hammer me down mods! [flamesuit="on"]
  • that the female of the species is evil.
  • Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Monday July 16, 2007 @10:15PM (#19883871) Homepage
    > The article goes on to probe delicately at the question of where a person's personality
    > 'is' between death and later revival...

    Do they also discuss the color of zero or how wide is up?
  • by tylersoze (789256) on Monday July 16, 2007 @10:30PM (#19883971)
    Starting with the hypothesis that consciousness is purely a physical thing (i.e. the atoms and electric signals firing in your brain, and there is no soul or wonky business like that)--a hypothesis that I happen to agree with. It is a *profoundly* mysterious question if it would, in fact, be the same "you" inside if your brain were switched off for a while and then turned back on. Suppose in the time you were shut off, it were possible to make an exact copy of yourself, down to the atomic level, and then both copies were turned back on. Which one is "you"? Obviously both of you would think you were the original since you share the exact same memories.

    It's one of those questions that seem unanswerable. Personally I feel it has something to do with the continuity of brain activity. You interrupt that, and whatever that "spark" is ceases to be, and if the brain is turned back on, it would be a different "you". Which is why I'd never take a transporter ride and think actual working cryonics would be pointless since I would never experience waking back up, it would be a different consciousness, albeit one that thinks everything went just fine. If ever underwent either, I would assume the "me" that woke back up would have some lingering doubts. :)

    One of the many philosophical papers on this: http://www.benbest.com/philo/doubles.html [benbest.com]
    • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday July 16, 2007 @11:02PM (#19884143) Homepage Journal

      It is a *profoundly* mysterious question if it would, in fact, be the same "you" inside if your brain were switched off for a while and then turned back on.
      In the East, they have been dealing with this question for thousands of years. A Hindu might answer, yes, of course you would be the same person. This 'switching off' happens every night when you are in deep, dreamless sleep. Yet you still wake up and are the same person the next morning. This is one of the basis for their argument for cosmic consciousness, or the 'godhead' or super-soul.

      If you don't buy that this happens at night, you can make a good argument that this certainly does happen during a coma, when there is little to no electrical activity in the brain. Alternatively, you can anesthetize certain parts of the brain, and also cause the personality to disappear.

      It's one of those questions that seem unanswerable. Personally I feel it has something to do with the continuity of brain activity. You interrupt that, and whatever that "spark" is ceases to be, and if the brain is turned back on, it would be a different "you".
      The eastern philosophies argue that all phenomena, from electrical activity in the brain, to the existence of rocks, are chaotic, always in flux. In other words, you are a different 'you' for every moment of your existence. It's like saying, "I was once an 8-year-old boy, but now I'm a thirty-year-old man." Well, wait a minute -- isn't there only one you? How can you be both an boy and a man? The answer is that 'you' are a continuation of a series, a phenomenon, like the flame of a candle, or a river. The flame is never the same flame from one moment to the next, nor does a river ever have the same water or same banks, at any moment. Yet will still perceive it as the continuity of the same 'thing'.

      The idea of the 'you' as a fixed, permanent thing, seems to be an idea that traces back to Greek philosophy. They were always looking for unchanging, eternal, fixed, stable 'things'. And it really breaks down when we try to apply that to the self or consciousness. Eastern philosophy seems more advanced in this respect -- it says there are no things, only processes or phenomena that are *always* changing.
      • The eastern philosophies argue that all phenomena, from electrical activity in the brain, to the existence of rocks, are chaotic, always in flux. In other words, you are a different 'you' for every moment of your existence.

        I would argue this is absolutely true. The reason we are blind to it is hinted at by an old saying: to predict the weather tomorrow, it's pretty safe to say it will be exactly the same as today.

        The "you" at any given moment in time is very much like the "you" that immediately preceded it

      • by kwikrick (755625) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @06:27AM (#19885865) Homepage Journal
        Another nice analogue: your body is not the same body it was 15 years ago. You think of it as the same body, only grown a bit (in length or width, depending on your age). But in fact all of the atoms that made up your body 20 years ago have all been replaced by other atoms. Our body is not really a static object, it's more like a very slow wave.

        (I read it like this in Richared Dawkin's The God Desulion, but he got it somewhere else again, can't remember where)

        The mind, conscience, personality, is perhaps a similar phenomenon. It's not a thing that can be pointed out somewhere in our brain, but it's a recurring pattern of thoughts and actions, emerging from the mechanics of our brain and the experiences therein.

    • It is a *profoundly* mysterious question if it would, in fact, be the same "you" inside if your brain were switched off for a while and then turned back on.

      Seems pretty straightforward to me. If we accept the hypothesis that consciousness is an illusion, there's not *really* a "you" to begin with. "You" are a process that your brain runs while it is active. So, when you restart your brain, your "you" process would run again like normal. If you duplicate your brain completely, there would be two "you"s

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by roamzero (920097)

        Seems pretty straightforward to me. If we accept the hypothesis that consciousness is an illusion, there's not *really* a "you" to begin with. "You" are a process that your brain runs while it is active. So, when you restart your brain, your "you" process would run again like normal. If you duplicate your brain completely, there would be two "you"s running.

        Perhaps, but I think it's also a matter of perspective, you have to put yourself in the shoes of effected person. Whether this maintains the 'illusion', I dont know. Say your brain were duplicated while under, when you wake up which eyes would you be looking through? There is no direct connection between the two brains, so it would be impossible to be "looking" through 2 sets of eyes. My though is that each individual is like a singleton, and when destroyed, the question of reviving that "singleton" fully

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854)

      Which one is "you"?...It's one of those questions that seem unanswerable.

      Which is often an indication of bad assumptions.

      Which is "you" after the duplication? First we ought to ask, is there a "you" before the duplication?

      Look closely. What is this "you"? "Your" body? That's not the same from moment to moment, atoms entering and leaving with every breath. "Your" thoughts? Just as changing and fluid. "Your" memories? But "you" are making new ones and forgetting old ones each day.

      Go down to a strea [unreasonable.org]

    • by Fweeky (41046)

      Personally I feel it has something to do with the continuity of brain activity. You interrupt that, and whatever that "spark" is ceases to be, and if the brain is turned back on, it would be a different "you".

      Smells like latent dualism to me. Either you think you're embodied in the information stored and processed by your nervous system, or you think there's some mysterious extra, which provides "youness".

      And true, dualism kind of feels right; it can't just be some dumb electrochemical process going on inside our heads truely "experiencing" being us, there's got to be some extra spark which seperates us from that, because, damnit, I'm here! Experiencing stuff!

      I try not to do my thinking with my feelings, thoug

    • Well, I can do away with one question for you. Read a little bit about the No-clone Theorem [wikipedia.org].
    • Starting with the hypothesis that consciousness is purely a physical thing (i.e. the atoms and electric signals firing in your brain, and there is no soul or wonky business like that)--a hypothesis that I happen to agree with. It is a *profoundly* mysterious question if it would, in fact, be the same "you" inside if your brain were switched off for a while and then turned back on. Suppose in the time you were shut off, it were possible to make an exact copy of yourself, down to the atomic level, and then bo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CmdrGravy (645153)
      I think the actual 'you' dies every second ( or whatever the smallest amount of time that effects your brain is ) and is replaced by an imposter who happens to have all your memories.

      I can't see how else you know who you are if you have no memories you can use to tell you who you are. If you begin to behave entirely differently to the way you normally do people still think you're the same person just behaving weirdly but if you had ( for some reason ) a sudden complete change of memories people who be more
  • I've known that mitochondria cause cell death ever since I played Parasite Eve. Of course, the immediate cause of cell death was the fireball that the 3 tailed rat just threw at you.
  • There is an excellent novel "Passage" by Connie Willis involving scientists researching near death experiences (NDEs). (This is fiction about science, rather than Science Fiction, although she writes that too.) They're also doing battle with a crackpot researcher who vigorously prompts patients into "remembering" angels etc etc.
  • Hmm... This story sounds familiar [imdb.com]. Although the mitochondria is pretty hot I don't think I want to meet her.

    (It's a good movie, btw. I especially love the ending scene!)
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:04AM (#19884709)
    Some interesting thought experiments regarding consciousness are these:

    Suppose that, one day, we develop the technology required to scan and emulate the human brain with total precision. Now, this means that we can shove your head into the scanner, and presto, some amount of time later, we have a computer running a simulation of your brain. It's pretty clear that your consciousness stays in the same place, especially if anesthesia is not required for the scanning process. Yet there is a copy of your brain running on that computer. From its perspective, does it have the same sort of consciousness that you still do?

    Suppose that instead of just scanning your brain to make a copy, we instead put you under, scan your brain, start the simulation running, and kill your old body. We wake up your simulated brain. What happens to your consciousness? Have you achieved a mortality unencumbered by the failure of your biological body by doing this? From the perspective of your simulated brain, did you fall asleep and wake up running on the computer? What about from the perspective of your now dead physical body?

    Suppose that instead of scanning your brain, we can replace a portion of your brain with equivalent nanotech. For all purposes, this nanotech behaves exactly as your old neurons behave. The nanotech can be implanted gradually, neuron by neuron, on the fly - as each neuron is replaced and killed, the nanotech neuron takes its place and picks up exactly where the old neuron left off. So, we perform this procedure on you, and ultimately, your brain is replaced with its nanotech equivalent. What happens to your consciousness in this process? Is this sort of gradual process necessary for your consciousness to survive the transition from your old wetware to your new hardware?

    Is your consciousness an expression of a dynamical state - perhaps even including state variables we haven't detected yet - in your brain that must be preserved in order to survive any such transition, or do your memories suffice to keep your perception of consciousness continuous, even if most of that dynamical state is temporarily lost?
  • Trek (Score:3, Funny)

    by giminy (94188) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:27AM (#19885037) Homepage Journal
    I think I saw this on star trek [memory-alpha.org] once...
  • by tzot (834456) <antislsh@medbar.gr> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @05:56AM (#19885761) Homepage
    Why did I have the impression this is a well established fact? In addition, mitochondria not signalling the cell to die is the main reason that cancer cells don't die. It's many months now [ualberta.ca] that research into dichloroacetate (DCA), which has been used for other purposes too, causes cancer-cell mitochondria to resume their operation and cause the cells to eventually die. See an example [nature.com] of a similar report.

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann

Working...