[ExI] Bon Voyage, Fred Chamberlain
eugen at leitl.org
Fri Mar 23 13:38:22 UTC 2012
Bon Voyage, Fred Chamberlain
Posted on March 22, 2012 by chronopause
I was an 18 year old kid feeding quarters into a payphone in front of a
Piggly Wiggly grocery store at 9 o’clock on a summer night in 1973, in
Augusta, Georgia. On the other end of the line was a middle aged aeronautical
engineer in La Crescenta, California, not far from the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, feeding me dreams. He wasn’t telling me about the spaceship he
was working on to explore the outer planets, instead, we were talking about
the time machine he was building to take us to the future. You see, I was
helping him with the design – my part was the bubble trap, where pressure and
temperature would be measured.
The engineer’s name was Fred Chamberlain, and we had met the year before at
his home where he, his wife Linda and I had had dinner and had looked over
the various parts of the time machine project. It was then that I noticed
that the device was missing a critical component – a bubble trap – a device
to prevent dangerous air bubbles from entering the circulatory system of the
time traveler. Fred immediately saw the importance of the oversight and I set
about designing a bubble trap that would fit into the device as he had
already configured it.
We had been in correspondence for several years before we met. Though I was
just a boy, we shared a dream to voyage into space and conquer the stars. To
do that, both of us understood we would have to become time travelers,
because we were trapped in a time and place that was wholly unsuited to our
ambitions and aims. We had been born too soon. We were doomed to grow old and
die before our species mastered the technology to venture forth from the
world of birth and set sail in the cosmos. The only way we could see out of
this tragedy, Fred, Linda and me, was to become time travelers, in fact a
very special sort of time traveler – medical time travelers.
What kid, then or now, wouldn’t kill to have a life like that? Isn’t that the
stuff that dreams are made of and the juvenile SF novels are plotted around?
Nobody has a life like that and everyone knows that a story like that
couldn’t possibly be true.
And yet, every word I’ve written there is true, and I’ve got the pictures to
prove it; and you’ve just seen them.
Fred Chamberlain was a NASA-JPL engineer working on the
Mariner-Jupiter-Saturn mission in 1973 and we had that conversation and many
like it. And we planned the mission Fred began yesterday and many more like
it before, and to follow. The time machine we were working on was actually
for a “fourth” of us, not mentioned in my story, Fred’s father, Fred, Jr.,
and it was indeed used to launch him on his journey on XXXXX of 1976. And
yes, my bubble trap was and integral and successfully component of that
Frederick Rockwell Chamberlain, III was and is of absolutely critical
importance to cryonics. While most people with more than a passing
acquaintance with cryonics will associate his importance with the founding of
Alcor, that is in reality only a surrogate marker for his deeper importance.
Fred came on the scene in cryonics in what was unarguably its darkest hour.
It had degenerated into little more than a fraudulent cult in California and,
everywhere in the US, it had lost all vestiges of technical and scientific
When Fred discovered this in his role as Vice President of the Cryonics
Society of California (CSC) he not only left CSC and founded Alcor, he and
Linda Chamberlain established, for the first time anywhere, the practice of
scientific, evidence based cryonics; cryonics based on the scientific method,
on documentation of procedures, policies, cryopreservation protocols and
rigorous patient case reports. He and Linda mandated not only scientific and
technical accountability, but administrative, financial and legal
accountability as well.
In doing these things, Fred and Linda attracted and mentored others. Fred’s
personality and his military background brokered no compromise and his
mentoring profoundly shaped me and a few others, molding us into the
irascible and generally disagreeable inhuman beings we are today. At one time
Fred was responsible for replenishing the tritium supply of all of the
hydrogen warheads in the US arsenal. Men given that responsibility do not
suffer fools gladly.
Personally, Fred taught me a great deal about engineering; not about the
mathematics of it, but about engineering at the systems level, about how to
look at a complex problem and tease it apart without being overwhelmed by it.
He had a fantastic ability to see and solve problems at a meta-level, and he
was able to communicate that to others.
Fred Chamberlain helped to build three incredible machines. Both had their
origin at roughly the same place and at roughly the same time in the
foothills of the Santa Monica mountains near Pasadena, California. Two
Voyager spacecraft are on their way to the stars moving through the
heliopause at ~ 16.08 km/s as I write this. The other, a medical time
machine, currently located in Scottsdale, Arizona, is moving relentlessly
forward with its precious cargo of time-stopped souls one slow day at a time.
Godspeed to both of you!
You can believe me when I say that I do have some idea of your loss. Only
some, I’m sure. It has been a hell of a last few weeks for me, but nothing to
what you’re going through now.
Man, oh man! I miss him already, and I haven’t laid eyes on him in years.
I remember all those years ago in La Crescenta, we were so young, and yet we
were planning for this very goddamn eventuality. We were actually planning
for it, thinking about it, talking about it, working towards it. We knew it
would come, and in a weird sort of way, we hoped it would come, because the
alternative would be that if it didn’t come for us at all, we would be one of
the truly unlucky ones that fell through the cracks, like Marce did. Still,
we have his loss to bear for now, and for some unknown seasons of tomorrows
yet to come.
Fred (left) cryopreserving his own father, Fred Jr., in 1976.
But remember Linda, it was just yesterday that we planned for this day now so
soon arrived – a plan that has been, as we so rightly foresaw, flawlessly
executed. Now, let us be patient just a “little” while longer, and work
again, just a “little” bit harder, so that we can awaken tomorrow, and find
that that other day that we talked about, dreamed about, planned for and
worked towards has also arrived, in which we find ourselves together again –
not in “paradise,” but in this world, planning for, thinking about, talking
about and working towards those other dreams that we had to put on hold,
simply in order to survive.
Let us look forward to those goals and dreams and many, many more still
undreamt and unimagined, to which we shall again apply ourselves when the
tear-blindness of our grief subsides.
Fred Chamberlain III: First Life Cycle: 1935-2012
by Linda Chamberlain
Fred Chamberlain III recently had his brain placed into cryostasis at the
Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale. His physical presence will be
missed by many friends, biological family and chosen family until technology
allows a future instantiation to be with us once again.
Among his many talents, Fred wrote inspiring poetry and loved to play the
guitar and keyboard. He was one of the most intellectually creative and
energetic people I’ve had the privilege to know. He just recently published
BioQuagmire, which in my opinion is the best transhuman, life extension novel
ever written. Fred (together with me and other authors) published a volume of
life extension and transhumanist short stories in the 1980s called Life
The picture above shows Fred when he was in his twenties working in bomb
disposal as a Navy diver. He was interested in ethics and was a strong
supporter of Ayn Rand’s ideology. Fred became actively involved in cryonics
in 1969 in order to get his father, Fred Chamberlain Jr., suspended (Alcor
News, August 1976). Fred and I met and became Forever Buddies in 1970 while
working on the committee to organize the second national cryonics conference,
held in Los Angeles, CA.
Here we see Fred in his thirties, sitting on the rim of the Grand Canyon. He
was an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Southern
California, where he worked on the Voyager missions to Jupiter and other
That’s when I first met and fell in love with him. One of our great
intellectual and emotional bonds was our interest in technological means of
extending life. Fred and I incorporated the Alcor Life Extension Foundation
in 1972; the minutes of those early Alcor meetings can be viewed by those
who might be interested. Many details from those early years are available on
The photo to the right shows Fred in his 60’s when he and I were again active
in Alcor between 1997 and 2001.
The picture on the left above shows us in 2002 when we renewed our wedding
vows on a beach in Cozumel with a traditional Mayan wedding with both of us
wearing traditional Mayan wedding dress.
Inspired by the Mindfile tools and programs being developed by Terasem
(including but not limited to CyBeRev.org and LifeNaut.com), and seeing
Mindfiles as an absolutely essential part of any personal life extension
plan, we moved to Melbourne, Florida in 2010 to contribute as much as
possible to the Terasem Movement while we remain in biological bodies, and
then continue doing so when emulated as cyberbeings. We made a presentation
about Cybertwins at Terasem’s 5th Annual Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic
Persons in Second Life (on Terasem Island), on December 10th, 2009.
Fred recently had his brain placed into cryostasis at the Alcor Life
Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, to preserve his Connectome as additional
Mindfile information. Though I will have to carry on alone for both of us for
a short while before we see each other in cyberspace, Fred is still part of
all of us in the Terasem Collective Consciousness and we will continue to
enjoy his warm creativity again soon as well as through his poetry and many
As they say on the Star Pebble, See you in the next cycle.
With all my love,
To view online with active links: http://www.lifepact.com/OdeToFred.pdf
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