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Dr. Robert (Bob) W. Prehoda was good friends with Dr. Chris Kavanau. In the 1990's Dr. Prehoda rented a room in Dr. Chris Kavanau's house at 700 Alta Vista Drive, Glendale, California, 91205. Chris introduced Robert (Bob) to his father J. Lee Kavanau, and Bob used this letter to introduce himself formally.



Below are the only known surviving black and white photographs (4 in total) of Dr. Robert Prehoda. For the first time, Trailing Edge Archives is exclusively offering color slides and photographs of Dr. Prehoda, seen further below in the Robert W. Prehoda Archive.


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Arthur C. Clarke (L) meets with Robert Prehoda, founder of the World Future Society's second chapter, in Los Angeles. Robert Prehoda's wife, Claudette, is also shown.


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From Left to Right:
"Dr. Robert W. Prehoda, science writer, Gerald Carr, the holder of the United States space flight duration record, Robert E. Salisbury, President of the Salisbury Energy Group and the L-5 Director, and Mark M. Hopkins, L-5 Society Vice-President and Chair of the Legislative Action Committee ponder the question of space exploration."


The Robert W. Prehoda Archive

Below are previously unpublished color slides and photos of Dr. Robert Prehoda, his wife Claudette, and their daughter from this archive. These color slides were retrieved by Dr. Chris Kavanau from outdoor trash bins at the 700 Alta Vista address after they were discarded by Bob. The Polaroid photos at the end were all taken by Dr. Chris Kavanau.















Dr. Robert (Bob) Prehoda's wife, Claudette, and their daughter.









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Dr. Robert Prehoda explaining the controls of a Tektronix 545 B oscilloscope, in Dr. Chris Kavanau's office, a model he was familiar with using. 


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Dr. Robert Prehoda's classic "Are you serious?!?!" pose and expression, probably when I first whipped out the camera to take his picture. 


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Dr. Robert Prehoda explaining some history of ancient Egypt while pointing to two volumes of hieroglyphic dictionaries, in Dr. Chris Kavanau's office. 







Interview with Robert W. Prehoda (1969)

AUGUST 10, 2008

CRYONICS REPORTS: What is your background?

PREHODA: My degrees are in chemistry and my research experience has been focused primarily on propulsion chemistry (rockets, ramjets, etc.), although I have had considerable research experience in the biological sciences. I have participated in investigations of natural hibernation, partially successful attempts to induce hibernation in animals that do not hibernate, and unsuccessful experiments involving whole animal DMSO perfusion and freezing.

CRYONICS REPORTS: When did you first become interested in the possibility of extending the human lifespan?

PREHODA: I have been interested in life span extension since I was in my teens, and have been contacting scientists active in various phases of gerontology and reduced metabolism throughout the world since about 1950. Many of them are now close friends.

CRYONICS REPORTS: How bright do you feel the prospect of immortality is?

PREHODA: Immortality is statistically impossible because accidents would eventually eliminate all individuals in any non-aging population. Extreme examples of unavoidable accidents include meteorite impact or a cosmic ray (heavy element ion) striking a suitable target atom nucleus in a vital portion of the brain. These and other extreme examples would rule out immortality. However, the human life span can be significantly extended via control of the aging process, human hibernation or a synergistic combination of both.

CRYONICS REPORTS: What was your role in the freezing of Dr. Bedford?

PREHODA: I was present at the request of Norman Bedford and served as his representative on that occasion. However, I am still opposed, as I was before Dr. Bedford’s death, to freezing people at the present time because this money should be spent on research. Any human freezing is premature and without scientific basis until a mammal can be revived from the frozen state.

CRYONICS REPORTS: What is the Bedford Foundation?

PREHODA: It is an organization, set up by Prof. James H. Bedford before his death, whose only purpose is to engage in basic cryo-biological research.

CRYONICS REPORTS: What activities is it engaged in? What are its plans?

PREHODA: The Bedford Foundation started to undertake a program of research along the lines fully described in my new book on reduced metabolism, SUSPENDED ANIMATION. Unfortunately, litigation to break Dr. Bedford’s will intervened, and the case has not been settled in the courts.

CRYONICS REPORTS: What are the titles of your books and what are they about?

PREHODA: DESIGNING THE FUTURE, THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGICAL FORECASTING (Chilton Books, 1967) was the first American publication on technological forecasting and the importance of this new discipline to economic growth, education, military defense and the allocation of funds between contending R & D options. EXTENDED YOUTH, THE PROMISE OF GERONTOLOGY (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1968) is the first popular book to be published since 1960 on the research areas that may allow senescence to be overcome. SUSPENDED ANIMATION (Chilton Books, 1968) is the first semi-popular book to deal with the research requirements and options that may allow human hibernation and cryogenic suspended animation to be achieved.

CRYONICS REPORTS: What area of scientific research do you believe should receive first priority?

PREHODA: Dr. John Bjorksten’s molecular cross-linking aging research, which I believe will be recognized in the 1970’s, as the most important and momentous scientific discovery of the 20th century.

CRYONICS REPORTS: What are your immediate plans?

PREHODA: My immediate plans include the continued refinement of technological forecasting methodology and the writing of a series of future-oriented books on emerging branches of applied biology and the physical sciences. I will continue to do everything I can to promote responsible research in gerontology and reduced metabolism, with particular attention to my original conceptual research contributions to both of these vitally important branches of applied biomedicine.

First published in Cryonics Reports, Vol. 4, No. 1, January, 1969

Death of Robert Prehoda

From Cryonics 2nd Quarter 2010

By Mike Perry

I am sad to report the likely death of Robert W. Prehoda, one of the early pioneers in the cryonics movement. Prehoda took part in the freezing of James Bedford, Jan. 12, 1967, usually regarded as the first “real” cryonics case, done under controlled conditions for the purpose of eventual reanimation. (Bedford after his freezing was maintained by relatives until becoming an Alcor patient in the 1980s; he is still being cared for by Alcor.) Prehoda was a chemist, reduced metabolism expert, and futurist who promoted his ideas through a number of books including Suspended Animation; a paragraph from this 1969 study shows his forward thinking:

“20th century man naturally turns to science in his never-ending search for immortality. Reduced metabolism is the new branch of biomedical research which offers the tantalizing promise of allowing each of us to achieve a door into the future. ‘Reduced metabo­lism’ is a collective term for all of the various means of slowing down the rate or speed of biological processes in cells, organs and whole animals. Life processes can be slowed by lowering the temperature, or through highly specific biochemical reactions that slow metabolic activity by chemical interference. The purpose of this book is to outline, for the intelligent reader, the present status and future promise of the various scientific disciplines and specific research investigations that promise, collectively, to make reduced metabolism an area of potential revolutionary impact in the next few years.”[1]


Unfortunately, Prehoda was not favorable to cryonics despite promoting “reduced metabolism” through, among other things, “lowering the temperature” and despite involvement in the Bedford freezing (reportedly at the request of the son, to document what happened [2]). He felt that, under then-current techniques, the all-important brain tissue would be “damaged beyond any conceptual means of future repair and restoration to original function”[3] and that cryonics was diverting funds that ought to go to relatives of the deceased or be used for research [4].

Robert Prehoda at James Bedford’s freezing in Glendale, Calif., Jan. 12, 1967. Prehoda injects cryoprotectant while Dante Brunol, background, holds face mask to facilitate oxygen delivery to the patient. (This is possibly a posed shot but does illustrate the sort of procedure that was followed, with an Iron Heart to maintain chest compressions, inducing air intake and, in theory, maintaining blood flow while cryoprotectant consisting of a DMSO solution was injected. Modern procedures differ considerably from this. I thank Robert Nelson for making this picture available.)

A Social Security death record shows a Robert W. Prehoda with the following information: SSN: 557-40-3073; last residence: 91344 Granada Hills, Los Angeles, California; born: 7 Jul 1931, died: 11 Jun 2009. This appears to be him. Another record reports Robert Wayne Prehoda born 7 Jul 1931 Santa Barbara County, California, mother’s maiden name: Kady. There is more information in California public records probably about him, including data on marriages and divorces. (Although multiple individuals have the name Robert Prehoda, the middle initial “W” appears to be unique or rare enough that positive identification based on that and residence in California seems reliable.) In any case it is regrettable that he did not rethink his position on cryonics, which it appears he had actually formed prior to even that early freezing in which he took part. In the more than 40 years of his life since the Bedford case, procedures would change and improve greatly, while new conceptual means of tissue repair involving nanotechnology would raise hopes for cases that “experts” had previously dismissed.


All citations except as noted are from Robert W. Prehoda, Suspended Animation: the Research Possibility That May Allow Man to Conquer the Limiting Chains of Time, Philadelphia: Chilton, 1969.

1. p. 5

2. p. 115

3. p. 113, quoted from Freeze-Wait-Reanimate, August-September 1966, p. 2.

4. p. 119

Photo at top of page: Robert Prehoda from an interview in Cryonics Reports, January 1969 p. 8.

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