Heh... I'm reading the Red Mars trilogy and they deal with this very issue. With long life comes great discoveries and advances...but also a horrible population crisis and global wars that result from too many people and the Immortals vs the Mortals (people rich enough to have the treatment as apposed to the many who cannot afford it).
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There's a reason major body systems generally fail at around the same time. It requires energy to maintain systems. If one system gets improved so it could survive 50 years longer, view organisms would actually live longer, because some other system would fail first.
Evolution tends to minimize expenditure of energy that doesn't contribute to survival (or, more specifically, sucessful offspring procreation and raising). Even if we assumed that any increase in lifespan would help the viability of genetic offspring, we still have to overcome the tendency of evolution to create metabolic efficiency.
Of course, what we do to improve our own longevity isn't bound by natural selection. But, it is limited by an evolutionary process that has resulted millions of design changes all geared to helping the body maintain itself without metabolic waste.
This makes it very likely that every major and minor body system will require aggresive intervention to maintain an order of magnitude increase in lifespan.
Young and alive as long as you don't get sick or have an accident is everyone's dream isn't it?
I think that's the only reason this article got written in the first place. It's something people WANT to believe. The alternative is what we have now. Watching yourself slowly decay in the mirror day by day.
The guy is a nut. but a part of me still wants to believe.
quote:Exactly. It would have to be something like complete gene therepy throughout your body.
Sounds like that's what's being proposed: "it's a very detailed plan to repair all the types of molecular and cellular damage that happen to us over time."
I think this will happen at some point in our future, under the usual assumption that society doesn't get destroyed. It expect it to take a very long time, although people who talk about an approaching technological "singularity" can be pretty persuasive. It is quite contrary to how we've evolved, but that's what the human genome project is for -- beating evolution and fixing the parts of us that don't work the way we want them to.
The more interesting question is whether it should be done. Despite the trials and tribulations of the characters in Red Mars, KSR seemed to come out in favor of such treatments. Asimov, on the other hand, was very much against them throughout his Robot novels. Scientists and ethicists who've considered the topic recently seem to mostly think that it's an individual choice issue -- but some people who understand the relevant science and believe longevity is possible do disagree. Leon Kass, chair of the President's Council on Bioethics, is one example.
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This reminds me of a time line I did once just for the fun of it. I later found that it had been done before, in a book called the "First 2000 years".
The Lord told Adam that in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, he would surely die. Genesis says that Adam lived to be 930. But then we found out that a day to the Lord is a thousand of our years, so... no contradiction there.
The interesting thing my time line showed me was that right after the flood, life spans tappered off. This suggests to me an environmental effect. Noah, who lived to be 600 something (I don't remember the figure) was still alive when Abraham came around, and who lived to be only 125.
In attempting my hand at writing, I made some of this part of a speculative fiction. the speculation was fun, but I'm no writer, and I never finished the story... so the 13000 words I've have written will never see the light of day. But, here is an exerpt just to give and idea of the fun I had with it.
Ether asked, “What happened to you after the confounding of the tongues.” “My little group migrated northwest. I guess you could say we were the forerunners of the Greeks. We founded a city, which was since called Troy, and later generations moved west from there. “Did you know Jared then,” Jude bowed his head. “Yes, I knew him, and his brother. Nimrod considered them dissidents, and my actions relative to them are a part of why I am here. Jude sighed, and continued. But, I suppose you want to know what most everyone wants to know. Why did we think to build a tower in an attempt reach heaven?” “Yes,” said Ether leaning forward. “Well, heaven in this case was Zion, the City of Enoch, that God took up from the earth before the flood. It was in a low geosynchronous orbit over the area where the tower was to be built. We could see it, and we knew what it was. And rather than view it as a goal to legitimately strive for, Nimrod in his arrogance was determined to get there by another way.” “Interpreting what I’ve read in the scriptures (which we have a copy of here) there have been only two other times when Zion was visible before it’s return at the beginning of the millennial reign. I believe once in Abraham’s time, to take up Melchizedek, the king of Salem and his people to add them to their number. And, it was present at the birth of Christ. I believe it was the ‘star’ that stood over Bethlehem.” “I agree. A couple of things The Lord said seem to support that notion. When Zion was taken up, the Lord told Enoch, “Behold mine abode forever”, to Abraham he said: “I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool.” The are several other instances where it is mentioned that his throne is high in the heavens, and of course, any chair is generally in close proximity to the footstool that services it.” Ether grinned. “This is very interesting to me,” continued Ether. “I can browse through the library later. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you about a hypothesis I’ve had. During mortality, I did a time line for the first two thousand years starting from the time Adam left the garden. As you know, the antediluvians lived longer lives than those that came along after the flood. But it also seems that the tower is a line of demarcation for those differences as well. May I ask how old were you when you died? “439,” said Jude. I was very disappointed. There were some of the previous generations (since the flood) that attained 600+ years, and were referred to as two-thirds gods. Nimrod was one such.” Ether nodded. “I think it started out as a disparaging remark, but as it became apparent that life spans were getting progressively shorter, it became an honorific. I would have liked to have had the title myself. “That fits,” said Ether thinking ahead. “Those born after the tower only attained to 240, and it went down sharply from there. Where there any significant events in your memory that you could attribute that to?” “I don’t know if there is a connection, but there were many earthquakes; some very severe. We heard that the unfinished tower fell because of it. A deep valley south and west of Troy that ran for many leagues, flooded and became the Mediterranean Sea. The stars seemed slower in their courses. Foodstuffs and other organic matter rotted and decayed a lot faster. We thought the shortened ages had something to do with the food,” answered Jude. “Also there was a severe outbreak of leprosy.” “Here’s the thing,” said Ether excitedly. “From the time Zion was taken up until the confounding of the tongues was about 550 years. Genesis says that the earth was divided in the days of Peleg. I take that to mean the geologic changes were completed sometime during the course of his life. It could have additional meanings, but I think this fits. The tower construction was begun just after Peleg’s birth according to my time line, so there is a correlation. The Book of Revelations gives a description as well as the dimensions of Zion. Now, taking the average mass density of the earth, and using the dimensions of Zion given in Revelations, one comes up with a pretty significant figure. That removal of that much mass from the earth would certainly have destabilized the earth’s geology. Mass density and gravity of the earth would have been reduced, and internal pressures would have caused the earth to expand and finally stabilize at an increased diameter. Of course, during the course of those 550 years, there was a flood resulting from the breakup of the subterranean seas, and many severe earthquakes. The upper mantle of the earth, almost constantly in a state of liquifaction, allowed the fractured crust carrying the continents to separate as the earth expanded, with the cracks being filled from below. Also, the receding waters of the flood off the continents would have had a war with the up-surging magma, but eventually, a new crust was re-established. The atmosphere probably expanded out and thinned a little as well, as a result of the decreased gravity, thereby reducing its ability to screen ultraviolet rays; increasing the incidence of skin cancers. The reduced gravity would have produced a weaker race. Add to that a greater exposure to the harmful rays of the sun and you get a shorter life span. What do you think?”