Aging is such a drag.


| 3 Comments

I was traversing the web and stumbled across one of my favorite youtubers, Hank Green from the Vlog Brothers. And it asked the question of why do we have to age?

Aging sucks. As we age, we become more prone to sickness, much more weaker, and much less physically fit. It becomes harder to live day-by-day, and it really is a conundrum to why it happens.

Now the video explains many different theories if you care to watch, but I'll briefly recap if you feel too lazy to spend 10 minutes on a video.

The time when our bodies begin to stop growing after we reach sexual maturity is called senescence. Our bodies slowly begin to maintain itself, and we begin to become weaker and weaker as the years go.

Certain animals can ignore this phase, and keep growing for ages at a time, such as tortoises, lobsters, and a quahog clam that lived for +400 years.

Leonard Hayflick, discovered that cells were programmed to die. After studying fetal cells, they would stop dividing after 50 divisions, which would take about 9 months. This limit of division is called the Hayflick Limit, and it is different for different types of cells and different animals.

But why does this happen? The most likely answer are our chromosomes. Telomeres at the end of our chromosomes protect our DNA from error and after several divisions, telomeres begin to grow shorter and shorter until they can no longer protect the chromosomes.

So why don't we play around with this teleomere and inject it into people? The reason is because cancerous cells has this same ability, and we don't want to be giving this to people. It is also proposed that we have this "kill-switch" function in order to stop our cells from growing too much.

Another discovery had to do with certain genes. In a certain worm, nematoids, the gene DAF-2 was found to restrict the longevity because when it was  "turned off" the worms lived about twice as long.

There are similar counterparts in other genomes, and even human. Mice studies have found that disabling this gene can make them live longer; however scientists are still skeptical to try this on humans.

Calorie intake could also affect life span. In mice, it was found that a lower calorie intake made them live longer. However, this was recently disproved by an extensive study done with primates, who showed little change. The article can be found here.

Of course, there are lots of other more obvious factors that would increase your chance of dying, most obvious being smoking, overdosing on drugs, weight, etc.

The one thing to note is that old age is not a cause for death. We die because of a disease or an event, but not of old age. Old age is only a factor that increases our risk of a cause of death, much like smoking gives a higher risk of lung cancer.

Thus ends the video.

Now the other spectrum of overcoming old age is by getting rid of our bodies, and putting them into machines which could be upgraded indefinitely. 

Dmitri Itskov, a Russian mogul, plans to make a human android that can carry a person's conciousness, and he plans to make it by 2045. Link

There are a lot of skeptics, but some scientists find it to be a plausible case.

But is it really possible? Were we meant as organisms to live forever anyways? The idea that our bodies have a "self-destruct" mechanism itself strikes me to believe that maybe we're supposed to live in the time that we have. 

Personally, I feel this android project is ridiculous and even if it is possible, it is unnatural and goes against the very idea of being human. We live for today to bring up a better future. 

We can't keep living forever because the world changes, but we don't change forever.

3 Comments

This android project I think is the product of a trend that we are infinitely able to change ourselves and fight nature. It is, I believe, truly ridiculous that we are constantly trying to find new ways to fight the way we change physically, and because there is so much interest in it, we are succeeding. I think it's almost ironic because in reality, we don't change much mentally, if it all, throughout our entire lifetime. Sure, we get wiser and learn more, but our core personality doesn't change much after our frontal lobe reaches full maturity. I think part of this idea of wanting to live forever is that it is much easier to fight the uncertainty of when you will die if age is not a factor, whenever in reality, it actually adds more uncertainty because there is no longer a timeline. Personally, I like my mortality, it gives me some perspective that I doubt I would have if I were immortal.

First of all I have to say that I love the vlog brothers too!

The idea of immorality always seems appealing to humans because most of us are afraid to die, especially as teenagers. Not only that, but the emphasis media places on looking and staying young (especially for women) adds the desire to stop the process of aging, although not necessarily to gain immortality. I've thought about this multiple times and even resorted to talking to my grandfather about it. He's 94 years old and has said multiple times that if he were to die today, he would do so happily, knowing it was his time to go. At first I chalked this up as being a natural coping mechanism. Accepting death because he knows, as we all do, that it's imminent. But the truth of the matter is that he isn't particularly keen on living to a hundred and twenty because his body is already deteriorating. That's why this process of stopping aging and possibly even reversing it could be so appealing. I have to disagree with your belief that it's "unnatural" or "against being human" to live forever. If the scientific advancement can truly be made by us humans, then wouldn't it be a human thing to do to embrace it, much as we've done with almost everything else concerning technology?

First of all I have to say that I love the vlog brothers too!

The idea of immorality always seems appealing to humans because most of us are afraid to die, especially as teenagers. Not only that, but the emphasis media places on looking and staying young (especially for women) adds the desire to stop the process of aging, although not necessarily to gain immortality. I've thought about this multiple times and even resorted to talking to my grandfather about it. He's 94 years old and has said multiple times that if he were to die today, he would do so happily, knowing it was his time to go. At first I chalked this up as being a natural coping mechanism. Accepting death because he knows, as we all do, that it's imminent. But the truth of the matter is that he isn't particularly keen on living to a hundred and twenty because his body is already deteriorating. That's why this process of stopping aging and possibly even reversing it could be so appealing. I have to disagree with your belief that it's "unnatural" or "against being human" to live forever. If the scientific advancement can truly be made by us humans, then wouldn't it be a human thing to do to embrace it, much as we've done with almost everything else concerning technology?

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