Immortality


| 2 Comments

pursuit-immortality-in.jpg

A very big topic in science today is if we can one day achieve immortality. According to some of the smartest minds in today's world, it could be possible by the year 2035. The idea of being able to live for forever is almost eerie, something one would almost see in a Twilight Zone episode. According to Russian scientist Dmitry Itskov, being able to live forever is just around the corner. He says the process for immortality would have four different phases.

"Dmitry says that we could have the first phase--that will enable people to operate a nonbiological body--in the next seven years. And he believes that the concept can be proved viable in the next three years. He is talking about an artificial body with sensations--the sensation that you would be walking in the body"(Bob Pisani, CNBC). We could soon have a machine similar to the one used in "Avatar", where one could load the mind into another life like organism and reap the benefits of living life on the edge without the fear of "physically" dying. "The next phase (Avatar B) is brain transplantation. Instead of your dying, neurosurgeons isolate the brain and some of the spinal chord, put it in a life support system, and that is inserted into the android developed in Avatar A. The timetable: 2020-25"(Bob Pisani). The third phase that Dmitry describes involves the brain being able to be uploaded into a computer, eliminating any biological component of your body. "The final phase (Avatar D) is replacement of the physical body with a nonphysical, hologram-like body. You are essentially living inside a computer, but you can physically manifest yourself as a hologram. Think Princess Leia in "Star Wars." The goal: 2045"(Bob Pisani). Imagining a life like this is almost incomprehensible. How would social order be kept if one did not ever have the fear of death? Also, what would be the purpose of life if it were impossible to conceive children in a robot like state? Although Dmitry may be on the right track in predicting the future, until we have significant research to say that this is possible, it's safe to say this is all science fiction. 

Another recent breakthrough in the search for immortality has been in studies done on the enzyme called telomerase. It "slows the shortening of telomeres--sequences of DNA that grow progressively shorter during cell division until the cell eventually mutates or dies. In theory, stop this countdown and cells should live indefinitely"(Adam Hadhazy). If this enzyme is in fact able to slow the aging process in our cells, not only could this benefit the length of our lives, but it can also be a major contributor in discovering a cure for cancer. "Stig E. Bojesen, a researcher at the Faculty of Health and Medicial Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and staff specialist at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, has headed the efforts to map telomerase -- an enzyme capable of creating new ends on cellular chromosomes, the so-called telomeres. In other words, a kind of cellular fountain of youth"(ScienceDaily.com). As technology continues to improve at remarkable levels, it is only a matter of time until we not only cure cancer, but become nearly immortal.

 

Works Cited:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327133341.htm

 

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/sciences-greatest-unsolved-mysteries-progress-report#slide-4
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100817288

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/researcher-girl-ages-key-biological-immortality-article-1.1429255


2 Comments

I never knew we were so close to achieving what was once deemed impossible. Immortality is a really interesting concept that brings up a lot of moral and ethical dilemmas beyond the ones you detailed. For example:
1.) Will overpopulation plague the world?
2.) How will the definition of life, as we know it, be altered?
3.) If, theoretically, we can be uploaded to a computer, than what constitutes consciousness. Would we be nothing more than compiled data, and if so, is that what we are now?
If the doctor is to be believed, and if immortality is imminent, these are all questions that will have to be answered soon enough. But, I think, more likely than not, they won't be posed for a long time to come.

This post is both exciting and disconcerting in equal parts, while I think the idea of immortality is... interesting, I personally would never want to have it for myself. Isn't the essence of our life in knowing that it is fleeting? Isn't that what drives people to do things?
And if we could, in fact, live forever, wouldn't that make time irrelevant?
I also absolutely agree with Dylan in that overpopulation, as it is, is a huge problem today with 1.22 billion people living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.25 a day - http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview).
Would it really make sense for us to continue in our quest for immortality? Or should we continue to selfishly strive for the unnatural while possibly taking the earth down with us?
Or on a brighter note: will we also be able to inhabit one of the 17 billion x 100 billion earth like planets Dean Larson mentioned?

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Psychology Steps it Up
Although large research collaborations have been popular among most schools of science, few have ever been done in psychology.…
Getting Wet is the Worst!
Hate getting wet? Well so did some M. I. T. and Boston University Researchers. They were thinking about icing--"which…
Untitled
In Africa, many people with penises--about three million--have become voluntarily circumcised as a result of a new finding. Unaids,…

Old Contributions