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Thread: Science close to stopping the aging process

  1. #1
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    Default Science close to stopping the aging process

    Earlier this month, scientists succeeded in stopping aging in a mouse liver. While this doesn't yet mean we can all take a Methuselah pill, the ramifications are interesting. Many experts in the field feel we're 15-20 years away from stopping the aging process cold in its tracks, perhaps less than twice that long away from reversing it. Of course, this doesn't mean we'll all live forever. Accidents will statistically prevent that unless of course we develop ways to make the human body much more durable. It will however mean that we can throw all our paradigms about old and young right out the window. You'll basically be young and healthy until you die in an accident. That may occur after you live 50 years, or perhaps 500, or maybe even 100,000.

    This brings up all sorts of interesting problems. Population can in theory grow much more rapidly even with declining birth rates if people live on average for 1000 years. After that you may have a problem with societal stagnation, basically many people running out of new experiences after living many centuries. Of course, space exploration will open up many news worlds and experiences, so perhaps in the long run that isn't a problem. And of course you'll run into the problem of not knowing a person's experiences by their appearance. Nowadays you can see a very aged person and you'll immediately know they lived through WWII. perhaps even through the Depression and WWI. In a future where everyone looks young (perhaps even prepubescent if they choose), it will be difficult to tell 200 year olds from 20 year olds, or even 12 year olds. In my mind I suppose this will be a good thing in relationships. You'll actually get to know the person inside, and not worry if they're about your age or not. Indeed, I can see the elderly being much more desireable than the young as they will still have youthful appearance, but much more varied experience.

    Of course, not everybody may choose eternal youth, nor should such a thing be forced on those who don't want it. The problem is will society want to pay for the ills of those who intentionally choose to live normal lives? Or will we just end hospitals as we know them, except to repair damage caused by accidents, rather than aging? That by implication could mean one choosing to age normally will live a shorter lifespan than today without access to even today's level of medical care.

    All interesting problems to ponder. I personally welcome being young forever even with the potential pitfalls. Not sure of the age I might choose to appear as, but I'd probably pick somewhere around 12-13 as I felt I looked my best around then, although I might like the strength of an adult.

    What are your thoughts on this subject?

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    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    I hope they hurry up and work this out before I get too old to care.

    Geoff

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Thanks jtr1962 for starting this thread. It's a fancinating subject both morally and scientifically. Interesting acticle on clearing out waste proteins. Makes the aging process seem like a disease.

    If I could stop my own aging I'm sure I would do so. If I could reverse the affects of aging I'm sure I'd do that too. What I'm not sure of is how long I would want to live. Apathy may set in at some point (anyone remember the 70's movie Zardoz?).

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    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    . . .

    All interesting problems to ponder. I personally welcome being young forever even with the potential pitfalls. Not sure of the age I might choose to appear as, but I'd probably pick somewhere around 12-13 as I felt I looked my best around then, although I might like the strength of an adult.

    What are your thoughts on this subject?
    jtr,

    12-13 (!!!)? Really? Holy cow! Raises the whole "Peter Pan" complex to a whole new level, doesn't it? LOL!

    It is said, and I believe it, that the reason for death is to allow for prolific and diverse life. Without death, stagnation would indeed be a very serious problem, both for individuals and society. The "Death" card/archetype in the Tarot is best summarized, in one word, as "transformation"--enforced, inevitable change.

    And not just death, but the thousand little deaths over a life--sickness, injury, decline--those are agents of change and, dare I say it, wisdom. What good would a life of a thousand years do if you settled into a routine, stopped learning, stopped changing? I mean, hey, don't get me wrong! I can see the appeal in eternal youth!!! And I'm not keen to die, get sick, grow old, and such-like. But, I know from my own experience that there were many things that I probably would never have learned or understood if it weren't for "Death". We all like to think that we are able to overcome this problem of gaining wisdom without pain and struggle and heartbrake, but I suspect that most of us would be wrong.

    Ann Rice, in her vampire novels, explores the whole issue of immortality to some depth, especially the stagnation, going crazy, bit. I haven't read but one or two of them, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    Anyway, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, and past lives, I can see the wisdom of a bath in the river lethe in between incarnations! I don't think there's anything worse than being jaded and cynical even in youth, and that is already definitely a problem today.

    If aging IS overcome, change and transformation will be as necessary as ever (if not more so) but their traditional vehicles will be gone, and new ones would need to take their place. In my opinion.
    Last edited by js; 08-13-2008 at 12:35 PM.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    There is a reason why we die. It's to make room for new growth. If we lived forever (or for a very long time) we would become over populated, starve, become deseased... which would keep us from living forever, OR kill us all off.

    Forget about living forever ourselves. It will NEVER happen. However, we can live forever through our children/grandchildren... Which is the way God intended.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by js View Post
    jtr,

    12-13 (!!!)? Really? Holy cow! Raises the whole "Peter Pan" complex to a whole new level, doesn't it? LOL!
    To be sure js, I didn't necessarily like being 13 more than being an adult. In fact, I hated being a kid. After all, there were many things I just wasn't allowed to do. I simply liked the way I looked then better, that's all. I liked not needing to shave, for example (although I suppose laser hair removal could rectify that now). And I especially liked having a little more hair to comb (although that problem can be solved also nowadays). I also liked having a lot more energy than I do now. Just my opinion, but the coursening of features which occurs with many (but not all) people upon entering puberty makes them decidedly less attractive at 20 than at 12 or 13 (an age where IMO they have the best parts of both adult and child appearance). Of course, some may choose to look 50 forever, or 30, or even 75. The point is that you'll be able to choose, even switch ages if you decide you made a mistake. And the cosmetics industry will probably be a thing of the past. Granted, appearance is only a small part of who you are, but it can influence the rest of your life, and how people react to you.

    If aging IS overcome, change and transformation will be as necessary as ever (if not more so) but their traditional vehicles will be gone, and new ones would need to take their place. In my opinion.
    I agree, and that's one reason I would like to live indefinitely-to see exactly how humanity (and myself) would deal with a world without aging. To be sure, death WILL still come via accidents or natural disasters, but it would simply be a matter of when. Nothing is forever. The enforced transformation which you say death brings would still exist, only the time scale might be extended by a few orders of magnitude. Would humans acquire wisdom to match their years? Or would they live in eternally frivolous youth? That's one question I would like to see answered. Does the human brain have the capacity to really be able to learn from centuries or even millenia of life?

    I'm excited at the prospect of much longer lifespans because I don't feel we have enough time to be all we can in 100 years or less. We spend a good portion of our youth learning skills so we can work, and then the rest of youth working. We pretty much work until our bodies are in such bad shape we can't. Or if we're really lucky, we'll have maybe 20 years of retirement free to do what we want. Hardly enough to explore a world of possibilities, even assuming you've earned enough in your life to be able to afford to do what you want.

    Regarding reincarnation, I've thought it a remote possibility. If so, then we're already immortal in a sense, just not in the same body. But then again, wouldn't the same technology which allows one to live indefinitely also allow one to change their appearance periodically? It would be similar to reincarnation, except you would remember and be able to learn from your past lives.

    Anyway, thanks for the input. You've given me new things to ponder.

    Nitro,

    Interesting perspective although it doesn't offer much for those who don't want to, or don't have the opportunity, to procreate (both in my case). To be sure, we'll never be immortal. Only a fool would think otherwise. In time the Earth will no longer be here, nor will the universe. Long before that accidents or natural disasters would claim everyone. I would just hope we can change the time scale when we go from 120 years at the most to something possibly several orders of magntude higher, at least for those who want it.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    Nitro,

    Interesting perspective although it doesn't offer much for those who don't want to, or don't have the opportunity, to procreate (both in my case). To be sure, we'll never be immortal. Only a fool would think otherwise. In time the Earth will no longer be here, nor will the universe. Long before that accidents or natural disasters would claim everyone. I would just hope we can change the time scale when we go from 120 years at the most to something possibly several orders of magntude higher, at least for those who want it.
    Nobody said life was perfect.

    My point is, if our lifespan all of a sudden increased (because of a science breakthrough or whatever), the human race would be very much worse off.

    The longer our individual lifespans are, the shorter the lifetime of the human race. The shorter our lifespan, the longer the lifetime of the human race.

    The only question is, which way do we want to go. Would you be willing to kill off the population in order to live a few hundred years?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Turtle View Post
    I hope they hurry up and work this out before I get too old to care.

    Geoff
    +1... 20 years...I`ll be pretty old...but if they can reverse it But with my luck they will probably discover the cure the day after I die.

    There is nothing wrong with living a much longer life...and it will probably happen. I can imagine a day when the headline news reads..."man dies after tragic plane crash" and it makes everyone cry...he was only 238 years old...cut down in his prime. But what in the world was he thinking...flying in a real plane....must have been crazy.

    If one could live forever everyone would try to stay safe all the time...be very carefull cutting the grass. There was once a man who was killed by a mower...and be very carefull driving to work...very carefull. Maybe it`s best to simply not leave the house...just keep your eyes on the 3D screen.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by Nitro View Post
    My point is, if our lifespan all of a sudden increased (because of a science breakthrough or whatever), the human race would be very much worse off.

    The longer our individual lifespans are, the shorter the lifetime of the human race. The shorter our lifespan, the longer the lifetime of the human race.
    Here's the rub-I tend to think greatly increased lifespans would give the human race more time, not less. Nowadays often whenever any discussion of the future of the planet comes up, and someone predicts dire consequences in, say, 100 years unless something is done now, the attitude of most people is "I won't be around anyway, so why should I sacrifice my comforts today in order to make the world a better place?" And then you have so many people living risky, fatalistic lifestyles. The phrase "living life to the fullest" or "live today like there's no tomorrow" are the most overused line nowadays. People pack 2 million things into every day as if they're going to die of brain cancer tomorrow. And they do things with the thought of "I'm going to die soon anyway, so it might as well be doing something I enjoy". In the spirit of Badbeam3's last post, I'd venture to guess if people lived much longer, we would either find a way to make cars 100% safe, or nobody would even want to set foot in a car.

    Now take away the certainty of aging and dying. I think (although I could be wrong) that this suddenly changes the picture. You start to think of what the world will be like in 100, 200, perhaps even 1000 years because you might actually be around to see the results of bad decisions made today. Although people give a good line of bs about saving the planet "for the children", I've seen few who will make any concrete changes in their lifestyles, even when such changes cause very little pain. Indeed, I've heard people complain about a simple thing like the coming bans on incandescent light bulbs. However, when your great grandchildren's world ends up being your world also, you might suddenly start to think a bit of the long term consequences of your actions.

    To be sure, there may be more overpopulation problems in a world where indefinitely lifespans where possible. It might indeed result in the disease and famine you say. Then again those things seem ever more likely if we continue heading down the path we're on even without artificial life extension. Speaking from the viewpoint of an optimist and a pragmatist, I feel humans are more likely to solve problems when they'll be living in the world in which these problems may come to pass. I feel the human race has infinite capacity to deal with any problems we face in the future, and more incentive to do so if those who solve those problems will be alive to see the results.

    And then of course there's the (I think) highly unlikely possibility that most people would choose not to live indefinitely even if the possibility existed. That's one thing which often puzzled me about Star Trek. I would think surely a civilization capable of faster than light travel would have found some way to increase lifespans by orders of magnitude. Why then did they choose not to? Or did only a small minority choose to? Or did they just feel adding that aspect would have made the show too far-fetched?

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    Flashaholic* Erasmus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    For me this is science fiction, I don't believe this. Even if they can stop your liver from aging, something else will decay. The human body is so complex and I think we will never be able to control every single function of it.
    Yeehaw!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Perhaps just beleiving that someday soon folks could live forever might cause one to live longer. For example...one might choose to stop smoking...eat better...if they trully believe they have a shot at long life.

    So many risks we take are with the idea...everyone goes sooner or later... I want to enjoy life before I`m to old...when god wants you it`s over...you only live once...live life to the fullest.

    Thoughts like these are used to justify risky behavior. One might think twice about testing the limits of thier new 1 billion horsepower motor bike if they felt they could live forever...provided they don`t do something foolish.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Reminds me of a story:

    A 60 year old guy goes to his doctor for his annual physical. "Doc," he says "What do I need to do to live to be 110 years old?"

    "Well," doc replies, "Do you smoke?"

    "Never touched a cigarette in my life"

    "OK, how's your diet?"

    "Though it's tough, I'm a strict vegan."

    "What about excessive alcohol?"

    "Doc, I never touch the stuff."

    "Any recreational drug use?"

    "Doc, come on, I've never even seen marijuana, let alone hard drugs."

    "Do you have multiple high risk sex partners?"

    "Doc, I've been married for 40 years. I barely have sex with my wife."

    The doctor scratches his head and says..."What in the heck do you want to live another 50 years for?!?"

  13. #13

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    LOL...guess the poor fellow wants to live longer so he can smoke, drink, eat...and get a new wife.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Or perhaps even if he doesn't live longer, it will feel like he is.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    In the 50's, they predicted flying cars by the 70's. I think this is one of those.

    Also, if we had had immortality available earlier, then Stalin would still be alive, and Kim Il-Sung, too. Overall, I think we'd end up retaining a lot more villains than saints amongst us...
    Last edited by nerdgineer; 08-13-2008 at 05:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    I was thinking for the people sentenced to "Life in prision" they will really be screwed.

    LOL!
    AlexGT

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexGT View Post
    I was thinking for the people sentenced to "Life in prision" they will really be screwed.

    LOL!
    AlexGT
    What I'd really like to see is inmates take a much greater role in covering the cost of their "correction" in addition to repaying legal costs to the courts and restitution to their victims. But that is another topic.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Hopefully a byproduct of this would help certain parts of our body live or rejuvenate longer. Maybe reversing some diseases.

    Very interesting topic on all levels.

    I sense a new litigation system for this. How old do we get before administering this serum. Uncle Bob's lawyers are chomping at the bit. He is living a miserable existence and wants nature to take its course (lived a full dynamic life); but his family would like to see him hang around for 100 more years in this same state. Huh?

    I am sort of playing devil's advocate here but the ramifications are beyond my thinking ability.

    So much good and so much bad.

    I bet the world Olympiads would hate it if Michael Phelps lived eternally.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    My expectations are low. I just hope they can regenerate hair growth more effectively then present means. Maybe stop it from turning gray as well.
    I live in a van down by the river

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    What does this do to the (already broken) social security system?

    Are we all going to continue working until????

    If people don't die and new ones continue to come into the planet, what does that do to our limited resources?

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by CM View Post
    What does this do to the (already broken) social security system?

    Are we all going to continue working until????

    If people don't die and new ones continue to come into the planet, what does that do to our limited resources?
    Here's a thought; don't reproduce and you can live as long as you like, or can afford too.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by LowBat View Post
    Here's a thought; don't reproduce and you can live as long as you like, or can afford too.
    Yeah, but I like reproducing

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by AlexGT View Post
    I was thinking for the people sentenced to "Life in prision" they will really be screwed.

    LOL!
    AlexGT
    And you can kiss goodbye "lifetime warranties" on future products.

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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by CM View Post
    Yeah, but I like reproducing
    No Darlin you like the "act" of trying to reproduce.
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    Flashaholic* NA8's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    So... like... topless dancers would never grow old ?


  26. #26

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Sign me up! I want to see what the future will be like, have time to learn all the things I want to learn and see all the things I want to see. Sure it'd be fraught with problems, but I'd welcome the challenge. I can always commit suicide should I change my mind.

    My family is generally long lived. I have no relatives that have died naturally at less than 95 years old, and many that have made it past 100. Most had cancer of some sort; I've been told independently by several of their doctors that everyone would die of cancer if something else didn't get us first. Seemingly living much longer would require a cure for cancer.

    I would think that should everyone be endowed with the ambition to better their position in life and the foresight necessary to plan farther ahead than the next paycheck, they could eventually retire with no drain on our current social security system.

    Interesting discussion.
    Got Biodiesel?

  27. #27

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    While rejoicing over your expected immortality, don't forget that degenerative diseases of old age only play a small role in the common causes of death. The problems involved with aging should be researched as surely as other health problems, but attributing a much longer life span to such a single thing isn't realistic.

    We're all subject to the wear to our bodies caused cumulative by our lifetime of wounds, environmental exposures, accidents, habits, mistakes by health professionals, diseases and such. As long as there are probabilities that can be attributed to different accidents, contacting diseases, violent acts and other things that can bring our lives to an end, then we can count the end as an absolute approaching event.

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* LowBat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    So if the body wears out, what about transferring consciousness? I understand little about what makes us self aware.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by LowBat View Post
    So if the body wears out, what about transferring consciousness? I understand little about what makes us self aware.
    Sure, just don't forget to do backups.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Science close to stopping the aging process

    Quote Originally Posted by Empath View Post
    While rejoicing over your expected immortality, don't forget that degenerative diseases of old age only play a small role in the common causes of death. The problems involved with aging should be researched as surely as other health problems, but attributing a much longer life span to such a single thing isn't realistic.
    The way I understand it, the reason things such as cancer or other diseases eventually win out is due to the body's decreased ability to fight them as degeneration from age weakens us. This is why cancer rates increase with age, for example. The body's ability to fight and/or flush out toxins decreases as we age, the toxins accumulate, eventually the toxins win. Sure, we have a long way to go before we can even contemplate stopping aging. However, if by degrees we can slow aging, then many of those around today might still be alive even if it takes another 100 years to find a "cure".

    As long as there are probabilities that can be attributed to different accidents, contacting diseases, violent acts and other things that can bring our lives to an end, then we can count the end as an absolute approaching event.
    Absolutely there will be an end, probably via external factors (accident, natural disaster, violent act) even if our bodies never aged or contracted disease. That being said, I can imagine us taking much greater measures to prevent these things in a world without aging. We certainly wouldn't tolerate 50,000 annual deaths in the US from motor vehicle accidents, for example. The economic cost of an accidental death rises manyfold if the deceased loses 1000 productive years instead of 30.

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