Thursday, 1 October 2015

A Cure for Aging?

"All that we profess to do is but this, - to find out the secrets of the human frame; to know why the parts ossify and the blood stagnates, and to apply continual preventatives to the effort of time.  This is not magic; it is the art of medicine rightly understood.  In our order we hold most noble -, first, that knowledge which elevates the intellect; secondly, that which preserves the body.  But the mere art (extracted from the juices and simples) which recruits the animal vigour and arrests the progress of decay, or that more noble secret which I will only hint to thee at present, by which heat or calorific, as ye call it, being, as Heraclitus wisely taught, the primordial principle of life, can be made its perpectual renovator...."
Zanoni, book IV, chapter II, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, first published in 1842.

Oroboros keyring - Spooky Cute Designs

The idea of being able to achieve an immortal life is probably as old as human life itself.  Folklore and mythology abound with stories of people who tried to achieve this state.  Those who allegedly succeeded were portrayed as monsters, as vile betrayers of the supposed sancity of death.  Many other tales end in disaster, with hideous deaths woven through with dire moralistic warnings of the doom-laden consequences of attempting to evade the fate nature has in store for all of us.

151, 600 people die every day, apparently.  That's 6,316 people every hour, or 105 every minute.  What if we could change that?  What if we could cure old age with a course of medication?

Of course, accidents and murders would still occur, and so death could not be entirely overcome.  Consider, however, the possibilities afforded by the option of greatly - or indefinitely - extending your life.  Consider how much you could experience, explore, learn and discover if you could live for hundreds of years, or longer.

Where would we all live?  There's a whole universe out there, just waiting to be populated.  We're already living in space for long periods, on the International Space Station, and the possibility of colonising other planets is not far-fetched.  Professor Steven Hawking was reported as saying that "the long term future of the human race must be space and that it represents an important life insurance for our future survival, as it could prevent the disappearance of humanity by colonising other planets."  Science-fiction writers have been playing around with this idea for a century or more, of course.

How would we have enough resources?  As a species, we need to invest and continue to develop technologies like solar power and hydroponic food production which enables food plants to grow without soil.  Only this week it was announced that NASA can confirm liquid water on Mars.  Who knows what exponential discoveries might be made over the next decades?

What about ethics? Ask yourself where is the moral superiority in condemning  151, 600 people to die every day, despite a cure being available.


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