Sorry I didn’t post this yesterday, but I was feeling a bit under the weather. By that I mean that I was puking my brains out all night long, lots of fun. Life is not without a sense of irony I suppose, as I was going to talk about health and ageing before I got sick. I have talked about most of this before, but the below article brought up some interesting points.
I do not have much expertise in this subject, but I have come across the magical and all important telomeres on quite a few occasions. It seems that these things are highly important and could help us live longer, but also keep us healthier longer, which I think is the more important idea here. In short the longer these telomeres are the longer they can maintain the health of the cell when it multiplies. So the longer they stick around the longer the cell will remain a healthy functional cell. The problems start when they become shorter and shorter and are less able to keep the cell operating at peak function. Eventually they will disappear and the DNA in the cell becomes scrambled and the cell can no longer perform its primary function. This is when tumors and cancer appear.
The article talks about how they are developing some techniques that could keep these telomeres around a lot longer, which in theory would slow the aging process. That is pretty amazing, the problem is how long will it take for it to be available to normal people on the market. Also I wonder what the side effects will be, if any?
In high school I can remember looking at a simple creature, called a hydra, under a microscope. I do not remember hearing anything about how this creature is near immortal, that was left out of our Biology class discussion. While that is a bit of a misnomer, the hydra is certainly an amazing creature. It can regenerate itself from a mere speck, and has an amazing lifespan considering its size. The article states that usually the smaller the creature the shorter the life span, but for some reason the hydra is the exception to the rule.
What I think is interesting is that the most extreme life forms on the planet are usually the smallest and simplest. The water bear is the other organism that comes to mind. To my knowledge it is the only creature that can survive the vacuum of space, that is pretty amazing. With that being said you have to wonder if us, humans, being very complex organisms is one of the reasons we have a plethora of health and genetic problems. I am not sure if we have any more than any other mammal but we have our fair share. My point is that I do not know of a disease that attacks the hydra, or an epidemic that will kill off a large percentage of the hydra population. Their simplicity is the key to their survival.
I wonder if in the far future we will be able to genetically modify our bodies to become simpler. Maybe we can somehow figure out how to dumb down our systems to perform the basic functions that will keep us alive, in doing so simplifying everything. I do not know enough about the body to speculate but I would say it is kind of like taking a normal sedan and turning it into a race car. There is an obvious reduction in weight that would be needed, then a bigger engine, a roll cage, better tires, things of that nature. I do not know what that equates to in the body but you get the idea and I would think that with medical technology in the far future this will not be out of the realm of possibility.
This article is a little different viewpoint when it comes to death. I agree that death is a taboo subject for the most part, and the sooner we all accept that the inevitable, the better.
I also read that over 50% of people will get cancer, which sucks, but the interesting thing is that for the most part the cancer is mostly due to random mutations in our cells. So the preventative maintenance we all do, excising or eating more vegetables does not seem to really matter, which again sucks. When you start to digest all the statistics and the numbers behind this it is really disheartening for a varies of reasons. Everyone, myself included, is always trying to plan out life their lives in one sense or another, but the problem is that in accordance with quantum mechanics it appears that probabilistic nature of life is a very real reality, and it makes planning out a life near impossible. It seems that no matter how much we plan, forecast, or predict, our futures are no closer to our control.
We are all dealt a hand, some better than others, but at the end of the day rather we have a royal flush or not enough in the bank to ante up, we all have to play. Life it seems is just a game of chance and some are luckier than others.