Every now and again I come across an article about increasing our life span one way or another. This is a very interesting topic and regardless of what you think you think, I believe everyone is interested in living just a little bit longer. I have always thought it would be neat to live a very long life like a few hundred years or so, but many do not share my sentiment as the argument is that all of your friends and family would be dead. While this may be the case I would imagine that whatever technology that is keeping you alive would also be available to them, so what then…
I first became interested in the subject after I read a book called Long for this World, which is about how we could possibly achieve immortality or at the very least extreme long life. This is a very good read and I highly recommend checking it out as the subject matter is very interesting and not overly complicated. While reading this, it was the first time I came across the word telomeres. Not sure if you have ever heard of these things but they are extremely important not only to extending life spans but also your everyday normal life as well.
This definition is from the above article – “From Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000-10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies.” The is probably the best and simplest way to explain what telomeres are. Basically they help keep us alive at the cellular level, and the longer the telomeres are the longer the cell is able to live, and intern keeping you alive as well. There are some charts in the article that are alarming, but help explain what it feels like to get old. In the first 30 years of your life your telomeres are about 8,000 base pairs long, by 35 that number has halved down to less than 3,000, then by 65 that number has halved again down to 1,500. Getting old is a bitch!
This basically explains why we age but also why we also fall apart as we age. Our bodies become less and less efficient getting rid of the excess junk in our bodies as well as it takes longer and longer to recover as you get older. Remember what it was like exercising in your 20’s or going out drinking all night. You could bounce back fairly quickly, but as you get older your body struggles more and more to clean up the damage. So workouts take longer to recover from, and binge drinking all night keeps you out of commission for the rest of the weekend. Again getting old is no fun at all.
This scientific study exciting for so many reasons. Recently I had writer and biologist Douglas E. Richards do an interview for my site. One of the questions I asked him was do you think that there is someone alive today that will be the last person to die, or something to that effect. Basically I was asking that do you think that technology will advance enough in the next 50 to 100 years that people’s lives will be extended exponentially or possibly forever. His answer was basically yes, and you can check out what he said here. The reason I bring this up is because this article sort of proves what Richards was saying. While on the surface this may seem like something out of a science fiction novel, it really seems like it is within our grasp and not overly complicated. This could be the first step toward extending our lives, while this is still in the very early and developmental stages, it is still a nice step in the right direction. While this may not be the key to immorality, it could certainly extend our lives helping us to get to the point where we can stop aging.
What I could not figure out from the article was how many years those longer telomeres equates to? But just doing the simple math if your telomere base pairs at age 65 are about 1,500. The articles states that doing whatever they did was able to add about 1,000 base pairs which would put it back around 2,500 base pairs. This is close to the amount of base pairs for a 35 year old person, probably closer to 40. That is pretty impressive, and I do not think any 65 year old would bat an eye at feeling like they were 35 to 40 again.
As with most things there is always a downside and or side effect. I am not sure how this would affect individuals and or what would happen in the far future. Could you just keep doing this treatment indefinitely, meaning every 30 years or so you could have this treatment and be rejuvenated back 30 years or so. But would that 30 year reversal keep moving. Like if you were 65 when you got the first treatment, then were set back to 35, when 30 more years passed so now you are 65 again on the cellular level, or 95 in real time. If you get rejuvenated will that 30 year setback be back to a real 30 or back to 65 as you are now 95? Does your base keep moving? That is my question.
The body only has so many cells and I have to lean toward the realization that we will not live forever no matter what technology we come up with. I don’t want to say never, but I just think at a cellular level we can extend the life of our cells, but keeping them alive indefinitely seems a bit farfetched to me. I think that our cells have some maximum life, I am not sure what that is but I do not think it is infinite. With that being said perhaps we can find a way to circumvent this with advanced technology. I have no idea what that may be but as we gain more knowledge about the body we could come up with shortcuts to get around these issues.
Another alternative would be to transfer our consciousness to a mechanical body or perhaps a brand new body that was grown from your own stem cells. This body could be younger and this could be a way to technically live forever in a living flesh and blood body. AS far as transferring our consciousness I think this is going to be extremely difficult and could possibly be impossible, but I again am not ready to make that claim. Still I think making the body will be somewhat easy in terms of technology. We can now grow various body parts and organs by themselves, while a body would be more difficult I think we are on the right track.
Until then I think this is our best bet. I think this may be the cheapest and most efficient way of extending our lives. I think that my generation, the Millennials, could be the first generation to have a life extension treatment available to them. I am not saying we will be the first to live forever, but we could be the first to have our lives extended through a medical process. It is certainly an exciting time to be alive.