In the Spirit of Giving (In)

swimmerguy's picture

That's an interesting viewpoint about aging: evolution selects for reproduction, but most species are more fertile when they're younger, meaning evolution has no reason to select for longer-lived organisms, although it would definitely be possible.

That's interesting, because I always wonder about aging. It seems like, if you wanted to live forever, being multicellular would be the way to go. Your cells can divide and divide and divide, and some might get killed but the surviving ones will just divide and replace those.
But, for some reason or another, as we age we get weaker and frailer until death. Why would that be?
You hear a number of explanations, like the one about how, when cells replicate their DNA, at the very end, a couple chunks are lost, kind of like frayed ends of a piece of string.
Luckily, we have bits of DNA called telomeres at the end of our DNA strands, but those get shortened progressively through life, until, theoretically, our cells can't divide like they used to and we die.

Or about how our cells are basically factories meant to break things down. And they're very good at it, but sometimes, they encounter weird things they just can't break down like they're used to, so they put them in their lysosomes, the things with the strongest enzymes, so they can break it up.
But if the lysosome can't break up this weird molecule, it sits there, forever.
Which is unsustainable, and therefore probably makes you age.

Or things about myelin and it's degradation with age, or other things.

But anyway, if you guys had the possibility to make everyone immortal, in that people no longer age, the mortality rate stays flat, with everyone dying from sickness or accidents unrelated to aging, would you do it?
Actuaries, the people who work for insurance companies and decide what your rates are, have determined the Average Joe, if he didn't age, would live on average about 6,000 years before dying from some sort of manual accident like a plane or car crash.
So, would you guys?

I don't think I would. If you never aged, you'd have no motivation to ever do things. You'd probably sit in your house, all day, terrified of something happening to you, because you know that way you'll never die.
As things are, people live a very long time. But still, our old age is close enough, we're moved to do things in our youth, to get in as much life as possible before we lose the ability to do so.
And if we make a mistake and kill ourselves, what of it? We were certain to die anyway.

Some people get terminal illnesses and use their time left to do the things we all wanted to do.

But, well, as it is, we all have a terminal illness, it's called aging. The illness is incurable, and with a 0% survival rate, although there are treatments and lifestyles that can slow the degradation.

And sometimes people forget that, and they forget to live their lives and enjoy them while they can. They spend so much time preparing for their life they forget to ever live it, and they only stop when they retire, already well aged.
But imagine how much worse it would be, if we all lived for thousands and thousands of years, and thus avoiding accident and illness would become that much more important, would save that many more years of life.
We'd be even more pussies than we are, and less comprehending of our own mortality.
It'd be long, boring existences we'd have.

But, perhaps more importantly, we wouldn't appreciate each other.
I appreciate many of the people in my life, because I know they won't always be here. I love my parents, but I recognize they don't have forever to live. Which just makes me appreciate them more.
I realize that, maybe 30, 40 years down the line, they won't be there anymore, they'll be gone.
And all the people in my life.
How could I possibly appreciate them if they were the same today as they were a thousand years ago and will be in a thousand years?
I'd never have to.


elph's picture

No... Immortality not desired!

On the other hand, I do not look forward to losing contact with friends and family as I continue to age.

For me, the best goal is to stave off physical and mental deterioration as long as possible through wise diet, exercise, socializing, and reading (both for entertainment and continuing education).

Although I do not advocate adhering to any diet slavishly, I do feel that the basic idea as expressed in Paleo diet (your link at top) has much to commend it. Vegans may not like the inclusion of meat (probably OK to exclude), but seafood (free of contaminants, if they can be found) should likely be retained as part of a healthy diet. Be sure to include nuts and dark (~90%) chocolate!

But... (for me) the most important modification in one's diet is the obligatory elimination of sugar, fructose, processed foods, and highly refined grains (e.g., white flour) (infrequent exceptions are perfectly fine --- particularly for social celebrations; they just shouldn't become a part of one's daily diet).

Regular physical exercise is imperative... for all ages. (At my advanced age, I continue to engage in various forms of exercise for at least 1½ hours daily!).

jeff's picture


... is not a sustainable diet, at least not for the world's population, since it excludes industrial meat, so only grass-fed and such is acceptable. Once you add that in, it becomes impossible for any large number of people to follow as more people eat meat than can be raised that way, as there isn't enough land to pasture as much cattle as people eat beef at present.

And I hate to break it to you, but seafood free of contaminants is also nearly impossible to find (, where even pastured fish are fed wild (and hence mercury-filled) smaller fish as food.

The big problem with paleo is two-fold:

- It is anti-feminist, in that the emphasis for most people is way more on the hunter (meat) component than the gatherer (fruit, grain, veggies), so most people you'll find on paleo are nearly on a rebranded Atkins ketosis diet.

- It is unproven. If you have a diet that includes less processed foods (no flour or sugar) and a lot of meat, and people's health improves, you can't discern which element was responsible. I'd argue it is the lack of processed foods that are helpful beyond any negative effects of the meat, as pure Atkins people did not have much health benefit beyond weight loss, whereas a vegan diet does have the health benefits.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

jeff's picture


If I were going to be immortal, I'd've much rathered locked in in my 20s and stayed that age.

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

Tycoondashkid's picture

what if it was a more of a time lord thing

you can grow old but regenerate your body?

jeff's picture


staying with the bounds of reality here. ;-)

"You can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks" - Dawes, When My Time Comes (

Tycoondashkid's picture

technically Regeneration is real

it just takes a VERY long time for humans

Bosemaster42's picture


I don't think I'd want immortality. It's a nice thought, but I don't believe the quality of living would be the same. I'm not convinced that study is completely believable. It is an interesting viewpoint, but it kind of assumes that this 'leveling out' of aging actually occurs in humans. There are examples of people who survive past 100 years, but the percentage is quite small. Diet and excercise are important to sustaining good health, but I'm not sure if the paleo diet is realistic. Processed foods are detrimental, as well as, fat laden foods, soda(still trying to reduce my intake on this one) and processed grains. I never liked fish when I was younger, although I do eat some seafood now, but is tainted? Most likely yes.
The human life-span is nothing more than a tick on the geologic time clock. I firmly believe the earth will essentially 'douche' humanity from existence at some time in the future, so it can heal itself from all of the damage the human race has wrought upon it.

MacAvity's picture


I've been reading this book, The Youth Pill (it's by someone named David Stipp, if you want to check it out), and the first part of the book is all about what causes aging - although even having just read it, I can't explain to you what does cause aging; it's a lot of different things really. But the interesting thing is that it's not a biological imperative - almost everything does it, but it can be significantly slowed, and there are some species (like certain fish, and, most interestingly, naked mole-rats) that don't seem to age much at all. Might be a good book for you to read.

elph's picture


All the citizens of Manticore (a planet in David Weber's multiple tomes in his Honor Harrington SF series) have available a treatment called Prolong which has the effect of greatly extending one's youthful years. But not anything approaching immortality.

I can recommend Weber's stories... but my favorites --- by far --- are those from his Safehold Series of SF!