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Monday, June 11, 2012

The knowledge of the future

Science and techno world topic: Future

Seniors: The average life span could increase to 125 years

Only one thing in life is really sure that we all will die. But why we do not outwit death easy, asks the physicist Marcelo Gleiser. If it were up to him, technological advances will make this possible in the future - for example, by cloning.

[Marcelo Gleiser is a professor of physics at Dartmouth College in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. He explores the processes in the very early universe and attempts to unify the physics of elementary particles to cosmology. Gleiser is the author of the book "The Dancing Universe - Creation myths and the Big Bang."]

For us there is no more fundamental question than that after our death. We die and we know that. It is a terrifying, inexorable truth, one of the few absolute truths on which we can rely on. Other noteworthy absolute truths are more mathematical in nature, such as 2 +2 = 4 Nothing horrified the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal more than "the silence of infinite spaces", the nothingness that surrounds the end of time, and our ignorance of it.

For death is the end of time, the end of the experience. Even if you are religious and believe in life after death, then by all means see things differently: Either there is one in a timeless paradise (or in hell), or as a reincarnated soul. If you are not religious, is death the end of consciousness? With consciousness, it also means the end for the enjoyment of tasty dishes, reading a good book to look at a beautiful sunset, the joy of sex, love for another person. Either way, it's pretty bleak.

We exist only so long as people remember us. I think of my great-grandparents in the Ukraine in the 19th Century. Who were they? There are no documents from them, no pictures, nothing. There remain only its genes are diluted, in today's generation.

We must eat to live - but eating is slowly killing us

What to do? We spread our genes, write books and essays prove, theorems, invent family recipes to create poems and symphonies, paint and sculpt - all to generate some sort of permanence, something that can defy oblivion. Can modern science do better? Can we imagine a future in which we control the mortality rate? I know it's far too optimistic of me to think about that possibility, but the temptation is to speculate too big for that I could refrain. Maybe I'm 101 years old, such as Irving Berlin, and I still have half of my life before me.

I can think of two ways to tame the mortality could be - Once at the level of the cells, the others on the integration of medical, genetic, and cognitive science with cyber technologies. Surely there are others. But first, Let me clarify that - can never be eradicated completely mortality - at least according to current scientific knowledge. Speculation aside, the modern physics forbids time travel into the past. We can not just hop into a time machine and relive our youth over and over again (which frankly sounds pretty awful).

Causality is an unforgiving mistress. In addition, one can not escape the second law of thermodynamics, unless one is a vampire (and there have been times when I wished to be one) and therefore not bound by the laws of physics. Even an open system like the human body is able to interact with the environment and nutrients and energy to take it will gradually fall. Over time we burn too much oxygen. We live and we rust.

Therein lies the cruel compromise of life: We must eat to stay alive. But by eating we slowly kill ourselves.

At the level of cells, mitochondria behave like little machines that turn food into energy. Cells that are starving live longer. Apparently, proteins carry out the family of sirtuins in this process by the normal process of apoptosis, the self-destruction program of the cells, interfering.

The average life span could increase to 125 years

Could the right dose of sirtuin or other means are found to slow the aging process in humans clearly? Maybe in a few decades ... Still at the cellular level can affect the action of genes, the common cellular respiration. Decreased expression of the gene has been proven to slow the aging MCLK1 in mice. The same was also detected in the worm C. elegans. These results suggest that the same molecular mechanism is in the entire animal kingdom responsible for aging.

We could speculate, for example, that by 2040 a combination of these two mechanisms will enable scientists to decipher the secrets of cellular aging. Although it is not the elixir of life, the dream of the alchemists, but the average life span could possibly be increased to 125 years or even more - a significant leap over the current American average of about 75 years. Of course, this would represent an enormous burden on social security. But until then, the retirement age would be around a hundred years.

A second option is risky and it will probably be much harder to realize them in the next 50 years of my life. You connect the cloning of human beings with a process, all our memories in a giant database to store. Then carry on to the appropriate memories of a certain age on the clone. Voila! Will this clone be you? No one knows for sure. What is certain is that the clone without the memories will not be enough. We are our memories.

We could move into a new copy of our identity

To live with the same identity further, we need to remember more and more. Unless, like yourself, and do not want to forget the past. So we could - if such an enormous technological leap would be possible at all - into a new copy of our self-move, if the current shell would grow old and rusted. Some colleagues include betting on the fact that such technologies will be available later this century.
Although I am by nature an optimist but I have serious doubts. I'll probably never know and my colleagues either. Without question, the control over death, but the ultimate dream of mankind, the development that "everything can change others."The fundamental ethical and social upheavals that this would bring, I save myself for another essay. In the meantime, I take the advice of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein". Maybe there are some things that we are truly unprepared.

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