reply to post by ringlejames
The question of human aging and possible retardations of that process has already been well and truely answered if you ask me. Telomeres are the key
thing in our genetic make up, that determine how we age. They are found at the tips of chromosones, and serve many purposes, including keeping the
strands of our DNA intact, preventing them sticking to one another or coming apart at random, which manifests as mutations that can cause cancer.
Over time, and many divisions, the length of these segments of the chromosome become shorter. They are the genetic marker of our aging, like a candle
which burns slowly to a stub. When the wick is consumed, there is no more flame. There are parts of the body whose chromosomes have telomeres which do
NOT shorten with age, such as the heart, in cells which do not need to divide to perform thier purpose.
The enzyme telomerase can add bases to the ends of telomeres, and further research down that line may result in increased lifespans, or improved old
However, there is a moral and ethical dilema that will doubtless occur to anyone with even the loosest grasp of current affairs on this planet.
Wether real or imagined, or indeed, invented, there is a belief amongst the power elite on this planet, that there is a population problem. I tend to
believe there is a border problem, but in any event, that is the wider perception. If human beings are going to be living longer, then that presents
an issue. The longer people live, the less room there will be for new young, and the less resources to boot.
Of course, the resources and funding absorbed by an aging population would be less, assuming that the alteration of genetics was such as would
prevent things like non fatal strokes, dementia, and physical frailty in general, because obviously, less expensive medical treatment and care
provision would be required in order to deal with the aged. However, if the research into telomerase were to offer the option of functional
immortality (i.e. multi-century or longer lifespans) then you can bet your bottom dollar that things would take a very nasty turn.
Imagine how easy it would be for the fruits of such research to be denied to the poor, and only given to the rich or powerful? Imagine what would
happen when mankinds mortal flesh is transformed into an undying bastion, only passing on when destroyed by accident or by malice? There would be
chaos and horror the likes of which you and I can barely comprehend! There would be resource wars, as the immortals scrabble to retain enough food and
land to sustain thier never ending lives, and the rest of us would have no choice but to kill them all or starve as a result of thier hubris and
contempt for those not included in the program! It would be a bloody nightmare!
Wether we CAN extend lifespans or not is a moot point. We can barely come up with solutions to the political and populational problems that face this
planet as it is! While I would never advocate one child laws, sterilisation, or indeed termination of vast swathes of human life, nor can I say that I
believe that the one thing we really need is the ability to make our lives un naturally longer than our current genetic profile allows for. We simply
cannot be trusted with centuries as our playground. There is more than enough evidence to show that as we are, we are capable of ballsing things up
more than thoroughly enough with the meagre eighty or a hundred years we live at maximum these days. To give a species that spends so much of its time
making an utter and complete twit of itself the capacity to do so for centuries at a time will lead to very bad things in my humble opinion.
Until we have learned to respect our neighbors, to love one another implicitly, to operate as one brotherhood of mankind, rather than as disperate
units of violent xenophobes, there can be no use for a lifespan measured in the hundreds of years, because the only result of such a thing comming at
this time in our species intellectual evolution, will be eternities of pain, suffering, greed and a complete removal of all our most basic virtues. As
we stand now, there are flashes of beauty in mankind, amongst the harrowing, many of which come from the brevity of our time on Earth. I think we
should value the limitation placed upon us by our genes in this respect.