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Life Extension in the Real World

Life extension refers to an increase in maximum [for humans, 122.] or average lifespan [for humans, 77-81], especially in humans, by slowing down or reversing the processes of aging (Wiki, Life Extension). Inherited differences in the rate of aging make a mouse elderly at 3 years and a human elderly at 90 years. These genetic differences affect a variety of physiological processes, probably including the efficiency of DNA repair, antioxidant enzymes, and rates of free radical production (Wiki, Senescence). Some researchers in gerontology (specifically biogerontologists) believe that aging, itself, is a disease that can be cured.

Researchers of life extension are a subclass of biogerontologists known as "biomedical gerontologists" (Wiki, LE). Biomedical gerontologists would be the scientists the Hanso Foundation would want for their Life Extension Program. Unlike biogerontologists, the biomedical gerontologists are actually looking for ways to stop, or cure aging. Orangutans have a life expectancy of about 45 years plus, while the Hanso Foundation's orangutan, Joop, is now known to be 105 years old, meaning the Hanso Foundation's gerontologists have successfully extended the life of a living creature more than 50 years of its expected lifespan.

Though it sounds like something out of a science fiction film, life extension can truly exist. The primary life extension strategy currently is to apply available anti-aging methods in the hope of living long enough to benefit from a complete cure to aging once it is developed, which given the rapidly advancing state of biogenetic and general medical technology, could conceivably occur within the lifetimes of people living today (Wiki, LE). Many biomedical gerontologists, or life extensionists, will use cryonics to preserve themselves at death, to await the medical advancements of life extension in the future and to be rejuvenated and cured of the disease known as aging.

When talking about life extension, morality and ethics come into play. Is it morally just to go against nature and extend peoples' lives much further than they're intended? Some would say no. "Playing god" is the ultimate immorality. Taking all the power unto yourself and distributing out longer lives... by attempting immortality, you're commiting immorality. There's just no way around it.

For example, what happens when everyone lives and no one dies? Overpopulation. The Earth wouldn't be able to sustain it. With too many people, resources would die out sooner, land would become exceedingly smaller, the Earth just would not be able to take it. You can't have exponential growth without exponential decay. Life extension would throw off the balance of the world, and without balance, without death's complement to life, instead of everyone living longer happier lives, the world would cease prematurely due to the hubris of mankind. And, no one wants that.

-Damn the Man
aka Kyle Michaud.


Blogger oxillini said...

Great research Kyle. Life Extension is a big piece of the "Lost" puzzle. I think once we see the full puzzle, we'll all have a big "Oooooh, that makes sense" moment.

7/22/2006 7:10 AM  
Blogger Damn the Man said...

Thanks oxillini. I tried. :)

I think it might need some further research, but right now it's just a brief explanation, if you will.

7/22/2006 8:20 AM  
Blogger Minka said...

If the normal life-expectancy of an orangutan is 45+ years, and Joop is 105 years old, wouldn't that mean that THF would have come up with a way to extend his life about 50 years ago? Does this seem fishy to anyone else?

7/24/2006 11:25 PM  
Blogger lyz2814 said...

I may mention this in several subjects on this blog--just because the topic is so broad...anyway, driving home from colorado, at 2 am, there was a program with this Sir Charles Shultz III all about nano-technology. He talked about using nanites to repair the body and eliminate aging. Alternatively, you could use "replicator" nanites to make a perfect copy (as in indistinguishable) of yourself, and thus achieve immortality. Looking at the apollo bar memo, the dharma folks may be injesting nanites for life extension!

8/14/2006 7:47 PM  

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