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Towards immortal life

Aharon Hauptman in one of the best articles from Fantasia 2000 (issue no. 7, July 1979) that has not happened since * What will be the consequences of the eternal life pill in the short, medium and long term

angel of death illustration
angel of death illustration

"It was impossible to describe this feeling in words: now, for the first time. Blaine is present to know, how man lived before the discovery of the 'scientific next world.' He remembered the heavy, dull, constant and unconscious fear of death, which accompanied every action and permeated every movement. The age-old enemy, death, the shadow that crawled through the vestibules of man's consciousness like a parasitic and slippery worm, the ghostly Ruth that haunted him day and night, that lurked behind corners, the figure behind the doors, the invisible guest at every banquet, the unrecognizable figure found everywhere, always present, always looking forward to

No more

Now, a heavy burden was lifted from his heart. The terror of death disappeared in the way of intoxication, and he felt light as a feather. Death, this old enemy has been defeated!"

This is how the author Robert Shekley describes in his book 'Immortality Ltd' the feeling of his hero, Thomas Blaine, after undergoing a certain treatment which basically gives him a 'ticket to the next world' - to immortal life.

The dream of immortality is as old as man himself. Longevity virtues have always been a source of income for idol doctors of all kinds, and countless research expeditions wandered among mysterious tribes in exotic regions, whose people were known for their longevity. The significant progress of medical science and the subjugation of the diseases that enslaved many souls in their days, greatly extended the general life expectancy, but has not yet significantly extended the maximum life span of a single person. And above all, before the final answer to the most troubling question: Is death inevitable?

It seems that in recent years, important steps have been taken towards solving the question, - and according to various scientists, the answer to it may not necessarily be positive. 'Patents' such as 'insurance for the next world', 'implantation of consciousness', etc., which are found in the above-mentioned book by Shekley, are not yet on the horizon, but it is not impossible that the next generation (and perhaps even nowadays) will have the means to double and triple the maximum life expectancy, And this is the first step towards eternal life.

False dreams? Science Fiction ? Many scientists in the fields of genetics and gerontology (the study of aging) do not believe so. This is not the opinion of the members of the Department of Future Studies at the University of Houston, USA, who hastened and made a preliminary forecast on the possible effects of an 'anti-aging pill' on human society within fifty years of the revolutionary invention. (The instructive prediction is presented at the end of this article).

Despite the controversy that exists among researchers regarding the actual implementation of the 'killing death' task, it seems that at least there is general agreement on a number of points. These points are briefly summarized in the book by Alfred Rosenfeld, the former editor of Life magazine, "Extending Life".

A. There exists among us an identifiable 'aging clock', a genetic pattern that dictates our aging and death - and also the rate of aging.
B. We have an excellent chance to discover the location (and possibly more than one place) of that biological clock in our body, as well as the nature of its working mechanisms - and how to intervene in them for our benefit.
third. All this may happen not in hundreds of years, but today, if only it will be possible to conduct the studies.
d. Therefore, old age may pass from this world.

What motivates the scientists to voice such optimistic opinions? Dr. Paul Siegel, a researcher in the Department of Physiology at the University of California, Berkeley, lists, among other things, the following ways to prolong life, ways that are based in principle on knowledge that is already within our reach today.

1. Transplants that will allow constant replacement of worn out organs "to the point where 'we' are still there, but our whole body is completely new."
2. Prosthetics (prosthetic organs industry) and 'cyborg' (cybernetic organism), i.e. man-machine combinations, or what is known by the popular name 'the bionic man.'
3. Reconstruction of personality through 'virgin reproduction' (genetic reproduction from the body cells of a man or woman other than through sexual reproduction).
4. Degeneration - tissue revival, a process in which the genes are forced by outside intervention to activate the regrowth mechanism of cells and tissues.

Back in 1962, Dr. Bernard Straller, professor of biology at the University of Southern California, and one of the tireless fighters against death, declared that it would not be long until science understood the aging process and then there would no longer be in the world "human tool fragments, toothless, wrinkled, Opinionless - and with a body like Dorian Gray". In the absence of aging, Streller argued, the life of a healthy 21-year-old may last up to two thousand years.
Today it is known that slowing the rate of metabolism may delay aging. Generally, the faster the metabolism in animals, the shorter their lifespan.

The chemical reactions that accompany the process of changing gears cause erosion and wear. It is known that lowering the temperature slows down the metabolism, and Dr. Stretler believes that "a very slight lowering of body temperature, less than two degrees Celsius, may add about thirty years to human life." Such a reduction in temperature is not impossible. Through biological feedback it is possible to train and reach a rule of body temperature control - as certain yogis do in India, who lower their body temperature by approximately one to one and a half degrees. Drugs capable of lowering body temperature are also available today.

Researcher Richard Cutler from the Center for the Study of Aging, suggests injecting a certain device into the blood vessels near the hypothalamus (the place where body temperature is controlled), which will respond to the radiation of a microwave unit that will be placed in the sleep chamber. At night, when the body's metabolic rate is low, the device will make the body feel as if its temperature is too high, and the hypothalamus will lower the body's temperature by a degree or two.

In the morning the device will automatically disconnect. The user will not suffer from any inconvenience, but will be able to double his life span... In fact, it is known from the animal world that the animals that sink into hibernation - winter (during which their metabolic rate slows down to a great extent), live longer than animals that are not endowed with this feature. Humans must learn to carve…

Deep freezing (minus 200 degrees Celsius) has long been used as a means of preserving the human body. Freezing has been used in several cases where medical science has failed to cure a fatal disease, in the hope that one day the body will return to life (see 'cosmic flashes' in this issue). In the books 'No More Death', written by science writer Joel Kurtzman and geneticist Philip Gordon, the authors claim that the body must be frozen before death, due to the substantial problems involved in freezing and thawing a dead body. In a living body, degeneration can be prevented by regulating the secretion of hormones, to adapt to the shock of freezing and thawing. Robert Farhoda, a futurist and NASA consultant, envisions a method of using fluorocarbon 'blood', kidney and liver machines, xenon gas and microwaves as part of the freezing and thawing processes.

It goes without saying that the freezing of living people requires far-reaching changes in the moral and legal views of society. The implementation of the ideas of Willard Gaylin, psychiatrist and president of the Institute for Society, Ethics and Life Sciences, in New York, also depends on such transformations. According to him, every year about 900 thousand people die (in the USA), as a result of the non-use of a single organ. These people can be saved by transplanting organs taken from 'living corpses' - people who have died due to irreparable injury to the dead, but whose bodies have been artificially kept alive by mechanical means. In this way, the surgeons will have "organ growing farms" available, which will provide the required amount of "spare parts". (A blood-freezing idea... but the term 'blood-freezing' itself will probably have to change its meaning for obvious reasons...)

Also in the field of artificial, 'bionic' substitutes, considerable progress has been made, mainly in the miniaturization of facilities and the development of new synthetic materials. Kurtzman and Girdon predict "a nearly perfect June body, at one point or another in the near future." As we know, bionic technology already provides us with artificial corneas and lenses, artificial intestines with infusive feeding capacity like the natural ones, sophisticated bionic arms, synthetic femurs and knees, and much more.

At the same time as the development of artificial and natural substitutes for worn body parts, efforts are being made to investigate the processes of regeneration - the regrowth of organs and tissues - the same miraculous process responsible for the regrowth of tails in lizards, arms in starfish, and limbs in salamanders.

Unfortunately, man is endowed with a very limited capacity for tissue regeneration. But this fact should not discourage scientists such as Dan Neufeld, from George Washington University, who believes that the day will not be far when a person will be able to reattach a lost arm or leg, following appropriate electrochemical treatment. An instructive and encouraging fact is the (still) systematic ability of babies to spontaneously regrow damaged fingertips. Mice have the same low capacity for regeneration as humans, but the orthopedist Robert Becker from New York was able to 'teach' laboratory mice to reattach considerable parts of their amputated limbs with the help of electrical stimulation.

From the regrowth of organs, we take one more step, towards the total regrowth, the duplication of the entire body from the cells of the old body - that is, immortal life, in practice. This thing still seems quite imaginary, but much less so than it used to be. Adherents of the idea draw our attention to the body cells of Mrs. Henrietta Lacks, who died of cancer at the age of 31, in 1952. A number of cells from the cancerous tumor in her neck were then removed by biologist George Guy, and they continue to grow and divide to this very day in various laboratories. So much so that their total weight currently exceeds the weight of the late Mrs. Lax... although the experiments in these cells were intended to be used for virus research and no one seriously believes that it will ever be possible to recover Mrs. Lax from her contents, but the idea in itself does not seem, at least theoretically, unacceptable.

As knowledge about the genetic structure of life increases, the recognition among biologists increases that aging is not the result of a slow 'wearing away' of all the body's organs (but that it may arise from a genetic program, which is encoded together with all the other instructions of life, in the hereditary tomer - DNA. The big question is, 'Are we 'programmed' to die? Is there a 'death clock', which 'turns off' the genes one by one? Or is nature simply indifferent to our fate as we have fulfilled our role in ensuring the continued existence of the species? Or maybe it includes Does the sexual growth and maturation program also include side processes that harm our health, surely for a long time?

Even among those who believe in the 'clock' there are differences of opinion regarding its location. Some believe that it is already found at the cellular level - after all, there is a limit to the ability of a single cell to divide (although there are researchers who have managed to increase this ability through appropriate hormonal treatment). In contrast, there are researchers who believe that certain cells may live forever, and that the aging program is encoded in a specific organ, such as the hypothalamus system, or the adrenal gland, which is responsible for secreting vital hormones. As we know, impressive achievements have been made in restoring the fertility of laboratory animals through electrical treatment of these organs.

In contrast to those who believe in the decree of death by preventable injury, people like Richard Cutler (senior researcher in the 'Comparative Biochemistry of Mammalian Aging Program') stand up, and claim that there is no genetic program that dictates death, but on the contrary - there is a potential for unlimited life.

According to him, it is very likely that aging is controlled by relatively few genes, which we can discover and even regulate their operation. Cutler came to this optimistic conclusion after careful research into the evolution of long life in humans. It turns out that our lives have lengthened so rapidly, compared to our ape-like ancestors, that it is hard to assume that more than a few shields could have changed during such a short period of time. ('short' in evolutionary terms, of course)" Therefore Cutler concludes that only a few genes control the aging process.

He believes that slowing down the process is not an impossible task. This will be done first with the help of biochemical treatment of the internal secretion system, and later, when we know more about the process, through genetic engineering. - The treatment may delay development, so that a person reaches sexual maturity at the age of 28, the peak of growth at the age of 45, and middle age at the age of 120. The blessing. Up to 120' will undoubtedly be considered a gross insult). "I believe," predicts Richard Cutler, "that within ten years, provided we concentrate our efforts on learning how to treat developmental regulators, we will be able to speed up the acquisition process."

A more difficult problem than delaying development is maintaining a correct level of the body's natural wear and tear antibodies. Since treating the genes responsible for the resistance mechanism through genetic engineering is still too complicated', Cutler suggests a 'shortcut': to trick the cells with a kind of 'anti-aging compound' to inject a little substance of 'fake aging' that will cause the body to change the level of protective enzymes. It is possible to develop a pill that, after being swallowed, will flap at the cells and cause them to falsely alarm about the destruction of the DNA, so to speak. As a response, the cells will increase the level of the enzyme that repairs the DNA, and it will adapt to the needs of the body whose life has been extended.

Cutler also dares and tries to hallucinate the nature of that 'homo-longus', the future 'man-long-life': "I suppose it would be good not only to double the maximum life span of man, but also the size of his brain. Although doubling the size of the brain will not necessarily lead to an improvement in its quality, it may perhaps, in doubt of a great excess of cells, postpone the damage of senility."

When can we practically realize all these ideas? Is the anti aging pill really expected even in our days? "If life extension becomes a national priority like the space programs," says Dr. Paul Siegel, "if the Americans, Russians and Japanese cooperate, if a $200 billion attack on aging and death is announced, it could produce dramatic results within five years. Just 200 billion dollars, hundreds of scientists and thousands of technicians - and we may wipe death off the face of the earth. Such an operation will not cost more than the maintenance expenses of old people's homes.

If the budget and means requested by Dr. Siegel are not found in the near future, it will be in no small part due to conscious and unconscious opposition to the very act of defying death. The thinker P.M. Espandiari (whose ideas were already mentioned in issue #3) believes enthusiastically in immortal life, and addresses this problem: "Much opposition to the extension of life is presented in the form of questions about the population explosion, employment, means of subsistence for all, etc. But this is a pathological problem. After ages where we were 'programmed' to accept death as a matter of course, we suddenly discover that we can... the idea scares us. We are not yet built for this, but with our liberation from the shackles of religion, feelings of guilt and conservatism, we will move towards the orientation of life."

Indeed, the key question is not whether life extension is possible, but whether it is desirable, and how it will affect the human race. And before you read the prediction of the University of Houston researchers regarding this issue, we can only wish you, the readers, up to one hundred and twenty. (Meanwhile…)

The forecast presented below is the result of the work of 31 graduate students in the Future Studies Department at the University of Houston Clear Lake City. The researchers analyzed the reports dealing with the ongoing research as themes of immortality, and thus built scenarios predicting the consequences of a drastic life extension on human understanding.

One year after starting to use the anti-aging pill

Individual personality:There is a wide spectrum of reactions to the 'El Zakan' pill. Most people are happy and some are euphoric, but a fairly large minority are embarrassed, especially those with a strong religious faith. Rumors are spread about physiological side effects, which increases skepticism.

family life:Different opinions regarding the safety or effectiveness of the pill increase tensions within families. The divorce rate is increasing, as the couples are forced to live together forever, but the birth rate is also increasing, as parents anticipating the imposition of restrictions on new births decide to have their children early.

Education:Demoralization among educators, as they realize that there is no future for the traditional structure of their clientele, of children and adults.

Spirit life:Traditional religions declare war on the pill, although some Protestant groups try to reconcile with it. In the media, there are bitter debates about the pill, about the meaning of life and the afterlife. After a short period of the strengthening of the religion, there was a decrease in the number of believers.

Employment and economy:The economy is threatened by instability. The business world is in a frenzy trying to test what life extension means for the market and consumer products. Some employed people abandon their jobs, and some stubbornly hold on to them, while tough and short-sighted employers try to eliminate the useless. The unemployment rate rises to eight percent.

National government:It is clear to everyone that the government must play a significant role in dealing with the irregularities caused by the Al-Zakan pill. The administration is in a hurry to take control of the distribution of the pill (but not its production) and to prevent attempts by senior officials to buy them possession of their positions.
Many problems were identified and used in discussions including: whether to allow the use of the pill for criminals, the mentally ill or even pets; how to enforce the birth limit; How to solve the employment and retirement problem.

Ten years after the start of using the anti-aging pill

Individual personality:When practically everyone is already using the anti-aging pill, the adults of this society resemble the teenagers of the pre-pill days, being fickle, introverted, restless and struggling with purpose and alienation. New horizons have opened up to them, but they are not sure how to fill the great void in front of them. For the most part they are less aggressive than before, but some of the young despise the adults becoming young. The number of suicides is increasing, passing a record that will never be reached again.

family life:There is no doubt that the traditional family structure is collapsing. The rate of divorce increases, marriages become unacceptable and much more amophoric groupings appear. Since the number of children per family is determined by policy (but not yet by law), the actual number of births depends on the good will of the young.
Education The education system discovers new goals, because it must mainly bear the burden of the transition from a mortal society to an immortal one. The emphasis is transferred from the children to the adults, and from study programs leading to a degree, to preparation courses for a professional career and leisure experiences.

Spirit life:The organized and institutionalized religions meet with a general attitude of contempt, and are eliminated. Joining religious groups that sanctify the self or the environment is increasing.

Employment and economy:The economy is slowing down. Production becomes more and more automated, the more difficult it is to handle the workforce. Although unemployment is high, so is absenteeism. The work ethic is poor and personal initiative is low. Pension plans are allowed to break up.

National government:The public still has a lot of confidence in the government. The main dilemma is in the difficult decisions about who will not receive the pill. Decisions regarding legal birth restrictions are still being postponed, although the issue is constantly being discussed. The government approves all retirement plans and begins to take responsibility for the labor market.

Twenty years after the start of using the anti-aging pill

Individual personality:There is still a low level of distress and dissatisfaction, but among the majority the tensions have eased. Medical and religious reservations - about the pill have completely disappeared. The individual is endowed with equanimity and caution. There is very little competition and risk taking.

family life:The end of the Mesphata is happening and is coming, since 25% of the population come under the covenant of marriage. The popularity of 'liquid' groups of 2 and up to 30 adults is increasing. The children, who are very few in number, are treated like pampering, and are guarded at all costs.

Education:Continuing education is an accepted fashion, and the courses are open to all; Courses for new professions, for leisure activities and recreation, for deepening knowledge. New knowledge and information are being created at a faster rate than ever, as student life is a focus for many, and as computers can do most of the routine work of searching for sources and reviewing literature.

Spirit life:An unusual increase in attention to the environment, following the increasing awareness that this generation and future generations are one, and that the earth is their eternal abode. The dedication to the environment reaches almost religious dimensions.

Employment and economy:The gross national income increases by less than 1% per year. Production is so mechanized that the demand for labor drops precipitously. Unemployment is controlled and controlled by the government. Since everyone has to work, but the labor supply is limited, most people work 10 hours a week 8 months a year, with 4 months vacation. Although it is impossible to achieve a perfect match between the jobs and the personal inclinations, the majority are satisfied with the system.

National government:The paternalistic administration still enjoys broad support. The decision to include birth control in the pill was successfully enforced. Employment management is the government's main obligation, following the abolition of the Ministry of Defense. The administration plans for the first time an economic plan for a hundred years, based on a steady-state economy.

Fifty years after the beginning of the anti-stickiness pill sensation

Individual personality:While having safety awareness and caution, the people engage in self-examination less than before. They are usually satisfied and somewhat curious.

family life:The family practically disappeared. Living together in groups is most common, and the bonds in these groups are intense, but short-lived and often forced.

Education:Education is not only funded but also managed directly by the federal government. His services continue as before, but rise to unprecedented levels of learning.

Spirit life:The environment still receives constant recognition, but attention is once again directed to the entire universe, whose origin and development are finally understood.

Employment and economy:Although the announcements about this have been heard for a long time, automation has only now reached such a high level of sophistication that it has spread from production to management. The economy, whose ups and downs are minimal, is largely manipulated by computers. The people do not do any routine work, but prepare new knowledge leading to the improvement of the systems.

National government:With the development of computer systems that can manage government operations, most government responsibilities have become routine. One area that still receives human attention is the development of new means of entertainment. People look nostalgically at the government, whose presence is getting weaker and weaker.


More of the topic in Hayadan:
"Longevity" series by Dr.Roey Tsezana
Longevity - Part One: The Road to Eternal LifePart two - the evolution that killed me
To stop death - third part in the series, "longevity of life": the hunger for life
Longevity, Part 4 When Breathing Kills: Free Radicals and Aging
Keeping death at bay: the telomere theory. Fifth article in the longevity series

18 תגובות

  1. Do those responsible for the website have such a pill? Do they want to sell it to us?) And if not why do you bring up this stupid nonsense again and again?)

  2. Wonder about the respected writer who knows that the good scientists and doctors have not yet succeeded in cracking the secret of one brain and its properties and are already sprinkling science fiction and imagination on spare parts...
    What would be the use of changing a heart for someone whose brain is 100 years old?

  3. If such a thing happens, there will be world wars on a global scale and as a result there will probably only be one nation left. And the reason for the war can be and probably will be boredom... I know it sounds illogical but if you really think about it, it's the most logical thing there is.

  4. Wow, people, what are you doing?!
    If they invent it, whatever happens humanity will only advance!
    What does the end of the world have to do with? The extinction of humanity? It has nothing to do with it at all..
    Not all people will agree to do this either…
    In short, it will be simply cool :)
    PS: Omelette in pita?

  5. It makes sense that the day such technology is distributed, mankind will be doomed to extinction in one way or another a short time later relative to the length of its existence until then. All in all, this is the disintegration of society. Childbirth will stop at a certain point or slow down to a great extent, as it will be a dangerous factor starting at a certain point. Then all the systems, everything related to raising a new generation will become history and the day we need it due to a disaster such as an asteroid or a huge war or anything else, the infrastructure for raising a new generation will no longer be there. What are children? What is a school? garden? Nothing will happen. Beyond that, in general, such an idea sounds more like the introduction of a total endemalosis into human society. That doesn't sound promising. What it could be is simply the continuation of the trend of extending the average life expectancy without such a fundamental change in society.

  6. A body is a complex machine, I see no reason why we should not develop ways to repair it and renew it so that the concept of death from old age will disappear completely. To handle cases of death from various accidents, you need a backup system of memories and consciousness. This too will be possible one day, I believe.

  7. At this stage, the 'aspiration' for immortal life sounds no less than a 'Voldemort complex' and several other frightening characters such as a vampiric and satanic figure, Merciful-Clown, on the Romania-Turkey border (see book, The Hestrionic).
    In any case, those who aspire to be immortal must first learn metamorphosis and disappear themselves.

  8. Wow………….
    This Shepardmish, a multi-talented genius. Also a great scientist, also a prolific playwright, also... what else, Yehuda? surprise us
    On behalf of the fan club.

  9. Interesting article, although outdated. Stem cells are not mentioned here, and some of the questions here have already been answered, such as the mechanism that takes care of the cell's division no more than fifty times.
    The utopia that sounds from the article is also exaggerated. It will be a serious problem that few young people will have to support a large old population that has already retired. There will of course be a requirement to spend only ninety or one hundred bills for retirement. Remember they raised the retirement age with us?
    The medical systems will collapse and only people with money will be able to purchase drugs "that are not in the government drug basket".
    Since extreme religious regimes will continue to demand to have children, many and difficult conflicts may arise with responsible countries in terms of birth.
    It does not seem to me that religion will be lost and I predict that religions and cults will continue to grow and flourish.
    It is possible, and in the end there may come a moment when it will be decided to "put the elderly to sleep" at a certain age.
    I wrote a play "Gift of Youth" on this very subject. Anyone who wants can look at one of its previous versions on Google.
    That's the way it is, and it won't be clear at all.
    Good Day
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

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