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Author Topic: Immortality?  (Read 3699 times)

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Offline KurzykTopic starter

Immortality?
« on: March 21, 2010, 01:28:06 AM »
http://green.yahoo.com/blog/guest_bloggers/26/the-world-s-only-immortal-animal.html

This is really intriguing not only in terms of the transdifferentiation process, but also in terms of population growth. It's scary.

Offline Sabby

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2010, 02:54:27 AM »
First, an immortal jellyfish... next, Adam slugs! Evolve Today!

Offline Trieste

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Re: Immortality?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2010, 10:43:11 AM »
And it's about the size of your pinky nail. :)

Quote from: Wikipedia
The medusa of Turritopsis nutricula is bell-shaped, with a maximum diameter of about 4-5 millimetres (−0.039 in) and is about as tall as it is wide.

Offline Jude

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2010, 10:57:31 AM »
Researchers have actually found a gene in humans that, when disabled, allows human beings to regenerate completely like salamanders.  ...problem is that gene, if turned off, also leads to insanely high chances of your cells turning cancerous!  Funny, the tradeoffs we make as complicated organisms.

Offline jouzinka

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Re: Immortality?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2010, 11:05:51 AM »
Well, when you can regenerate like salamanders, why care? You just regenerate that part, no? ;D

Offline Trieste

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Re: Immortality?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2010, 11:09:16 AM »
Well, the more you divide and change cells around, the higher your chance of cancer. UV rays interfere with DNA duplication, as do things like cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco. Cancer seems to be essentially a disease of the genes... you mess with them, you pretty much invite cancer.

Then again, gene therapy has helped so many people that the cancer risk has been deemed worth it, I believe.

Offline Samael

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Re: Immortality?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2010, 12:24:58 AM »
First, an immortal jellyfish... next, Adam slugs! Evolve Today!

Would you kindly pass the immortality?

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2010, 01:37:54 AM »
Well, the more you divide and change cells around, the higher your chance of cancer. UV rays interfere with DNA duplication, as do things like cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco. Cancer seems to be essentially a disease of the genes... you mess with them, you pretty much invite cancer.

This. There was selective pressure to disable that process precisely because of the risk of becoming cancerous (and particularly horribly cancerous at that). Cancer is always just a series of mutations away, and for every roadblock we remove on the way to cancer you increase the odds substantially. And it is especially true when you mess with transdifferentiation. I considered posting a link here to pictures of teratomas...but then I realized that no one should have to see that. Inducing pluripotency in cells can have horrible consequences.



Also, concerning the jellyfish, it is an odd form of immortality. For a creature like that it doesn't necessarily matter, but imagine a human who could do that. I mean, if you hit a limit and then revert to a fetus and re-develop, can it really be said to be the same life? Would that person retain a single consciousness? And if it you think it would be the  same life, then how would cloning be any different? Are parthenogenic creatures one life spread through many bodies? It seems almost phoenix-like. Almost like the reversion is a death that brings about a new life that shares the same initial body but will develop differently.

Offline BlisteredBlood

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2010, 01:09:25 AM »
But even if this does work, I think this would be like opening Pandora's Box. The entire concept of humanity and the cycle of life itself would come to a dead stop, if you pardon the pun. And besides, who would want to live forever? I think it would be a pretty boring existence, if you ask me. Not to mention lonely.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Immortality?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2010, 08:54:29 AM »
I believe Neil Gaiman already essentially wrote this story.  ^-^

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Immortality?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2010, 11:34:12 AM »
But even if this does work, I think this would be like opening Pandora's Box. The entire concept of humanity and the cycle of life itself would come to a dead stop, if you pardon the pun. And besides, who would want to live forever? I think it would be a pretty boring existence, if you ask me. Not to mention lonely.
I wrote a short story on that concept. I never had it published for I feared it had already been done. Plus the post-modernistic fetish with the novel doesn't lend itself well to short fiction.

It was called "The Life Penalty" Capital punishment was immortal confinement in a nine by five cell with padded walls.

Offline Sabby

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2010, 12:40:45 PM »
It was called "The Life Penalty" Capital punishment was immortal confinement in a nine by five cell with padded walls.

Excuse my Irish, but fuck me x.X *huddles in a corner*

Offline Shihong

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2010, 02:30:06 PM »
But even if this does work, I think this would be like opening Pandora's Box. The entire concept of humanity and the cycle of life itself would come to a dead stop, if you pardon the pun. And besides, who would want to live forever? I think it would be a pretty boring existence, if you ask me. Not to mention lonely.

See, I've never quite been able to grasp the hesitation or outright fear of immortality.  The most common excuses I've heard are the very ones that you stated: that everything would become old hat, and that all the people you know will eventually die.

But the thing is, the world is constantly changing!  So long as the human race continues to progress, there will always be new things to do!  New books to read, new shows to watch, new sports to take part in, new technologies to utilize!  Hell, even assuming the world suddenly became totally stagnant, it would easily take you hundreds of years to read every novel, view every piece of cinema, travel the globe and see everything there is to see.  And, barring some horrific cataclysm, there's always limitless expanse of space yawning out before us!

As for the fleeting nature of the relationships you would form...  At first it would be jarring, even depressing to watch all the people you've known and loved grow old and die, only to realize that you won't be able to experience the same.  But like experiences, there will always be new people to meet.  New friends, new mentors, new pupils, new lovers; an immortal person would eventually choose to focus on the fact that they will be able to meet thousands upon thousands of truly wonderful people over the course of their limitless existence.  When they hit the lowest of the low, there will always be the knowledge that they will live to see the day when things get better again.  One of the early Sandman comics deals with this idea to great effect.

Offline Sabby

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2010, 02:46:58 PM »
But the thing is, the world is constantly changing!  So long as the human race continues to progress, there will always be new things to do!  New books to read, new shows to watch, new sports to take part in, new technologies to utilize!  Hell, even assuming the world suddenly became totally stagnant, it would easily take you hundreds of years to read every novel, view every piece of cinema, travel the globe and see everything there is to see.  And, barring some horrific cataclysm, there's always limitless expanse of space yawning out before us!

That just sounds to me like entertaining yourself simply to stave off mind crushing insanity... a madness that a bullet to the temple isn't guna halt.

Offline Shihong

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2010, 03:28:22 PM »
That, to me, is far too negative a mindset for me to comprehend.  The fact of the matter is, we have no idea what it is like to live for one million years, let alone one thousand or even two hundred.  It's staggering, it's an unknown, and it's scary; at least, from the outset.  A mind that has lived for that long will think and experience the passage of time in a very different way from any one of us. 

Hell, if you think of our normal mortal lives as a whole, it can be pretty boggling!  Imagine for a moment that, hypothetically, you are going to live for 100 years, as you are now.  As medical technology becomes more and more advanced in your lifetime, let's say that number eventually reaches something in the ballpark of 150.  Now imagine that you are exactly 20 years old at this very moment.  Even thinking about the next 80-130 years would be enough to give most people a heart attack!  So why bother?  Why do we "entertain" ourselves at all?  Why do we "busy" ourselves with work and play and relationships?  To stave off madness?  Is that really all that a life is?  A few decades trying to keep insanity at bay with futile efforts?

Personally, I like to look at immortality as a gift, not a curse.  Humans are some of the most adaptable creatures on the face of the planet.  We can get used to nearly any conditions, whether they be physical or mental.  I have no doubt that we will be able to adapt to prolonged or even indefinite life-spans in the future of our species.

Offline Xanatos

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2010, 04:36:18 PM »
Shihong has it right. To put it a bit clearer, Humanity fears what it does not understand. Yet at the same time, somehow, Humanity is like a curious cat always exploring, seeking to understand the unknown. Immortality is just another frontier Humanity might day conquer and move on to something different.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Immortality?
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2010, 08:35:32 PM »
Shihong has it right. To put it a bit clearer, Humanity fears what it does not understand. Yet at the same time, somehow, Humanity is like a curious cat always exploring, seeking to understand the unknown. Immortality is just another frontier Humanity might day conquer and move on to something different.
The day humans get immortality is the day we die.
The driving factor of human curiosity, engineering, art, conflict is our short number of years. We strive desperately to be a bottle rocket in a sea of candles.

Offline Xanatos

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2010, 10:21:44 PM »
Age does not necessarily affect curiosity. That is a trait some never lose, while some never really have it. I would agree most of Humanity as a whole possesses it, but to say immortality kills this, is simply pessimistic and showing a lack of future sight. To assume humanity loses curiosity or drive is simple wrong. We just now live forever, that does not imply we lose our base nature. That's similar to saying a trained Tiger no longer has its base nature, which is obviously wrong. Tigers are still very dangerous even when trained because the very nature which makes them them is still present, its only been suppressed by the training. For Humanity, our curious nature I do not believe would be suppressed at all. It would only expand and balloon our curiosity. Because now brilliant minds could remain brilliant forever and continue to expand their knowledge and understanding. People could live to do more, achieve more.

Life would probably get boring for many, but as most creatures do and certainly Humanity, they would adapt to the new way of living and find a coping mechanism. Death would still be an option for those who found no purpose anymore, or felt they had completed their journey and now wished to go away quietly.

Certainly any belief to the contrary is near sighted and ignoring very fundamental aspects of Human nature.

Offline Silk

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2010, 11:04:27 AM »
It depends on the conditions of the imortality, just outright unable to die in all things, including starvation decaptiation and such. Or if still required to eat but not dieing because of it.

Never naturally dieing but still being able to be killed will be quite happy with. Once I have enough I can choose to end it.

Offline BlisteredBlood

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2010, 07:28:05 AM »
See, I've never quite been able to grasp the hesitation or outright fear of immortality.  The most common excuses I've heard are the very ones that you stated: that everything would become old hat, and that all the people you know will eventually die.

But the thing is, the world is constantly changing!  So long as the human race continues to progress, there will always be new things to do!  New books to read, new shows to watch, new sports to take part in, new technologies to utilize!  Hell, even assuming the world suddenly became totally stagnant, it would easily take you hundreds of years to read every novel, view every piece of cinema, travel the globe and see everything there is to see.  And, barring some horrific cataclysm, there's always limitless expanse of space yawning out before us!

As for the fleeting nature of the relationships you would form...  At first it would be jarring, even depressing to watch all the people you've known and loved grow old and die, only to realize that you won't be able to experience the same.  But like experiences, there will always be new people to meet.  New friends, new mentors, new pupils, new lovers; an immortal person would eventually choose to focus on the fact that they will be able to meet thousands upon thousands of truly wonderful people over the course of their limitless existence.  When they hit the lowest of the low, there will always be the knowledge that they will live to see the day when things get better again.  One of the early Sandman comics deals with this idea to great effect.

Thing is, I'm not scared by the idea. I'm just wondering who in their right mind would want to be an immortal being. Sure, you can do all this fantastic stuff like transcend the myriads of time itself and read all sorts of books, watch all kinds of movies, TV, read millions upon millions of articles on the internet - assuming we're all gonna be around for when it does hit the fan - but what then?

Let's take into account that this sort of thing has been tested and proven in the past, what with the tragic villain, Zasalamel from Soul Calibur 3. According to his bio (as read here), it states that he was technically an immortal being due to a spell that was woven over him by his own doing. As a result, it prevented him from finding his own death. Or even if he did in fact die - whether it was by his own hand or not - he was only reborn into another body with the same memories and physical features of his last life. Pretty much a human phoenix, if you will.

But that's crossing hairs.

I eluded to the question of "what then". Assume you could be that immortal being, you do all do this, write an on going series of books to catalog all of the world's events for all eternity, but again. What then? What does a person do like that after all is said and done? However, I will give you an out on the progression of humanity, that as long as it continues to exist in this time frame, humanity will continue. But assuming there is nothing to humanity left except for that one immortal person, what would he or she do? Surely, they can't meet their own end, because no matter what they do, they cannot die naturally nor can they kill themselves.

The truth of the matter - as I stated previously - is not only would it be immensely boring and nothing would be new to you not to mention lonely because everyone you knew in life died but not you, but there was also something I forgot to mention. Your own temperament would eventually sour into something leaning towards apathy or possibly even misanthropy. So then, the only solution would be to hide away for thousands of years never to be heard from ever again so no one would be able to discover how you became that way.

Offline Shihong

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2010, 07:43:53 AM »
Well the obvious solution by that point would be to travel all of existence and insult every living being in the universe, alphabetically.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2010, 09:00:37 AM »
Three problems:

#1 Population
#2 Resources

and if you manage to solve those, good luck with #3:

Offline BlisteredBlood

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2010, 04:02:27 PM »
Well the obvious solution by that point would be to travel all of existence and insult every living being in the universe, alphabetically.

That would be a immense laundry list of things to insult, if'n ya ask me. On top of humans - which the population is about six billion plus - there's also animals of all shapes and sizes, which I honestly don't think one's vocal chords can withstand that much talking. *snicker*

But all jokes aside, I can understand your point. Humanity can and will continue to exist, with or even without searching for the fountain of youth. Besides, with so much to do and so much that's going on, there's really no doubt in my mind that it it will continue well on into the next century or so.

Offline Touch

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2010, 10:49:30 PM »
It all depends on mindset. Many people go through this life repeating the same actions (work, sleep, play) over and over again until they die, and they're content with that. Other people want to see the world, join the Peace Corps, or what-have-you. Sure, there would be a lot of people who would be bored to death being immortal, but still others would settle into a comfortable lifestyle and be happy with that.

Offline Yin

Re: Immortality?
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2010, 09:21:19 PM »
If immortality is such a problem, can't we just legalize suicide?

It seems to be that biological immortality is just another choice. It's not like you're forced to have a never-ending existence, you can self-terminate whenever you want in fairly painless ways nowadays.


Altogether, this fear of Immortalism reminds me of the history of anti-vaccination movements. It got pretty ridiculous: as wikipedia puts it...

Religious arguments against inoculation  were advanced even before the work of Edward Jenner; for example, in a 1772 sermon entitled "The Dangerous and Sinful Practice of Inoculation" the English theologian Rev. Edward Massey argued that diseases are sent by God to punish sin and that any attempt to prevent smallpox via inoculation is a "diabolical operation".

People tend to have knee-jerk responses to various facets of life that are... basically rationalizations of their suffering. They want reasons, and so there's a reason we all die, there's a reason our children die of polio etc. etc. "Fixing it" feels like it would destroy that poetic beauty.


Eh, I'm rambling. I suppose the best I can offer is the 5-year-old heuristic. If you ask a 5 year old his opinion on something, and he says it is totally kickass, then give it some thought. They're too young to have built up any cynicism and cache any thought patterns, and so they actually  do say stuff like "I wish no-one would ever die".