Do You Want to Live Forever?

Did you notice that Father Time & the Grim Reaper look a lot alike? There's a reason for that.
Did you notice that Father Time & the Grim Reaper look a lot alike? There’s a reason for that.
Immortality is an odd subject. For example, there a few types of worm that keep regenerating when they lose a part thus rendering them immortal. There’s also a cute, little, jellyfish that seems to live forever. Now I’ve talked before about how evolution is a tree and not a straight line. We didn’t just got from amoeba to fish to monkey to man. There were lots of paths taken. Some successful, others not. That’s how evolution works. And, despite what Social Darwinists say it’s not survival of the fittest but survival of the most adaptive. But the raw fact, that many people can’t wrap their heads around is this; we share some DNA with every living thing on the planet, including insects. That’s because DNA, and RNA before it, is one of the building blocks of life here on Earth. And that means somewhere inside of us we should be able to do what the worms and the jellyfish do. And because that is so scientists have been making good money looking for just those things. In the process they’ve made tons of useful discoveries. Almost all of the medical research that makes you happier and healthier comes from this research.

Travis Gettys is now reporting that scientists have discovered a hidden code inside our DNA and that may lead longer and longer lifespans.

Scientists have discovered a second code that’s been hiding within DNA that could change the way genetic instructions are read.

A team of University of Washington researchers discovered the secondary code, which was published Friday in Science, and could help scientists better understand both disease and health.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is present in the cells of all humans and most other living organisms, and scientists have assumed since the 1960s that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins.

But researchers discovered that information was superimposed over another set of instructions that cells use to control genes.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Dr. James Stamatoyannopoulos, who led the UW team. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. These new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways.”

The researchers discovered that some codons, part of the 64-letter alphabet which makes up the genetic code, can have two meanings – one related to protein sequence and another related to gene control.

These duons apparently evolved together, researchers said, and the gene control instructions appear to stabilize beneficial features of proteins and how they’re made.

The discovery has major implications for the way scientists and physicians interpret genomes and will likely change the way diseases are diagnosed and treated.

“The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously,” said Stamatoyannopoulos.

Let’s back this down a grade level. This will allow scientists and doctors to more accurately cure what ails you. And the longer you’re healthy the longer you live.

For the most part. Some people still step in front of trains. Science can’t fix stupid.

Not yet, anyway.

So, if we’re living longer we’re probably going to need a place to stay. Tia Ghoa says that Earth is fine if we fix it up a bit.

In order for humanity to have any hope for survival, however, it must learn to harness technology wisely, (David H. Grinspoon, an astrobiologist at the Library of Congress) said. Humanity must also shift from its short-term, regional outlook that denies humans’ impact on the Earth to a multigenerational and global outlook that consciously accepts its crucial role in Earth’s fate.

That outlook may be disturbing for many people, including scientists accustomed to seeing humans as inconsequential specks in the vast story of the universe, and environmentalists who liken humanity to criminal interlopers guilty of destroying the Earth, Grinspoon said.

But Grinspoon argued that those views of humanity are counterproductive, because they make humanity’s problems seem intractable.

“We are central to the story,” Grinspoon said.

Instead, a better metaphor may be people who somehow awoke at the helm of a very large bus speeding down the highway, he said. “We have to figure out how to drive this thing to avoid the catastrophe,” he said.

Civilization is facing a bottleneck, said Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

“Eventually, you either have to stabilize the population and reuse everything, or you have to do something else,” such as go into space to live or mine for resources.

But Shostak questioned whether a more global, long-term outlook is reasonable to expect.

“The way we’re wired is to be worried about the immediate problems,” Shostak told LiveScience.

And it’s not always possible to have a long-term perspective. For instance, London was engulfed in a miasma of toxic fumes from coal-fired home heating in the 1870s, and nobody could come up with a solution. Then, coal-fired heating gave way to other heat sources, and the problem solved itself, he said.

“You don’t often see what’s right around the corner,” Shostak said.

Tia’s entire article is kind of long but if you’re interested in the subject you should take some time to read it.

Douglas Adams once posited that there would come a time when everyone would have a wrist watch. What’s so stunning about that? Well, in his world it was a device implanted in your wrist that allowed you to tell time, learn local cultures and watch TV.

Mostly watch TV.

In the meantime, while most of us are wondering what witticism will elude Dr. Sheldon, Google has been building a robot army.

Or developing robot overlords, if you will.

Sure, they could be buying robotics company after robotics company because they want to create machines that can assist people with arduous tasks. If so then this would be a boon to humanity and would allow us to concentrate on the items above and make our lives longer and better.

Or, Google could realize that’s sitting on the cream of the crop when it comes to genetics thanks to them only hiring the smartest of the smart. In which case their robot army would come and wipe us all out so they could populate their Utopia.

That would be bad, by the way.

IMMORTAL from Michael Vargas on Vimeo.

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