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The Axis of Aging - Comments

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 1 by Alan4discussion

It is good we are now looking at the genetic basis for the life-spans of particular species. eg Cats do not live as long as humans.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 14:43:04 UTC | #638428

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 2 by sunbeamforjeebus

Christians don't live as long as Atheists!

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 14:45:13 UTC | #638431

thatgingerscouser's Avatar Comment 3 by thatgingerscouser

Good stuff. Now does anyone know where I can get my hands on some telomeres before my hair turns grey?

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 14:54:44 UTC | #638432

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 4 by justinesaracen

I give it two years before Elizabeth Arden or Coty get a patent and markets something that repairs your defunct telomeres at 500 bucks a gram. Then the very rich can look young without the scalpel.

Too bad I'm beyond repair.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 15:07:06 UTC | #638435

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 5 by Vicktor

Comment 3 by thatgingerscouser

Precisely. We'll be reading about stuff like this until we die.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 16:52:31 UTC | #638474

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 6 by Stafford Gordon

I experienced my first proper two way "scientific" exchange with one of our daughters on Sunday, when we talked about telomeres; she's reading biochemistry at Imperial. I say scientific, it was almost completely one sided but it was a start.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 16:55:22 UTC | #638475

Tord M's Avatar Comment 7 by Tord M

Who wouldn't like to live forever? Mostly anybody who isn't old and sick would.

One of the things often brought up in this "can we prolong our lives and live forever" debate (and I wouldn't mind living to be 200 instead of the expected 80 myself), is the fact that you can prolong the lifetime of mice and worms by reducing there calorie intake. And there are people who follows that recipe, expecting to live (joyless lives) for a very long time.

This is my, admittedly unscientific, response to them:

Animals with short lifespans have more to gain by being able to extend their lifespans, than do animals that in general live longer.

This is because an animal with a short life cycle will be more vulnerable to random fluctuations in it's environment. If you only have one season to reproduce, a single summer drought might reduce the food supply dramatically and eliminate your chances to rear live offspring catastrophically.

In such a situation it would make sense if a mechanism was in place to prolong your length of life, and postpone reproducing, so that you can survive the drought and postpone breading until the next season when the conditions will probably be better.

In humans, women can have bear children for at least 20 years. That means that they are already able to survive a long period of drought and famine. Their porcreative period is already long enough to outlive most bad times, and to be able to secure offspring whenever things are getting better. So there is little reason why humans should have a life prolonging mechanism in place, as mice and nematodes do.

Perhaps our longevity is partly a result of all the bad times we've been trough during our evolution?. And perhaps we've already realized most of our natural potential longevity?

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 18:56:27 UTC | #638535

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 8 by bendigeidfran

Comment 7 by Tord M

A machine can go as long as it's fixed. Natural longevity is irrelevant. Life from non-life is now an obsolete question in practice, as we can make better life from non-life than evolved. Have cells made my God - we can already make better ones. He's not worth talking to.

We can exist in less ridiculous places, and people will choose it. It is written.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 19:45:54 UTC | #638556

keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 9 by keyfeatures

The logical conclusion of evolution is genes that create hosts capable of sustaining themselves (and therefore the gene) indefinitely whilst also adapting the environment to suit rather than having to adapt to it. From a genes eye view this is preferable (or rather a more 'winning' solution) to the current setup.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 20:57:30 UTC | #638582

keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 10 by keyfeatures

Indeed we might ask, has the human genotype stopped evolving and if so why? Has our ability to adjust the surroundings to suit our needs rather than requiring the gene to adjust us to suit our surroundings removed a primary evolutionary driving force?

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 21:02:03 UTC | #638584

keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 11 by keyfeatures

I foresee a time when the entire DNA content of planet earth is categorised and commodified as well as adjusted to fit the needs Man. A license to print trees anyone? How much for the codes to create an ant?

Unlicensed genetic engineering will be the new Supercrime and the Trees Museum our leisure destination of choice.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 21:05:59 UTC | #638586

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 12 by Agrajag

Comment 11 by keyfeatures
... the Trees Museum our leisure destination of choice.

... a dollar and a half just to see 'em. ;-)
Steve

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 22:04:32 UTC | #638605

Naturalist1's Avatar Comment 13 by Naturalist1

This is VERY interesting actually. If you follow the link to the story in "The Scientist"...then near the top follow the link to "F1000"...at the bottom of that there is a reference link...[PMID:20089117]. Its bizarre title is, "A mutant telomerase defective in nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling fails to immortalize cells and is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction." FAILS TO IMMORTALIZE???? WTF!!!! This most hilariously sounds like something out of a cheap bio sci-fi thriller. On a side note to this...I love reading Pol Anderson sci-fi novels and am currently deep in "The Boat Of A Million Years"...which actually deals almost exactly with this subject matter...highly recommended.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 22:45:58 UTC | #638621

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 14 by Alan4discussion

I would suspect that the optimum lifespan for maximum gene survivability has evolved for each species. The old compete for living space with the young of their own species, and collect damage and disease, so like machines there comes a point where replacement with a new model is more energy efficient than repairing or regenerating the old ones.

Some species live one season, some two, some several years, a few many years, where maturity or experience enhances survival more than juvenile energy. There are limits.

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 23:16:15 UTC | #638628

sbooder's Avatar Comment 15 by sbooder

Oh great, that is all an over populated planet needs; more mouths to feed and water for longer periods.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 05:45:19 UTC | #638692

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 16 by Vicktor

Comment 15 by sbooder

Don't worry. We'll never achieve immortality or anything even close to it. Medical science isn't interested in that. Their focus is on finding "treatments" ("cure" is disappearing from their vocabulary) for the many different diseases plaguing mankind and "preventing" them by getting us to eat less and exercise more (overindulgence is, after all, a "sin") - all so that more of us can live to our "natural" lifespan of 80 or so and not die prematurely.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 07:26:32 UTC | #638708

sbooder's Avatar Comment 17 by sbooder

Comment 16 by Vicktor :

Comment 15 by sbooder Don't worry. We'll never achieve immortality or anything even close to it. Medical science isn't interested in that. Their focus is on finding "treatments" ("cure" is disappearing from their vocabulary) for the many different diseases plaguing mankind and "preventing" them by getting us to eat less and exercise more (overindulgence is, after all, a "sin") - all so that more of us can live to our "natural" lifespan of 80 or so and not die prematurely.

There is something to be said for dying prematurely. Has anyone calculated the population growth if we cure more and more diseases?

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 07:41:36 UTC | #638714

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 18 by Vicktor

Comment 17 by sbooder

I don't think medical scientists (in general) care about population growth any more than they care about extending human life beyond its "natural" limit. But yes, if more of us live to 80, chances are we might have more kids over a lifetime.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 07:52:22 UTC | #638717

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 19 by Alan4discussion

Comment 18 by Vicktor

But yes, if more of us live to 80, chances are we might have more kids over a lifetime.

Only if you are male or a female given fertility treatment.

Even then it is doubtful if these options are of merit for the old and degenerating to have the energy to bring up their young children, when compared with the alternative of supporting the next generation as grandparents.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 09:19:05 UTC | #638733

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 20 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 09:31:31 UTC | #638737

mmurray's Avatar Comment 21 by mmurray

Comment 17 by sbooder :

There is something to be said for dying prematurely. Has anyone calculated the population growth if we cure more and more diseases?

If we extend from 70 to 90 then that won't make much difference to population growth. But if, as now, it means more us spend our last 20 years with Alzheimers it's not such an attractive option.

Michael

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 09:38:15 UTC | #638741

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 22 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 09:41:23 UTC | #638742

sbooder's Avatar Comment 23 by sbooder

Comment 21 by mmurray :

Comment 17 by sbooder :

There is something to be said for dying prematurely. Has anyone calculated the population growth if we cure more and more diseases?

If we extend from 70 to 90 then that won't make much difference to population growth. But if, as now, it means more us spend our last 20 years with Alzheimers it's not such an attractive option.

Michael

We are not talking of people living to 80 or more who would have lived to 30 or 40, we are talking about people who may not have lived to the age of reproduction, this will increase the population more than the earth can contend with

Like it or not this will be the result of less people dying from disease.

And who will benefit from all these new treatments? Not Africans that is certain, the last thing Europe and the USA will want is the land they have bought cheaply to provide food for their own populations to be reclaimed by more Africans. The hypocrisy of all this will become so transparent in the not too distant future.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 10:20:56 UTC | #638760

mmurray's Avatar Comment 24 by mmurray

Comment 23 by sbooder :

Comment 21 by mmurray :

Comment 17 by sbooder :

There is something to be said for dying prematurely. Has anyone calculated the population growth if we cure more and more diseases?

If we extend from 70 to 90 then that won't make much difference to population growth. But if, as now, it means more us spend our last 20 years with Alzheimers it's not such an attractive option.

Michael

We are not talking of people living to 80 or more who would have lived to 30 or 40, we are talking about people who may not have lived to the age of reproduction, this will increase the population more than the earth can contend with

Aren't we? I thought the article was about aging so I took it to mean raising the usual 70 to 90 or 120 or something. But I agree if you have more people getting to reproductive age there ought to be more reproduction.

And who will benefit from all these new treatments? Not Africans that is certain, the last thing Europe and the USA will want is the land they have bought cheaply to provide food for their own populations to be reclaimed by more Africans.

I guess someone forget to explain this to the people committing $4 billion to vaccination programmes in the Third World ?

Michael

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 10:32:01 UTC | #638766

JustLikeMyPops's Avatar Comment 25 by JustLikeMyPops

Comment 7 by Tord M :

So there is little reason why humans should have a life prolonging mechanism in place, as mice and nematodes do.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, I often am, I do not disagree with your post I just wanted to ask if this is the mechanism by which the more calories you burn the more free radicals are produced, which slowly over time erode or damage the DNA so future copies are similarly damaged contributing to the ageing process? Thats how it was put to me although it was quite a few years ago now. If so, then this mechanism is in place in all life that burns oxygen not just mice or nematodes is it not? Or do mice and nematodes employ an alternative life prolonging mechanism like say hibernation? A minor point I know but is this still the commonly held view (was it ever the commonnly held view?) about free radicals and their effect on DNA or have I become hopelessly outdated already?

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 12:24:53 UTC | #638811

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 26 by drumdaddy

Might the telomeric aging be mitigated by prayer? Which prayers do the mice prefer? There must be a Holy Rodent that they're not telling us about.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 12:54:14 UTC | #638821

AshFromHousewares's Avatar Comment 27 by AshFromHousewares

For all those haters of progress because it just gives life to those burdened with disease - the best minds on the planet a hundred years ago were in concensus about the fact that there was no way to support several billion people. There was no way to greo the crops and cities were drowning in thier own filth.

Now that we have modern agriculture and sewer systems, among other advances, we can all live relatively happily without the need to indirectly kill people.

Now just extrapolate what cheap fusion power and self replicating robotics could do. What if every farm field was stacked vertically over 100 floors deep with artifical illumination and it was easy to grow meat in vats? We could well have the volume to support several thousand to millions of times the current population given sufficient technology.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 12:59:58 UTC | #638824

mmurray's Avatar Comment 28 by mmurray

Comment 27 by AshFromHousewares :

Now just extrapolate what cheap fusion power and self replicating robotics could do. What if every farm field was stacked vertically over 100 floors deep with artifical illumination and it was easy to grow meat in vats? We could well have the volume to support several thousand to millions of times the current population given sufficient technology.

Cheap fusion power may be a century away if it ever arrives. Ditto self-replicating robots. Right now we are destroying the world with too many people.

Michael

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 13:20:09 UTC | #638831

AshFromHousewares's Avatar Comment 29 by AshFromHousewares

Mmurray you might be right on the mark. But that is exactly what the situation was 100 years ago. It is likely that all those extra people will have the brains to make it all work with less problems than we can clearly see now.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 13:57:10 UTC | #638843

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 30 by KenChimp

Comment 2 by sunbeamforjeebus :

Christians don't live as long as Atheists!

Ah, if only that were true. ;-}

Although, if you know of some statistical data which might suggest it being true, I'd be very interested in looking at it.

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:59:27 UTC | #638917