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Thread: Immortality. What field of biology, what books?

  1. #1 Immortality. What field of biology, what books? 
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    What specialized field in biology should one aim for if your motivation is finding a way to stop age? What books are reccomendable? Where to start with the basics?

    I see life having a value of zero if you cannot live forever and im thinking about dedicating my entire lifetime into it and switch to biology next school year. I know there is probarly no task more impossible than this. And i realize that to seriously get into this kind of study, you must accept failure even before you have started.

    I read a poetry somewhere, or a story. Allthough i cant remember it all or from where - it went something like:

    "It doesent matter if you are a peasant, or a king with a crown. Under the sun we all rot the same"

    It was more, but cant remember. But it inspired me to atleast try, cause every single achievement in life is worth nothing if it just becomes someones memory. I was interested in philosophy alot more than biology, but being wise and smart is futile if you are dead. And i feel one normal human lifespan is not enough time to live.


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  3. #2  
    Reptile Dysfunction drowsy turtle's Avatar
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    Genetics would probably be a good start.


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  4. #3  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    it's not really a single field, but presumably the word you're looking for is Gerontology
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Hey, even if you don't succeed in curing aging, there's a good chance you'll discover lots of important and useful stuff along the way.
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  6. #5 Re: Immortality. What field of biology, what books? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree Waveman28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell
    What specialized field in biology should one aim for if your motivation is finding a way to stop age? What books are reccomendable? Where to start with the basics?

    I see life having a value of zero if you cannot live forever and im thinking about dedicating my entire lifetime into it and switch to biology next school year.

    I read a poetry somewhere, or a story. Allthough i cant remember it all or from where - it went something like:

    "It doesent matter if you are a peasant, or a king with a crown. Under the sun we all rot the same"

    It was more, but cant remember. But it inspired me to atleast try, cause every single achievement in life is worth nothing if it just becomes someones memory. I was interested in philosophy alot more than biology, but being wise and smart is futile if you are dead. And i feel one normal human lifespan is not enough time to live.
    I totally agree with everything you have said here, and I share the same goal, however I have a different direction as to how immortality will be achieved. Your method will most likely revolve around countering the biological aging process, or growing new organs and cells that can be continuosly grown to replace our old and dying ones. My method is basically replacing all our bodily parts with machinery, so in other words, becoming cyborgs.
    I know there is probarly no task more impossible than this. And i realize that to seriously get into this kind of study, you must accept failure even before you have started.
    No, this task is actually very realistic. It could definitely be achieved in a single lifetime, especialy now that we are approaching the so-called "technological singularity".The only hard part will be finding a way to keep the brain from dying and to ensure it functions at a constant level. Everything else is quite simple really, so keep your hopes high.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    I personally think some of the most promising avenues for human immortality are in stem cell research or in nanotechnology.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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  8. #7 Re: Immortality. What field of biology, what books? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell
    What specialized field in biology should one aim for if your motivation is finding a way to stop age?
    There is none.

    There is a field that studies aging. And surprisingly the discipline that studies the mechanisms behind it is usually referred to as the biology of aging.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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    Forum Senior PhoenixG's Avatar
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    Despite my general skepticism toward immortality, I still think that you might find the writing of Ray Kurzweil interesting. The Singularity is Near might be of particular interest.
    "PhoenixG makes me puke that why I quoted him." - esbo
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    There are also some companies in the USA that will freeze your head / head & body upon 'death' - so that you can bridge the time between current technologies and future ones that hopefully will be able to return you to life.

    Almost everyone I have discussed this with poo-poos the idea.
    All of them know considerably less science than I.
    I have no specialist knowledge - merely a number of science courses at the Bachelor's Degree University level.

    Given that the alternative is to rot in the ground or else be torched into a pile of ash and bone dust, I think I'll take my chances that these companies are running a scam
    - which they don't appear to be.
    What is the loss if it is a scam? An extra life insurance policy? I'm sure coughing up for the tithe is alot more expensive and has an even less chance of prolonging your existence than cremation.
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    I also think that humans will one day achieve relative immortality and that you need a combination of fields to get immortality, genetics, nano technology, and computer science to quickly bridge the knowledge and the ability to manipulate life molecules, are probably important components. If you know everything there is to know about genetics and live among cavemen with stone tools theres nothing you can do about it.

    Head freezing is great as long as they can recover your memory and bother to do so, and they eventually might be able to especially if they can inject you with some anti-crytalization anti-freeze like agent and and freeze you while you are still alive(thereby killing interupting you life). Then if you are lucky and someone actually does bother to go through all the trouble of reconstituting your neural pattern beyond the potential scan and simulation, you be alive in another body reconstituted from your own or a template. Being revived as a neural simulation in a computer wouldnt be so bad for some people if you are given human rights and arent part of a creepy experiment, if you could have access to the real world to the internet you could play computer games watch someone slip on a banana on youtube or learn about the history since you died(hoping its not too bad). You would be a program or a process as opposed to an authentic person in the traditional sense and would be limited but youd be more immortal than soemone with a flesh body without access to simulation or immortality, but I guess its better than nothing and you can work, design game levels, paintings, write stories, study science, chat with people, control a robot, heck theres a lot you could do by the time molecular brain scan and simulation is possible. Transfering that memory and consciousness to a human (or android) body might be an option some time later on. From one perspective you were dead all along and the new you is someone else that thinks its you. If they arent able to recover your memory though then its pointless.
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    Freezing companies already begin resuccitation procedures the instant you are declared legally dead - which is good for the effort of returning you in some future time. The resuccitation efforts get oxygen into your brain, and carries the antifreeze agents with it - the idea is to stop your brain cells from destroying themselves/dying off. The antifreeze is toxic, but it does allow your brain to be chilled and gradually brought down to liquid Nitrogen temperatures - without fracturing cells; they freeze instead in a 'glass' pattern.

    The trouble I see in some decades will be a better medical system that does not declare you dead until your brain has turned into oatmeal - and that will be in direct conflict with the cryonics goal.

    Personally, I'd like to have them put me under at a moment of my choosing, and then preserve my head perfectly with no interference from governmental idiots.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    There is, of course, no such thing as immortality, and never will be. The word you should use is 'longevity'. Using one of the previous strategies, (biological anti-ageing, conversion to cyborg, or downloading personality and memory into a computer) might enable a very long lifespan.

    However, everything in the universe comes to an end. Even the universe itself. In a trillion years or so, the process of entropy will render it impossible to maintain anything that requires energy. Unless humans manage to travel to another universe, eventual ending of our species must occur.

    Of course, the laws of chance dictate that, long before this, each person will suffer some kind of accident, or act of violence, or fatal disease or, or, or...

    However, I suspect that extreme longevity will lead to people wanting to die, if only from extreme boredom!
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    There is, of course, no such thing as immortality, and never will be ... Unless humans manage to travel to another universe ... However, I suspect that extreme longevity will lead to people wanting to die, if only from extreme boredom!
    Boredom of what? Not dreaming maybe. Come on, we want to live one thousand years in the first opportunity, then maybe a million. Anything which can go beyond our natural limits would make us happy, as long as the cost would not hurt the rest of nature too much. We discovered forces in nature, and we cracked the secret of life. Don't we deserve to live like what our ancestors would call us "immortals": Transforming our existence from one biology to another, from lasting materials to softwares working on quantum level.

    You are confusing "immortal" with "eternal" or "infinitely". "Immortal" means not dying like the rest of the living things. It does not mean going beyond the rules of universe. Please, be constructive to this dream.
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    Quote Originally Posted by baftansowibat
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    There is, of course, no such thing as immortality, and never will be ... Unless humans manage to travel to another universe ... However, I suspect that extreme longevity will lead to people wanting to die, if only from extreme boredom!
    Boredom of what? Not dreaming maybe. Come on, we want to live one thousand years in the first opportunity, then maybe a million. Anything which can go beyond our natural limits would make us happy, as long as the cost would not hurt the rest of nature too much. We discovered forces in nature, and we cracked the secret of life. Don't we deserve to live like what our ancestors would call us "immortals": Transforming our existence from one biology to another, from lasting materials to softwares working on quantum level.

    You are confusing "immortal" with "eternal" or "infinitely". "Immortal" means not dying like the rest of the living things. It does not mean going beyond the rules of universe. Please, be constructive to this dream.
    Sure I would want to be immortal or live eternally but not if the world is what it is now. With so much troubles we face in our daily life, death may seem like a sweet dream.
    ~ One’s ultimate perfection depends on the development of all the members of society ~ Kabbalah
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    Quote Originally Posted by newnothing
    With so much troubles we face in our daily life, death may seem like a sweet dream.
    Has it ever occured to you that many of these "so much troubles we face" are actually the reflection, interpretation or desperation of the fact that we know we are mortals? Solving the issue of mortality will necessarily bring certain solutions to our daily life troubles. Even the terms like "daily life" would lose its contemporary meaning. If you are able to live longer than any other living thing, it should mean that you are immune from many of their problems such as food or security. You would still have some issues; but they would be nothing similar to what we have today.

    And please, if "death may seem a sweet dream", you would go and die instead of torturing yourself with this life, wouldn't you?
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  17. #16  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    To baft

    No, I am not mistaking the meaning of 'immortal'. Dictionary definition is : "not subject to death", which means never dying. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/immortal

    And nothing lives forever, not even the universe.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    To baft

    No, I am not mistaking the meaning of 'immortal'. Dictionary definition is : "not subject to death", which means never dying. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/immortal

    And nothing lives forever, not even the universe.
    No, I insist: Death is something to do with life. A piece of rock does not die, neither particles, nor a mineral. They change form, interact, be part of something etc. Dying is the issue of living. Universe is not a living organism, even though it will not last forever...
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    Fine. Since IMmortal means NOT subject to death; we can project it for those of us alive at the moment and wanting to be NOT subject to it in the future, NO LONGER subject to death.

    How is that for immortal?
    Or do you prefer "no longer mortal"?
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  20. #19 Re: Immortality. What field of biology, what books? 
    Forum Masters Degree samcdkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell
    What specialized field in biology should one aim for if your motivation is finding a way to stop age? What books are reccomendable? Where to start with the basics?.
    If your interest is in cells that don't die I recommend you start with the molecular biology of cancer.
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  21. #20  
    Forum Freshman Warpd's Avatar
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    There are already some species that are considered "immortal". What species? I would recommend giving this article a read .
    Code:
    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/07/the-earths-immortal-species-thriving-in-oceans.html
    "Mistakes are the portals of discovery" - James Joyce
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    I take that the only thing that separates one from becoming expired is memory, not even the brain as a whole. To be able to extract physically this memory would be the first step to immortality. Even if someone is frozen in a cryogenic lab and then brought back to life with his memory gone, he would become a different person altogether despite being in the same body and having the same brain to control it. So, the questions for me would be what exactly is this memory, how can it be physically defined inside the brain, how can it be separated and sort of downloaded and stored away, then transplanted into a newer or more efficient, longer lasting frame. People with Alzheimer disease, no matter how far the disease is progressed retain vestiges of their own memory. Most of their memory is damaged while they are still alive. A part of their brain where the memory is stored dies much faster than the rest of the brain, unlike with most of people whose memory deteriorates continually together with the whole brain. So, technically a man starts dying long before the actual dead. To increase chances of restoring the brain frozen in the cryogenic lab, one would have to submit itself for the procedure in its twenties when brain is in its best shape and memory unaffected by deletion of cells or irreversible damage or whatever happens later on in life.
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  23. #22  
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    Cancer cells don't do anything except eat, they don't carry nutrients or do anything good for the body. The most they could ever do, unless somehow "programmed" (is this possible now or in the future?) -- is get in the way.




    Bio-Chemistry or Neural-Biology

    since everything that happens in the body is triggered by something else
    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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