Monday, August 20, 2012

9 Ways Science Is Trying to Stop Death

Science loves you, and here’s the proof. It’s trying to keep you alive forever. Scientific and medicinal breakthroughs direct our healthcare choices and can influence our life span. Not to mention that science brings us products that can keep us looking forever young. From sci-fi to the singularity, here are nine ways that science is trying to stop death.
  1. By downloading your brain to a computer:

    When technological advancement outpaces our ability to process it, that’s the singularity … and just about the time when we’ll be able to download our consciousness into computers. If it sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel, it’s not — there are people working on this project as we speak. It starts with whole brain emulation, and it ends with a complete digital record of human consciousness. The future is now.
  2. By making you a cyborg:

    Although heart transplant surgery has only been around since 1967, Science is already trying to one-up itself. Organs can be created in labs, and artifical organs (read: pacemakers) can theoretically keep your heart ticking forever. These may be baby steps, but they’re baby cyborg steps.
  3. By creating viruses that eat cancer:

    In late 2011, there was lots of talk and some clinical trials regarding a virus that eats cancer cells. Not only is it cool that scientists are trying to keep us alive, it’s amazing that they’re doing it by eating up cancer. Way to go, Science!
  4. One word: telomerase:

    It’s an enzyme that, in large quantities, could theoretically keep your cells alive forever. Scientists have done studies on the protein using mice, and believe it could elongate life by fortifying the caps of chromosomes.
  5. With cryonics:

    While cryopreservation only goes one way right now, scientists are continually working to be able to thaw us out. When that happens, we’ll be (theoretically) able to cryogenically freeze ourselves into immortality. Also interesting is neuropreservation, which is the saving of only the brain.
  6. By regeneration:

    This one has even been a TED talk. Alan Russell, a surgery professor, believes that we need to reconceptualize how we think of sickness and the body, and as such he’s the director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. And the lab is doing amazing things, including tissue engineering, and generally doing its best to keep us all alive.
  7. By making it impossible to age:

    We only have science to thank for cosmetic surgery and the Botox fad. Anti-aging procedures such as face lifts have been practiced for years, but it’s scientists who made the breakthroughs that have given us the appearance of eternal youth. Chemical peels, Botox injections, liposuction, and butt lifts all come from one place: a laboratory.
  8. By continuing the conversation:

    Jason Silva is a gonzo journalist that made a film called The Immortalists, where he explores how truly close we are to “curing” the “problem” of death. One way that science is keeping us alive is by keeping our mortality on the forefront, and encouraging subfields to explore methods to prevent death.
  9. By genetically engineering our kids:

    Your genes can live on, and they can be even better than before. Genetic enhancement a la Gattaca is on the horizon, and it’s a hot button issue. Everyone has an opinion on genetic engineering, but what everyone agrees on is this: Science is rapidly creating new tools in the fight against mortality.

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