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Genetic Manipulation Leads To Extended Lifespan

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Recently, scientists at the University of Southern California manipulated two genes on some yeast and ended up with yeast which lived ten times longer than it normally would. This achievement immediately led to speculation about whether or not this same technique could be applied to higher organisms such as human beings. It seems to be at least theoretically possible to create a situation in which humans could live to be 800 or more years old.

Of course that would be cool. Most religions after all promise long life as the carrot to be striven toward against the stick of daily life in subjugation to human frailty, cruelty and general misery. What if we can soon bypass the whole piety thing and get to the reward of virtually eternal life on our own? Would we be accused of "playing god" as many beneficial scientific advances have been in the past? Well, what is wrong with playing god if you win?

The downside would be that having everyone living forever would soon lead to overpopulation and so it just wouldn't be feasible. So then who would get the gift of eternal life? Would we select specific people who are more "worthy" than others based on their performance in the few short years of a normal human lifespan? But perhaps more people could achieve things of worth if they only had more time. I know I always think that I might… Then again, perhaps an extended lifespan would lead to exporting our race to other planets. That would be pretty cool. Is this starting to sound like religion? Interesting.

As I thought about this whole scenario it occurred to me that, if scientists could cause a deliberate genetic mutation, why couldn't the same mutation happen by chance? After all there are both beneficial and harmful genetic mutations that take place in nature, even among humans. History is full of various legends of people or races who have either by accident or intention lived for a very long time if not forever. Vampires are just one example. I wonder if any of those legends were based on one or more persons who had this mutation…

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About Mike Johnston

  • lb

    yes we can genetically modify a unicellular organism to live longer. but that’s a far cry from creating the same effect on higher eukaryotes, let alone humans. think of how cells must interact, form tissues, how tissues function in independent/dependent ways, etc. this subject isn’t relevant enough to be seriously discussed in a non-sci-fi sense yet.

  • Some guy

    The mutation could happen by chance. That doesn’t make it a necessarily competitive mutation. People beside that example would be just as likely to reproduce as he/she would.

    Just because a mutation results in something perceivably beneficial, doesn’t mean that there’s any selective pressure to push it along.

  • bt

    Genetic manipulation is coming, whether we like it or not.

    Be prepared for a new world where the rich live longer than the poor, have taller, smarter, and better looking children……short people and the disabled are viewed as undesirable…….and we will all look much more inadequate in the bedroom.

  • a stranger

    [gratuitous vulgarity deleted by comments editor] “The rich live longer”?
    Look, genetic manipulation can not extend past the materials we already have, meaning that the same proteins and amino acids that we have in body builder materials are the same things we have to develop a child. That means an overdose or even the slightest miscalculation of synthetics would render the child open to any of the same diseases. And even if a child was dosed with specific synthetics that would support specific developement of genes can fuck those genes up like any other person in the world can, because after all, they are still human beings.
    [gratuitous vulgarity deleted by comments editor]