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May 6th, 2003

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06:48 am - weird science
i saw an interesting show on discovery the other night. it was about making people more like superheroes, or something like that. one cool part was this guy who was working with fruit flies. he had a whole 'colony' of flies that were living like 3 times their normal lifespan. he did this by preventing any of the flies from reproducing until around middle age. that way only the flies genetically disposed to longer life would reproduce. and he did this with each generation, making htem wait a little longer to reproduce. eventually, all his flies were genetically made to live a whole long time by fly standards (it was actually like 2 weeks or something). anyway, what made it really cool is the point that people are already doing this to themselves. instead of having kids at 15 or 20, in planning to be dead by 30, now we routinely live into our 70s and beyond, and people put off having kids until they are older for various reasons. so we're slowly increasing our avg lifespan. it's just less noticable because a human generation is way longer than a fly generation
other cool things were this other guy trying to make it so people can regrow limbs and grow extra arms and shit (apparently if your finger gets cut off above the top knuckle so you only lose part of the tip, it will grow back, but if you lose it below the knuckle you're screwed. he's trying to figure out why the difference), and someone trying to make people able to stop aging. apparently when people get really old, like 90s, they stop aging in the sense that the deterioration of their bodies only comes from wear and tear, things arent breaking down anymore. so they want to be able to stop aging earlier
state: aging
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(7 shots upside the head | en garde!)


[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2003 04:43 am (UTC)
thats interesting stuff.

the discovery channel rocks.
[User Picture]
Date:May 7th, 2003 02:02 pm (UTC)
why yes it does
[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2003 02:24 pm (UTC)
did you know that unicellular organisms that reproduce by simple cell division are potentially immortal? one of my books has a interesting quote that goes something like, "Death becomes a part of life for any multicellular organism that has a division of labor between somatic cells (body) and germ cells (reproductive)."

kinda weird, we die because we have children and are no longer needed. we can thank early multicellular life for this, as they were the first to include death as a genetically regulated part of life. i think its one of those "we die so that others may live" things. weird that death is at times a programmed thing. i don't know if i beleive the fruit fly guy though. It would make sense to me if he was selecting them for longer lifspan..but as a whole i cant see it. you can increase the lifespan of some plants by removing their reporductive parts because they trigger death, but i can't see it being that big of a delay. i doh't think people "planned" for death at 30...life was just like that. people still have kids at like 13 and they can live much longer too.

who knows though....perhaps if over a few thousand or million years if we keep delaying reproduction nature might compensate and we will live longer. i don't want a kid because then i will be a mom and i will have no more purpose in life. i have this fear that my body will *know* that i did what i had to do and start falling apart. so i am tricking it and making it wait so it will keep me from becoming an old mom forever.
[User Picture]
Date:May 14th, 2003 03:13 am (UTC)
no i didn't know that. that's strange- why would it benefit a multicellular species more than unicellular to have the old folks die off?

i think the idea with the flies (and with people) isn't that delaying reproduction makes anyone live longer, but that if you wait til middle age to have kids, then you know your genes don't have you programmed to break down before middle age. yeah a lot of people still have kids really young, but presumably with each generation some percent of people who are genetically disposed to die (or at least not be able to reproduce) early will not reproduce before their deadline and therefore less of this gene will be passed to the next generation. so over a whole long time, people able to live/reproduce longer will be more plentiful.

i think once you are a mom your 'purpose' is to be a mom- the kid still needs to be raised, after all. so hopefully you won't instantly explode or anything once you give birth. and maybe if you tell your body that you might have *more* kids later it will let you stick around for that
[User Picture]
Date:May 14th, 2003 08:40 pm (UTC)
"no i didn't know that. that's strange- why would it benefit a multicellular species more than unicellular to have the old folks die off?"

because unicellular species don't reproduce sexually. they have asexual reproduction and just undergo fission where they just split into two. so theoretically, they never have died. they only way to die is if you get damaged or something else eats you.

i think originally, the old folks die off in multicellular life because then they release nutrients that the young recycle.
because the young can survive in conditions that would be inhospitable to the adults (often they can go dormant until the next season). so it would have evolved under conditions that were fluctuating..and has been that way ever since. who knows...maybe we will beat mortality some day. maybe we will figure out what triggers things to break down.
[User Picture]
Date:May 6th, 2003 09:16 pm (UTC)
hmmmmmmm..... is this strictly a female based trait? child birth seems like it could be life shortening, but is the guy really adversely affected by the prouction and release of gametes. i've read that sex is the greatest stress relief for men. how can that be life shortening?

i think that the scientist's experiments are just proof of survival of the fittest. the same goes for bacteria. if you wash your hands and kill 99.9% of the bacteria, you've left .1% of the strongest bacteria which will reproduce and within 24 hours be fully restored to their former numbers. this is why they recommend not washing your hands all the time, so you can build an immunity.

i dunno if those two paragraphs are in any way related. i've been drinking for a few hours and i had a great idea for a response, but i dunno if it's working out. so i'm gonna go drink more. and then have some sex to relieve some stress so i can prolong my life cuz that's what i'm going with and i'm a big fan of mind over matter.
[User Picture]
Date:May 14th, 2003 03:15 am (UTC)
no, it's not that sex/reproduction is killing people off. you're exactly right, it's all about survival of the fittest. if you delay reproduction until middle age, then anyone who is genetically disposed to dying or becoming infertile before middle age will not pass those junky genes on to the next generation. so with that in mind, have lots of stress-relieving sex with my blessings. hopefully i can join you sometime. err.. metaphorically join you. yes.

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