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Can We Live Forever?

from Through the Wormhole; The sands of time run swiftly, a reminder that life is fleeting ; death is a humbling reality. But what if life had no end? In just the past 200 years, the average life-span has doubled from about 40 to almost 80 years. Breakthroughs in biology and physics could soon bring immortality within our grasp. For better or worse, many of you watching me right now may live to see the day when aging and death itself are relics of a distant past. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at City College of New York, is fascinated with the big questions in science, like whether the laws of physics require that all living things die. With energy and concentration, Michio can step in and stop the chaos. But reversing entropy in a tray of vibrating candy is far less complicated than reversing entropy in our bodies. Where would we even begin? Valter Longo is searching for the answer. He is a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California. He knows that many things live fast and die young, and he believes the road to reversing entropy in the body starts where things get the hottest in the engine. Valter has found a way to reverse this deterioration process and rejuvenate mitochondria in one tiny organism. He has extended the life of baker's yeast the kind you use to make bread and beer to 10 weeks. That's 10 times the yeast's normal life-span of 6 days. It may not sound like a long time, but it's equivalent to 800 human years. There's no law of physics that prevents us from finding the secret of longevity, the secret, perhaps, even of immortality. Now, the question is, how do you reprogram a human that lives 100 years to be now a 2,000- or 3,000-year-old person? Valter's mission to keep our engines running forever has just begun, and he's in it for the long haul. If we want to become immortal, we can't just extend life. We need to discover how to keep our bodies eternally youthful. Aubrey De Grey thinks of himself as a modern-day Methuselah. He has dedicated his career to fighting aging. Aubrey believes that many people who are born today could live to be 1,000 years old and remain physically young for most of that time. The key is a matter of good biological housekeeping taking the trash out of ourselves. If the garbage can't be broken down, it stays there forever. Aubrey believes that the accumulation of garbage in the lysosomal storage unit is what causes aging. The secret to longevity might be 6 feet under. Aubrey and his team are still digging for the right microbe that will work in mammalian cells. And when they find it, he believes we will all live like 25-year-olds forever. I think that we have maybe a 50/50 chance in the next 25 years or so of developing what I think of as the first generation of bona fide rejuvenation biotechnology. Aubrey is looking for the magic bullet that will fight aging, but synthetic biologist Chris Voigt is looking to build an entire army out of various parts from all over nature. Chris searches for microorganisms throughout biology to find the right parts. And they end up at his lab at the University of California, San Francisco, where biology meets mechanics. Inside Chris' bacterial darkroom, colonies of bacteria that are now implanted with algae light sensors are able to take photographs of slide-projected images. It might look like bacterial art, but this is the first big step toward creating programmable biological robots that will keep our bodies healthy forever. There are bacteria all throughout our bodies, and we can reprogram those bacteria in order to be able to implement therapeutic effects for just about any disease that you can imagine. The possibilities are limitless. Chris Voigt's and Aubrey De Grey's research to keep our bodies healthy for eternity is still in the beginning stages. But what does this mean for us mere mortals who will never live to see the day when immortality is within reach? There is one chilling possibility that will give us all a chance to hang on, even after we die. We're all genetically programmed to lust for life and to flee from death. Eventually, we will discover the secret of immortality, but we're not there yet. To cheat death right now, we need to put aging on ice and be ready to grasp eternal life long after life abandons us. Greg Fahy is a cryobiologist. The goal of his team at Biotech Outfit 21st Century Medicine is to freeze human organs and tissues so that they can be revived, undamaged, centuries from now. Cryopreservation is the preservation of living systems at very low temperatures. One day, centuries after we say goodbye to our loved ones, our frozen bodies could be reanimated, and we'll walk the Earth again. But there could be a better route to immortality, one that would change the very nature of what it means to be human. Imagine if no one ever died. Where would we all live? Our planet is already crowded enough. But maybe there is a way to live forever without all this excess baggage. Poets say the essence of us is here, but I know what really makes me me is all up here. So if I want to endure for eternity, perhaps that's all I need to hang on to. What if we could find a way to upload our brains, to digitize the very essence of ourselves? Our minds could go on living long after our flesh has died. But to make that happen, we need to understand the brain's architecture and figure out what truly makes us who we are. Olaf Sporns is a neuroscientist at Indiana University. He is attempting to unscramble the brain's tangled web. His goal is to chart every single neuron and synapse and create a complete map of the brain, called the connectome. The brain might be far too complex to immortalize, but maybe there's a simpler path to eternal life not for you but for immortal beings that we create from scratch. Life on this planet has had 4 billion years to evolve. We are the latest in a long line of species. We hope we can last. But our quest for immortality could end in disaster because the first eternal beings may not be human. And they might just make us extinct. Complex life began from a few simple laws. The same might be true for artificial life. If humans discover those laws, there is a chance we could create living things that live forever. Oxford physicist Vlatko Vedral is trying to understand how intelligence might emerge from a system that operates on just a few basic ground rules. In 1970, a mathematician named John Conway ran with this idea and attempted to create artificial life-forms spontaneously using a computer program. He called it "The Game of Life." The game simulates the growth of artificial life, using a two-dimensional grid and simple cells that are either dead or alive. Whether the cells live or die is governed by a few basic rules. We're safe from becoming slaves to quantum intelligence for the time being. But this physicist envisions a different fate for mankind, one where the lines between artificial and biological life will blur and immortality will become reality, not just for the living but also for the dead. We're taught to think of science and religion as separate truths. Albert Einstein didn't believe that. He said, "Science without religion is lame.


 
Every cell in our bodies have tiny engines called mitochondria
Every cell in our bodies have tiny engines called mitochondria


The yeast's longevity occurred when two genes, RAS2 and SCH9, were removed from DNA
The yeast's longevity occurred when two genes, RAS2 and SCH9, were removed from DNA


Quantum computer is basically the future technology of computation
Quantum computer, the future technology of computation


At the omega point
At the omega point
  Religion without science is blind." The secret to achieving immortality could require the fusion of humanity and God into an everlasting cosmic computer. Few people think further into the future than Frank Tipler, a mathematical physicist at Tulane University in New Orleans. Frank predicts that, at some point in our evolution, something truly remarkable will happen. Humanity, the Universe, and God will unite a moment he calls the omega point. The omega point is the very end of the Universe. In the process, mankind, or, more precisely, our descendants, will expand out from this planet and ultimately engulf the entire Universe. As a consequence, every man, woman, and child will be brought back into existence. It will be just like you are brought back with your body into a reconstructed Earth just like we now live on. It will be different in one crucial respect. We will be resurrected, but we will never have to go through death again. Frank claims the laws of physics not only permit this type of immortality they actually require it to happen. Second Law of Thermodynamics says the complexity of the Universe at the most fundamental level is increasing without limit. I conclude that the validity of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, throughout all of time, actually requires life to come into existence to gain control of the Universe. Whether immortality comes in billions of years or whether it comes this century, the conquest of death will transform our civilization the way we live, the way we work, the way we love. Maybe the question is not "Can we live forever?" But "Should we?"     Alexander Rose is the executive director of the Long Now Foundation, an organization whose main focus is the building of an unusual timepiece. It's called the Clock of the Long Now, and it's designed to tick for 10,000 years. If you think about all the human values, quite a lot of them come from the fact that we know that life is finite. If you think, "How do I feel towards that person?" The fact that you know that the person is not gonna be there one day probably makes your emotions far stronger in some sense than other ways they would be. So this could all change, and maybe some of these things would even disappear from the human race if we simply knew we could live forever. What happens to marriage and relationships if our life-spans grow to 1,000 years or more? Right now, half of us get divorced just in our short lifetimes. But if we lived for 1,000 years, who knows how many times you might get married? I don't think that I would be able to live forever. I think my wife would kill me first. Whether we like it or not, more and more scientists believe we will one day live in a world without age, disease, and death that we'll revel in the joys and wonders of endless life and that we'll just have to learn to cope with the consequences of living forever. Mythology says that the gods envy our mortality. Our mortality is what makes life precious and something to be savored. Driven by the pressure of time to achieve greatness, it may be our mortality that gives us our humanity. But as long as we are mortal, we'll never stop dreaming of life everlasting. That, too, is what makes us human.
List with pictures of the scientists, in order of their appearance in Through the Wormhole Can We Live Forever? documentary, who share us their knowledges:
Michio Kaku
Michio Kaku (theoretical physicist, City College of New York)
  Valter Longo
Valter Longo (professor of gerontology, University of Southern California)
  Aubrey De Grey
Aubrey De Grey (Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation)
  Chris Voigt
Chris Voigt (synthetic biologist, University of California, San Francisco)
  Greg Fahy
Greg Fahy (cryobiologist, Biotech Outfit 21st Century Medicine)
  Olaf Sporns
Olaf Sporns (neuroscientist, Indiana University)
  Vlatko Vedral
Vlatko Vedral (physicist, Oxford)
  Frank Tipler
Frank Tipler (mathematical physicist, Tulane University)