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Scientists Identify a Potentially Universal Mechanism of Aging

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the wonder-if-boosterspice-is-covered-by-health-care dept.

Biotech 359

cybergenesis2008 points us to a summary of research out of Harvard Medical School in which a set of genes known to affect aging in yeast was found to affect aging in mice as well. The genes, called sirtuins, perform two particular tasks; regulating which genes are "on" and "off," and also helping to repair damaged DNA. As an organism ages, the frequency of damage to DNA increases, leaving less time for the sirtuins' regulatory tasks. The increasingly unregulated genes then become a significant factor in aging. Realizing this, the researchers "administered extra copies of the sirtuin gene [to the mice], or fed them the sirtuin activator resveratrol, which in turn extended their mean lifespan by 24 to 46 percent." We discussed the plans for this research a few years ago.

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My genes are regulated as hell (4, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920217)

But don't worry guys, they're going to come out with a new class of bailout drugs for you guys, like Paulsonex, and Philgramma, and Greenspanitol.

Re:My genes are regulated as hell (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920667)

Hell, reading the article's title, I thought they had discovered that time passing as a universal cause for people to age.

Re:My genes are regulated as hell (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920697)

Oh, I forgot to mention that none of them will work.

Longer "Use by" dates on mice (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920225)

My pet snake thanks you.

Glad we're waiting... (1)

tylerni7 (944579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920299)

Well, at least people are waiting until more research comes in on the effects of this before trying to mass market this as some sort of magical age extender for humans.
Oh... wait... [google.com]

Though it will be interesting to see if this has any noticeable effects on the many people that I'm sure are taking this stuff regularly.

Immortality is scary (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920301)

I'm honestly scared of the day that they do figure out how to cure aging, because it will lead to an even greater stratification of social status and class. Most of the wealth in this country (and indeed most of the world) is concentrated with men who are over the age of 50-60 years. When they die, that wealth is then redistributed. Those people will be amongst the first to benefit from any such medical process; And if history has been any judge, that medical process will be expensive and there'll be little incentive to make it cheaper. The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, because those who still have it aren't dying anymore.

This won't be something for humanity to celebrate. If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease? And the answer will be in what kind of life is possible in that world. It won't be as good as the one you have now, I assure you.

Re:Immortality is scary (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920379)

If you can say younger for 50% longer that means there is 50% more time you can work. If they say raise retirement age from 60s to 80's and at 80 you feel like you are 60 then what can happen is there is more time you can contribute to social security thus more money in the system. Also longer time where the person is benefiting to the economy and less of taking what you deserve. You are under the impression that as people gain wealth most of them will horde it. While the truth is that they will try to spend it. So if the average joe can make more when they do retire with an exptected 20-30 years of their lives they will spend it more liberally, then if they had little.

Re:Immortality is scary (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920571)

You are under the impression that as people gain wealth most of them will horde it. While the truth is that they will try to spend it.

There are many economists, researchers, and liberal arts majors, along with about 200 million working poor, that very much disagree with you. But you can ignore the liberal arts majors.

Re:Immortality is scary (3, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920769)

There are many economists, researchers, and liberal arts majors, along with about 200 million working poor, that very much disagree with you. But you can ignore the liberal arts majors.

You can ignore all of them. There are also 100 million Americans who believe that the Earth is being visited by little green men who have nothing better to do than shove metal objects in the anal cavities of dirt-poor yokels in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Idaho. Just because an idea is popular, that doesn't mean it's true.

As for the original claim - he's absolutely right. Most people don't accumulate wealth, they spend it. That's part of the reason why the US is in such a hole right now - because people like living beyond their means.

What you and the other numbnut are referring to is the infinitesimal percentage of people who actually know how to make large amounts of money, and use it wisely. Personally, I don't give a damn if those people manage to "hoard" ten times what they can accumulate today - they generally generate so much wealth and advancement in the process of acquiring their wealth that their personal fortunes pale in comparison. You and your buddy can bitch about Bill Gates and Richard Branson all you like, but each of them does more good for the human race in one day than you will in a lifetime.

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920991)

. There are also 100 million Americans who believe that the Earth is being visited by little green men who have nothing better to do than shove metal objects in the anal cavities of dirt-poor yokels in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Idaho. Just because an idea is popular, that doesn't mean it's true.

I doubt 1/3 of all Americans even believe that there can be intelligence elsewhere in the universe, much less engaging in homoerotic xenosexual fantasies.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921109)

I doubt 1/3 of all Americans even believe that there can be intelligence elsewhere in the universe, much less engaging in homoerotic xenosexual fantasies.

Most recent surveys put the number at 30%. In Canada it's even worse - around 50%.

Granted, the reliability of many of these surveys is questionable, but no matter how you look at it, a large percentage of people believe in that crap.

Of course, an even larger percentage believe in angels - a concept which is even more ridiculous - so the 30% figure shouldn't be too surprising ...

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921265)

I know it's bad form to post 2 responses in a row, but this was just to perfect to pass up:

Out of the 3 people who respond to my original comment so far, one of them only did so in order to defend UFO's. So, 1/3 = 33.3% :)

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920999)

What you and the other numbnut are referring to is the infinitesimal percentage of people who actually know how to make large amounts of money, and use it wisely.

What little information [fairfield.edu] we have on the subject of wealth distribution states that infinitesimal percentage (5%) owns over 71% of all wealth in the country. Care to revise your statement, sir?

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

didroe84 (1324187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921195)

The question you need to ask is where all that money is. They may technically 'own' 71% of the wealth but that isn't in the form of dollar bills they can shower themselves with. Most of it is invested into other parts of the economy. Providing jobs and growth. It would be better if wealth were more evenly distributed but it's not that bad. In effect they are paying everyone elses wages at market rates, ie. supply and demand sets the price not them.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921201)

What little information [fairfield.edu] we have on the subject of wealth distribution states that infinitesimal percentage (5%) owns over 71% of all wealth in the country. Care to revise your statement, sir?

Your link doesn't even address the statement you quoted, so I don't really see how you can expect me to revise anything.

All you're doing is listing percentages. That tells me nothing about how long people at each percentage level have had their fortunes, how they acquired them, or how large their individual fortunes are. If someone wins $200 million in the lottery tomorrow and then blows it all over the next 10 years before declaring bankruptcy, he'll still be fleshing-out the top of your little graph there, but actually provide an argument to invalidate your statement rather than validating it.

In fact, if I recall my statistics correctly, a large percentage of the rich ARE actually newly-rich, while a large percentage of those who were rich last year are poor today. The overall percentages stay fairly constant, but the individuals filling those percentages change on a regular basis. Or, in other words, "Most people don't accumulate wealth, they spend it".

Re:Immortality is scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25921069)

There are many economists, researchers, and liberal arts majors, along with about 200 million working poor, that very much disagree with you. But you can ignore the liberal arts majors.

You can ignore all of them. There are also 100 million Americans who believe that the Earth is being visited by little green men who have nothing better to do than shove metal objects in the anal cavities of dirt-poor yokels in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Idaho. Just because an idea is popular, that doesn't mean it's true.

As for the original claim - he's absolutely right. Most people don't accumulate wealth, they spend it. That's part of the reason why the US is in such a hole right now - because people like living beyond their means.

What you and the other numbnut are referring to is the infinitesimal percentage of people who actually know how to make large amounts of money, and use it wisely. Personally, I don't give a damn if those people manage to "hoard" ten times what they can accumulate today - they generally generate so much wealth and advancement in the process of acquiring their wealth that their personal fortunes pale in comparison. You and your buddy can bitch about Bill Gates and Richard Branson all you like, but each of them does more good for the human race in one day than you will in a lifetime.

What's this got to with alien abductions? Nothing. If you're going to be providing some sort of reasoning, at least back it up with some arguments that make sense. There is no proof that aliens don't exist, unless you have some magical dossier in which the CIA state that aliens are just one April Fools gone wrong.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921267)

Most people don't accumulate wealth, they spend it. That's part of the reason why the US is in such a hole right now - because people like living beyond their means.

It's virtually impossible to hoard money today, and certainly no one with any significant amount of wealth does so. The only way to actually hoard wealth is to withdraw it from the economy, and that means removing currency from circulation. Do you know anyone who keeps their savings at home in cash? I don't.

When money is put in the bank in a savings account, the bank invests it - that wealth still flows through the economy. So it's not hoarded. Money sunk into fixed assets like land, houses, buildings and yachts still isn't money under your mattress: you have to pay someone to build the house or the yacht or whatever, and that pumps money back into the economy. Those assets may not be productive in the way that using them to build a factory or start a business is productive, but it isn't hoarding either.

The issue that the posters are alluding to is social justice and economic equity. Whether you hoard or not, when title to wealth accumulates with individuals while leaving other people to live hand-to-mouth, then your society has started to lose its claim to being civilized.

So even though Bill Gates doesn't hoard his billions under his mattress but has instead invested them productively in the wider economy, and even though he's not a selfish sociopath like many wealthy folks in the plutocracy are, it nonetheless sucks that he has title to billions of dollars worth of property while there are children in our country who go to bed hungry and without health insurance. The existence of such inequality is not an indictment of Bill Gates, but an indictment of our society and our values - values that are represented in our government and its wealth-redistribution policies. Other folks have different values, with different government policies, and some are even worse. But some are better, as in Scandinavian countries for example, and as a consequence they don't have hungry children living a stone's throw from billionaires like we do.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921351)

The issue that the posters are alluding to is social justice and economic equity. Whether you hoard or not, when title to wealth accumulates with individuals while leaving other people to live hand-to-mouth, then your society has started to lose its claim to being civilized.

The path to communism is paved with good intentions :)

The phrase "social justice" is only slightly less silly than the ideas it represents. Basically, what you're arguing is that it's not the total amount of wealth in a society that matters, but the difference between the rich and the poor in that society. So, in other words:

1 rich + 3 middle class + 12 poor = bad

0 rich + 0 middle class + 12 dying from starvation = good

Of course, it sounds much nicer when we use phrases like "social justice", but in essence all you're saying is that it's better to have everyone miserable than to have a "class-based society". Which is at best ridiculous and petty, and, in the worst cases, a prelude to starvation and misery.

Mod down: Greed caused the crisis, not spending (1)

mathmathrevolution (813581) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921283)

The parent has it 180 degrees backwards. We are in this crisis because people invested too aggressively, not because they spent too much.

As for the original claim - he's absolutely right. Most people don't accumulate wealth, they spend it. That's part of the reason why the US is in such a hole right now - because people like living beyond their means.

All the agents involved in this crisis, the Homebuyers, Lenders, Bankers, and Hedge Funds, all displayed a textbook propensity for extreme accumulation of wealth. As every fool who has every taken econ 101 knows, investment is the exact opposite of consumption.

Greed was certainly a large motivator, but it there were others, namely envy and fear. Otherwise rational people got invested simply because they couldn't stand that other people were out performing them and getting larger returns.

At the very bottom of the pyramid fear was a significant factor. Many of them jumped on the bandwagon because they felt they were slowly slipping behind America's cruel economic barriers. The saw the price of homes ascending beyond their reach, taking with them their shot at the American Dream.

People didn't in general buy because they are prodigal retards, they bought because they were very conscious of the acutely widening gap between the haves and the have-nots that the OP alluded to, and they desperately wanted to be and the side of the haves.

Re:Mod down: Greed caused the crisis, not spending (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921405)

You're both right. We're in this mess because people *borrowed* too aggressively. That of course requires someone else to lend (ie, invest) too aggressively, and the purpose of all the borrowing was to spend the borrowed money.

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920773)

Wow what an ignorant statement. I figured after 8 years of Reagan spouting that bullshit and the economy collapsing, and 8 more years of the same crap with Bush and again economy collapsing. that people would finally figure out that trickle down theory is so far wrong that it leads to economic collapse.

Do yourself a favor. draw a timeline of economic upswings and downswings. and layer on who was president and when. you should notice a trend. republicans crash or damage the economy. Now it isn't 100% as it takes a couple of years for the economy to move. Bush senior did pick things up well during his term in office. However rich people strangle the economy because they horde money. dollar for dollar the mid class spend more of their money than any one making over $300,000

Re:Immortality is scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25921121)

Funny how "correlation is not causation" is quickly mentioned on many topics except when Republicans, especially Bush, are the butt of the discussion.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

plnix0 (807376) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921125)

100% of economic failures were caused by government. There is no significant Republican-Democratic difference. Both favor unsound Keynesian economics -- the theoretical framework which has caused numerous economic crashes, including the current bust.

Re:Immortality is scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25921193)

However rich people strangle the economy because they horde money. dollar for dollar the mid class spend more of their money than any one making over $300,000

Most people don't hoard their money under the mattress though... Even if they don't buy a thing and put it all in a bank account, it still benefits the greater population because the banks then loan out that money to people and companies who need it.

Riddle me this, AARPMan (2, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921071)

If they say raise retirement age from 60s to 80's and at 80 you feel like you are 60

Why has the retirement age not already risen with the vast improvements in healthcare and life expectancy?

Re:Immortality is scary (3, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920395)

Before they cure aging, they have to cure arthritis. What use is living to be a thousand if for 940 of those years you are immobile.

Arthritis is an interesting case, since it strikes humans after breeding age mostly, so evolution hasn't killed it off.

Re:Immortality is scary (4, Funny)

Rayban (13436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920547)

The answer is simple: anti-arthritis death sqauds. If you end up with arthritis, we kill you and your whole family.

It's obvious- why hasn't anyone implemented it yet?

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920955)

The answer is simple: anti-arthritis death sqauds. If you end up with arthritis, we kill you and your whole family.

It's obvious- why hasn't anyone implemented it yet?

A superbly psychotic answer, I salute you sir...

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920741)

The longer we live, the more "stuff" we will get into that will prevent us from living forever. Arthritis severely degrades the quality of life, and increases risk of some other deadly conditions. Obesity, however, will be worse. Not only will it effect a much larger percentage of the population, but it increases multiple mortality factors that are not related to aging. And, it is nearly as effective as arthritis in ruining the QofL.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921365)

Arthritis severely degrades the quality of life, and increases risk of some other deadly conditions. Obesity, however, will be worse.

But sales of aspirin and diet pills will go up up up...

Re:Immortality is scary (3, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920419)

This won't be something for humanity to celebrate. If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease?

What will happen? I can answer that in one word -- "rebellion"

The rich may not age, but they will still bleed.

Re:Immortality is scary (4, Insightful)

n dot l (1099033) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920793)

What will happen? I can answer that in one word -- "rebellion"

Oh, please. We'd be too busy stabbing each other in the back, fighting for what little scraps they do leave us, to ever do them much harm. Much as it has always been.

What kills them in the end (because nothing can last forever) will not be a rebellion of the poor. It will be their own stupidity as they will, inevitably, become bored, complacent, decadent and distracted - random misfortune will do the rest. It won't be till the very end, when their power is already good as gone, that angry mobs storm the palace and take credit for the people's great victory.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920831)

The rich may not age, but they will still bleed.

Show us the way Comrade Stalin! Let us grind those bourgeoisie bastards under our boot heels!

By the way, how did you want to organize the purges? I mean, it goes without saying that the academics must be hung at once, but how will we deal with the rest of the population? I think maybe we can base them around the income tax levels ... you know, those who pay 50% on income tax get 50% of their body-parts removed, those at 40% get slightly less removed, and so on down the scale. I've forwarded a draft of my plan to the Kremlin, but I'd appreciate your input.

Long live the Revolution!

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920941)

Okay, so... your answer to improved health care is to... kill the people who receieve it? ...

You're one twisted little person, do you know that?0

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920479)

> The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, because those who still have it aren't dying anymore.

You're making the assumption that the amount of wealth in the world is fixed, and that the only way to acquire it is to get it from someone else (via death or other means). I think most people will agree that that is a false assumption.

Re:Immortality is scary (0)

DeadManCoding (961283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920509)

I would agree with you that you can acquire wealth from other means, but even wealth is a finite resource, we can only print so much money. Additionally, said wealth is usually has a basis in real world resources. A real estate magnate can't create more real estate, they can only purchase the real estate of others. In that sense, death is one of but a very few means to acquire more real estate.

Re:Immortality is scary (4, Insightful)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920573)

Wealth is not finite. There is more wealth in the world right now than there was 500 years ago. Wealth is a concept.

Re:Immortality is scary (1, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920659)

Wealth is not finite. There is more wealth in the world right now than there was 500 years ago. Wealth is a concept.

It really depends on your notion of wealth, and whether you consider the average distribution or the total value as the most relevant point. 500 years ago the world still had about the same amount of land as it does today, the difference is that today a far greater percentage of that land is owned; It has been converted from a natural resource into an asset. If you consider the natural resources that have been converted into assets over the last 500 years then unquestionably there is more wealth (as wealth = assets - liabilities). However, the world population was far, far, far less than it is today. If you take the total amount of assets (converted to a monentary value) and divide by the estimated world population, you're in for a shock: That number hasn't really changed in the last 500 years.

The real point of contention isn't the amount of wealth per se, but its distribution. This advance, if it occurs, will likely significantly impact wealth redistribution in first-world countries. Translated to english: The middle class is going to shrink even more.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920869)

That's almost as frightening as the gross conversion from capitalist (as in, I am how much money I have) to consumerist (I am how much I have/can/will buy/own). Prevalent bulk of the populaton sinking from middle class to working poor reflects this, I'd expect, already, as life expectancy even in the last hundred years has jumped from perhaps 80 to perhaps 100? Im not familiar with the exact numbers as per census, but I'd love to see them for the sake of comparisson.

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921123)

Prevalent bulk of the populaton sinking from middle class to working poor reflects this, I'd expect, already, as life expectancy even in the last hundred years has jumped from perhaps 80 to perhaps 100? Im not familiar with the exact numbers as per census, but I'd love to see them for the sake of comparisson.

I'd love to give them to you too, but unfortunately the sudden collapse of the middle class is a recent phenomenon and we're going to have to wait another 4-8 years to have reliable metrics and analysis on why this is happening or what its impact is. what I can say, however, is that the life expectancy in this country has been on an overall upward trend, but these past 5 years has stagnated and for some groups reversed due to harsh economic realities... Or so a lot of people suspect.

Re:Immortality is scary (4, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921197)

If you take the total amount of assets (converted to a monentary value) and divide by the estimated world population, you're in for a shock: That number hasn't really changed in the last 500 years.

Really? Do you have the figures to back this up? Because simply looking at the average wealth in the "West", plus the average wealth in the two most populous countries which, while not super high, is way higher than it used to be, it seems to me that the per capita wealth in the world is a lot more than it was 500 years ago. Yes, some groups are being left behind, but on the whole people are much richer than they were.

Consider, for example, that 500 years ago famine was a fairly regular occurrence. Now people only die of hunger in politically-diseased countries, and there really aren't that many of them. The vast majority of the world has enough to eat. That alone puts the modern day far ahead.

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920619)

Creating wealth has nothing to do with printing more money - it has to do with creating value that did not exist before. E.g. a painter might paint a painting, and if the value of that painting is more than that of the blank canvas and paint used, he has created wealth. On the other hand doubling the amount of money will not create any actual value, money will just be worth half as much as it was before. Land might be a finite and by now fully owned resource, but many other things are not.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

anarxia (651289) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920489)

Thanks to inflation by the time they are 400 they wont be rich any more.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920679)

Provided the interest rate remains at or below the inflation rate for the next 400 years, and they do not invest.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

ChameleonDave (1041178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920541)

You should read Altered Carbon. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920567)

The difference between the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor lies in their behavior patterns around money, much like the difference in the obese, the overweight, and the normal weight lies in their behavior patterns around food and exercise.

It is easy to understand how to become wealthy. It is hard to do - because you have to have decades of discipline.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921263)

Body type is mostly genetics. I eat a lot and barely exercise. I eat the same things every other stressed out, busy geek does (junk food, fast food, take out) and I'm barely at a healthy weight, close to being under weight. Strangely enough my parents were the same way, and their parents...

What class you are born into has more to do with where you'll end up than how hard you try in life. It's possible to move between classes, but the so called upward mobility we pride ourselves on in America is largely fictional.

Re:Immortality is scary (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921289)

It is hard to do - because you have to have decades of discipline.

Yeah, because luck, genetics, connections, and plain old crime don't factor into it at all.

Re:Immortality is scary (5, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920577)

If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease?

Or maybe people will finally start realizing that (especially with ever-increasing technology) economics isn't a zero-sum game.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920601)

The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, because those who still have it aren't dying anymore.

Oh, don't worry: if it comes to that, the rich will still be dying. Only it won't be of natural causes.

Don't worry little economic ignorant (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920643)

While your comment includes _some_ correct thoughts, what is correct is overwhelmed by your foolish notions. But you have been indoctrinated well. Your teachers should be pleased.

First, wealth isn't a finite resource. It is more like bytes and wood (we make more), than gold or oil (short of transmutation, finite).
We make wealth all the time. You add value to things by moving them from place to place, transforming them from one state to another (raw to finished, recycled, etc.), by performing services, inventing things, and so on.
It is nice (from a greedy point of view) when people die and their heirs get money the heirs didn't have to work for. But that isn't a redistribution of a finite resource. It is a "windfall profit". And as anyone with dying relatives will tell you, often dying relatives means a boatload of money out of _your_ pocket. Funerals, hospice care, etc. cost a God awful lot of money. That "wealth" is distributed from the immediate (living) family to the healthcare & death industries. Why do you think 50-60s hold the money but 60-70s don't. Because once you hit your 60s, your costs exceed your income. You spend your nest-egg you saved for 30 years.
The only real "resource" issues I see with immortality is land and leadership roles. But that is mitigated by the social aspects of immortality (see below) (e.g., 30 year mortgages turning into 60 year mortgages).

Second, why would their be "little incentive to make it cheaper"? Every medical advance has become cheaper over time. That is the whole point of generic drugs. Healthcare ain't cheap, but its like computers. A $1,000 PC in 2008 gets you a Hell of a lot better PC than $3,000 in 1998.
What kills healthcare is (a) lawsuits, a necessary evil, and (b) nationalized medicine (e.g., where Canada's Supreme Court has ruled that "a right to healthcare" means only a right to be on a waiting list. After all, this "right to healthcare" mantra is really a demand for immortality; "I should be immortal and my God, government, should give that to me").
What makes you think (to you your Marxist phraseology) the proletariat will not turnout with pitchforks & torches to see immortality pushed down the social ladder? Maybe in the EU (where an anti-democratic bureaucracy replaced an aristocracy), or China (mature fascist) would this even be conceivable (but not likely).

Third, you ignore the social effects of immortality.
A long lived population is likely to:
a) have less children or have them later (think and extreme version of Europe's demographics). It'll probably take longer to get a house, degree, etc. As life expectancy increased in the West so did our period of adolescence. You used to get married at 20, have kids, and be an adult. Now you can sit in college until your 30 (Ph.d), marry in your late-20s/30s, and never have kids. Adulthood has been pushed back substantially.

b) become very risk adverse. When you risk your life (or life savings) you aren't risking 30 years but 300 years.

c) you'll have to create a mechanism for moving people out of leadership roles or the Boss is likely to be The Boss for 100 years (like Motorola used to only promote based on seniority). This may be solved by increased career changing. Of course, with less children, there are less people trying to move up.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

tylerni7 (944579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920707)

I don't think that the economy will be affected too much because of wealth not being redistributed. After all, it's not like all the rich folk simply have their money go to charities when they die, it usually goes to their already rich families.

But as for resources... we are already (sort of) feeling the strain of our energy resources being depleted. Having the same thing apply to food, land, and other resources will be devastating unless we can figure out some workaround for all of those.

Even with that said though, I'm not sure if we can be sure that the quality of life will go down. I think our quality of life is probably higher than it was a thousand years ago, and our lifespans have been mostly increasing since then. Most of the same arguments about class issues would apply to them too, as Monarchies are even more affected by longer lives.
If the life expectancy jumped to 120 overnight, we certainly couldn't support it, but if it's a gradual change, we will probably be able to adjust, and have the quality of life improve too.

Re:Immortality is scary (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920733)

There is so much wrong in your post that it actually makes me weep that you're really serious.

Those people will be amongst the first to benefit from any such medical process; And if history has been any judge, that medical process will be expensive and there'll be little incentive to make it cheaper.

If history is any judge, medical processes get consistently cheaper and more widely available.

The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, because those who still have it aren't dying anymore.

Do you seriously believe the only way to acquire wealth is to sit and wait for someone to die and have it given to you? Sheesh.

Let me tell you the easiest way to become wealthy: SAVE. That simple. Don't be a typical consumer idiot. Save 25% of your income. By the time you retire, you will be one of those rich people you think hoard all the wealth.

If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease?

What makes you think immortality leads to population increases? Actually, I think it's far more likely that it will lead to a decreasing population. I doubt that immortal people will continue to crank out kids decade after decade. It's more likely that an older population of people who have "been there, done that" will be done making kids, and we'll actually have an human extinction crisis in 1,000 years.

What that means is that immorality leads to a decreasing population leading to more resources for fewer people.

Re:Immortality is scary (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921091)

If history is any judge, medical processes get consistently cheaper and more widely available.

I'm sorry but the facts [nchc.org] do not support this conclusion. The percentage of uninsured persons in the United States has been on the rise for some time and as of 2006 was at just over 20%. The percentage of people (workers and dependents) with employment-based health insurance has dropped from 70 percent in 1987 to 59 percent in 2006. Clearly, availability is going down. As to costs... You must not read the papers. Medicaid is about to go bankrupt due to skyrocketing health care costs.

Do you seriously believe the only way to acquire wealth is to sit and wait for someone to die and have it given to you? Sheesh.

I didn't say it was the only way. They could spend it. The majority of wealth (~70%) is owned by under 5% of the population, and given their spending habits, I just think it's far more practical to wait for them to die.

Let me tell you the easiest way to become wealthy: SAVE. That simple. Don't be a typical consumer idiot. Save 25% of your income. By the time you retire, you will be one of those rich people you think hoard all the wealth.

I thought the easiest way was being born into a rich family or winning the lottery. And as to "saving"... Honey, don't piss on my back and tell me it's raining; Most of us are living paycheck to paycheck, and we spend everything we get on basic necessities. We're not "consumer idiots" -- the technical term for people like us is fucking broke.

What makes you think immortality leads to population increases?

People live longer and they're still going to want to fuck. Heeeere's your sign.

I doubt that immortal people will continue to crank out kids decade after decade.

Funny, since most people look at having kids as their best shot at immortality.

Re:Immortality is scary (4, Interesting)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921211)

Medicare is going bankrupt because aggregate costs are increasing. But that says nothing about individual procedures. If we wanted to provide 1950-level care today, it would cost less than it cost in 1950. But we expect better, and so we pay more, even though the cost of the individual pieces has gone down.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

joshuac (53492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921183)

What that means is that immorality leads to a decreasing population leading to more resources for fewer people.

Shucks, I already miss the good old days, when good old fashioned immorality would lead to population increase.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920777)

And the answer will be in what kind of life is possible in that world. It won't be as good as the one you have now, I assure you.

Ah...Ahhh.. AAAhhhCHOOBullshit.

It also means that researchers will be able to carry on their best work for more years, that you can spend years longer on that full sized carved-hardwood classic panhead Harley, and level your Orc hunter to 400. Travel to the nearest stars will be possible, craftsmen will perfect their crafts, and that $0.05 piece you invest will allow you a dinner table at Milliways.

Life is too damn short. If you have longer you'll spend more time on the things you love and the entire world will benefit from the improvement in culture.

Of course we could have other problems at the long end of it (Michael Moorcock, Stanislaw Lem visions) but we're not there yet.

A rebuttal. (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920803)

I'm honestly scared of the day that they do figure out how to cure aging (basic diseases like mumps, rubella, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, etc etc), because it will lead to an even greater stratification of social status and class. Most of the wealth in this country (and indeed most of the world) is concentrated with men who are over the age of 50-60 years. When they die, that wealth is then redistributed. Those people will be amongst the first to benefit from any such medical process; And if history has been any judge, that medical process will be expensive and there'll be little incentive to make it cheaper (medical processes are initially expensive, but rapidly become cheaper to the point of ubiqity, and there is great incentive to make it cheaper (mass production = more purchasers = greater profit). The end result will be people who are born and work their entire lives, then die, never having had the opportunity to aquire wealth, (due to greater health and longer lives, having many more opportunities to aquire wealth) because those who still have it aren't dying anymore (and therefore live longer, spend more, and via spending more, enriching others).

This won't be something for humanity to celebrate (because you prefer people to die young and poor?). If and when the day comes, then we'll have to answer the question of what happens when numbers increase but resources decrease? (Very simple - because people don't rely on subsistence farming, they don't need huge families of which most die before age five; therefore, smaller families, lower population. lower enviromental impact, and greater percentage of resources and wealth available for the population as a whole). And the answer will be in what kind of life is possible in that world. It won't be as good as the one you have now, I assure you. (You think the discovery and invention of vaccines, bandages, surgery, hospitals, CPR, and every other medical advance of the past several thousand years has made life *worse*?) ...

Honestly, the above poster knows very little of medicine, history, or human nature.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920851)

Your assurance is based on a bunch of assertions that you pulled out of your ass. I'm still shooting for immortality.

Re:Immortality is scary (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920921)

You have it wrong. Old women accumulate wealth as they live longer than the husbands that drop dead working to make the money in the first place. It is the task of younger men to extract money from these old women either by marriage or at least owning the local bingo parlor.
            Secondly we need to put a harsh limit on reproduction despite any advances in health care for seniors.
            The story goes like this: I'll build you a car with four times the gas mileage and one fifth the pollution. But we will need eight times as many cars on the road due to population increases.
Advance to the rear anyone?

Before Death (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921053)

When they die, that wealth is then redistributed.

Actually these days most of the wealth has been drained before death, by nursing home care and the like.

This research just shows the size of the black hole known as The Great Society in the CBO projections 30 years out is a fraction of its actual size. When the Baby Boomers hit 120 the system completely unravels. It's already projected to raise tax rates beyond the point where it's more cost effective to be on welfare than to work, so I'm not sure this actually makes a difference, except perhaps it'll only be available to the most wealthy in secret while the rest of society is functionally in turmoil.

24%-46% longer human life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920305)

24%-46% longer human life would be an economic disaster.

Re:24%-46% longer human life (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920437)

After reading over your 30-page argument and its wealth of calculations, charts, and academic sources cited across multiple peer-reviewed journals stating much the same, I have to say that I completely agree with you.

Re:24%-46% longer human life (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920507)

Seen a newspaper lately? 0% longer human life is an economic disaster.

Re:24%-46% longer human life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920745)

No it wouldn't.

uh (1, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920311)

i have identified a potentially universal mechanism of aging: time

what scientists have discovered is the opposite: a dna repair mechanism which is overwhelmed over time, and perhaps a way to bolster the repair mechanism so it is overwhelmed a little later

Re:uh (5, Insightful)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920543)

Time is not a mechanism for aging. Our bodies do not undergo "time" and age as a result. Assuming these researchers are correct, our bodies undergo some process like the one discussed here, which causes our bodies to break down in one way or the other. Time does not do the breaking down. The breaking down happens in time.

Put another way, it's not the passage of time itself that causes us to age, it's something that occurs during that passage of time, such as the process we're talking about here.

it's called entropy (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921275)

if you magically removed all preprogrammed senescence, our brains, arteries, kidneys... it would al still fall apart over time

we will extend lives, certainly, but there is an upper limit of the processes you are talking about, across which normal entropy rots us out

thereis no magical biological process which protects us forever from entropy. because that process itself is subject to entropy

we will extend human life to 200, 300, 500 years. but in the end, it all falls apart, and you die

Re:it's called entropy (3, Insightful)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921349)

I'm not arguing that life is infinitely extendable, I'm just saying time is not a mechanism by which aging occurs. To say so misrepresents time: it is not a biological process. Whatever process occurs in time would be the mechanism by which aging occurs; in your terms, the way entropy manifests itself within our bodies.

Re:uh (1)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921215)

For this crowd, it might be better to explain it in terms of Amdahl's Law. A 24% increase in life expectancy is insignificant if your diet consists of Mountain Dew, Taco Bell and Cheetos.

I know a better one (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920321)

Fun. No really, the older I get, the more fun life gets. My thirties rocked hard, and life in my forties is thus far great.

Re:I know a better one (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920351)

I would rather have fun and NOT age.
For one, I will have more fun.

Re:I know a better one (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920461)

You can only be young once,

but you can be immature forever.

Re:I know a better one (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920511)

You can only be young once,

but you can be immature forever.

Amen to that. I'm a parent, and I take parenthood very seriously, but that doesn't mean I need to be 'normal' and act like I'm not allowed to have fun anymore..

Fortunately, my kid can cope with me. Well, most of the time he can...

Re:I know a better one (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921017)

True, but I want that young once to go on for za really long time.

Experiencing the effects of age doesn't make you mature, time does. Just becasue I am 235 years old and look like I am 27 doesn't mean I'm immature.

Re:I know a better one (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920641)

That reminds me of a line from cheers.

(something like)
"They say that a man's sexual is 18."

"You know who said that? An 18 year old."

Re:I know a better one (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920763)

Oops. That should have read

(something like)
"They say that a man's sexual peak is 18."

"You know who said that? An 18 year old."

Oops again.

deckard (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920339)

Funny that the wikipedia entry for Resveratrol states exactly the opposite, i.e. no extension of lifespan of mice in recent experiments. Maybe it needs updating?

Can hear the ID people already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920469)

"This is proof that all life on earth is part of a drag and drop object oriented genome project and therefore must be ID."

Have fun with the fallacies. :P

This will have far raning impacts if it pans out (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920499)

If it pans out, they could always start administering it in a closed water system like bottled water. Floride for the 21st century...

Reservatol is red wine (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920519)

Reservatol is a chemical extracted from grape skins when exposed to fungus (yeast), and present in red wine.

Re:Reservatol is red wine (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921027)

In extremely small amounts.

Hmmm (3, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920605)

There are two problems I see with the usual theory that aging is related to "accumulation of damage", as the article seems to imply:

1) Humans live, barring accidents and disease, about 80-90 years, 120 at the outside. My dog lives 15-16 years, 22 on the outside. My dog gets all the normal signs of aging -- arthritis, gray hair, join and muscle pain, etc. But at an age that humans are not even entering their physical prime.

2) From a certain point of view, there is only one organism on earth, and it's billions of years old. Pieces of the organism fall off now and then, but it constantly renews itself. Slightly different each, but going through a consistent cycle of "physical prime". How can it renew itself when, presumably, all cells are "accumulating damage"?

Re:Hmmm (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920791)

Not all cells accumulate damage at the same rate.
Hence the role of sex. Reproduction occurs fast
enough that the damage rate can not overwhelm the
survival of a species.

Re:Hmmm (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920819)

How can it renew itself when, presumably, all cells are "accumulating damage"?

Because the cells in the reproductive parts of an organism are the first to be formed during cell division and are kept in 'suspended animation' until actually needed. Thus, "accumulated damage" isn't so bad for those cells as it is for other cells. Then there is the use of two genetic parents to reduce the risk of genetic defects affecting the offspring.

Re:Hmmm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920897)

1) I would think that's because your dog's aging repair just turns off a lot earlier than yours does. We are all, from the time we're very young, accumulating "damage," it's just that it gets repaired more efficiently and for a longer time for some living things than for others.

2) From a certain point of view (through green colored glasses), the sky is green. That doesn't mean it actually is. I'm not sure you can say there's only one organism on earth except in the most metaphorical sense, and I'm too hard of a thinker to take metaphors like that very seriously.

Cool (1)

NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920671)

So a few decades from now I'll be immortal, controlling my computer with my mind, and having sex in the holodeck? Future, here I come!

Rodents rejoice! (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920731)

There has truly never been a better time to be a mouse!

I, for one, welcome our immortal rodent overlords!

Seriously, (1, Offtopic)

boto (145530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920743)

I wish I could mod down individual paragraphs of articles.

Like our current financial crisis, the aging process might also be a product excessive deregulation.

-1, Off-topic

Oh Great Spaghetti Monster (2, Funny)

artson (728234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920775)

It's the awful truth isn't it? The Baby Boomers really aren't ever going to go away are they?

Re:Oh Great Spaghetti Monster (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920935)

Holy shit, that's funny! In an OMFG kind of way.

Seriously, they have overlooked the obvious. Air is what ages us. If you want to stop getting older, stop BREATHING!

This is especially useful information for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

On a side note, breast augmentation is unnecessary. Look at women. All they need to do is rub toilet paper on their breasts... it works for their behinds. ba dum dum

I'm here all week

Re:Oh Great Spaghetti Monster (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921031)

No, we aren't...now get to work. :)

Live longer, know more--who'd vote for a Bush? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25920801)

To increase lifespan would result in wiser people. They wouldn't have to dunder into wars that they knew to be stupid, Bush-style. Provided a drug, like NMDA (the acuity drug, not a narcotic) were used also, we'd have a smarter, greatly more literate, insightful crowd. The mellowing and depth, the even-ness of mind that comes with age would be excellent. And we would treasure the children more. Older people melt when they see the innocence of little ones.

Hell, it's already a movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25921021)

Considering the fact that at the time of this posting a Brad Pitt film is coming out on the premise of reverse aging (implying an entirely new paradigm for the consideration of time), and indeed, that this is not exactly a new subject - consider Vanilla Sky, Forever Young; let alone the Space Oddyssey, which really as an expose kind of says it all - artifacts? What artifacts? Utah? What?

As for population - I get a little irked every time this comes up in debate; I am fully confident that the carrying capacity of Earth alone is well over at least several times the current population, provable by the hoarding of water into a rather large volume of pipes littered about the major population centers, let alone such an architectural-planning atrocity as Vegas or LA - it's simple, just let the water out, irrigate, develop an organic-watershed model for watercycling (oh wait, it's called a wetland), and who knows, maybe even develop a distributed-egality algorithm to upload to the soon-to-be-vacant servers of Wall St.

(and no it's not a fallacy to cite film as a source of scientific elucidation, considering the, er, studio system)

"Universal" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25921057)

Those aliens sure are going to be happy that we've discovered how to stop them from getting old as well.

Living forever is for losers (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921085)

Nirvana is where it's at!

Re:Living forever is for losers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25921357)

Okay, I grant you that Oasis ("Live Forever") aren't as good as Nirvana, but the Beatles beat them both.

I'm not sure how this discussion relates to the article.

About time someone got a look... (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25921391)

inside Dick Clark's medicine cabinet!
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