Long For This World
Long for This World: the Strange Science of Immortality by Jonathan Weiner came out in 2010. Weiner begins with the Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is promised immortality if he can keep his eyes open for one whole week. He fails. He is given another chance at immortality if he can find the sacred weed. A snake steals the weed and he fails once again. The closest to immortality we can find on this earth is the Hydra. If it is damaged then it can repair itself. If a part of it is cut off then it can re-grow that part.
“I have immortal longings in me.” ~Cleopatra
So what keeps alive and what causes us to age and eventually die? It is all about metabolism, anabolism and catabolism. Cells are built and then our body tears them down and devours them. Oxidants cause our cells to rust and degrade via free radicals. Then our cells have harmful debris and trash around them. The slow build up of extra junk in our cells causes us to slowly age. If we could keep our cells cleaning up then we wouldn’t age.
“To be a philosopher is to learn how to die.” ~Montiange
There are seven deadly things that cause us to die from the inside out. 1) Many molecules get entangled and stiff. This binding causes us to lose elasticity. 2) The mitochondrial fail with age 3) Junk collects inside our cells 4) More junk collects in between our cells 5) Cells get old and quit doing their jobs 6) Cells die and poison collects around them 6) Mutations of cells occur and we get cancer tumors.
“The Gods themselves die out, but poetry is even stronger than bronze. It survives everything.” ~Theophile Gauiter
What can we do to combat these things? We have SENS: Strategies for the Engineering of Negligible Senescence. Then there is TOR: Target of Rapamycin and WILT: Whole Body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres.
“Write as if you are dying.” Anne Dillard
It is a fascinating topic that I hope to hear more about in the future. Although I did learn a lot from this book, I found it a bit too vague and disorganized. Hopefully his next book will have more information as well as a better focus. Despite its flaws, I still recommend Long For This World.