Tag Archives: immortality

The Fight to End Aging Gains Legitimacy, Funding

Gandhi once said, describing his critics, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

After declaring, essentially out of nowhere, that he had a program to end the disease of aging, renegade biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey knows how the first three steps of Gandhi’s progression feel. Now he’s focused on the fourth.

“I’ve been at Gandhi stage three for maybe a couple of years,” de Grey said. “If you’re trying to make waves, certainly in science, there’s a lot of people who are going to have insufficient vision to bother to understand what you’re trying to say.”

This weekend, his organization, The Methuselah Foundation, is sponsoring its first U.S. conference on the emerging interdisciplinary field that de Grey has helped kick start. (Its first day, Friday, will be free and open to the public.) The conference, Aging: The Disease – The Cure – The Implications, held at UCLA, is an indication of how far de Grey has come in mainstreaming his ideas.

Less than a decade ago, de Grey was a relatively unknown computer scientist doing his own research into aging. As recently as three years ago a cadre of scientists wrote in the Nature-sponsored journal EMBO Reports, that his research program, known as Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, was “so far from plausible that it commands no respect at all within the informed scientific community.” Also in 2005, MIT-sponsored magazine Technology Review went so far as to offer a $20,000 prize to anyone who could prove that de Grey’s program was “so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate.” (No one won.)

Now, though, some scientists are beginning to view his approach — looking at aging as a disease and bringing in more disciplines into gerontology — as worthwhile, even if they still look askance at his claims of permanent reversible aging within a lifespan. The Methuselah Foundation now has an annual research funding budget of several million dollars, de Grey says, and it’s beginning to show lab results that he thinks will turn scientists’ heads.


This man will be the one to bring about biological immortality. He will be revered for it for centuries to come, too.

That is my current prediction.

That’s what it was over two years ago, when I posted The Quest For Immortality and that is what my prediction will probably remain for the coming years.

Regrowing Fingers – Tissue Regeneration Technology Already Exists

A Doctor, a Pig, and a Magical Pixie Dust That Could Regrow Fingers

Spievack had never seen a plane act this way. He got down on his knees for a closer look, and just as he said, “You’ve got to get rid of this thing,” he pointed at the engine, inserting his middle finger directly into the propeller’s path. “And that’s how I cut my finger off,” he says.

Over the years, Dr. Stephen Badylak has had problems explaining what he does for a living. He used to say, “I do biomedical engineering.” But then he’d have to explain biomedical engineering. After a while, as a default response, Badylak would simply say, “Well, I’m in medical research.” He hoped that would be enough, but it often prompted, “What are you researching?” Badylak says, “I got tired of struggling with it. So now I just tell them I make body parts.” Badylak has regrown sizable portions of esophagi, tendons, ligaments, bladders, urethras, abdominal walls, blood vessels, and hearts within animals and humans.

But that life would be a lot better for a lot of people if their bodies could be manipulated into fixing and replacing lost or damaged body parts — similar to what happens to fetuses the first few months in the womb. If a fetus loses an arm or a leg, it grows back. “Humans can grow an entire human being in nine months. That’s pretty remarkable,” says Badylak. “If you think about it that way, you can say we just want an arm, you know, or we want a leg. Just give us enough information that we can do that.”

A few days after Lee Spievack canceled his appointment with the hand surgeon, he received a package from his older brother containing a vial of powder that looked like Kraft Parmesan cheese. His brother instructed him to sprinkle it on his finger every other day until the powder was gone.

Lee Spievack is not a man who asks a lot of questions. So in the case of the vial, Spievack didn’t much care what it contained (ground-up pig bladder) or where it came from (a little farm in Albion, Indiana).

Spievack followed his brother’s directions: Every other day for the next eight days, he sat down at his living-room coffee table and sprinkled the powder on his finger. Whatever powder fell onto the table he scooped up with a piece of paper, then dropped back into the vial. He covered his finger with a Band-Aid. A few days went by, and Spievack could see something was happening. There was skin growing, and tissue on the inside, too. He insists that what happened after four weeks did not surprise him in the least, though it should have. Because his fingertip grew back.

The fingerprint took a couple more months. The tip is a little hard on the end, but he can feel things just fine. Spievack says he was particularly happy this past winter; while all of his fingers chapped in the cold weather, the new fingertip didn’t. The only side effect during treatment was that his finger began to smell like a pig’s quarters at the state fair. “It was a pretty offensive odor,” Spievack says. He doesn’t much think about his finger anymore, except when he clips his nails. He usually cuts them once a week, but the new nail has to be clipped every two days. “That fingernail grows like a son of a bitch,” he says.

This is just bizarre.

And to think that Badylak had problems convincing other people of his findings.

Only Spievack took him seriously end they teamed up.

If only people were a little more open-minded to possibilities… technologies like these would already be widely used.

And we wouldn’t be having such a hard time convincing people of the very real possibility of immortality within our lifetimes.

Do You Want To Live Forever?

Below a documentary of Aubrey de Grey, the man who’s going to make humans immortal.

Not everybody can mentally ‘take’ the idea of living forever.

That’s why Aubrey has opponents.

(mainly old people who won’t live long enough to see it)

They attack him with meaningful and well thought-out arguments that really address the actual content of Aubrey’s ideas, such as:

  • Aubrey is an angry individual
  • Aubrey has only 3 laboratories doing his research
  • Aubrey is very naïve and can’t possibly contribute to biology because he’s originally a computer scientist
  • Aubrey doesn’t have any children so he wants to attain immortality himself through science

You think I’m making this shit up?

Enjoy the video.

Our Technological Future – Mixed Bag #14

First off, a few links that talk about the latest demonstration of a quantum computer:

First “Commercial” Quantum Computer Solves Sudoku Puzzles

Prototype Commercial Quantum Computer Demo’ed

Start-up demos quantum computer

The Father of Quantum Computing

Next up, biotech, robots and cybernetics:

Human Stem Cell Transplants Repair Rat Spinal Cords

Robotic retina offers second chance for sight

Human-animal chimeras: from mythology to biotechnology

Human brain can make new cells: study

Growing a Brain in Switzerland

Pharm Animals Crank Out Drugs

Scientists expose HIV weak spot

Meet RoboNurse

Loans launch state’s stem cell ambitions

Millions to benefit as first bionic eye comes to market

Some other stuff that’s also cool:

Nanotech Battery Claims to Solve Electric Car Woes

‘Flying’ wind generators

Computer Model Mimicks How Brain Recognizes Street Scenes

Bright future for OLEDs, report predicts

Closeup of microscopic machinery

And last but not least:

Human Immortality: A Scientific Reality?

If you’re alive in 20 years, you may be able to live forever.

Our Technological Future – Mixed Bag #10

Where can you read about next generation videogames, nanotechnology, stem cell research, cancer breakthroughs and mysterious physics-coolness all at once?

Well, only at Our Technological Future ofcourse!

I have here no less than twenty tech-links for your entertainment. Enjoy!

Tests show ‘artificial sun’ is reliable

Edge Annual 2007 Optimism Questions – Marvin Minsky on Immortality

Next generation Ghostbusters videogame footage – looks very real

Cheap, safe drug kills almost all cancers

Soundtrack of Spore (upcoming videogame) to be generated in real time

Next generation videogames coming in 2007

Physicists closing in on mysterious missing particle

Cancer deaths drop for second year

Research removes major obstacle from mass production of tiny chips

Mach C? Scientists observe sound travelling faster than light

Intel builds 80-core chip

Intel shows 45-nm processors

Virtual reality spreading in business world

Folic acid sets back brain aging effects by 5 years

Scientist finds MRSA cure

Quantum computer demo dates announced

The rise of stem cell research – Did George Bush inadvertently jumpstart a stem cell revolution?

Desk of the future will power electronic devices

Entire image compressed to a single photon

Scientists find potential off-switch for HIV

Our Technological Future – Mixed Bag #7

Many people don’t keep a lasting impression of individual articles reporting on technological breakthroughs.

That’s why I collect a bunch and post them altogether. There’s 36 of ’em!

Dear reader, have a look at your technological future!

300GB Holographic CD’s will be available this week

In the beginning: scientists get ready to hunt for God particle

A Quantum (Computer) Step: Study Shows It’s Feasible to Read Data Stored as Nuclear ‘Spins’

Stem Cell Experiment Yields Heart Valves

Kurzweil: Computers Will Enable People To Live Forever

Thinking Machines

Robot with ‘human soul’ explores remotely

Bionic foot for hit and run victim

Cornell robot is “conscious,” adapts to injury

Teeth: a future renewable natural resource?

Ray Kurzweil: Computers Will Extend Human Lifespan

AI Seduces Stanford Students

Life at 140? Longer life spans up for debate

SKorean robot will walk the walk as well as talk the talk

Cosmic Duo Spins Matter From Light

Stem cell cure hope for back pain

Genetically engineered blood protein can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen

Scientists harness mysteries of the brain

Stem Cells Are Where It’s At

The future of discs: 10TB CDs

Distance no worries for spooky particles

Computers that digest the news to change trading

Forget HDTV, the future is 3DTV

GM Plug-in Hybrid to Deliver 70MPG

All but Ageless, Turtles Face Their Biggest Threat: Humans (This is not directly a tech-link, but it does discuss a turtle-species that does not age. It is an example of the fact that immortality is completely natural. This is relevant to life-extension and thus relevant to this blog.)

As population ages, opportunities are born

Self-assembling Nano-ice Discovered — Structure Resembles DNA

Is thorium the answer to our energy crisis?

Kevin Warwick: The ITWales Interview

10 Tech Concepts You Need to Know for 2007

Toronto scientists cure disease in mice

New Hope for Stem-Cell Therapy

Triple-blinded Study of StemEnhance

Welcome to the world of nano foods

More Doctoral Research Funded by the Methuselah Foundation

Hitachi Brain Interface Allows Users to Control Model Trains

SENS Withstands Three Challenges : $20,000 Remains Unclaimed

If you don’t know who Aubrey de Grey is and what SENS is, you should first read The Quest For Immortality.

SENS Withstands Three Challenges : $20,000 Remains Unclaimed.

The science magazine Technology Review has released the results of the SENS Challenge, which was established to test the validity of SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence), the brainchild of longevity researcher Dr. Aubrey de Grey. SENS lays out a detailed engineering approach to alleviating and eventually reversing the debilitation caused by aging. Following a controversial profile of de Grey published by Technology Review in 2005, Dr. de Grey’s charitable foundation, the Methuselah Foundation, and Technology Review jointly offered $10,000 each to establish the SENS Challenge. This $20,000 purse would be awarded to qualified experts who could demonstrate that SENS was “so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate”.

An eminent panel of judges, comprising Rodney Brooks, PhD, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory; Anita Goel, MD and PhD, founder and chief executive of Nanobiosym; Vikram Kumar, MD, cofounder and chief executive of Dimagi, and a pathologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; Nathan Myhrvold, PhD, cofounder and chief executive of Intellectual Ventures, and former chief technologist at Microsoft; and J. Craig Venter, PhD, founder of the Venter Institute and developer of whole-genome shotgun sequencing, which sped up the human genome project, deliberated over the three serious submissions and has now delivered its verdict.

The judges’ unanimous opinion is summed up by Dr. Myhrvold, who observed: “Some scientists react very negatively toward those who seek to claim the mantle of scientific authority for ideas that have not yet been proved. Estep et al. seem to have this philosophy. They raise many reasons to doubt SENS. Their submission does the best job in that regard. But at the same time, they are too quick to engage in name-calling, labeling ideas as ‘pseudo-scientific’ or ‘unscientific’ that they cannot really demonstrate are so. We need to remember that all hypotheses go through a stage where one or a small number of investigators believe something and others raise doubts.”

The summary:

Aubrey de Grey wants to solve the aging process with his SENS program. Because the idea of immortality is so controversial, SENS has received much criticism, depite having solid science to back it up.

In order to increase SENS’s credibility, the SENS challenge was created a year ago. Anybody who can show that SENS is so wrong that it is unworthy of serious attention from the scientific community, can win $20.000 dollars.

A few groups have tried to debunk SENS and have failed, causing SENS’s credibility to go up.

Progress In Stem Cell Research

Crucial immune cells derived from stem cells.

For the first time human embryonic stem cells have been coaxed into becoming T-cells, suggesting new ways to fight immune disorders including AIDS and the “bubble boy” disease, X-SCID.

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are an attractive source of human T-cells for research and therapy because ESCs can be genetically manipulated with relative ease and can be grown in large quantities.

T-cells are crucial to the working of the immune system. If these cells are destroyed or absent – as occurs during HIV infection and X-SCID, respectively – the body cannot fight off infections. But despite their importance, much about human T-cell function is unknown because the cells are difficult to analyse with standard tools of genetic engineering.

‘Virgin birth’ stem cells bypass ethical objections.

“VIRGIN-BIRTH” embryos have given rise to human embryonic stem cells capable of differentiating into neurons. The embryos were produced by parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction in which eggs can develop into embryos without being fertilised by sperm. The technique could lead to a source of embryonic stem (ES) cells that could be used therapeutically without having to destroy a viable embryo.

Human eggs have two sets of chromosomes until fertilisation, when the second set is usually expelled. If this expulsion is blocked but the egg is accidentally or experimentally activated as if it had been fertilised, a parthenote is formed (see Diagram).

Because some of the genes needed for development are only activated in chromosomes from the sperm, human parthenotes never develop past a few days. This means that stem cells taken from them should bypass ethical objections of harvesting them from embryos with the potential to form human lives, say Fulvio Gandolfi and Tiziana Brevini of the University of Milan, Italy.

This is valueable research. Stem cells will be able to boost our health immensely.

Say goodbye to cumbersome organ transplants and functionally limited artificial prosthesis. With these babies, we can regrow our diseased/damaged/missing limbs and organs.

Science might even find a way to give us periodic stem cell injections using cells that have our own DNA but are younger than the cells in our body. That way, we would progressively grow younger, instead of older. And the concept is fairly simple.

Is immortality around the corner?

The possibilities boggle the mind.

Also see this post about super regenerative mice.

Towards 2020 Science

A good while ago, Microsoft assembled several dozens of respected scientists into the Towards 2020 Science Research Team to come up with a realistic vision of our scientific future.

Their findings have been put in a report (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

From the report:

This report contains the initial findings and conclusions of a group of internationally distinguished scientists who met over an intense three days in July 2005 to debate and consider the role and future of science over the next 14 years towards 2020, and in particular the importance and impact of computing and computer science on science towards 2020.

A scientific revolution is just beginning. It has the potential to create an era of science-based innovation that could completely eclipse the last half century of technology-based innovation; and with it, a new wave of global social, technological and economic growth.

From our analysis and findings, we draw three conclusions about science towards 2020:

First, a new revolution is just beginning in science. The building blocks of this revolution are concepts, tools and theorems in computer science which are being transformed into revolutionary new conceptual and technological tools with wide-ranging applications in the sciences, especially sciences investigating complex systems, most notably the natural sciences and in particular the biological sciences. Some of us argue that this represents nothing less than the emergence of ‘new kinds’ of science.

Second, that this is a starting point for fundamental advances in biology, biotechnology, medicine, and understanding the life-support systems of the Earth upon which the planet’s biota, including our own species, depends. In other words, that the scientific innovation already taking place at the intersection of computer science and other sciences ranging from molecular biology, organic, physical and artificial chemistry and neuroscience to earth sciences, ecosystems science and astrobiology has profound implications for society and for life on Earth. Additionally, such advances may also have significant economic implications. The new conceptual and technological tools we outline here have the potential to accelerate a new era of ‘science-based innovation’ and a consequent new wave of economic growth that could eclipse the last 50 years of ‘technology-based innovation’ characterising the ‘IT revolution’. Economic growth from new health, medical, energy, environmental management, computing and engineering sectors, some of which are unimaginable today is not only entirely plausible, it is happening already. It is occurring as a consequence of the first stages of the scientific revolution now under way, a good example of which is the mapping of the human genome and the technological and economic innovation that has emerged from it.

Third, the importance and potentially profound impact of what is occurring already at the intersection of computing, computer science and the other sciences – the basics of which we summarise in this report – is such that we simply cannot afford to ignore or dismiss it.We need to act upon it. It is worth restating that our efforts have not been that of ‘forecasting’ or ‘predicting’. We have simply summarised the developments actually occurring now, together with what we expect to occur as a consequence of emerging advances in computing and science, and what needs to occur in order to address the global challenges and opportunities we are already presented with as we move towards 2020. Government leaders, the science community and policy makers cannot afford to simply ‘wait and see’ or just continue ‘business as usual’.

The report describes enabling tools for the upcoming scientific revolution, such as molecular machines and artificial scientists. That last one means: smarter computers and robots to do (part of) our research for us.

The report also touches on global challenges such as understanding biology, revolutionising medicine, understanding the universe and future energy.

If you check out the roadmap that accompanies the report, you will see several interesting goals such as in-vivo molecular computer diagnosis, individual (personalized) medicine, full model of a single cell, full model of a multi-cellular tissue/organ/organism, drug development in-silico, personalized in-situ molecular-computer smart-drug, understanding complex biological systems and understanding the make-up of the universe.

See also Computing the Future, another article on the 2020 Science Team and their findings.

If you are thinking all this stuff will take centuries as opposed to a decade-and-a-half, read The Law Of Accelerating Returns. Obtaining an understanding of the fact that our technological progress is accelerating exponentially will help you in understanding why everything will be going extremely fast in the years to come.

I myself have been doing research into our future for a long time. After all these years, I am convinced that we are headed towards a world in which we will have plenty of cheap energy, good health, more wealth and possibly eternal life.

Alzheimer Cured In Mice

Alzheimer Cured In Mice

In the study of Alzheimer’s disease, the smallest steps forward have sometimes led to the most exciting breakthroughs.

In the case of a recent study from Novato’s Buck Institute, it’s a molecular step forward — specifically, modifying a single amino acid in the brains of lab mice that could prevent the frightening memory loss and dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

While several scientists outside the Buck Institute were reluctant to call the study a true breakthrough, the results “are not a trivial step forward,” said Stephen Snyder, an Alzheimer’s disease specialist with the National Institute on Aging.

“This opens the door on a field of research. What these guys are showing, basically, is a new universe for us to look into more deeply,” Snyder said. “We don’t know much about the mechanisms. You could fault these people for rushing to print the study without knowing that, but in the Alzheimer’s field, we accept a lot of this because these little incremental things could mean a lot.”

In the Buck Institute study, a protein was altered in the brains of lab mice. The mice that received the treatment showed all the pathological signs of suffering Alzheimer’s disease — most notably, a buildup of sticky plaque that scientists believe is related to the disease — but had none of the memory-loss symptoms or brain shrinkage.

It’s too soon to say whether the genetic alteration that seems to have worked on mice will also work on humans, but the research shines new light on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, said Dale Bredesen, chief executive of the Buck Institute.

“It gives you a completely different view of a disease you thought you understood. It points us in the direction of a new way to treat it,” Bredesen said. “Because you cure the mouse, can you cure the human? Time will tell. But since we do have such a big impact on the mouse, it does lead us to new treatments options.”

The next step for scientists is further research on the genetic alteration and, ultimately, drug therapy for humans, Bredesen said. A drug treatment is at least two years away, he said, and on average it takes 14 years for a drug to get FDA approval.

I don’t have to tell anyone why this research is a good thing. After all… nobody wants to get Alzheimer.

Eventually, we will all develop Alzheimer provided we live (and keep aging) long enough.

So Alzheimer could be a problem if you have decided that you are going to make use of future rejuvenation technologies so you can live forever.

For the immortalists among us, curing Alzheimer is a must.