Can we live forever?

Rather coincidentally I’ve run into a couple of indicators in the past week that the meme (i.e., the idea) that life might be extended indefinitely is gaining some traction. The first was an article in Wired titled “The Fight to End Aging Gains Legitimacy, Funding.” That leads to a series of interesting videos from the recent conference at UCLA on Aging: The Disease, The Cure, The Implications.

Then there was a notice just yesterday indicating that an article has been published in Nature indicating that a survey of scientists shows they are increasingly finding ways to extend lifespan in lower animals that might have analogues in humans as well.

Just a few years ago suggesting indefinite life extension was possible might get you tossed into a padded cell. The immense power of biological research done in the past ten years, however, is opening up thoughts about what can be done for human well being that depart pretty radically from our recent aspirations.

It’s been nearly a century since the crusade againt cancer became a bold new movement. The immensity of the scientific/medical hurdles were not known at the outset, and the more recent realization of the economic issues involved have put some long lasting challenges in the path of defeating this one major disease. However, it has occurred to me that the magnitude of the undertaking to beat cancer is also an inspiration and demonstraton of how a tenacious, widely-supported effort might tackle a heretofore unthinkable goal like indefinite life extension in the 21st Century. The cancer crusade is kind of a forerunner to that whole movement.