Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Future Methusaleh Is Alive And, Well ...

has a very long life ahead of her:

Modern medicine is redefining old age and may soon allow people to live regularly beyond the current upper limit of 120 years, experts said on Wednesday.

It used to be thought there was some built-in limit on lifespan, but a group of scientists meeting at Oxford University for a conference on life extension and enhancement consigned that idea to the dustbin.

Paul Hodge, director of the Harvard Generations Policy Program, said governments around the world -- struggling with pension crises, greying workforces and rising healthcare costs -- had to face up to the challenge now.

"Life expectancy is going to grow significantly, and current policies are going to be proven totally inadequate," he predicted.

Just how far and fast life expectancy will increase is open to debate, but the direction and the accelerating trend is clear.

Richard Miller of the Michigan University Medical School said tests on mice and rats -- genetically very similar to humans -- showed lifespan could be extended by 40 percent, simply by limiting calorie consumption.

Translated into humans, that would mean average life expectancy in rich countries rising from near 80 to 112 years, with many individuals living a lot longer.

Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist from Cambridge University, goes much further. He believes the first person to live to 1,000 has already been born and told the meeting that periodic repairs to the body using stem cells, gene therapy and other techniques could eventually stop the aging process entirely.

Our life becomes, icreasingly, all about short-term gratification. Already, we are so frustrated at that which we can't attain that we hurt each other, lie, cheat, steal. Already, we are so bored that we have taken to beating ourselves for sexual gratification.

Just what we need; an eternity to do ourselves in.