The Colt

The Student News Site of Coleytown Middle School

The Colt

The Colt


Eternal Life


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Eternal Life

Once a fairy tale, is immortality now a reality?
Concept art for the Timeship project in Comfort, Texas.
© Stephen Valentine / Timeship
Concept art for the Timeship project in Comfort, Texas.

The average life expectancy for a human is a little over 75 years. The oldest on record was 122 years and five months. But just a century ago, the life expectancy was around 50! Humans are obsessed with extending their lifespan. Anti-aging drugs, meditation, cryogenic freezing; there are all sorts of methods that are marketed to make people live longer. Let’s take a dive into the world of extended life.

Silicon Valley Ambitions

Life extension is the newest craze sweeping Silicon Valley. Now that it seems within reach, dozens of entrepreneurs and established business people are pouncing on the opportunity, seeing anti-aging as the next big way to get rich. One California hedge fund manager, Joon Yun, launched the million dollar Palo Alto Prize for Longevity. It consists of two $500,000 competitions, one to restore youth and one to extend the lifespan of rodents. The thinking is that once applied to mice (of naturally shorter lifespan), such practices could be effective on humans. There are currently twenty-eight teams registered for the Prize, being assisted by an advisory board of fifty-six scientists. Approaches include genetic intervention and neuromodulation (electrically altering nerves).

Time Travel in Texas

When we think of freezing people to make them live longer, the word that comes to mind is ‘cryogenics’. However, the proper term is cryonics. Cryogenics refers to the science of super-low temperatures, especially its uses in thermodynamics. But cryonics is a field all its own, and one specifically dedicated to longevity. For example, the Timeship project in Texas plans to essentially launch clients into the future. But there’s no need for rocket engines; rather, Timeship will cryonically preserve residents, releasing them thousands of years in the future. Currently receiving funds from anonymous donors, this 800 acre plot of land outside of Comfort, TX, is taking inspiration for its design from many ancient structures. Pyramids, monuments, and in the words of director Stephen Valentine, “anything that has stood the test of time.” This is important, for in order to safely transport the new residents of the future, the building must stand strong against anything that stands in its way. A safe environment is key, but obviously a main problem for Valentine is the method of stasis. Actually freezing people has its merits, but the problem of ice crystals forming is hard to overcome. Instead, many scientists have pioneered a process called vitrification, which puts the subject into a glass-like state. This, among other new methods that have improved safety in cryonics, have convinced people like Valentine that human preservation is feasible in this century.

The Fight Against the Silver Tsunami

The world’s population is rapidly growing older. There are predictions that 20% of the world’s population will be over the age of 60 by 2050. This so-called ‘silver tsunami’ could have serious economic implications for the world at large, because it would decrease the workforce while increasing the population that needs to be supported. Luckily, research indicates that aging can be modified. Certain genetic material (such as those in the FOXO3A gene) have had mutations that are correlated to longevity. It’s possible that editing these genes could lead to longer lifespans, but restrictions would have to be lifted on genetic editing in humans. A more realistic approach is through medicine. Rapamycin is a molecule secreted by certain bacteria, and it has fascinated scientists for years. It has been shown to extend the lifespan of mice, and the thinking goes that the same could be applied to humans. The area of the body that rapamycin affects is known as the TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) kinase, a kinase being a type of synapse. TOR controls cell decay and growth, primary drivers for aging. Perhaps with a drug using rapamycin, we could artificially slow down the decay of cells, and keep humans feeling like 25 all the way through age 60.

Can I Become a Super-centenarian?

Many visionaries believe that age-extending technology is imminent.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Gavin Magnuson
Gavin Magnuson, Staff Writer and Contributor
I'm Gavin Magnuson, and I'm on the Owl Team in 7th grade. I like math and science, and I do Science Olympiad in addition to the Colt. In my free time, I like to read and write; my favorite book is Legendborn by Tracy Deonn.  I'm fascinated with the natural world, and I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up.

Comments (0)

All The Colt Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *