Who Wants To Live Forever?

It has taken me a few days to catch up with this item because there has been so much going on, the election, volcanoes, long lunches etc. Last week one of the guests on television show It’s Only A Theory was longevity expert Aubrey De Grey. Aubrey is always a brilliant guest on any TV show. Now I know he is a biologist and some of your think I harbour an irrational hated of scientists but to jump to that conclusion because I take the piss out of them so much is irrational.

What sets people like Aubrey (and Stephen Hawking, who we will be coming to in a later post, among others) apart from those who cop the full sarcasm barrage is none of these guys announces “I’m a scientist” as if that proves they are more clever than anybody in their audience. Oh and also, in Aubrey’s case he has the most splendid fuck off beard in the history of everything ever. It’s a real Old Testament Prophet fuck off beard. It makes Osama Bin Laden’s wispy little beard look like an effing novice. Sometimes Aubrey’s beard seems to have a life of its own.

The theory Aubrey De Grey was on the show to propose was that the first human being who will live for 1000 years has already been born.

If you are thinking the problems humanity will face when life expectancy jumps in the space of two generations from 80 to 800 dwarfs the catastrophic effects of climate change just remember that like climate change it is only a theory. What is fascinating about Aubrey De Grey is the way he explains his work, not only is he a brilliant thinker, he is a brilliant communicator as well.

The work he and is team do is not aimed at stretching life to infinity but at preventing the deterioration that comes with age, seeking therapies that will hold off aching joints, wrinkly skin and incontinence as well as dementia and saggy bodies. Cool, but unfortunately living longer will be a side effect.

One statistic mentioned was that the cost of old age is set to soar. In terms of healthcare costs, the last year of life for the average person equals the total of the rest of their years. And as life extends so the duration of peoples’ decrepitude extends in proportion. Preventing deterioration then carries social benefits as well as “good television” kudos.

Even if the deterioration of age can be prevented it still leaves far too many oldies for society to absorb however so when Aubrey and his cohorts have abolished arthritis and Alzheimer’s how do we stop the population becoming unbalanced? Boggart Blog suggests we use the internet to monitor individual lifestyles and watch for signs people are about to become too expensive. When comfort becomes a more important factor than style in choice of clothes, when people stop watching Midsomer Murders because it is all sex and violence, when people buy the same book three times, when people prefer complan to kebabs, we just have to kill them.

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More Demented Mice Science – With Mobile Phones

On of the reasons Boggart Blog loves scientists so much is the way that like religious fanatics they just refuse to give up on totally bonkers ideas. Ideas that the one that convinces them making mice behave in totally unnatural ways can teach us valuable lessons about humanity. Perhaps these people were brought up on the stories of Beatrix Potter and thus have a deep seated belief in anthropomorphism.

When we question mouse science the scientists will say “Ah but mice and humans share quite a lot of DNA. This is true, and amoebae also share a surprising amount of DNA with humans to but we don’t expect to see an amoeba that has read Shakespeare, understands modern financial systems and can tell Chateau Petrus from Sneaky Pete* any time soon.

The extent to which we are programmed by our DNA has been vastly overstated as neuroscientists recently learned. We may by act of will change inherited behaviour traits – which is what Hindu mystics have been saying for thousands of years. This more or less demolished one of the trendy new sciences, evolutionary psychology, much favoured by our very favourite sub species of scientists, the boy-scientists hose wide eyed enthusiasm for all things scientific overrides critical thinking, logical deduction and common sense.

It is with considerable joy then that hot on the heels of yesterday’s posts concerning mice, fry ups and the eternal quest of Daily Mail readers to find the Holy Grail that will guarantee they have prodigiously talented babies, we report another project that has set out to equate mouse physiology with human physiology. Scientists are claiming they are on the verge of achieving a breakthrough in the effort to find a treatment for Alzheimers disease after achieving good results with mice “programmed to get Alzheimer’s” by giving them mobile phones.

Laying aside the issue of how anybody can know a mouse has Alzheimer’s or the outrageous assumption that mice whose DNA has been fiddled with to pre-dispose them to Alzheimer’s are certain to develop it, because we have asked such questions before only to be told “you just don’t understand science,” (Maybe not, but we understand mice.) we must ask what is the point of giving mice mobile phones when they have no thumbs with which to text?

Boy scientists in Florida claim to have found mobile phone radiation helps improve the memory of mice programmed to develop Alzheimers. Al least they are not funded by UK taxpayers money. But if the mice are programmed to get Alzheimers disease they have not actually got it have they. No. Because mice don’t get Alzheimer’s disease because they’re mice not human.

So let’s guess how the process works because a lot of the science is rather vague although the bits about “we need lots of money and some jollies to the Seychelles, Paris and Amsterdam to carry out field studies” are quite specific. OK, you programme a mouse to get Alzheimer’s then clamp a little cellphone to its ear and send digital signals into its brain to override the “Get Alzheimer’s Now” routine in the program.

Sounds almost as likely as finding a cure for the common cold.

*Chateau Petrus – The world’s most expensive wine
Sneaky Pete – American slang for cheap, low quality wine fortified with illegally distilled liquor