Technology, Time and Ageing

The question that many polymaths, scientists, technology-enthusiasts and intellectuals have been curious about ever since educational institutions were introduced is- will the world reach the period where the length of human life can be expanded? Many individuals in the global society have wished to look younger when their facial characteristics started aging and do surgical procedures as well as use cosmetics as a feature of the extended human phenotype to fulfill their desires. Technology has extended the phenotype of man to unprecedented heights. Human technologies differ from animal technologies in their inventiveness, multiplicity and sophistication. Noted experts throughout the ages have searched for the formula to the miraculous phenomenon: “Can one turn back the clock of time?” Although time travel has been a traditional plot device in science fiction since the late 19th century and the theories of special and general relativity allow methods for forms of one-way travel into the future via time dilation, it is currently unrevealed whether the laws of physics would permit time travel into the past.

Some theories, most notably special and general relativity, propose that suitable geometries of spacetime, or specific types of motion in space, might allow time travel into the past and future if these geometries or motions are possible. In technical papers, physicists generally avoid the commonplace language of “moving” or “traveling” through time (“movement” normally refers only to an adjustment in spatial position as the time coordinate is varied), and instead discuss the potentiality of closed timelike curves, which are world lines that form closed loops in spacetime, allowing objects to return to their own past. There are known to be solutions to the equations of general relativity that describe spacetimes which contain closed timelike curves (such as Gödel spacetime), but the physical plausibility of these solutions is uncertain.

Many in the scientific community believe that backwards time travel is highly implausible. Any theory that would allow time travel would require that problems of causality be resolved. The classic example of a problem involving causality is the “grandfather paradox”: what if one were to go back in time and kill one’s own grandfather before one’s father was conceived? However, some scientists believe that paradoxes can be avoided, by appealing either to the Novikov self-consistency principle or to the notion of branching parallel universes.

Nevertheless, the theory of general relativity does suggest a scientific basis for the possibility of backwards time travel in certain unusual scenarios, although arguments from semiclassical gravity suggest that when quantum effects are incorporated into general relativity, these loopholes may be closed. These semiclassical arguments led theoretical physicists to formulate the chronology protection conjecture, suggesting that the fundamental laws of nature prevent time travel, but physicists cannot come to a definite judgment on the issue without a theory of quantum gravity to join quantum mechanics and general relativity into a completely unified theory.

Dr. Bill Andrews has spent two decades solving the molecular mechanisms of aging. His mission is to extend the human life span to 150 years or die trying. In the 1990s, as the director of molecular biology at the Bay Area biotech firm Geron, Andrews supported a team of researchers that, in alliance with a laboratory at the University of Colorado, just barely beat out the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a furious, near-decade-long race to identify the human telomerase gene. This basic science took on the trappings of a hysterical Great Race is a testament to the biological preciousness of telomerase, an enzyme that maintains the ends of our cells’ chromosomes, called telomeres.

Telomeres get shorter each time a cell divides, and when they get too short the cell can no longer make fresh copies of itself. If humans live long enough, the tissues and organ systems that count on continued cell replication begin to falter: The skin sags, the internal organs grow slack, the immune-system response weakens such that the next chest flu could be the last. Telomerase was first discovered by Professor Elizabeth Blackburn and Molecular Biologist Carol W. Greider who were both awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for this work. Though, what if bodies could be induced to express more Telomerase? That is what Dr. Andrews intends to do in order to prolong human life which would demonstrate one of the greatest breakthroughs on planet earth.

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About Krystal Volney

Krystal Volney is an award-winning West Indian writer (Trinidadian-Dominican) who was born on the island of Trinidad. Her favourite novels as a child were the Nancy Drew files, the Babysitter’s club and the famous five. She started writing both female and male poetry in categories such as fashion, romance, the environment and children’s poetry in the year 2010 (Cosmos and Spheres poetry book- Bestselling Ebook). She views humans as both “monarch and emperor butterflies” because of the transformation from an egg into a butterfly showcasing the metamorphosis as various stages of one’s experiences throughout life. She claims that as a result of the prodigious difference between each human being in the global society, experiences differ and some persons mature into butterflies while some remain at a particular stage permanently at various points in their longevity. The contemporary poetess’s character is floral. In the 21st century, this means that one consists of many petals and each petal tells a different story of who she is. She sees the “tiger lily” and “hibiscus flowers” as demonstrating what it means to be a woman and a lady. Some of her influences have been Mozart, Van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and Claude Monet.

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