Blog 16 How to Live Longer? First, we need to discover the factors that lead to longer lifespans in other animals, including their genes by Award-winning Author, Adventurer and Scientist Mark Kingston Levin PhD
Richard Dawkins’ interpretation of Darwin’s Natural Selection is described in his best-selling book, The Selfish Gene. Richard Dawkins describes an interesting approach to life-extension. How can we fool our selfish genes into thinking we are young? If we are able to do that, they can make the appropriate young molecules to remake young genes. Dawkins attributes his inspiration to a British scientist, Sir Peter Medawar, whose theory about senescence serves as the basis for most modern theories about evolution and aging. Medawar’s theory states that our bodies are composed of genes that activate throughout our lifetimes as we age. The young genes are the best, and they start us out, but soon things go steadily in middle-life with a slow decline–and then all hell breaks loose as we get old.
Dawkins’ theory says these genes are activated by several factors, but some activation can be lethal. It is a statistical certainty that as we grow older, we possess more lethal genes than in early life. Therefore, to extend life, a potential strategy would be to prevent these old-life genes from switching on. As to how this can be achieved in the future, Dawkins strongly believes that we should start by “identifying changes in the chemist, that is, internal chemical environment of a body that take place during aging… and by simulating the superficial chemical properties of a young body” to fool our genes.
Millions of dollars have been invested in finding a cure for the age-related degeneration that has traditionally been thought of as inevitable. Now, it’s finally yielded results, and gene therapy is one of the most promising. There are still some challenges that researchers must overcome before it will be a practical approach to treating disease, such as targeting genes to specific cells, to avoid potential side effects, and ensuring that the new genes are precisely controlled by the body. However, scientists are confident that with the aid of today’s technology we will be able to successfully overcome those challenges soon.
Reversing aging in mice, yes; but will it work on the biggest mammals to ever roam our world and us? Look at one spectacular animal below:
Recent advances in science and technology have some pondering whether human immortality is within reach. It is possible that the first human to live forever has already been born. Scientists are working on genetic editing, artificial intelligence, and robotics that will be implemented into human bodies in the near future. Some refer to the unison of the human body and high-tech devices as “transhumanism.” A handful of skeptics fear this merger of body and high-tech devices, as it cedes control of oneself to those in charge of the technology. Regardless of transhumanism’s merit, the question is whether aging is a social construct or an inescapable biological truth. How big is a human compared to a 100-ton whale?
Look below to see a couple of views of a blue whale and one average-sized human
Figure 1a. Compare a typical human to the Blue whale.
Figure 1b. A photo of the mighty blue whale, the largest of all animals to ever live on Earth. The blue whale is cousin to the second heaviest animal to ever live on Earth, the bowhead whale, which lives over 200 years.
Bowhead whales are known to be among the longest-living mammals ever to evolve, living for over 200 years. Why can we not do the same? It was previously believed that the more cells present in an organism, the greater the chances of any type of mutations, which can lead to various age-related diseases such as cancers. Cancer is becoming humans’ number one killer, but Alzheimer’s disease is not far behind. Although the bowhead whale has thousands of times more cells than other mammals, the whale has a much higher resistance to cancer and aging.
The bowhead whale is truly a medical marvel. Not only does the marine mammal have the potential to live to the ripe old age of 200 years, but scientists also believe it is naturally resistant to cancer. A recent press release from the University of Liverpool stated that scientists have succeeded in completing the whale’s genome and believe that the answer to increased human longevity and cancer resistance lies somewhere in the whale’s DNA. The team of scientists at Liverpool University have been uncovering the DNA of the bowhead whale for some time. Dr. João Pedro de Magalhães writes in the press release, “Our understanding of species’ differences in longevity is very poor, and thus our findings provide novel candidate genes for future studies.” According to Medical Daily, he said, “My view is that species evolved different ‘tricks’ to have a longer lifespan, and by discovering the ‘tricks’ used by the bowhead we may be able to apply those findings to humans to fight age-related diseases.” The author believes the bowhead whales evolved this “trick” due to multiple factors. We need to find these factors now.
What kills humans most in early life is abortion. Note abortion kills more Americans than heart disease and cancer combined, as shown below in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Shows deaths per year. Note the number one cause of death is heart disease in the elderly and cancer second, but abortions kill more of our youngest than both of those combined. Birth control is an option to fix that problem in humans.
One bowhead whale taken by Alaskan native hunters was determined to be 211 years old, which supports the earlier work of Craig George that bowhead whales live to over 200 years. The supporting work was published in Nature online 19 June 2007.
Figure 3. Shows a pod of bowhead whales in the cold artic ocean where they live year around.
We need to look at all living creatures, as there is strong evidence that sea urchins, lobsters and other creatures live much longer than the oldest human, who died at 122 years old. USA death statistics from 2014 are compiled into a pie chart that does not include abortions.
Figure 4. The photo is of the oldest living animal, the Greenland Shark, which lives over 400 years. Unlocking these secrets could lead to progress in aging science.
Figure 5. What killed people living in the USA in 2014.
Mark Kingston Levin PhD author of 30th Century series book 2 30th Century: Revived, which was release on Amazon April 29, 2018.
Dr. Levin won the IRWIN for the Best Science Fiction Book of 2017 for the first book in the series, 30th Century: Escape. To read the first three chapters, see www.markkingstonlevin.com.
For questions and comments write to Dr. Levin firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Levin was born and grew up in Vermont with many winters spent in Florida as a child. As a teenager he wrote poetry, served as a lifeguard and played football. He currently enjoys sailing, exploring underwater caves, snorkeling, writing science fiction and other pursuits. After working on the Apollo and Mars projects, he returned to school to study under Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac, obtaining his PhD in 2.5 years. Dr. Levin founded two companies and served the science policy apparatus in President Ford’s administration. He has been published over 44 times in scientific literature and was awarded over 32 US patents. The science fiction writer is now emerging with his first work, a trilogy titled 30th Century.
The first award-winning book, 30th Century: Escape, is currently available on Amazon both in its original erotic form BUY HERE and the new, toned-down General Audience Edition in both Kindle and in full-color print BUY PRINT HERE. Book two in the series, 30th Century: Revived, is available HERE in both e-book and print. Look for book 3 in the series, 30th Century: Contact, by early 2019!
NEW: Your opportunity to be part of the process! If you sign up to be a Beta Reader, I will email you an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Book 3, 30th Century: Contact, in either PDF or Kindle. You read and tell me how you would make it stronger by sending an email to Dr. Levin email@example.com