Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fountain of Youth 6: The Methuselah Mouse Prize

Since 2003, the Methuselah Foundation has run a competition for the most avant-garde research on anti-aging.   It awards the Methuselah Mouse Prize, also called the M Prize, "a prize designed to accelerate research into effective life extension interventions by awarding monetary prizes to researchers who extend the healthy lifespan of mice to unprecedented lengths."
In fact, there are two prizes, one for longevity (extending total lifespan) and one for rejuvenation (for reversing the onset and effects of aging).  From the Wiki site on the Foundation: "As of 2009, the record holder is a mouse whose growth hormone receptor had been genetically knocked out; it lived for 1819 days (almost 5 years). The rejuvenation prize deals with peer-reviewed studies involving at least 40 animals, 20 treated and 20 control. Treatment may begin only at mid-life, and the average lifespan of the 10% longest living treated animals is used for the record. As of 2009, this record stands at 1356 days (about 3.7 years); the treatment was calorie restriction."  Information on the winners at the official site is here.

Research in rejuvenation has given rise to SENS, or, Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence.  The SENS Foundation, co-founded by Dr. Aubrey De Grey with several colleagues, is devoted to eliminating and reversing aging.  In the near term, the goal is "'Robust Mouse Rejuvenation' (RMR). RMR is defined as the ability to extend the healthy lives of middle-aged mice (which means two years old for a long-lived strain that lives three years on average) by two years."  Proposed rejuvenating treatments for human subjects involve implantation of stem cells, cosmetic surgery, exercise, gene therapies, vaccinations, and administration of baterial enzymes.

The Fountain of Youth. Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1546. Oil on canvas.

Life extension involves hormone treatments, cosmetic surgery, cosmetics, diets and supplements, cloning and body part replacement, cryonics, mind uploading (related to Artificial Intelligence and Transhumanism), and gene therapy.

These are only the serious efforts, spearheaded by Baby Boomers (now calling themselves Zoomers), to combat the threats of aging and death.  There are plenty of stranger treatments out there, such as the use of colostrum as a health supplement, blood transfusions, marijuana, injections of human growth hormone, Resveratrol, acupuncture, fasting and radical cleansing diets, and anti-oxidant vitamins.  There's a common perception of aging as a disease of which we must be cured.  Boomers have come up with a whole range of normal afflictions associated with getting older that are now 'diseases' requiring high-powered pharmaceutical medicines, designated by euphemistic acronyms such as ED (erectile dysfunction); RLS (restless legs syndrome); PAOD (peripheral arterial occlusive disease); HD (heart disease); rheumatoid arthritis (RA); and many more! 

Katherine Helmond as Ida Lowry in Brazil, 1985. 

Doesn't this all sound like tremendous fun?  Remember the scenes in Brazil (1985), when Sam Lowry's mother, played by Katherine Helmond, refused to acknowledge her son because her successful anti-aging treatments made her look younger than him?  But her friend went to the wrong specialist, whose cosmetic surgeries killed her? 

Ra's al Ghul taking a nice dip in the Lazarus Pit.

Then there are DC Comics' Lazarus Pits that can extend life or restore the dead to life - but only at the price of madness.  Surely there is something infernal about this Cult of Youth and drive toward immortality.

All DC Comics stories, characters and the distinctive likenesses thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © DC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

See all my posts on the Fountain of Youth.

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