A study called ‘Intercellular competition and the inevitability of multicellular aging‘ by researchers Paul Nelson and Joanna Masela from the University Of Arizona concludes ‘through a mathematical equation, that it is impossible to stop aging in multicellular organisms, which include humans, bringing the immortality debate to a possible end.’
The researchers say ‘the human body goes through two major changes at the cellular level as it ages:
- first, the function of cells shuts down, making them sluggish and
- second, cells become increasingly cancerous with age.’
The result of trying to control any one of these processes will enhance the other.
The findings that stopping aging is impossible don’t offer much optimism for anyone with hopes of being immortal.
In summary, the researchers findings means that a human will either die of cancerous growth in their body or the failing of cells, leading to dysfunction of organs.
The science of immortality has room for other scientific opinion
Not every scientist is going to agree with these findings. Jellyfish are also multicellular animals, and are also amongst the oldest animals on the planet, ‘Scientists have discovered jellyfish fossil snapshots in rocks believed to be more than 500 million years old‘. Other scientists in the past in 1883 discovered a jellyfish species called Turritopsis dohrnii. A hundred years later, in the 1980s, that the jelly fishes’ immortality was accidentally discovered. This species of jelly fish is capable of living forever, ‘the organism can regenerate into a polyp—its earliest stage of life—as it ages or when it experiences illness or trauma.’
Immortality is in our history
The claim that immortality is mathematically impossible will be met with some absolute disbelief and not sit well among many people, especially religious people who believe that the first man and woman created were meant to live forever until they sinned and were denied immortality.
People genuinely believe that our ancestors lived longer, and people would have still been immortal but for falling out of favor with their creator.
Methuselah is a person who is recorded in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Had the longest human lifespan of 969 years. The phrase ‘as old as Methuselah‘ can be traced back to at least 1390 in F. J. Furnivall’s Minor Poems.
This firmly held belief that we can live for much longer and be created to live forever ‘has led scientists and companies to research longevity and hoodwinking death.’
The claim whether immortality is possible or not is going to carry on being a hotly debated topic, regardless of what mathematicians may say.
Can people be genetically modified for immortality?
Akshit Sangomla reviewing the report, indicates there may eventually be a practical way out if scientists find a way to make cells healthier and then push natural selection to choose between healthy cells. To some people, scientists messing with the natural selection processes to select healthier cells sounds suspicious, like creating genetically modified designer people, a field sometimes called human eugenics. Human eugenics was a science pioneered by the Nazis and still is an area with many ethical issues.
The theory that immortality is mathematically impossible isn’t going to stop companies trying to prevent the ageing process. Former CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos ‘has invested in Altos Labs, a biotech business working on “cellular rejuvenation programming” to restore cell health and resilience to reverse a disease that occurs’.