Did you know… Scientists have been fascinated with the quest for immortality for centuries. In the last decade, however, there have been new discoveries that may contribute significantly to extending life. One study that might have some implications for humans comes from research on jellyfish. It seems that adult jellyfish can transform themselves through a process called trans-differentiation, which involves converting one type of cell into another and back into a juvenile form. (Discover Magazine, May 2015).
In addition, there is a lot of interest in cloning and stem cell research. In a 2014 article in Nature News, author, Monya Baker, reported “two research groups have independently produced human embryonic stem-cell lines from embryos cloned from adult cells.” Their success, she says, “could reinvigorate efforts to use such cells to make patient-specific replacement tissues for degenerative diseases.” This process is expected to expand into other areas in the future.
But the interest in mortality is not without its philosophical, ethical and theological questions. To address some of those issues, the University of California, Riverside, is involved in a research project called, “The Immortality Project”. According to an article in The Press-Enterprise, May 27, 2015, researchers are studying and hope to answer questions that include:
- “Whether and in what form(s) persons survive or could survive bodily death
- Whether and to what extent persons’ beliefs about immortality influence their behavior, attitudes and character
- Why and how persons are (at least pre-reflectively) disposed to believe in post-mortem survival
- Whether it is in some areas irrational to desire immortality.”
As the average life span of humans increases, scientists and other researchers continue to investigate diet, drugs, genetics, medical advancements, lifestyle choices and other factors that impact physical, mental and emotional health that defy the aging process.