In Pursuit of Forever
Although it is certainly an important operative factor, the commonly-interpreted explanation of aging and death, a sort of simple degeneration of the body's mechanical and chemical systems through time and usage, does not apply very well to the truth. The human body replaces every constituent atom naturally every seven years. Unlike machines, our bodies are in a constant state of self-repair and regulation, and it is the breakdown of the systems that govern these activities which concern gerentologists. The presently debated basic theories of aging center around explanations of this point. Although these theories are many, and some quite technical, they can be lumped, in layman's terms into three basic categories. Firstly, simple wear and usage' which encompasses such ideas as catastrophic accumulation of DNA transcription errors and radiation damage, cell/organ waste accumulation, and genetic cross linkage. Also, most believe a sort of genetic and/or natural clock' is responsible for communicating to or interfering with the maintenance systems. Ideas like a built in limit on the number of cell divisions, systematic shortening of telomere strands, mitochondrial free radical misfunction, and the slow release of the death hormone,' DECO, fall into this category. The remaining category, and the most nebulous, is the mysterious time limit' theories. They deal with assertions that there is some kind of existential regulatory device, perhaps a spiritual force, or a cosmic principle, which operates to end our lives when the time is right.
The search for a method of delaying or preventing the onset of old age is itself age-old. At present, or course, no such technique is reliably known. We can however, explore the various theoretical ways such an antigerial procedure could come to be. In the same way that foresighted engineers of the twenties thirties and forties, as the principles of rocketry were just being laid out, realistically and...
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