Posts filed under ‘Research’


Life Extension: Our Obsession

To live forever while preserving health and retaining the appearance and energy of youth is one of humanities oldest and most elusive goals. Most prevalent in developed nations are practices, surgeries and treatments that promise to give people a younger (though sometimes fake) outward look: Botox, surgical enhancements, liquids, lotions, pills, spa treatments, removing stuff, putting stuff back in, hair dye, hair removal, hair implants, wrinkle reduction and so on. in 2003, Ontarians alone spent 180 million dollars on cosmetic surgery – nearly half of what was spent across the entire country. And that was five years ago.
But these are simply superficial treatments that temporarily fight the outward signs of aging, they don’t really deal with our the inner working of our bodies, and thus do nothing to prolong our lives. In fact they may even be detrimental to our health. However, due to new research into aging and a growing understanding of how aging affects our bodies at the cellular and molecular levels, scientists now say we could finally be close to achieving lifetimes that are at least several decades longer.


Surprisingly, from my research, it appears as though the arguments for living longer out number the arguments against it:


A doubled lifespan would give us a chance to recover from our mistakes, lead us toward longer term thinking and reduce healthcare costs by delaying or even preventing the onset of expensive diseases.

With more skilled workers remaining in the workforce longer, economic productivity would go up and people could more easily switch careers.

There are already injustices in the current world. For example the average life expectancy in the U.S is 78 years, but only 34 years in Botswana due to HIV and AIDS and the lack of finances for proper treatment. Developed nations also have access to medicines and life-saving procedures such as organ transplants that are beyond the financial reach of the poor.

New technologies often start off expensive but become cheaper and more widely accessible with time.

Denying life-reatments to one group of people will not save another.

We’ll use the planet more efficiently.
We’ll mass emigrate into space.
We’ll restrict births, such as the laws in China.

It will be the choice between a low birth rate or a high death rate.

We live longer now than we did a century ago, but that doesn’t mean we take life any less seriously or less creatively.
It is not the knowledge that we will die at a certain age that spurs us to make the most of our lives, but the awareness that we can die at any moment. (accidents, disease)

Longer life may invigorate people to do the things they’ve always wanted to do.

Between 1950 and 2001, infant mortality in the United States dropped from nearly 30 deaths for every 1,000 live births to just 7. This was responsible for a spectacular rise in life expectancy. By lowering infant mortality, creating effective vaccines and so on, science, over the past 100 years, has already increased the average person’s life by nearly three decades.

Becoming frail and dependent is not fun.

Who are we to impose values on future generations? The future of humanity should be free to have that choice, we shouldn’t make that decision for them.

Current methods for postponing aging today such as Gerontology and Geriatrics are not controversialso why should this method be treated differently?

Saving a life and delaying it are the same thing.

Scientists have a moral duty to extend the human life span as far as it will go.

The future’s elderly will be fitter. Research into aging could also help us to be healthier in our old age, not just live longer.


Doubling life spans won’t solve any of our current social problems: war, poverty etc.

Competition for jobs would become more fierce and it would be tougher for young people to move into the workforce.Without a constant infusion of youthful talent and ideas, institutions and politics could stagnate. Possibly forming a world that was focused too narrowly on maintaining life and not on building a good life.

Evil dictators could rule forever.

Life extension technology will likely be expensive at first so only a small number of wealthy individuals will be able to afford it.

The death of an elderly person is not as tragic as the death of a child: an elderly person has lived a good long life.

Earth can support only so many people. Aging keeps down the population and is ecologically sound.
Generations would have to be born further apart to avoid overcrowding.

Some of the virtues of being mortal are our interest and engagement with life, making our days count and appreciating all that life brings, our sense of accomplishment, commitment and the meaningfulness of time and our passage through it.

Longer life means more time for boredom to creep in. Extended boredom could result in prolonged unhappiness or higher instances of suicide.


Notions of marriage, family and work will change in fundamentals ways, as will attitudes towards the young and old.

There may be a shift in emphasis from marriage as a lifelong union to marriage as a long term commitment resulting in multiple brief marriages becoming common. (but aren’t they already?!)

Eight or even 10 generations might be alive simultaneously.

Siblings could be born 40 or 50 years apart changing the way siblings or parents and their children interact with each other.

Living longer may mean more time spent working, careers will become longer and the retirement age will be pushed back.


Will everyone have en equal chance at an extended life?

If people live longer but are miserable for decades will views on suicide and euthanasia change?

In an immortal society, how would you allow for new generations?

It is one thing to ask should we make people immortal but it is quite another to ask whether we should make people immune to heart disease, cancer, dementia etc. (which would inevitable increase our life spans)

What is aging? A disease to be cured ora natural part of life? If it is natural, is it necessarily good for us?

Does the fact that we’re going to die really make us think more seriously about life?


The average life expectancy for Americans is currently 78 years old.

A repeated experiment with rodents has shown that if they are fed 40% fewer calories they live about 40% longer. So if these effects can be replicated in humans, the average person could live to be 112 years and our maximum life span could be extended to 140 years.

We know that metabolism plays a key role in aging, but we have yet to fully understand it.

Metabolism ongoingly causes “damage”. And that damage only eventually cases pathology (death). An genetic engineering approach to anti-aging would periodically repair the”damage” so that it doesn’t reach the threshold that causes pathology.

We know that there are only 7 areas of “damage” that need to be fixed.
1. cell loss/atrophy
2. Death resistant cells
3. Nuclear mutations
4. Protein crosslinks
5. Junk inside cells
6. Junk outside cells
7. mt DNA mutations
We already know how to fix some of these things and it is predicted that we will know how to fix all of these things in mice within the next 10 years.

Fundamental breakthroughs happen in an incremental process. The therapies will improve.

The key for getting to the first moderate life extension is that we acquire the ability to confer 2 extra healthy years on mice that are already 2 years old (on mice that normally live until they are 3).


Eat less.
Get your genetics tinkered with.
Find a Mate: According to research happy couples tend to live longer than single individuals.


Wired: How To Live Forever : The Wired article that first inspired this project.

Abolishing Aging : A basic breakdown of why we age, the biological processes involved and why it may not be impossible for us to combat and fix the damage that those process do to our bodies, thus preventing aging and extending life.

TED Talks: Aubrey de Grey : A fascinating TED talk from one of the main supporters of extending life that outlines the benefits of living longer.

The Social Burden of Longer Lives : A Live Science article exploring the potential social burdens that would be imposed on society if we were successful in significantly extending our lives, such as notions of marriage, family relationships, and the workplace.

The Ethical Dilemmas of Immortality : A Live Science article exploring the ethical questions society would face if this technology ever came on the market – who would have access to life extension (only the rich?), how would we control populations and make room for new generations? and so on.

Do You Want To Live Forever? : An in-depth look at the theories and arguments of Aubrey De Grey.

Top Ten Immortals : Exploring our fascination with immortality as is manifests itself in popular culture.

The Psychological Strain of Living Forever : Pondering the psychological stresses that eliminating natural death would cause us including such things are boredom. It asks the important question: “is aging a disease to be cured or a natural part of life?”

Progress into Extending Human Life : Briefly explains the recent developments into extending life and also offers some tips on what we can’t do right now to help extend our lives and live a healthier existence.


February 2, 2008 at 3:44 am 1 comment

Online Research: Marnina

Fear and Psychological Torture
Fear goes deeper than just, fear, it is chemical. Plus there are certain pheromones that can cause it. Fear can be induced in a person- not only by something scary, but also by coming in contact with certain chemicals. Certain chemicals can release smells that cause people to be violently ill and panicked. This was seen last year in Peru when according to witnesses, fireball hurtled out of the sky and blasted out a crater thirteen meters across, the crater filled with boiling liquid and noxious gas poured out. The fumes from the gas effected up to 600 people and caused a mass hysteria. This gives experts ideas on how to create a new type of non-lethal weapon- or torture…
Torture is more than just pain. It is about messing with the mind of the prisoner. Throughout history this has been done in many ways. It would take a while to go through all forms of psychological torture employed through the ages so I am just going to discuss my personal favorite.
Phsychotechnic torture- engineered by the anarchists during the Spanish Civil War psychotechnic torture uses modern art to drive prisoners crazy. Prisoners would be locked into cells painted crazy colors. The beds would be tilted so they couldn’t sit or lie down. There would be blocks placed on the floor so the prisoner couldn’t pace. All there was to do was stare at the crazy walls till the prisoner went crazy!!!!!!
Pentagon Investigates Fear Pheromones
Aliens Invade!!!
Psychology of Torture- Wikipedia
Psychological Torture
Psychotechnic Torture

Weed and Paranoia
Cannabis wont kill you, but that does not mean it isn’t dangerous.
-Smoking anything is unhealthy and Cannabis smoke can be even more dangerous than cigarette smoke as it contains more carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than tobacco smoke. In addition since cannabis users inhale more smoke and for longer they can deposit more than 4 times as much tar on their lungs as cigarette smokers.
-Users who combine cannabis and tobacco significantly increase the risk of lung disease plus show the greatest risk of pre-cancerous abnormalities.
– many first time or early users have anxiety, panic, paranoia and feelings of impending doom
– heavy cannabis users users can exhibit long-lasting toxic psychosis
– using cannabis excessively can make pre-existing mental health problems worse
-The cannabis use precipitates schizophrenia in vulnerable persons
– Increased risk of low weight babies if used during pregnancy and an increased risk of leukemia among offspring exposed while in utero and other birth defects
-respiratory diseases associated with smoking as the method of administration, such as chronic bronchitis, and the occurrence of histopathological changes that may be precursors to the development of malignancy
– subtle forms of cognitive impairment, most particularly of attention and memory, which persist while the user remains chronically intoxicated, and may or may not be reversible after prolonged abstinence from cannabis plus a decline in occupational performance marked by underachievement in adults in occupations requiring high level cognitive skills, and impaired educational attainment in adolescents
– while Cannabis is not chemically addictive that does not mean a regular user will not develop a psychological dependance
Cannabis and Paranoia
More Paranoia

Synthetic Biology


February 1, 2008 at 4:55 pm 1 comment

Geotagging (fiona)

What is Geotagging?

The process of adding geographical notes to various media such as websites, images and videos. A geotag usually consists of latitude and longitude coordinates but can also include altitude and location data. Progression of GPS technologies along with development of various online applications such as Flickr have fueled the popularity of this tool.

How is it done?

Photo Sharing services like Yahoo’s Flickr let you manually add photos to a map and Google has now extended geotagging to its YouTube video-sharing site.

More specific methods of Geotagging involve entering exact coordinates and other detailed information regarding the location of your resource. Because it is a relatively new phenomenon, no Geotagging standards currently exist, but the conventions established by Frequent Geo users consists of 3 tags to geotag an information resource such as a photo:
*geo:lat=51.4989 (latitude)
*geo:lon=0.1786 (longitude)

Geotagging webpages is done with metatags. So in the <head> tag of an .html page you can give that page a geographical location by entering the coordinates into a metatag. <meta name=”ICBM” content=”50.183246, -86.125672″>

A Further convention adds tags to specify the suggested viewing angle and range when the geotagged location is viewed in Google Earth.

What are the potential uses of Geotagging?

Geotagging is useful for travelers who wish to see a place before they go or to bring life to a slideshow and document their exact route. Or for Naturalists who need to map their bird sightings or chart a seal population. Or for Archaeologists to mark where they unearthed artifacts.

Currently professional photographers are the main group of people who practice Geotagging, but this is likely to expand as more cellphones and digital cameras come with built-in GPS support.
Typically a professional photographer carries a standard GPS device that record location and altitude data every few seconds. That info is then matched with the time stamp on their photos.

Devices that now support geotagging include some GPS-enabled camera phones and there are some high-end cameras such as those from Nikon Corp. than can connect directly to GPS devices. Upcoming PhotoFinder technology from ATP Electronics will write GPS info directly on a camera’s memory card.

GPS data as a method of categorizing photos is as important as organizing your images by date.

The potential to search for services based on a specific location on the map.

A proposal has been developed to extend Geotagging to cover other bodies such as Mars and the Moon.

GeoBlogging attaches specific geographical location information to blog entries via geotags. This allows users to select areas of specific interest to them on interactive maps.

What are the current problems with Geotagging?

Although Geotagging is becoming a more and more widely practiced activity, Flickr estimates that only 5% of photos are currently posted with location information.
This has to do with a number of issues such as privacy considerations, the failure of satalite-dependant GPS to work reliably indoors and the fact that Geotagging still typically involves carrying an extra gadget around, then fussing around with software on a computer at home. Another problematic issue with Geotagging is that GPS devices tag the location of the photographer while the landmark being photographed could be miles away, though there is technology now being developed to solve this problem. The integration of GPS with cameras is held back by issues such as added cost and power consumption.

However there is still a great potential in this tool and it will likely be developed as more people become aware of its usefulness.


What is Geotagging?
Cameras That Know Who You Are
Geotagging Links Photos to Locales
GPS Adds Dimension to Online Photos

February 1, 2008 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment


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