Eternal youthfulness has been an ambitious dream of science and accordingly several intensive researches are currently on in the fields of genetics, artificial intelligence, etc., to switch off the genes responsible for aging. The multibillion dollar project Calisco project by google is the latest candidate in the field. “Curing death” was the proclaimed agenda of the Calico project. However, the irony of the situation is that science itself is proving today that it is a utopian wish to get rid of death. A recent study by University of Arizona researchers has proved that it is mathematically impossible to stop aging in multicellular organisms like humans.
Joanna Masel, the head of the research and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and at the University of Arizona said: “Aging is mathematically inevitable like, seriously inevitable. There’s logically, theoretically, mathematically no way out.” He, along with Paul Nelson, outlined their findings on math and aging in a paper titled “Intercellular Competition and Inevitability of Multicellular Aging,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The present understanding of the evolution of aging leaves open the possibility that aging could be stopped if only science could figure out a way to make selection between organisms perfect. One way to do so is to use competition between cells to eliminate poorly functioning ‘sluggish’ cells linked to aging, while keeping other cells intact. However Masel and Nelson say that his solution is not that simple. According to them two things happen to the body at the cellular level as it ages. Firstly, cells slow down and start to lose function, just like our hair cells stop making pigment. Secondly, some cells rotate their growth rate, which can cause cancer cells to form. As per the study, as we get older, we all tend, at some point, to develop cancer cells in the body, even if they are not causing symptoms. The researchers found that even if natural selection were perfect, aging would still occur, since cancer cells tend to cheat when cells compete. “You might be able to slow down aging but you can’t stop it,” Masel said. “We have a mathematical demonstration of why it is impossible to fix both problems. You can fix one problem but you’re stuck with the other one. Things will get worse over time, in one of these two ways or both: Either all of your cells will continue to get more sluggish, or you’ll get cancer. And the basic reason is that things break. It does not matter how much you try and stop them from breaking, you can’t.”
The new finding very well consolidates the religious belief that the true meaning of human life consists not in an unending biological life, but in the eternal life following death.