AGING Processes - Many? A Definition?

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Mon Apr 24 23:24:24 EST 1995

On 24 Apr 1995, Joseph Norton wrote:

> > Could not the process that we call ageing merely be a summation of side 
> > effects of the process we call healthy life?
> this seems a little backwards to me
> doesn't ist seem more likely to be a summation of side-effects of the 
> process we call an UNhealthy life-style?

No because all life ages yet cannot be said to be living "unhealthy" 
lifestyles.  This is true of "immortal" cells like bacteria too:  if you 
prevent them from dividing, but do not prevent life, the will die after a 
time (they senesce and ultimately fail).  
  Groupers and other sea life, as far as we know, have an indefinite 
lifespan, barring accident or predation, yet it requires constant 
growth.  Yet you do not find such creatures beyond a certain average size 
so death claims ALL of them eventually...and before they grow to any 
especially monstrous size.  In any case, this method is not open to us.

> > If life is a system of a large number of variables and feedback loops all 
> > trying to keep the system stable, then Chaos theory shows that eventually 
> > the process of stabilisation must fail.
> does this seem a little  off to anyone else?  doesn't it seem like we 
> could continue to heal ourselves (or that our bodies could continue the 
> process of self healing ) continually?   i mean  if other life forms can 
> regenerate body parts, why would it not be possible for us to figure out 
> how to regenerate healthy cells/tissue etc.?

Theoretically, there is nothing impossible about regenerating a limb or 
even an organ...such is among the possibilities from future biotechnology.
Yet even these creatures age and die.  Where are the immortal salamanders 
or frogs?

> > we can do to put off the evil day, but without a total redesign of the 
> > system we will never be able to totally eliminate ageing. 
> ?  how can you say this?  i mean, why isn't it just as 'true' to say:
> "if we eliminated all carcinogens and other environmental toxins and fed 
> our selves appropriately, we could live forever."

Impossible in principle.  Sunlight, oxygen, the very products of normal
metabolism, natural chemicals within plants we eat (oh yes, the benign
vegetarian diet contains many natural insecticides and other toxins which
can lead to cancer...the plants didn't evolve simply to be foodstuff for
everything else.  They have and need defenses to improve survival too and 
they are not all harmless to the creatures that consume them).  So...how 
do you eliminate "carcinogens and other environmental toxins" without 
eliminating everything in existence?
Life requires death for meaning - for its very definition.  No death, 
no life.  


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