How Far Can Science Extend Human Longevity?
How far can science go in extending the human life span? Genetic engineering, preventative medicine, regeneration and machine solutions could help us live longer—possibly forever?
What's the Latest Development?
The United Nations currently predicts that average life expectancy will climb to near 100 years sometime in the 22nd century. That prediction has been made possible by advances in anti-aging science which include new research on healthy living and preventative medicine, genetics, regeneration and machine solutions. More generally, aging has been discovered as a risk factor for a host of diseases, including heart disease and cancer, making it an important locus of research as medical science moves beyond infectious diseases and begins to tackle more complex disabilities.
What's the Big Idea?
Genetic manipulation has resulted lowering instances of diseases such as inflammation and diabetes, helping to prolong life. And scientists have used stem cells to regrow or repair tissues in the heart, liver and bladder. "This brings up the question: what happens if radical life extension actually works? How will it impact individuals, society, and even the planet?" Sociological studies reveal a complex relationship between our desires and aging: While most people are comfortable accepting small gains in longevity, we overwhelmingly reject the appeal of immortality.
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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