Living Forever? Bad Idea, Say Biologists
Ageing and death are not something human beings generally look forward to but biologists say that immortality could prove a disadvantage to the survival of our species.
What's the Latest Development?
If humans became immortal, the species would be at a biological disadvantage, says evolutionary biologist Andre Martins of Brazil's University of Sao Paolo. In a computer simulation which pits an immortal species against one which prunes its population, the species that grows old "can drive immortal competitors to extinction," writes Martins. "This counter-intuitive result arises from the pruning caused by the death of elder individuals. When there is change and mutation, each generation is slightly better adapted to the new conditions."
What's the Big Idea?
What are the prospects for immortality? Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that computer technology will advance far enough by 2030 that human minds will be uploaded onto servers, thus achieving a kind of body-less immortality. The British gerontologist Aubrey de Grey predicts that "in 2,0008, the first child to live to 1,000 would 'already have been born'. He focuses on approaches that 'defeat' ageing in the body." Our natural death exposes the complexity of evolution through paradox: The goal of procreation is punctuated by death.
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.
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.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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