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.
What makes a life worth living as you grow older?
- Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel revisits his essay on wanting to die at 75 years old.
- The doctor believes that an old life filled with disability and lessened activity isn't worth living.
- Activists believe his argument stinks of ageism, while advances in biohacking could render his point moot.
The Amazon Rainforest is often called "The Planet's Lungs."
- For weeks, fires have been burning in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, likely started by farmers and ranchers.
- Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has blamed NGOs for starting the flames, offering no evidence to support the claim.
- There are small steps you can take to help curb deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen.
Emojis might contain more emotional information than meets the eye.
- A new study shows that people who frequently used emojis in text messages with potential dates engaged in more sexual activity and had more contact with those dates.
- However, the study only shows an association; it didn't establish causality.
- The authors suggest that emojis might help to convey nuanced emotional information that's lacking in strictly text-based messaging.