The Value of Modest Breakthroughs
Aubrey de Grey, PhD, is Chairman and Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah Foundation. The core of his research is the identification of all forms of cellular and molecular damage whose accumulation contributes to human aging, and the design of interventions to remove, repair, replace, or render harmless all such damage so as to arrest or even reverse the biological aging process. He has published extensively on these and other areas of gerontology in the scientific literature, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the high-impact journal Rejuvenation Research, the only peer-reviewed academic journal focusing on intervention in aging.
Question: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your work?
Aubrey de Grey: I’ve been extremely lucky when it’s come to encountering and overcoming obstacles in my work. When I was working in artificial intelligence, I was essentially learning how to do research, and I could easily have become disillusioned if I had long periods of lack of progress which most researchers do in their formative years when they’re doing their PhDs and so on. I was very lucky that I was able to make modest breakthroughs sufficiently frequently to keep my spirits up sort of speak and to give myself the sort of intellectual resilience that one needs in order to work on really hard problems. Once I’ve got into working on the biology of aging, I’ve been facing both scientific problems and of course political and other problems in persuading people that my work is worthwhile, but again, I’ve been able to make steady progress in both areas. So I really haven’t had big obstacles, big if you like psychological barriers to keeping going and maintaining my morale.
Recorded on: October 2, 2009
Aubrey de Grey explains why savoring small victories is the key to overcoming seemingly impossible challenges in science.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
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