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jerrywickey

Immortality is the norm

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Death is accepted as a natural part of life.

 

I have even heard educated people say: "The job of bacteria is to eat, reproduce and die." Death seems to be assumed as a natural component of life. Perhaps in some religious or an irrational dogma connected to a yin yang idea of some mythical balance to the universe.

 

The fact is that biology tends to organize material and keep it that way. Bacteria don't die. They eat, reproduce daughter cells and continue themselves. They continually renew themselves. One has to define the process of reproduction as death to claim otherwise.

 

Immortality does not protect an organism from diseases or fatal injury. None the less the majority of the biomass of earth is immortal. There is no natural life span for most of the biological organisms on earth. The longer an individual organism lives the greater the chances that organism will encounter some fatal circumstances, but the majority of organisms do not experience genetically organized death.

 

Even the cells of most land vertebrates who experience genetically organized death, regenerate continually as if they were immortal until the mechanism of death is triggered.

 

There really is no reason to call death a natural part of life. Death must be a special adaptation reserved to the minor portion of life on earth.

 

Jerry

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Well, mortality is the norm for us multicellular creatures with our chromosomes and telomeres. Though I do believe we may eventually be able to circumvent that.

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Well, mortality is the norm for us multicellular creatures with our chromosomes and telomeres. Though I do believe we may eventually be able to circumvent that.
I was reading a SciAm article on regeneration that fascinated me (April 2008). It seems we have all the necessary ingredients to enact an embryonic development program much like a salamander does (something only it can do among vertebrates) to regrow a lost limb. Human fibrosis can potentially be altered to form new limbs instead of a scar. I wonder if this might be a first step towards regenerating worn out cells in humans, giving us at least a longer life, if not immortality.

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Bacteria don't die. They eat, reproduce daughter cells and continue themselves. They continually renew themselves. One has to define the process of reproduction as death to claim otherwise.

 

Then why do we have so (relatively) few bacteria around? If their numbers have only been going up, because they don't die, why aren't there more?

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Well, in theory bacteria do not classically age, but they die for a hosts of other reasons of course. It is in theory possible that upon a certain point a bacterium may accumulate enough mutation so that it eventually dies from it, but then they are incredibly robust and even curing certain bacteria from a large number of genes does not necessarily cause them cell failure. On the other hand they may then die from the inability to process certain nutrients, increase susceptibility to certain stresses and so on. In the end it is more likely that they die from other reasons.

The same also goes for immortalized eukaryotic cells like tumours, for instance. It is hard to track individual cells during several life-cycles. though.

But of course what happens on the single-cell level cannot be easily applied to a whole multicellular organism. In the latter survival is dependent on a unbelievable numbers of things not going wrong.

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Everything is immortal until it encounters a mortal wound.

 

By everything, of course, I consider the image of multi-cellular organisms as "kingdoms." If the population of a kingdom is low enough, it will starve because it cannot provide enough food and protection of its people. If all the members of the kingdom are immortal and do not suffer wounds, then the kingdom is immortal. We are not a thing but a collection of things that work together for the survival of the whole organism.

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Then why do we have so (relatively) few bacteria around? If their numbers have only been going up, because they don't die, why aren't there more?

I suspect he means to say that they "continue themselves" through the mere existence of their daughter cells.

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Everything is immortal until it encounters a mortal wound.

 

No, there appears to be senescence.

 

I suspect he means to say that they "continue themselves" through the mere existence of their daughter cells.

 

That's a strange definition of "immortal," though. I think the original premise is fatally flawed, ironic as that is.

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Immortality is but a vain ambition of us, a more advanced species. The whole purpose as an organism is to die. If organisms weren't designed by evolution to die then then there would be no purpose for this thought to even pass through minds. But it does. Organisms are meant to die because if they did not do so then organisms would not be able to evolve, and species such as ours would not exist and all life as we know it would not exist.

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That's a strange definition of "immortal," though. I think the original premise is fatally flawed, ironic as that is.

I think this might be a case of coming up with a post to fit the thread title.

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Then why do we have so (relatively) few bacteria around? If their numbers have only been going up, because they don't die, why aren't there more?

 

The OP isn't claiming they don't die, just that they don't have definite lifespans. Something external always has to kill them, and if it doesn't they theoretically live forever. Unlike us, or more specifically our cells, which only divide a certain number of times.

 

Of course, this view also has it's problems. How many mutations have to occur before it's considered a different organism? Which daughter cell is to be considered the same as being as the parent? Both? Are all bacteria the same organism? It almost does make more sense to think of cell division as "death" of the parent, or more accurately to say that the life cycle is simply different, and is an imperfect analogy to our own. Hence "immortal" simply isn't applicable, rather than being true or false.

 

Immortality is but a vain ambition of us, a more advanced species. The whole purpose as an organism is to die. If organisms weren't designed by evolution to die then then there would be no purpose for this thought to even pass through minds. But it does. Organisms are meant to die because if they did not do so then organisms would not be able to evolve, and species such as ours would not exist and all life as we know it would not exist.

 

You are correct that death has been a crucial part of evolution, but that doesn't necessarily make it a "vain ambition." Organisms do not have an inherent "purpose," and evolution certainly didn't "design" anything.

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Another way to look at it is, if our cells were like bacterial cells, then we would never age. Or at least our cells wouldn't; there might still be some irreparable damage in our tissues.

 

It depends on what you mean by age. Is age is irreparable damage that accumulates over time? Or is age irreparable damage that accumulates in our cells over time?

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I don't mean that evolution had a specific "design" I simply meant through evolutions trial and error that the current "design" of organisms are intended to die.

 

Mr.skeptic is also correct in stating that we don't actually age. Aging is a side effect of the deterioration of our cells.

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