Deep within our subconscious mind is an intrinsic desire to live longer, and this inherent desire to exist beyond our genetically-programmed lifespan has spurred many among us to search for the fabled Fountain of Youth and the Elixir of Life. Great and valiant men of the past had traveled the open seas in search for the Fountain of Youth, and alchemists of all sorts had experimented on various elements to produce the Elixir of Life, but to no avail. Maybe our short lifespan is genetically determined, or maybe the Fountain of Youth or the Elixir of Life are just symbolism. However, if they truly exist and eventually we discover them, I guess this discovery would surely be bad news for life and health insurance companies.
The Mapping Out of the Human Genome
The completion of the mapping out of the human genome in 2002 was hailed as the greatest achievements of this century. But prior to its mapping out, genetic engineers had already been tinkering with DNA and had been producing unusual results. At present, we often hear of genetically engineered organisms, food, and even designer babies. Where this tampering and tinkering with genes would lead, we don’t really know! However, if great modern physicists like Michiu Kaku, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Stephen Hawking are to be listened to, then according to them genetic engineering surely augurs well for humanity and the space age.
Humans as Interplanetary Beings
Stephen Hawking often said that humans must be interplanetary beings, meaning we should be going away from Earth and should be colonizing other planets. But how can we go about colonizing other planets if our bones become brittle after a prolonged stay in space? I think the present development in genetic engineering could resolve this bone problem in space by creating designer babies whose bones are resistant to the prolonged effects of weightlessness and radioactivity in outer space.
The Problem of Sickness and Death
Going back to the problem of sickness and death — even if we have already produced great minds who could calculate the exact number of neutrinos coming from the sun’s core or the exact amount of entropy produced by a black hole, we still could not find a cure to most sicknesses that beset us. We likewise haven’t resolved the ultimate problem of death by finding the Fountain of Youth or the Elixir of Life.
On the other hand, it seems that Mother Earth has been generous enough in supplying us with everything that we need on a daily basis. Hence, any logically-inclined mind would surely ask this question: “Does Mother Earth have a ready cure for all our diseases, or should we just simply continue with the study of our genes and maybe someday genetic engineers will find the cure for death and all types of diseases?”
The Possible Herb of Immortality
In 1970, a shocked and perplexed Chinese National Government sent an investigative commission to southern China to figure out why the National Census conducted that year netted an unusually large number of centenarians in southern China. This investigative body’s conclusion stated that it was the unusual habit of the people in southern China—of drinking Gynostemma Pentaphyllum tea—that had caused this unusual number of centenarians to flourish in southern China.
Gynostemma Pentaphyllum is called “Xiancao” in Chinese which means “Herb of Immortality.” Well, the investigative commission’s findings may be another sort of fake news for all of us, spread and perpetrated by people who are motivated by a dubious agenda. But this news necessitates a second look — after all, any news about prolonging the human lifespan is always worth a second look.
Photo Credits: Nucific