Posts by Bart Janssen

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  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to B Jones,

    There’s a lot about those books that reminds me of discussions here.

    No accident I'm a huge SF fan :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to B Jones,

    actuarially speaking

    But if you knew your body would function healthily and happily for say 2000 years would you be more risk averse?

    Or would you be a teenage hooligan for longer?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    maybe that was just me

    It wasn't for me. But I understand your point. For an individual in pain with no hope of recovery ...

    Really I'm not suggesting death is an evil thing to be feared today but rather saying that biologically there is no reason why a self renewing individual cannot live for a very very long time, with good health.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to dyan campbell,

    Really? What about

    apoptosis

    telomeres

    entropy

    inflammation

    Apoptosis is about individual cells or tissues not the organisms as a whole, except that apoptosis is part of development to create organ shape etc.

    Telomeres are more interesting but there is an increasing understanding of how they work and why in some cases they don't shorten. If that can be understood, and I see no reason why not, then it seems reasonable to postulate drugs or treatments that restore telomeres to "the young state".

    Entropy is about physics and on the universe level you can't fight it. But it is trivial to reverse on a local level we do that every day, for the universe entropy always increases but for the individual entropy can decrease.

    Inflammation is just another biological process we don't fully understand. Again I see no reason why we will not develop a complete understanding of the biology and be able to control it.

    None of these things is easy and as I said I don't have any idea when it will happen but I'm quite certain that those things we think of as inevitable about aging will become trivial to deal with. It used to be inevitable that your teeth would fall out by age 30.

    If you want to look at the history of science it's littered with folks (some of them very very bright) saying something is theoretically possible but practically impossible only to be run over by three different impossible things.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    just recycling

    and if you are constantly reusing and recycling
    are you still the same person?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Death is a necessary, and unavoidable, part of life.

    Really why?

    If you view a person as a collection of cells and bacteria (mostly bacteria) that combine to make a living person. Then individual cell death is normal. But death of the individual is not necessarily required for any reason.

    You may have philosophical reasons for thinking death is normal and necessary, but I can't see any biological reason.

    There are certainly ecological reasons for have individuals die off.

    And because of the way evolution works we have evolved to breed and then there is no species survival advantage to living after breeding. Also note it's unlikely that there is any species survival selection advantage for dying, bearing in mind most of our evolution occurred when humans were a relatively small population.

    In practice, for us, at our stage of medical care yes death is inevitable and normal. And dealing with it, is indeed, part of life.

    I have no idea what cultural changes would ensue if we were functionally non-dying. I also don't know what would happen to a personality that survived say 5 centuries.

    But purely biologically, no I don't see death as inevitable and I really do believe that at some point humanity will have to deal with individuals essentially living a very very long time.

    And as usual I am straying very far from David's thread - I think it's a disease.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    by keeping people alive longer are we not also keeping diseases alive longer?

    No idea. But my optimistic feeling is we will reach a point where we can deal with pretty much every cause of death, except accidental. When that will happen I don't know. We are making extraordinary progress understanding our own biology and I really don't see any solid reason why the "natural" causes of death are certain.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to JacksonP,

    I’d love to discuss this subject with you Bart

    Dude you have an espresso machine and a table tennis table and you're walking distance away ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air,

    If you'll all excuse me I'm gonna rant about food and allergies, feel free to skip ahead to an interesting post :).

    So the place I work has a reasonable number of folks who work on food and flavour and nutrition so we get regular seminars and bearing in mind I'm a DNA scientist at heart I have read more than my share of papers on the subjects (yes plural).

    One thing to note is the increase in allergies is real, kinda. Yes there are more folks with allergies but it's a very difficult thing to untangle from other data particularly in the western world.

    More people are alive who wouldn't be, we are very good at keeping people alive who would normally have died as a baby, I'm one of them. What that does to the stats nobody is sure but it probably has an effect.

    People are healthier now, which seems an odd thing to mention but if you have a really serious problem with your health you are less likely to notice or care about a food allergy and less likely to report it. Even though ironically the two may be connected.

    There are other complications to the stats but the point is nothing is simple in this science, so simplistic answers like "eat this" or "don't eat that" are almost certainly wrong and should be treated with enormous suspicion.

    And our understanding of allergic responses is still limited so anyone claiming to know why people are having allergic responses to food is either a genius or wrong.

    But with all that in mind we do know the first world diet has changed dramatically. We know this has consequences for the bacteria in our guts but we know almost nothing about those bacteria. We know this probably has a relationship to food allergies but we don't know exactly what that relationship might be yet. That is my summation of the state of scientific knowledge in this field (with the caveat that for some very specific cases we know a bit more).

    So for me there are two bits of advice I am prepared to give about food as a scientist.

    Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

    This is stolen unashamedly from Michael Pollan
    In short if your grandmother would have recognised it as food, it is food. Ergo an energy drink is not food.
    Don't eat too much, well duh, but be aware big plates = big meals.
    And most of your diet should be plants, meat is fine (unless you have objections for some reason) but in any meal meat should be less than 25%.

    The second piece of advice is do what works.

    Everyone is different, we have different genes and different gut bacteria and etc etc. As a consequence what is a miracle cure for me will not be a miracle cure for you. Experiment with yourself (bearing in mind n=1) and do what works for you.

    Speaking as a person and not a scientist, Molten is a damn fine restaurant.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Coming Up For Air, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    it seems a little…reductive

    oh Lucy! That was terrible. Also very geeky.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

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