Negligible Senescence

The term used for organisms that don’t age in biology is “negligible senescence”. I first learned about this idea when I read a great non fiction book by science fiction writer Ben Bova, titled Immortality: How Science Is Extending Your Life Span–and Changing The World.

When I first started writing the book The Seeds of the Yew, I interviewed several people about the idea of not aging in humans. I asked them a simple question, “If you were given a chance to not age any further, would you take it?”

The answers I got were a little surprising to me. My neighbor, who was eighty years old at the time, answered my question this way. “No, I have lived my life. I’m done.” He died a few years later, and his daughter moved into his house for a while before she sold it.

I asked someone that was religious, and discovered there is a definite theological element to how people answer. She said, “no, that would be against God, and I want to go to the kingdom of heaven and meet all of my relatives and loved ones that have passed.”

One woman that I asked said, “No, life sucks, why would I want to extend it any further than I have to?”

Others have simply said that of course they would do it. The answers seem to vary by age, for example a lot of middle aged people would say yes, because they were just starting to feel the pains of getting old and getting scared by it. Young people tend to be a little more cavalier about it, and might be more willing to say no.

What I found, without doing much of a quantitative assessment, was that it really is an individual choice. It would be nice if we could someday make that choice for ourselves, especially if the people we love and care for could also avoid aging.

Science is getting closer to solving the problem for us. The question many people have is whether it should or not. I’d be interested to know how you feel about this in the comments below!

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