Re: Historic Moment Missed

Forrest Bishop (
Tue, 29 Jul 1997 17:33:36 -0500 (CDT)

You wrote:
>On Tue, 29 Jul 1997, Patrick Wilken wrote:
>> A few days ago I posted a note to the effect that we are now have the
>> technology to alter the human germ line.... Yet here we have a technology that
>> would allow us TODAY to create human beings (??) that would have natural
>> lifespans of 100s (1000s???) of years (presuming inserting the appropriate
>> antioxidant genes into the human genome will work the same as experiments
>> like those on fruit flies).

>Huh? How does this follow? We have had the technology to alter the
>human germ line for several years by now as far as I know (the point
>is that nobody did it/was allowed to), but that doesn't mean we know
>how to do many useful alterations.

Aging also involves macroscopice changes in various tissues. The cornea
has to keep growing in order to remain transparent, cartilage of the
ears and nose continously grow throughout life, and so on.
>Adding antioxidant genes might be a good start. Another is promoting
>more DNA repair (expensive in nature, we can afford it), which would
>decrease the risk for cancer.

This sounds plausible.

>More in the future things like (say)
>linking the telomerase gene with an artificial promotor so that you
>can activate it by an injection of a drug, lengthening your telomeres
>under medical supervision.

Lengthening telomeres doesn't look as promising as it did a year ago.
Apparently it can decrease cell division life or not affect it at all,
depending on still unknown factors.

>> Not only that, but as our knowledge grows to gradually create
>> completely new species of humans. Yet no-one seems interested about
>> this.
>New species are not a goal per se; what would we (or they) use them

Other environments.

>> Perhaps Perry M. is right and this list has declined to the point
>> that people are so inward looking that they can't even notice
>> history marching past outside.

Just because you don't get a response posted to the list does not
mean that people didn't read it and think about it. It is not
possible to keep up with everything. I only read maybe 30% of the
messages, and reply to maybe 1%.

>Perhaps. But it might also be that we are so used to dramatic
>revolutions every week...

Yah!! Very tough to stay on top of it all.

Forrest Bishop