On the topic of whether we could conceivably understand death and extend human lifespans significantly - I'm wondering if any smart folks can point me to where my thinking regarding death may be wonky.

Hypothesis: Death only exists as an evolutionary advantage, and decoding the genome would point to designed cell death

Offspring provide a chance for mutations and evolution. Bacteria, with their short doubling time, can evolve very quickly (e.g. antibiotic resistance). Humans, with a longer lifespan, cannot evolve as quickly. While the exact metric above is not linked to lifespan directly (its actually reproductive rate), I'd argue that at stable/equilibrium population size (due to resource constraints) they are indirectly correlated.

Understandably, there are many factors that introduce mutation into a species, other than death rate. Some species may have more powerful DNA editing enzyme variants that lower mutation rates.

Some counter arguments may include 'wear and tear', the notion that no organism can live forever as any ordered matter tends to break down over time. Some cold-water fish have low metabolism rates and long lifespans.

What can I learn about this topic?

  • $\begingroup$ Unclear as to what you mean. You refer to an "exact metric above," but I don't know which metric you're referring to. "Designed cell death" is uncontroversial. It's called apoptosis. Designed senescence of the whole (human) organism is more controversial, but there are theories. Take a look here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – sterid
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 3:45
  • $\begingroup$ there's a few good links in that second one, thanks. not a huge fan of the discussion in the first link, if you switch the duplicate link I will accept it and close $\endgroup$
    – Nth.gol
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 1:49
  • $\begingroup$ @sterid thank you that also added the kind of thoughts I was looking for and its helpful to ground on the term 'designed senescence' $\endgroup$
    – Nth.gol
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 1:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Nth.gol Sorry, what does "ground on the term" mean? $\endgroup$
    – sterid
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ I was not previously familiar with the combined term 'designed senescence', its a good search term. to your first comment, the 'exact metric above' I already mentioned as reproductive rate $\endgroup$
    – Nth.gol
    Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 14:32


Browse other questions tagged .