Richard Faragher presented a light-hearted and often amusing talk on the question “Would it be a disaster to find a cure for ageing and death by natural causes?” This talk was part of the Big Questions series held at the University of Derby (UK) which allows scientists to discuss various science-based issues with people of faith (and of no faith). This talk was recorded for a podcast for all to enjoy.
Richard begins his talk with a brief background, explaining what ageing is, the theories behind why we age and a discussion of the current theories of how we age. He then goes on to talk about whether immortality is actually possible, finishing with religious perspectives on ageing research.
During his talk, Richard discusses data which demonstrates that life expectancy is increasing, but healthy life expectancy is not increasing as fast. With this in mine, he talks about how research into ageing will help increase the rate of healthy life expectancy. This he does by mentioning research using animal models which alter the rate of ageing and the resulting decreases in both the rate at which pathology appear and their severity once present. He goes on to talk about promising research by a team headed by Janet Lord at the University of Birmingham (UK), and how such research has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives a year, thus providing an excellent example of how research into the biology of ageing can help people.
Not often discussed, but a much needed mention in regard to ageing research, especially to those new to the area, are those people who are detrimental to the reputation of ageing research. Richard puts these into three classes of people:
(1) Scientists who say off-the-cuff statements which consequently get blown out of proportion by the media (i.e. “Scientists find cure for ageing”). Ageing is not cured.
(2) Those who say ageing is cured, for the purpose of making money. i.e. from immortality devices and anti-ageing pills.
(3) Visionaries (or “persuasive prophets”) which tell of things to come (i.e. Living to 1000), gaining valuable media attention which should be spent for those doing proper ageing research.
The final discussion on religious perspectives of ageing research is something I’ve never encountered before and definitely worth a listen.
So what you waiting for?...get listening (click here)
Blog entries over the coming weeks is going to be sparse as I finally need to concentrate my efforts on my Phd Thesis…..but stay tuned.