Immortality is the idea that you are not affected by mortality, the ability (if you can really call it that) to die of "natural causes". Many forms of Mythical Undead such as Vampires and Liches. There was a show called Highlander about an Immortal from the Scottish Highlands, who gained power by cutting off the heads of other Immortals. When he did this it was called The Quickening, because in the end, THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

There are two kinds of immortality that I can see:

1)Not able to die at all -- ie, you could be at ground zero in a nuclear blast and survive. A subcategory is things like vampires or "Highlanders" (from the movie) who can only be killed in specific ways, like a stake thorugh the heart of having their heads cut off.

2)Will not die of natural causes -- this is better defined as "indefinite life." You could theoretically live forever, barring nasty incidents. This is intriguingly possible for us humans.

Death by natural causes seems to occur for three main reasons:

1) The body is not adequately maintained and things eventually break. Examples of this are the hardening of the lenses of the eyes (presbyopia) and arteriosclerosis. This could be solved either genetically or by cloned organ transplants. The latter would involve growing whole organs, and replacing the originals as required. Fixing the brain is obviously more complicated.

2) A failure event is genetically scheduled to occur. These are failures which occur almost like clockwork at a specific age. Examples are puberty and menopause. (I know that menopause isn't really genetically scheduled, but women are born with a fixed number of eggs, and menopause occurs after those are exhausted.) The methods used to fix these depend on what exactly each failure is.

3) Genetic material becomes corrupted over time, eventually breaking genes and making the DNA unviable. Some genes have more of a tendency to break than others, and not all mutations have a negative (or any) effect. This would require the implementation of some kind of enhanced genetic proofreading system, or routine cell-by-cell genetic resequencing from a genome stored in a computer, or something like that.

Picking small aspects of this research would make a hell of a project for someone, if they could secure the funding. I just hope that this stuff is figured out and works before I die of natural causes. Hopefully they can come up with some kind of age-regression therapy as well.

Another interesting possibility would be somehow converting a person's brain into digital data, then having a computer simulate it. The simulated brain would be, for all intents and purposes, an exact copy of its biological precursor. The electronic brain would possess the personality, knowledge, skills, and abilities of its biological precursor. The brain is then placed in a new body, and the body is changed as required. For all intents and purposes, and as far as "you" are concerned, you never died and are immortal.

To me, immortality is a frightening concept. The inability to die prevents the closure of one's life; it destroys utterly any purpose of life. With an infinite amount of time to exhaust, one could conceivably do everything an infinite number of times. If all possibilities were to be exhausted, one's life would be entirely devoid of anything stimulating.

It's at this last point that I start to really think way too hard about the whole issue. Once you are dead, nothing reaches you; nothing is perceived, and no stimulation occurs. If nothing stimulated you in your state of immortality, would you really be alive, or merely another corpse like everyone else?

I view immortality as the ultimate attachment. Death is a natural part of life, not the end but simply a change. Change is good. Immortality is not.

There was an interesting episode in one of the Star Trek shows where a member of the Q Continuum (the realm of immortals with seemingly absolute powers) was put to jail to prevent him from suicide.

A trial, headed by Captain Janeway, was held between him and the Q. At the end, the trial resolved in an agreement that he would become mortal but would be prevented from ending his life immediately.

Indeed, it was the Q (or should I say Q himself) that smuggled poison in to let him end his life which had nothing left but boredom.

As much as we think of our Universe as infinite, I am convinced that, given infinite time within this Universe, one would eventually come to a point of no further growth possible without the change of venue, whether it be reincarnation, going to heaven (which, too, would have to be temporary for it to be meaningful), or any other way.

It is also interesting to note that fictional immortals always have to take other lives to sustain their own: The vampires kill humans and drink their blood, the Highlander immortals chop off each other's head, etc.

Let us also not forget that human existence is riddled with pain, disappointment, and frustration (it certainly has its nice points, too, of course). Who would want that to last forever? Not me!

I find my own mortality to be a plus. As one who believes in reincarnation, I find it much more fascinating to live different lives: As white or black, as male or female, as tall and short, as human or a god or animal, etc.

Variety is the spice of life. Immortality has no spice.

Immortality is essentially impossible. DNA doesn't support this. We are programmed to die, either via apoptosis (preprogrammed cell death)or via our oncogenes. Our cells are not only able to kill us via tumors, but they are even able to defend themselves against drugs and against genetic engineering so far.

There are proteins in our body called multidrug resistant proteins. They are used to combat toxic substances used to mutate DNA. They also protect proteins called heat shock proteins, or stress proteins. These proteins are used to specifically protect our natural proteins which get turned on to increase hormones which kill us, with all that said you have a body that wants to die. Technology will be able to "keep us alive" but how about "living?" Not sure if that is what one could call it.

For some this may be considered immortality, breathing, having a pulse, all via machines...but if the qualityof life is not there, then I don't want any part of it.
In the early 1960s sci-fi writer Fredric Brown wrote a series of short stories under the umbrella title 'Great Lost Discoveries'. The three he completed related the tales of how invisibility, immortality, and invulnerability were discovered, and quickly thereafter lost by unexpected quirks of fate.

In 'Great Lost Discoveries 3', Brown makes the observation that, when people say that they wish to be immortal, they really mean that they wish to be eternally young. The protagonist of Brown's story develops an immortality serum, but holds off using it until he is terminally ill; after taking the serum he finds that his disease has become immortal too. He lapses into a coma from which he never wakes, and after a few decades his pragmatic doctors simply bury him.

To live forever but not be eternally young would be hell - eventually your body would be an immobile mass of cancer, and your mind would be a senile wreck. Transferring your thoughts into a computer would not be a complete solution, as you yourself personally would still die; an exact duplicate of yourself would have all the fun.

In the end, we all die because nature did not need to make our bodies immortal; given that we can reproduce by our teenage years, and that we only need to be parents until our own children can breed, any extra life beyond the age of 30 is a waste. And natural selection abhors waste.

Immortality

A novel by Milan Kundera written in 1988 and at the time of writing the most recent he has written in Czech.

The novel has several parallel tracks, which makes it very difficult to describe, but I'll have a shot.

It is about love. It is about life. It is about immortality. It is also about the novelist Milan Kundera writing a book. We follow him in conversations with his friend Avenarius about the book he is writing. As in this example:

Avenarius lapsed into a perplexed silence. After a while, he asked me in a kindly voice 'And what will your novel be called?'
'The Unbearable Lightness of Being.'
'I think somebody has already written that.'
'I did! But I was wrong about the title then. That title was supposed to belong to the novel I'm writing right now.'
We stopped talking, and concentrated on the taste of the wine and the duck.

Immortality by Milan Kundera

At the same time we also follow the story he's writing and the characters in that story. It all happens in parallel, and occasionally they even briefly touch, like his friend meeting one of the people in the book on the street. This gets even more confusing when he starts bringing Goethe and Hemingway into the story.

One of the reasons he is doing this is to make sure that this novel stays a novel, and not a masquerading film script. He wants to make sure that nobody can make a film out of the book and still keep the experience and richness of the book. At least that is what he says in the book.

This approach makes the book very intellectual, and many parts of the jigsaw don't fall into place until quite late in the book. In spite of this the book is very pleasant to read, and I would recommend it to anybody. I would even recommend it to myself, since I think that this is the kind of book reading experience that can only improve with repetition.

Im`mor*tal"i*ty (?), n.; pl. Immortalities (#). [L. immortalitas: cf. F. immortalit'e.]

1.

The quality or state of being immortal; exemption from death and annihilation; unending existance; as, the immortality of the soul.

This mortal must put on immortality. 1 Cor. xv. 53.

2.

Exemption from oblivion; perpetuity; as, the immortality of fame.

 

© Webster 1913.

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