Friday, April 16, 2010

My mind has been blown this week, twice!

Let me preface this with the fact that I get excited about many things that might be considered inconsequential to many, so I apologize if this seems over-hyped. But I hope you'll take the minute to indulge me in my musings...

(Basically) Immortal Jellyfish!?!

First piece of news is about a jellyfish that is more or less immortal. It cycles between its adult and immature polyp stages, and (I think) it keeps this up indefinitely until it gets eaten by something, etc. (I couldn't find a copy of the full article, so if someone knows for sure please fill in the details).

I'm sure within a relatively short period of time they're going to isolate the set of genes that cause this; after all, the jellyfish genome is not that complicated on the grand scale of things. So I got to wondering about whether folks that are really interested in immortality for themselves would want to try gene therapy with said gene set. I mean, they're already inserting fluorescent protein genes (also from jellyfish) into other organisms for research purposes.

Granted, I think most of gene therapy nowadays is done with functioning human genes. But who's to say that won't change in the next 500 years or so. Barring an apocalyptic event that destroys all existing technology as we know it, I'm fairly certain that this is something we would be able to figure out in the next few hundred years or so.

However, I do need to say that I don't think immortality is all that great of an idea. The most obvious issue being that if people ceased to die from natural causes, the planet would never be able to support the entire population. We're already pushing our capacity as it is.

The only application in which I could see this as being useful would be for long-distance space travel. Since interstellar distances are so great, this would take care of one of the problems regarding extremely far space travel. By the time people could potentially be immortal, we'll probably have a better handle on space travel too.

In any case, this provides a great transition to the next article that has blown my mind...

A Universe in Every Black Hole!?!

That's right, instead of black holes condensing all the matter that goes in into a singularity, there's a new theory that postulates the matter going into black holes is spewed out the other end of a wormhole to form another universe.

I know, I don't even know what to do with this. Because there are a freaking ton of black holes out there. Comprehending the expanse of our own universe is difficult enough, let alone imagining a universe for every black hole. Granted, it's just a theory, but it makes for a lot of fun food for thought.

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