January 2, 2014
Man has sought the Fountain of Youth since history began.
Herodotus wrote about it in 500 BC; some thought it existed in the Pool of Bethesda’s waters in Jerusalem. Ponce de Leon searched for it in the New World.
So, predictably, many scientists snickered when English author and gerontologist Aubrey de Grey said in the 2000s that anti-aging is achievable. He acknowledges that critics bombarded him when he said humans soon would save more than a year of life for each year we live.
“It is safe to say that this would be the biggest advance ever,” he told the Tribune-Review.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s journal, Technology Review, offered a reward to any scientist who could disprove de Grey, but no one did. “Every now and then,” the journal said, “radical ideas turn out to be true.”
After a decade of abuse, de Grey felt vindication in September, when Google established Calico, an organization to challenge aging. Almost no one snickered, he said, as Calico recruited some of the brightest minds, including former CEOs and technology chiefs of the biotechnology firm Genentech.
Whether it can work, no one knows.
I think it’s pretty clear that people can lead significantly longer, healthier lives with proper treatments. How much longer remains to be seen.