Friday, January 20, 2023

Who Wants to Live Forever? Guest Post by Rebecca Cantrell

Rebecca Cantrell:
Who Wants to Live Forever?

In my newest thriller, The Girl Who Would Live Forever, a character is obsessed with “stopping the bony hand of death from choking out the life of everyone on Earth [and] bottling immortality.”As Queen sang, Who Wants to Live Forever? The answer is: a lot of us. Since humans started dying, they started looking around to figure out ways to keep it from happening. At first it was the province of the gods and special food they ate or drank. If humans consumed it, they became immortal too. Many cultures have such mythological food--from the Tree of Eternal Life to the Peaches of Immortality through a lot of magical milk. But getting those immortal god-food has proven elusive.

When the old myths didn't work, we turned to supernatural sources. If you want to live forever and look sexy doing it, vampirism is the clear winner. Immortality without trying hard but also not looking good? Zombies. Immortality on a slightly different plane? Ghosts. Immortality after death? Heaven and hell.

But most people want to live forever in the bodies they had when they arrived. So we started looking for other methods. Alchemists searched for the philosopher’s stone which, in addition to turning lead to gold, conferred immortality. Shelby Linton, the character in my book, searches for pharmacological means to extend life. She strives to harness the power of Turritopsis dohrnii, a biologically immortal jellyfish that reverts to an earlier life stage when needed and grows up all over again. She’s not alone in her search, as real life scientists are examining those jellyfish searching for the same thing.

Other scientists are using gene editing to reverse aging in mice, with promising results. In the short term, I guess that’s great news for wealthy mice, but not so much for humans.

More promising right now are metformin (diabetes drug) and rapamycin (immune-suppressing drug) which are already on the market. They’ve been shown to increase life expectancy in mice, even when administered to older mice. The science isn’t settled for either of them, but maybe these technologies will help us to live a happy and healthy 120 years and beyond.

Imagine what you’d do with all that extra time. Read more books? Write more? Finally clean out all your closets?


New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell's works have won the ITW Thriller, the Bruce Alexander, and the Macavity awards and been nominated for the Barry, Mary Higgins Clark, GoodReads Choice, APPY, RT Reviewers Choice, and Shriekfest Film Festival awards. She and her husband and son live in Hawaii where they avoid jellyfish instead of using them to become immortal. 


Unknown said...

Fantastic article! Thanks for posting and sharing this Rebecca! I love all your work!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks! Glad to hear it!