The Speculist: Nobel Prizes for Anti-Aging Research


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Nobel Prizes for Anti-Aging Research noted the convergence of two very interesting events for Singulatarians: The annual Singularity Summit and the awarding of Nobel Prizes to researchers working in the area of telemeres, the proteins at the end of each strand of chromosome that permits orderly replication of said chromosomes.

The Nobel Committee has today honored three U.S. scientists for discovering the genetic code that regulates aging in cells.

The announcement comes as researchers race to develop anti-aging medicine or technology that can make humans immortal. PopSci recently covered the Singularity Summit 2009 where none other than visionary Ray Kurzweil spoke of a future when a computer could simulate the human brain.

Merging humans with artificial intelligence remains some ways off, but there's also plenty of focus on extending the natural human lifespan. The latest Nobel Prize winners helped illuminate the aging process by discovering the repetitive genetic sequences on the ends of chromosomes known as telomeres. The telomeres serve as protective caps that gradually shorten as genetic material is copied many times over during cell division -- a process that parallels human aging, even if other factors also come into play.

The researchers who will receive this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and share $1.4 million are: Elizabeth Blackburn, a biologist at the University of California in San Francisco; Carol Greider, a molecular biologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; and Jack Szostak, a geneticist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. This is the first time that the Nobel Prize in medicine has gone to more than one woman in a single year.

Every time I find articles like this, I think the Singularity is getting nearer than even Kurzweil expects.


That's an intriguing last point, but I'm not sure exactly what you mean by it.

The science being awarded here is close to three decades old, so I don't suppose you mean that the content of this research itself heralds a more rapidly emerging singularity?

Are you implying that the popularisation of biological discoveries related to aging will play a significant role in bringing about more rapid technological change elsewhere? If so, could you elaborate?


Not quite.

Telemeres were being studied in the 90s. No one was sure what their role was in aging until 1998.

Here's my essay on this and other related subjects having to do with futurism:

Yeah- but hasn't everyone sort of concurred that the Nobel committee is irrelevant unless they pick our personal faves for one of their awards?

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