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Or is there some insurmountable limit to the lifespan of human bodies?By adjusting the telomeres of nematode worms, for example, scientists have managed to increase the lifespan of these creatures tenfold, although the same approach has less effect on more complex animals.Any major breakthrough in extending human life would drastically alter population projections. The social effects, while obviously huge, would depend on whether the years of senility were prolonged, too; whether women's age at menopause would increase; and how families would be structured if many generations were alive at the same time. The powerful desire for a longer lifespan creates a ready market for exotic therapies of untested efficacy. The futurist Ray Kurzweil hopes for a metaphorical "escape velocity," when medicine advances so fast that life expectancy increases by more than a year each year, offering the prospect of immortality.The prospect of human immortality has long been the stuff of science fiction. The world will be a better place if it remains so.
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