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Science Upended Again: The Fountain of Youth and Living Clouds

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Just when we think that we have a grasp on what's possible — on the outer limits of what science is likely to achieve or learn — something comes along to turn all that on its head. If, like many people (including myself), you thought that science would probably never discover anything resembling a fountain of youth, it turns out you were wrong. Not only have scientists recently succeeded in slowing down the aging process in mice, they have actually reversed it.

According to PopSci, scientists at Harvard "turned unhealthy old mice into youthful versions of themselves." Ronald DePinho, the lead scientist working on the project, told the Guardian:

"What we saw in these animals was not a slowing down or stabilisation of the ageing process. We saw a dramatic reversal – and that was unexpected... These were severely aged animals, but after a month of treatment they showed a substantial restoration, including the growth of new neurons in their brains."

Lakeside of the Mono Lake with Tufa columns in...

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Lake Mono in California

Other perspective-altering events that have occurred in the science world recently:

  • The discovery of arsenic-based life in Mono Lake in California. This has shaken the biology world, suggesting that a previously unconsidered and entirely unexplored biosphere exists all around us, essentially redefining the meaning of 'life'. It has led some to consider again the possibility of living clouds. Seriously.
  • The Big Bang was the beginning of the universe, right? Two astronomy theorists say 'not so fast'. One of them, Britain's Sir Roger Penrose, has been getting some press lately with his assertion that there might have been many Big Bangs, in a repeating and possible never-ending cycle. He even purports to have evidence.

Reading through all of these developments, I keep hearing in my head a line from Operation Ivy's song Knowledge: "All I know is that I don't know nothing." Despite the boundaries that we try to draw around the world we think we know, those boundaries come easily crashing down in the wake of new information. As our columnist Hewy pointed out recently, we really don't know much of anything.

timedesign's picture

mortal coil

As long as they don't introduce the anti-ageing thing before Rupert Murdoch shuffles of his mortal coil, I'm happy.

Hewy's picture


I rest my case!

Every now and then what we learn has to be unlearned or at the very least tweaked. All human experience is a matter of perception therefore can only be described as theory. Science provides us with the most accurate answers as to how everything exists, sadly this drive to find answers to the dissimilation of the questions of existence seems to be leading us on a destructive path. I personally would like to believe that all things throughout the universes are as much spiritual as they are physical so maybe it may be worth to re-align our focus on finding answers from within. I'm also secure enough in myself that I don't think there has to be a meaning to life at all. It's a feeling I've had since school and it is very liberating.

I was once asked at work, "Why do you keep thinking about the meaning of life?" That initially stupid seeming question which came from a particularly stupid person was actually the most profound I have ever been asked. I know she never meant it to be, but that's not the point. I didn't have an answer. I still don't. Why should I?

Answers on a postcard to...

Kuncen's picture

Bruises of other universes

To follow up on Roger Penrose's suggestion that the Big Bang was merely the latest in a never-ending cycle of bangs, this article from the BBC takes a step back and analyzes the reaction and interest in the news story as a whole.  Very insightful.

It also makes brief mention of "bruises" of other universes that showed up in the data, although I'm not completely clear on what that means.