Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why do we die?

  1. Feb 7, 2004 #1
    There are plenty of theories rolling around about this question, yet no one focuses on it. Why do we die? Why does our body [halfway through our life] slow down and deteriorate? I have no answers, like most teenagers, but questions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    You might get better answers on the Biology forum down a ways, but let me give you the common wisdom.

    Your chromosomes have a complex of molecules at the end called a telomere (that's Greek for end part, duh). Of course every cell in your body has those chromosomes, and those cells don't live for ever, they divide, producing "daughter cells, which inherit the chromosomes. Now here's the kicker: every time the cell divides, the telomeres on its chromosomes lose some molecules. After I think it's 22 divisions, the telomeres are all gone. And when they are gone, the cell can't divide any more. It just gets older and eventually breaks down. Finally enough key cells break down that your vital processes can't continue and it's ta-ta, baby.

    Why do the cells do that? Well there are cells that don't. because something, a virus or something, has damaged them. We have a word for those cells: Cancer. Unstoppable division is even more quickly fatal to our bodies than gradual cellular senescence is.

    This puts an upper limit on how long we can live naturally. Of course something else - fatty tissues in the arteries, infection, having a safe fall on us, can kill us earlier. And there are things we can do to keep our cells healthy longer. I take a lot of vitamine E and C, which are thought to clean up some of the waste products that happen to cells as they age. No guarantees, but it has helped others.
  4. Feb 9, 2004 #3
    There may be a pre-cursor Question to - why we die? The Question is Why do we Live?

    It is more enjoyable to seek out the Questions relevant to Why do we Live?

    As a living person knows, there is no immortality. It is relevant to ask Questions such as yours, we have/will, all experience the end life?.. of love ones and friends and ask the question why did they die?

    Some people get answers from medical experts of the deceased fatal ending, I find the quest of Why we are living?..as most relevant and relates to the fact that no person can know the point of dying until it is happening in their lives?

    No compensation I know to those who are experiencing the loss of love one's, except that they somehow are greatful for the Time of Life shared with those beloved and departed.
  5. Feb 9, 2004 #4
    The processes of human senescence, and how to limit them

    The telomere theory of absolute lifespan limit in mammals has not been found to be consistently explanatory. Several fundmental aging processes have been tentatively identified, but none so far have been identified as having to do with an absolute lifespan limit.

    Vitamin C doesn't do much by itself and, by itself, like all "antioxidants", can easily do more damage than good by acting as a pro-oxidant in too-large a quantity (and don't quit high-daily-dosages suddenly -- you can get a rebound-scurvy effect). "Vitamin E" represents four different tocopherol and four different tocotrienol forms. Which one are you taking? Is it stereoisometrically D or DL? Is it a succinate?

    Neither C nor "E" do anything to prevent mitochondrial degradation (which is thought to be one of the primary processes of aging). Are you taking any alpha lipoic acid? Are you taking the relatively exotic R form, or just the plain Jane racemate? Are you taking any PBN? Are you taking any N-Tert-Butylhydroxylamine? Are you taking any carnitine? Is it the acetylated form? Are you buying powders to save money, or are you buying pills marked up by some-odd thousand-or-two percent?

  6. Feb 20, 2004 #5
    some other things you can do

    well more like for your child.

    Scientists have found that if they mess with the genes that govern metabolic rate and make you non sexed, you can live up to 500 years longer (through extrapolation of nematode studies).

    of course, then you are very sluggish (almost never move)

    almost never eat, and can not have sex.

    yeah sounds great :-)
  7. Feb 22, 2004 #6
    Re: some other things you can do

    As has been pointed out over and over in the life extension community, and demonstrated experimentally, lifespan results achieved in simple animals are not directly applicable to lifespans of more-complex animals.

    Life extensionists already do modify their metabolisms downward. They do this by way of caloric restriction. Lifespan extensions of a few dozen years are expected, but nothing more than that sans future technologies.

  8. Feb 28, 2004 #7
    The theory of aging is complex, but not nearly as that of living. The telemere theory is interesting,
    but is not where gene theory is going. Even if we rejuvenated the telemere, we still have to deal with the insults that life , infection, infammation, etc. does to the rest of the genome.

    I believe the theory that is going to be used is to interject a completely new gene string into the area that has been damaged. Not in our lifetime maybe, but by the end of the next generatiion, if you have a disease process, you will go to your doctor and get a "shot" that will restore the damaged gene function. Not to mention the breakthroughs that will come in the science of "anti-inflammatories" which may render the genome impervious to attack.

    It is an exciting time in medicine right now. We have basically been practicing 19th century medicine with 21st century technology (diagnostic and therapeutic machines). Now we have an avenue to bring our therapeutics to the 21st century. Believe me, this is a time of great optimism, but many pitfalls await.

    The children/grandchildren you bring into the world will have vastly greater opportunities. The common theory on aging is that we are close to an average life expectency of 200 years.

    Again, this is just theory, along way to go to prove.

    Also, we have found in the past that the cure is worse than the disease! Hopefully not in
    this case. But if I were you (if you are young) I would be extremely optimistic.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2004
  9. Feb 28, 2004 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    I think your speculation about replacing gene strings is entirely plausible. Note that Craig Ventner is currently working on just such a replacement (with an artificial constructed string!) in a simple bacterium.

    SO there is a research thread that leads from here to your prediction.
  10. Mar 10, 2004 #9
    Where to discuss action topics at PF

    Is there anywhere in PF where it is appropriate to discuss real-world (as opposed to theoretical) longevity engineering? Biomolecular Revolutions is under a "Visions" of The Future category, so one might suppose it would not be appropriate to discuss here today's anti-senescence options.

    But Biology seems too broad a category, and gamblers might be less welcome there than in MKForums.

  11. Mar 10, 2004 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Visions of the future just means there's no limit on speculation here. But you can post threads of current ideas and research quite welcomly. Come right in!
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Why do we die?
  1. Why do we Sleep? (Replies: 6)

  2. Why do cells die? (Replies: 9)