By Johny Jagannath

I have a theory about Immortality and why biological life forms [except hydra] have been unable to achieve it. My theory provides some clues and possible answers to the question of how one can achieve immortality. 

 The Fountain of Eternal Life in Cleveland, Ohio

My approach is purely based on mechanics. I assume that a life form is no different than a machine - in that, both the life form and a machine need an input to function and when the input stops, the machine and the life form stop functioning [which in case of a life form can interpreted as death].

One might wonder if this is an accurate comparison. Is a machine really like a life form or is a life form really like a machine? Let me explain... Let us take a car for example. It needs fuel and air to do work. Stop the air supply, the car stops. Stop the fuel, the car stops. Similarly, a life form needs nutrients [that can be thought of as the fuel that a car needs] and air. Stop the food or air supply, the life form dies. At a very basic level, a life form and a machine are not so different from one another.

Assume that a machine/car needs to climb an endless mountain. If the car, drops its velocity at least a little, the car goes backwards and crashes and dies. Assume that the car needs to maintain at least 50 km/hr in order to keep climbing. If the car goes below 50 km/hr, it will go backwards and topples and dies. If the car goes faster than 70 km/hr it will cause the car wheels to spin, the car loses traction and starts to slide backward and therefore there is no recovery from there - the car topples and dies. This scenario for the car is equivalent to a life form living a daily life.

So let us ask ourselves, how does one get a car to function forever, under these circumstances? Sounds pretty daunting, but not impossible.

Keep an endless supply of fuel and air. Maintain a steady rate of supply of fuel and air, forever. Make sure your car does not stall. There is no time for a restart. Make sure your delivery mechanisms [of fuel and air] are operating at 100% efficiency. That is, at no point can the delivery of fuel and air, drop or increase. Make sure the filters that remove the impurities in the fuel and air are operating at 100% efficiency. When the filters become clogged with impurities the supply rate of fuel and air, drops. Therefore these is a need for a back up filter when the filter in use needs to be changed. 

Why did I bring up the filters? Life forms [complex and simple] are essentially tubes with several filters in it, that separate waste and process what's needed to produce energy and survive. In this sense, every organ in a life form except the brain is a filter in some sense [which is why there are artificial devices that can perform the job of kidney or a lung for example].  

The heart is simply the delivery system, similar to the fuel delivery system in a car. The delivery system can clog and cause the car or a life form from working properly. Here, one might ask, is the heart operating at 100% efficiency? The answer is, no. Does this make a difference to the life form? Yes. If the heart starts to slow down at a gradual rate, the supply of nutrients and oxygen drops at a gradual rate, causing damage to the life form at a molecular level, causing some of the filters in the life form to under perform slightly. A filter in a life form relies a lot on the elasticity of the filter itself. If the protein elastin gets damaged on a molecular level, wrinkling starts to occur. The filter's ability to filter properly is affected, causing more impurities in the system, that causes more damage to the delivery system as well other filters. After reaching a critical level, this damage begins to reflect on a life form's skin, as wrinkling, one of the sure signs of aging. Therefore the delivery system plays a key role in aging. Therefore, I theorise that if delivery system of the nutrients and oxygen operates at 100% efficiency, it is possible to stop the process of degradation of the life form that manifests itself as aging.

From a mechanics stand point, one cannot get a machine to operate at 100% efficiency, since there are losses in the form of heat. That is, if the machine is given 100 units of input, it will convert this input into mechanical work worth 80 units, only. The other 20 units are lost in the form of heat. To counter this loss, engineers give 120 units of input if they want the machine to generate 100 units worth of work. The heart [and the rest of our body] also suffers from losses in the form of heat. If the life form eats, 120 units worth of input [that is nutrients and oxygen] it can convert only 100 units worth of input into work [that is the process of living]. 

So right now, any life form's delivery mechanism is operating at a loss, which will steadily increase overtime, since for it [heart] to function properly it [heart] relies on itself for the nutrient and oxygen delivery. Therefore if the heart has a problem, there is huge domino effect.

So, how can we counter this problem? We have to help the delivery system by sharing some of the load via an external mechanism to keep the delivery of nutrients and oxygen from falling. [That is the losses in the form of heat needs to be compensated via an external mechanism.]

If the delivery mechanism maintains the required circulation rate of nutrients and oxygen, the filters don't ever lose elasticity, which means they will function properly, and there are no impurities in the delivery system. If the elasticity is never lost, a life form's skin must also never wrinkle. Thus aging is halted in a life form.

To test the above hypothesis, one needs a sample tissue [preferably a lung tissue, since it filters carbon dioxide and oxygenates the blood], with a controlled delivery mechanism, where the effects of the falling rate of the delivery of nutrients and oxygen can be observed and studied. 

If one can establish that small levels of falling of the delivery of nutrients and oxygen can lead to the damage of elastin [and other proteins] thereby causing the lung to under perform then we can make similar tests of other organs, including the brain, since there is a large amount of collagen [a variant of the protein elastin] in it. 

Therefore, the key to immortality may simply lie in the ability of a life form to maintain the elasticity of its organs, which depends on the delivery rate of nutrients and oxygen. The delivery mechanism is the heart. Right now, it is operating at a loss. The losses are in the form of heat.


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