Last week I was listening to the song Who Wants to Live Forever in my car on my way to work, I started thinking…. What would happen if people do live forever? Would we behave differently? If so, how differently would we behave? I’m not talking about having just a few of us not dying like Hob Gadling and Mad Hettie in my favorite graphic novel The Sandman. I’m talking about the whole lot of us not kicking the bucket. Let us of course not get distracted by annoying and trivial points like virility, sustainability, etc. I am just interested in the sociological and psychological impact when people stop dying. What would become of us then?
Having been trained as a scientist, I could not help but immediately started devising the appropriate experiment aimed at figuring out the answer. We need to study a group of social animals and see how they would react if we give them immortality. Maybe through their behavioral change, we can get a glimpse of what may befall us once we do obtain the fruits from the Tree of Life. But what kind of social animals can we use for such an experiment? And how do we bestow immortality?
Well, the criteria are quite simple really. The social animal candidate must have a natural life span many times its mean age to virility among other criteria. For example, if it takes time T for the animal to be able to procreate on average, its life expectancy must be N*T where N is a large number like 30 or more. But then how do we make the animal live forever? Well of course we can’t do that! But what we can do is to artificially shorten its life span to say n*T where n is a small number like 3. If we do that for a good number of generations, the animals would be used to their new “natural age”. So just when we get them all used to living a shortened life span, we remove the shortening agent and allow them live naturally to N*T. Since N >> n by design, this would effectively create immortality… well effectively. That’s when we can hope to observe some interesting behavioral changes. Anyways, that’s all I could think of before I got to the office.
So where is my grant from the National Science Foundation, man?