Is Eternal Life Attainable?

Are you excited about growing older? If you’re similar to most children, you probably are. After all, older kids get to experience all the enjoyable activities, don’t they? They have the chance to ride thrilling rides and, eventually, drive their own cars. They can go to places with their friends and even earn their own money.

However, at some point, most individuals no longer desire to age. As our bodies mature, we are unable to do the things we used to do or want to do. Some individuals begin to move slower, and many become sick more frequently. Gradually, we come to realize that aging comes at a cost.

But what if it were possible to live forever? If you stumbled upon the fountain of youth, would you take a plunge? Do you think it would be fascinating to live eternally like Mr. Immortal? What would you do? Travel the world? Cure diseases? Learn everything? We certainly hope you would utilize your immortality for the greater good!

Does immortality sound appealing to you? If so, you might want to uncover the secrets of a minuscule sea creature known as the immortal jellyfish.

The immortal jellyfish, scientifically referred to as Turritopsis dohrnii, primarily resides in the Mediterranean Sea. It has also been discovered in the waters of Japan. In fact, we have begun to observe immortal jellyfish in new locations across the globe. They reach new habitats by attaching themselves to traveling vessels.

What do immortal jellyfish resemble? Can you picture the jellyfish from Spongebob Squarepants? You’re not far off! These creatures have a bell-shaped body and are predominantly transparent with a red center. However, they are much smaller than you might imagine. They are only as wide as the fingernail on your pinky finger. Due to their small size, the immortal jellyfish is hardly noticeable. Unless you were surrounded by them, you would hardly even notice their presence.

Although they lack size, they compensate with longevity. These jellyfish possess a capability that astounds scientists. As their nickname implies, the immortal jellyfish is biologically immortal. This ability has evolved over thousands of years, and experts are hopeful that we can gain valuable insights from it.

However, the immortality of the jellyfish does not function the way one might assume. It does not continue to age for hundreds of years. Instead, an immortal jellyfish reaches maturity and then restarts its life cycle. If it becomes ill or injured, it can simply revert back to its infant state. Imagine being one hundred years old and effortlessly transforming into a baby!

How is this possible? The immortal jellyfish achieves this remarkable feat through a process known as transdifferentiation. During this process, the immortal jellyfish first transforms itself into a blob. This blob then transforms into a polyp, which is the initial stage of jellyfish life. Subsequently, every cell in the jellyfish’s body undergoes transformation. Older muscle cells may become new nerve cells. Aging brain cells could transform into youthful reproductive cells. The jellyfish’s entire body essentially regresses and starts anew. The jellyfish can repeat this process as many times as it desires.

Scientists are currently researching the immortal jellyfish in order to utilize the power of transdifferentiation for medical advancements. Imagine the possibility of creating new heart cells after a heart attack or new brain cells after a stroke. This has the potential to greatly transform human life.

However, there is no need to worry about immortal jellyfish dominating the seas. Despite their biological immortality, these jellyfish do not actually live forever. Many of them die due to predators or sickness.

Do you believe that scientists will one day uncover the secrets of transdifferentiation? What other medical uses could it have? Is there a specific type of cell you would like to transform?

If you’re interested in learning more about the immortal jellyfish, there are various activities you can explore with the help of a friend or family member. These activities include discussing the pros and cons of immortality, watching a video about immortal jellyfish, and reflecting on the idea of reversing the aging process.

Sources:

– https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2009/01/immortal-jellyfish-swarm-oceans-animals/ (accessed 03 Apr., 2019)

– https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/on-exhibit-posts/the-immortal-jellyfish (accessed 03 Apr., 2019)

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