Most people know I am a fan of the 1990s classic sci-fi television series, Babylon Five. In the first season of that series, a war criminal named Warmaster Jha-dur (a leader of an extinct race named named the Dilgar which was wiped out in a war) missing for years and presumed dead, suddenly turns up on the space station to the horrified shock of the various races she oppressed and murdered. She was a kind of alien Doctor Mengele, performing horrible experiments on the sentient species that her own species had conquered, until the Earth Alliance intervened and, apparently, wiped out the Dilgar. With the exception of Jha-dur.Her sudden appearance on the space station brings the predictable demands for justice and a war crimes trial from the various races that were victims of her experiments. Unfortunately, Jha-dur brings with her a serum, a universal anti-agapic or anti-aging drug with which she hopes to barter for her freedom. She offers it to Earth, which, of course, promptly tosses morality and justice aside, and makes a deal with her for the drug. Indeed, the drug appears to work, since Jha-dur has not aged one day since the last known picture of her from years previously. All DNA tests confirm: its her. Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately, depending on ones lights), the ship carrying Jha-dur is blown up by another advanced alien race (the Vorlons), who tell the humans that youre not ready for immortality. So why the lengthy introduction? Well, Mr. V.T. shared this article about a similar drug that is now being tested by NASA; indeed, I blogged about this drug some time ago, which was then in development. Now, it appears there has been enough success with it in mice that it is now moving to human trials: Would YOU choose to live forever? Age-reversing pill that Nasa wants to give to astronauts on Mars will begin human trials within six months. Now this is extremely interesting, for note what is claimed for the drug:
Scientists have made a discovery that could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses ageing.
The drug could help damaged DNA to miraculously repair and even protect Nasa astronauts on Mars by protecting them from solar radiation.
A team of researchers developed the drug after discovering a key signalling process in DNA repair and cell ageing.
The work has drawn the attention of Nasa, which is considering the challenge of keeping its astronauts healthy during a four-year mission to Mars.
Even on short missions, astronauts experience accelerated ageing from cosmic radiation, suffering from muscle weakness, memory loss and other symptoms when they return.
On a trip to Mars, the situation would be far worse: Five per cent of the astronauts cells would die and their chances of cancer would approach 100 per cent.
Let that cluster of claims sink in: a drug that can accelerate radiation-damaged cell repair, and hence, conceivably ward off radiation-induced cancers. A few years ago, there was a story about an Israeli developed drug which had similar restorative properties for radiation-attacked cells. The bottom line here is that up to a point, one might have a cure for radiation sickness and damaged cells, with the possible high octane speculative potential of perhaps being able to undo severe radiation exposure, such as the type caused by thermal neutrons to individual cells. One would, of course, have to administer such a drug very quickly after such exposure, before the damage had set in past the point of no return. But it is just barely conceivable as a possibility.
The benefits for extended space voyages, as the article points out, are quite high, for one would be able to repair radiation exposure as-it-happened so to speak, effectively neutralizing one persistent problem with long space voyages.
Which brings me to my high octane speculation of the day: just how long might this technology have existed? In the Daily Mails presentation, not very long at all; its relatively recent and just now being set for human trials. But consider: weve often remarked on this site about the weird longevity of the elite, and in part, this has been explained by the process of taking blood transfusions of the very young. The thinking is that some sort of genetic mechanism exists that repairs cells. And this drug would certainly seem to fill the bill. And if one had taken blood transfusions and noticed a marked improvement and restoration of youth and vigor, one would want to know why, and perhaps then privately and very secretly funded studies into what made it work, and found the mechanism being claimed for this drug. Far-fetched? Certainly, but it would not be the first time that public technologies and disclosures of such followed a long period of private and hidden development. And its incredibly interesting that it occurs in connection with space travel (Apollo, anyone?).
Oh, and to complete the Babylon Five version of the story, Jha-dur, in a final moment of supreme triumph, discloses that her drug was made possible by the millions of lives she sacrificed in her experiments, and that the drug only works because it contains the dna of all those species... think of it as the Babylon Five version of the blood transfusion story.
It makes you wonder...
See you on the flip side...