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How do we die?

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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Postby justpassinthru » Fri Oct 06, 2006 9:41 pm

I'm no expert in a biological sense, but I have studied enough philosophy to be dangerous. :wink:

I've come to the conclusion that we die because we have not acheived the perfect state of being. This includes (among other things) diet, exercise and most importantly, purpose.

As in any mechanical system, parts which outlive their usefulness will "die", while the parts which persist at maximum efficiency will continue to "live".

In biological perspective...

Last year, National Geographic published a great article called "Secrets of Long Life". In it, they studied three human populations whose life expectancy exceeded the norm. At the top of the list are the Okinawans (Japan) who live 10-15 years longer than the avg. human. When you read about these people you immediately realize that they operate much more efficiently and consume far fewer resources than the average human. For one, they're vegetarians whose daily caloric intake is only about 1500. Secondly, they remain very active even in old age with a fierce dedication to purpose.

Now take the converse. Imagine a bacon-slurping glutton who consumes far too much, who has no purpose in life other than self-maintenance, who essentially is a "faulty cog" in the machine. This person will likely die early.

And in a sense, I believe we all die early, because we suffer from the same inefficiencies.

Now let's take the opposite extreme of the glutton. A tree. The tree consumes only what it needs; it operates at maximum efficiency (no laziness!). This is essentially the perfect organism. It is no wonder that certain trees live thousands of years.

Philosophically it makes sense to me.
We die because we fail at life.
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Postby fluktuacia » Sat Oct 07, 2006 6:13 am

The biological death may be caused due to process of telomere shortening:DNA polymerase is not able of replicating the whole chromosome (certain parts at the end are not replicated) and this happends each time our chromosomes replicate. That's why at the end of each chromosome there is a region of repetetive DNA that serves no purpose, but to be lost (instead of useful DNA). There is an enzyme (Telomerase) that adds this repetetive DNA to the ends of chromosomes after each division. However, as people get older, this process is less and less efficient.As a result, telomeres become too short which is detected by the cell as a damage in its genetic material and it stops to grow (or even undergoes apoptosis).
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Postby Dustfinger » Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:19 am

But it's a good question, isn't it ? I thought of it some years previously and came to no conclusion...
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Postby justpassinthru » Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:26 am

Yeah, the philosophy can get pretty messy.
But science only answers "how", so philosophy has to answer "why".

The telomere explanation sounds good to explain the process of dying, but then we need to turn to philosophy to ask "why is the whole telomere thing built into the system in the first place?"

Sorta like we build disposable systems that are designed to fail at a specific time (example: lightbulbs). Why?

Wow, this discussion makes me want to watch Bladerunner again. If you haven't seen it, SEE IT NOW.
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Postby Amrik » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:32 pm

justpassinthru wrote:Philosophically it makes sense to me.
We die because we fail at life.


i lyk this sentence!
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Postby Dr.Stein » Sun Oct 08, 2006 2:51 am

We die because our cells stop working.
That's biological view 8)
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Postby Amrik » Sun Oct 08, 2006 7:28 am

but y is tht our cells suddenly stops working Dr?
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Postby Condraz23 » Sun Oct 08, 2006 9:26 am

I want to know the answer too. Is it due to apoptosis?
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Postby Amrik » Sun Oct 08, 2006 10:09 am

@keef
yeah, i think abt tht too! hehe
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Postby Amrik » Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:48 am

this might enlighten u....i think so

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Postby Beetle » Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:13 am

justpassinthru wrote:But science only answers "how", so philosophy has to answer "why".

Hmmm, I wonder does it really need to exist answer to question why? Must everything have purpose? Are we humans afraid that our life wont have meaning if we dont find some greater purpose for it than just to be alive? If we are gonna stick to the hardcore evolution than what was the meaning of the first random agregation of organic moleculs? If it was random than where is meaning there? And if it wasnt than who intended it?

Does all things in our life have purpose? Does anybody`s birth or death have greater meaning than just it? I do not mean in human perspectiv like someone died to save a child or died for democracy or died for peace, I mean in cosmic, not antropocentric way. Is there a difference, in terms of purpose, between death of human and a death of antilope in savana?

Hmmm, I really do wonder. Not what is the purpose of us but is there one?
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Postby Micky T » Mon Oct 09, 2006 10:01 am

wikipedia wrote:In biology, senescence is the combination of processes of deterioration which follow the period of development of an organism. For the science of the care of the elderly, see gerontology; for experimental gerontology, see life extension. The word senescence is derived from the Latin word senex, meaning "old man" or "old age."

Cellular senescence is the phenomenon where cells lose the ability to divide. In response to DNA damage (including shortened telomeres) cells either senesce or self-destruct (apoptosis) if the damage cannot be repaired. Organismal senescence is the aging of whole organisms. The term aging has become so commonly equated with senescence that the terms will be used interchangeably in this article.

Aging is generally characterized by the declining ability to respond to stress, increasing homeostatic imbalance and increased risk of disease. Because of this, death is the ultimate consequence of aging. Differences in maximum life span between species correspond to different "rates of aging". For example, inherited differences in the rate of aging make a mouse elderly at 3 years and a human elderly at 90 years. These genetic differences affect a variety of physiological processes, probably including the efficiency of DNA repair, antioxidant enzymes, and rates of free radical production.

Some researchers in gerontology (specifically biogerontologists) regard aging itself as a "disease" that may be curable, although this view is controversial. To those who accept the view, aging is an accumulation of damage to macromolecules, cells, tissues and organs. Advanced biochemical and molecular repair technologies may be able to fix the damage we call aging (thereby curing the disease and greatly extending maximum lifespan). People who hope to extend human maximum life span through science are called life extensionists.


As for philosophically, who knows?
note:this is only death through natural causes.
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