CAN A JELLYFISH BE THE SECRET TO IMMORTALITY?

jellyfish

To everything, turn, turn, turn

     There is a season turn, turn, turn

          A time to be born, a time to die (The Byrds)

And so we thought. One of the most accepted, basic truths is that we are born and we die but what if that’s not the whole truth? Enter Christian Sommer, a German marine-biology student who in 1988 scooped up some Turritopsis dohrnii. He placed the tiny, obscure jellyfish in a petri dish for observation. Soon he was witness to the creatures doing the unthinkable. Over time, they grew younger and younger and eventually began a new life cycle. Biologists continued to study the species, and in 1996, a paper was published describing how the jellyfish could revert to a polyp “thus escaping death and achieving potential immortality.” Of course, it’s not totally immortal in the conventional sense, and we really need to view the subsequent life forms as clones, but still it is pretty amazing.  The jellyfish, the size of your pinky nail, became known as the immortal jellyfish although I’d be inclined to call it the Benjamin Button jellyfish, just for the literary connection.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, very few people took much notice of this discovery. Big pharma and well-heeled universities did not rush in to take up studying our bizarre little friend. Some scientists think the immortal jellyfish may lead to breakthroughs in cancer research and longevity, but so far very little research has been done.

In fact, there is only one Japanese researcher, Shin Kubota who is consistently culturing and studying these creatures. He works alone without a staff or major funding. This seems incredible considering what molecular biologist Kevin J. Peterson told a NY Times Magazine reporter in a recent article. Peterson said, “There’s a shocking amount of genetic similarity between jellyfish and human beings.”  Kubota himself thinks the species has the potential to unravel immortality but interestingly, he doesn’t think humans are spiritually evolved enough to handle the responsibility for it. So there might be something good in only having one person doing this work. Even slight gains in life expectancy rate can wreak havoc in a society and who wants to wait to be 100 before you can apply for Social Security. Maybe immortality is for jellyfish.

See NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/magazine/can-a-jellyfish-unlock-the-secret-of-immortality.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

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41 Comments

Filed under Spiritual/Mysticism

41 responses to “CAN A JELLYFISH BE THE SECRET TO IMMORTALITY?

  1. Well I found this on Digg, and I like it so I dugg it!

  2. I think that the secret to immortality can definitely be found… without a single jellyfish having anything whatsoever to do with it.

  3. What I find incredible that in my search for truth and knowledge – solutions to my/our problems – Ive long had a secret dream (secret because like its repeatably said in this post and comments we are not “spiritually ready” – meaning evolved enough (duh); that we could live not forever (irrational and unrealistic) but as long as we want/need and choose to live.
    I so today 1/5/2013 I find a post thats another link in the chain, another building block toward our inevitable goal that I may or may not live to see.

  4. Interesting. Perhaps it would have garnered more attention as the Benjamin Button jellyfish. Much more catchy, as well as literary.

  5. Amazing post, thank you by the way for visiting my blog and for the like :)

  6. Really interesting stuff. That jellyfish must be real happy. But I agree that society is not ready for immortality since our entire way of life is built with age in mind.

  7. i do believe i’ve heard of these jellyfish….it is an amazing phenomenon

    the idea that our DNA is close to a jellyfish’s DNA plays in my mind like this-it reminds me of spiderman (I know this is not real ). what if we genetically built a jelly-human or jellyman. Can you imagine the consequences?
    i mean yeah we could regenerate and become “immortal”. what role does human genetics play in the binding of the two species? i what would they be like if they had a human brain? i wonder.

    the japanese researcher states that the human species are not evolved enough spiritually. this means different things to people. i may think i’ve evolved enough because i meditate. someone else may think that they are evolved because of their prospective. what person would be the one to set the criterior. how would that person setting the criterior be evolved enough?

    this spectacular creature could be used for the right reasons and in the hands of a human that is just as spectacular.

    • Makes for good Science Fiction writing. There is the idea out there that man has a rather primitive (but evolving) brain. Our base emtions rule us, even in decision making where we think we’re very logical. Fact is, we decide things based on emotion and THEN create a story to justify our decision and call it logical. Many worry that we have the intelligence to create and do science without an evolved (heart-centered) sense of how we’ll impact the future. Look at how we created nuclear weapons. Science is a neutral thing. It can do good or it can do bad. How do we guide those choices? Lots of ethical questions.

  8. I cam imagine Big Pharma not being interested, there’s no profit in immortality. Have to keep people dependent on drugs, now there’s profit!

    AV

  9. I didn’t even know about these jellyfish. How extraordinary. I guess we should be thankful the governments and pharmaceutical companies haven’t as yet delved into researching or inventing ways to use them. Can you imagine how much they would charge for this!

  10. Very interesting – and I agree that increase in life expectancy wreaks severe havoc regardless of which nation one is in. Should have a little warning attached – Immortality is forever, not just for Christmas.

    Thanks for popping by by the way – I’m just starting out so it’s very pleasant to get this sort of encouragement.

  11. What a great post, that is so interesting!
    I have awarded you the Very Inspiring Blog award – more details over at mine :-)

  12. Wow…I never liked jellyfish before I read your blog….now, I’m not really sure what to think.

  13. Don’t let the stagnated congress see the statement about 100 years for social security!! I think nature in itself is wonderful. God did some wonderous creation in the beginning, so many things we are only now finding out. Definitely some intelligent designing going on there.

  14. I have nominated your blog for The Very Inspiring Award! Thank you for making the world a more interesting place. More details here: http://Johnwhowell.com/2012/12/17/honored-is-as-honored-does/‎ Thank you also for inspiring me.
    John

  15. Amazing…I’ve never heard of this little jellyfish, but for their survival’s sake I’m hoping that not too many find out about it. You know what happens when humans find something they believe will benefit them…or hurt them, for that matter. Pretty soon it’s extinction time!

  16. You zero in on the most interesting stuff. Regarding your last thought, I suspect true immortality is for any self-conscious being that succeeds in its chosen path of reciprocating – upon expiration of its biological life – the love directed toward it from The Being Who ultimately created it.

  17. i think for curiosity and just to know whats really out there it’s all very interesting to study and discover… the world holds so many possibilities and i think someone should be seeking them out… but i don’t think humans should ever be immortal… there’s just too much bad out there and if we did become immortal what would we do with all the people? I read once that we find death unnatural and seek to live forever because at our very core we know we shouldn’t die because our soul is immortal and knows it should go on… but our souls weren’t meant for this world… i’d rather go on to a perfect paradise than live here for anything close to approaching forever…

  18. I taught 6th grade history and 8th grade English at SKMS in Virginia for a few years. Getting middle schoolers hooked on to reading is easier when they have great books to read like this one!

  19. jrosenberry1

    As a cancer patient who lost her leg and a good portion of her lungs, I’d like to see Big Pharma investigate the jellyfish. Immortality? After days like today, probably NOT. But what if the jellyfish had the key to having a better chance to beat cancer … for me, and for the thousands of kids who get cancer every year? I guess no one will be looking at jellyfish until they can find a way to make BIG money off it. A shame.

  20. Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing~!

  21. They’ve cloned fish with jellyfish DNA to be florescent… and now they are commonly sold in a lot of pet stores. I even saw some of these genetically altered fish at Walmart the other day! They do look super cool! They are much brighter than the “normal” species; they look like coral reef fish in brightness (with the right kind of illumination). These genetically altered fish aren’t quite as hardy.
    To mess with our species… would be weird! I’m sure there are plenty of people who would like their kids to be born florescent!
    Regarding eternity:
    We are eternal already, by the way.
    Do we need to make ourselves “more eternal”? ;)

  22. Very interesting to read of these discoveries…must be fascinating work. Glad to be following your posts!

  23. Oh, good ol’ turritopsis dohrnii (and turritopsis nutricula, for that matter). I’ve always been fascinated with jellyfish. Existing for at least 500-700 million years, they’re the oldest metazoan (distinct tissue) creatures on the planet, and recent genetic studies suggest that they might be the basal lineage for all other non-sponge animals (from bugs to dinosaurs to us!).

  24. Love the comment about the spiritual evolution of jellyfish! My thoughts exactly. It’s refreshing to think that this may be evidence that jellyfish are more spiritually evolved than we are.

  25. That is so interesting! I find all ocean life so intriguing, but I’ll definitely be doing some extra research on these little guys!

  26. I recall hearing about this jelly fish awhile back. It is sad that it hasn’t captured the imagination of more science types, but you make a point when you remind us what “immortality” does to the culture. Thanks for the update!

  27. I’m shocked that they haven’t given this much attention as well. But then again, it may make sense. I don’t think pharma would profit much from creating a youth pill or treatment since an immortality pill if you will would only have a cash production of maybe one time. And then, the market would not need to buy the product anymore seeing that now they posses whatever it is that is making this process happen. The only way that Pharma would probably give this any attention would be to somehow make the treatment residual, so as to create a residual demand for the product (and then charge an exuberant amount for it).

  28. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post The Worst Rut earlier today – on that same note and in regards to potential immortal life as discussed here:

    Without that element of mystery that life (that is so strongly connected to death) has, I believe that if we in fact were born only to face immortality, then after our first century and a half on this planet, we would hardly desire many things but to be left alone to romanticize about a time when immortality was but something taken out of a fairy-tale.

    Thanks for a good read :)

  29. This world is full of wonder. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Ha ha – love your take on this!

  31. It sounds as if it might be eventually become a workable process of de-differentiating human cells in a controlled fashion, and then regenerating them. But would we still be ourselves? Consider the possibility that you could gain immortality, at the price of losing all your memories when you went through the regeneration process (because your brain cells would have to revert and become simpler, too). Would you do it?

  32. Makes me wonder about the spiritual evolution of jellyfish…
    Fascinating! Thank you for your visit to my blog – it led me into some interesting reading!

  33. Some people are hard enough to put up with for as long as they’re here. Can you imagine if they lived forever?! Heavens, no. :)

  34. Wow, that is incredible! Thank you for enhancing my knowledge and my horizons today. I think you are right, it probably is good that only one person is undertaking this research into immortality.

  35. fascinating topic. Thanks for sharing.

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