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Just in case you were banking on science coming up with a way to let you hold onto your youthful looks forever, we have some disappointing news. It's just not going to happen.
Mathematically speaking, multicellular organisms like us will always have to deal with a cellular competition where only one side will win. And ultimately, that means our vitality will always come out as the loser.
We have a pair of researchers from the University of Arizona to blame for this depressing conclusion, who crunched the numbers on a hypothesis involving the weeding out of unfit cells and found it amounted to a catch-22 situation.
"Ageing is mathematically inevitable – like, seriously inevitable," says evolutionary biologist Joanna Masel.
"There's logically, theoretically, mathematically no way out."
Ageing – and all of the biological changes that come with it – is more or less the result of cells slowing down and losing their functions.
For example, the steady greying of hair as we age is the result of pigment-producing melanocytes failing to replenish with the slow loss of their tissue's stem cells.
And wrinkles are a sign that cells called fibroblasts aren't as good at producing the protein collagen as they once were.
But what if there was a way to encourage the more active cells to stick around at the expense of their sluggish siblings? Surely if we knocked off those old cells we could keep making pigments and collagen a little longer.
Researchers have pinned hopes on reversing the inevitable decay of biochemistry by repairing DNA or extending the shrinking bits of chromosome called telomeres, for example.
While it's good in theory, there is a catch.
Another feature of ageing is a number of cells start to populate like there's no tomorrow, reproducing in uncontrolled ways that look too close to cancer for comfort.
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#science #sciencebasic #calculus #water #derivative #integral #dx #dt #math #volume #rateOfChange #constant #time #loveCalculus #definiteIntegral #loveMath #scienceIsLife #lo - 2 days ago