Today I saw Tupac performing on stage. Not the actual man – he’s been dead for years – but a holographic recording of him. Tupac hadn’t changed much. Same low-hanging pants, same washboard abs. Forever 25.
It reminded me of a story a friend once told me. Being an art-director, he was asked by a client to create a campaign in honor of (what would be) John Lennon’s 70′th birthday. The idea he and his company came up with: putting a 70-year old hologram of Lennon on stage somewhere. The client loved it. Yoko Ono did not. To her, the biggest issue was not seeing her dead husband perform again, but that the hologram would resemble an old John Lennon. “John,” Yoko claimed, “would never have looked old”.
This month’s magazine is about stopping the aging process – a subject that is as controversial as it is ordinary. While much of western commerce runs on the fear of getting old – in 2011, Americans spent over $80 billion on anti-aging products and technologies – science and aging are still somewhat of an uncomfortable combination. Dr Aubrey de Grey, guest editor of this month’s edition, knows all about this delicate relationship. This computer scientist-turned- biogerontologist, who has made it his life mission to “cure” aging, has made some eye opening statements, such as “the first 1000-year old is already born today.” In some circles he may be known as “that crazy scientist who wants us to live forever”. While, in fact, De Grey’s research and foundation is dedicated to stopping age-related diseases, which is a pretty down to earth and not that controversial topic.
The reason that research on gaining control of aging sparks controversy, according to De Grey, is that people today are afraid its results might come too late for them. That may be true, but I’m not sure if that’s the only reason. Aging, to many people, is an inevitable side-effect of living – something that just is – and should be. Wherever you stand in this debate, I am sure you would like to spend the days you’re given in relatively good health – and that’s something science can help you with . Because in the end, everyone gets old. Everyone, except John Lennon of course.