Several years ago I went back to school to study nursing, after dissatisfaction with my job with DCF and the whole mental health field as a whole. I had studied psychology and biology as an undergrad at FSU, majoring in the first while minoring in the second. This is besides the coursework in physics and chemistry that has also helped me in my writing about the fantastic. Anyway, I was amazed at how much biology and human anatomy had advanced in the twenty years since I had taken it as an undergrad. I excelled in the Anatomy and Physiology classes. And while I was there I was constantly thinking about how I could take this new knowledge and use it to produce stories and characters. And while the instructor kept stating how amazing the human body was, I kept thinking about the parts that were so poorly designed (though they really weren’t if you believe in evolution like I do). There were so many things that could have been done better with some forethought. And soon, I thought, humanity will have the means to make those changes. We may not be in agreement over whether or not those changes should be made. But as we don’t live under one unified Government that can make things illegal world wide, or police that which is made illegal, it will happen. Like it or not. So here are just a few of the changes in people that I can see forthcoming.
- Longer Lifespans: So we have gotten the average age up into the high seventies in modern times, with exceptional people living into their nineties and even over a hundred. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there have always been long lived people throughout history. We just have a higher percentage of them now thanks to medical science. Now nature doesn’t really care if we have long lives or not. As soon as we have children we are really superfluous to the natural scheme of things. We can die and other adults can raise the children and everything is fine. We don’t like the idea, but it is real. We would prefer to live far beyond or human spawning years if possible. Of course, I’m not sure if living to ninety is such a sought after goal when we see how many people who reach that age have failing minds and crap in their own pants. But if we can find what causes aging and shut it off people can live forever, or at least for very long time frames. I don’t like the idea of everyone living forever in my stories, because it causes too many changes to family. In a world where everyone lived forever and there was no more room for growth children would become a thing of the past. But a greater life span with continued great health would be wonderful, especially if we do develop the means to gain more space.
- Better metabolisms. Now to me it seems kind of stupid that we store all of our extra calories as fat (though of course this seems like a good idea during lean times). Now I guess that is better than just flushing the calories from the body, when they would seem to be so necessary when there isn’t any food around. But to add insult to injury, when the lean times do come the body does little with all that fat except for the first couple days of starvation. Then it goes to work on protein, you know, the stuff that makes up muscles that we might need to actually do something. While we keep the fat. Now this is very bad design. It would make more sense to store the fat, then use the fat, and leave the flippin muscle tissue alone.
- And what about the way our bodies let fats and sugars cause irreparable damage to our bodies. This really makes a whole lot of sense. Seems like out skin can repair most any damage to it, but our damned veins and arteries can’t. Any scarring is an immediate trap for fats, and sugars cause scarring. So we can be perfectly healthy, even physical specimens, and still die of cardiac arrest or stroke due to this flaw in our system. This also leads to the lack of redundancy in our circulatory system and our tendency to bleed out when one of our much too large arteries is severed. Again, I know this is due to evolution, and the death of any one member of the herd or group is not really that big a deal. It does become a big deal when the species becomes intelligent enough to actually enjoy life, when there is more to living than just surviving long enough to reproduce and then buy the farm.
- Pain. OK, I can see the reason for a pain sense. I mean, it really wouldn’t be good to get something thrust into a tender area and walk around without knowing one was stuck. Or something, like say a hand, is placed on top of a burner and the appendage is burned down to the bone before the owner knows what is happening. But have you ever been scraped up from falling off a bike onto asphalt (good old road rash). Then you spend the entire night with the injured areas throbbing in pulsating agony. Just when you need to sleep the damned pain is keeping you up. Really cool huh. Not. Wouldn’t it be much better if we could turn our nervous system off, or at least the pain response, when we don’t want or need the damned thing to overwhelm us?
- The Central Nervous System itself. Let’s say you get a head injury, or a stroke of infarct or any other damned thing that causes tissue destruction in the brain. Now most people know that brain material won’t grow back. That tissue lost is lost forever. And why is this? Is it because nerve tissue can’t regenerate? Hell no. It’s because of poor design. You see, there are these things called Astrocytes, or Star Cells, in the brain that are the life support system for the nervous tissue. And when there is bleeding damage in the brain they release materials that build scar tissue, and quickly, so the organism doesn’t bleed to death. Now it might not be able to ever use the bathroom without going in its underwear again, but it doesn’t bleed out. Because this scar tissue forms an impenetrable mass in the brain that won’t allow nervous tissue to expand into the area ever again. Sort of like if a car engine’s cylinder died and molten metal was dumped into the space so it could never be repaired. Why isn’t there some kind of cell that can clean this mess up? Good question. Are you listening up there.
All the wonderful genetic disorders out there that basically make our lives miserable, even while they don’t stop us from reproducing and passing them on. Sickle Cell, Diabetes, Down’s Syndrome, you name it, we have problems with it. I will get into this one more in a future post, which will be about how we can use technology in the future to correct some of these problems, as well as some we have not faced, such as a food source that doesn’t provide nourishment or being exposed to environments that would kill us unless we have the proper preparation.