Sunday, March 24, 2013

Aging into Infinity

Neil deGrasse Tyson
I fancy myself something of an armchair astrophysicist.   Like my footballer counterparts, I know nothing about what it takes to play the game, but I know a little about the rules, I dabbled a bit in high school, and I really like to watch the pros and imagine myself doing great things.  Plus, I like the pretty colors.

I've wanted to go into space ever since I found out I couldn't be Luke Skywalker.  Our closest equivalent to the Force is an easily debunked con game with a bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo tacked on, and I lack the dedication to achieve Jedi-levels in meditation and relaxation.

I've liked reading about space (and watching it on TV) ever since I gave up on the whole astronaut thing because I can't see shit without my glasses.

My space hero then, is Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Even though I couldn't spell his name. He's a modern day Carl Sagan or Bill Nye...

I guess Bill Nye is the modern day Bill Nye; but you get the point.  Mr. Tyson knows his shit.  He breaks it down simply enough that a layman like me can at least pretend to understand it, and he's passionate about what he does (at least, he comes off that way in interviews and debates).

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a hero of mine.  I don't wish I could be him, or have his job; but I'm immensely grateful he's out there.  I didn't even mind the while Pluto thing.

Aubrey de Grey
The guy whose job I would kinda like to have is a gerontologist.  I've given serious thought to going back to school to chase the dream of prolonging life and ending the threat of old age.

Like Tyson, de Grey is passionate about his field (even - or especially - in the face of his detractors).  I first heard of gerontology through Mr. de Grey's TED talk, and after a week's link-tripping around the net, I was fascinated - as much by the science of aging as by the possibilities.

Aubrey de Grey isn't even the man behind the biggest strides in anti-aging science; but his Rip Van Winkled beard has kinda become the spokeperson for the field (in my mind).  The voice of a generation that doesn't want to grow old and - for the first time in history - might attain that goal (or something very like it).

Given that becoming a gerontologist this late in the game would be a major life-altering change (and a little silly), Mr de Grey has become almost as big an influence on my life as Mrs. Brown, my softmore English teacher.  Even if I choose not to follow him into the field, I will always remain as fascinated about the study of the aging process and how to fight it, as I am about the stars in the sky and everything between them.

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