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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Methuselah Foundation

   The Undertaking business, “ . . . will still remain valuable for another couple generations at least.” So David Gobel told me. And now you are asking who is this David Gobel and what question did I put to him to elicit such an answer?

David Gobel

   David Gobel along with Aubrey de Grey, co-founded the Methuselah Foundation, a medical charity based in Springfield, Virginia , in 2003 in order to “shed light on the processes of aging and find ways to extend healthy life.” De Grey says, “The first person to live to be 1,000 years old is certainly alive today … whether they realize it or not, barring accidents and suicide, most people now 40 years or younger can expect to live for centuries.” The Methuselah Foundation is a non-profit organisation and on September 16, 2006, Peter Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of PayPal, announced a pledge of $3.5 million to it, "to support scientific research into the alleviation and eventual reversal of the debilities caused by aging" Of course many believe that humans shouldn’t live for centuries and anti-ageing crusaders are coming up against an increasingly influential alliance of bio conservatives who want to restrict research seeking to “unnaturally” prolong life. They oppose the idea of life extension and anti-ageing research on ethical, moral and ecological grounds.

Aubrey deGrey

   Bioethicist Daniel Callahan of the Garrison, New York-based Hastings Centre, agrees: “There is no known social good coming from the conquest of death.” I can only answer with the line from the late Donal McCann’s poem, “A man would be better off not dead.” Whatever about opinions in far-flung places what do we think on this island? What Irish person would want to live to one thousand (I suppose you’ll say, “Someone who was aged nine hundred and ninety nine”!) I think we should put it to the Irish people; have a referendum on it. And if we don’t get the desired result? Ah, sure we can have another one.

   Of course the question had been asked, “What would Methuselah himself think?” According to the Hebrew Bible ,Methuselah was Noah’s grandfather. He died, aged 969, seven days before his famous grandson set sail in the Ark. But, of course, you all know the story of the Great Flood or, as they say in Kerry, “a hoor of a shower.”

   Wexford-born genius, Walter O ‘Brien says, “If you’ve made enough money where you’re not worried about the rent or survival, you start asking yourself why you’re on this planet. Your point is to do the most good you can before you die – well I could do more good if I didn’t die.” I must say the man from Clonroche has a point

   Michael Rose, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of California, says, “I am working on immortality .Twenty years ago the idea of postponing aging, let alone reversing it, was weird and off-the-wall. Today there are good reasons for thinking it are fundamentally possible.”

   George Bernard Shaw said, “Death is neither natural or inevitable.” And that as human beings we were capable of extending our lifespan. He didn’t do too badly himself. He lived to 94.

   I am well over forty and Gobel, deGrey and Tony Clarke, the local undertaker, all agree that I won’t make the thousand.


   Have a Happy 2015 and if you are under 40, and if Messrs Gobel and de Grey are correct, you may by still around to wish your friends a Happy 2515

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