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Assuming that a person has the power to manipulate all elementary particles in any way (i.e. changing them from one elementary particle to another, nuclear transmutation, moving groups of them at a time to manipulate matter on the macro scale, etc), how could they use this power to alter their environment/themselves to not experience the affects of aging, diseases, and other natural things that cause death?

My Question in short: How can someone with the ability to alter reality in any way live forever?

Edit: More detail

The setting is in the future (no specific year, but in a future with great advances in technology and science) where "brain implants" can be purchased that can read minds through subvocalization and machine learning that recognizes patterns.

There is also a document (only accessible online due to the size of it) that is constantly being updated that contains most universal collective knowledge. The creators of this project want to make knowledge accessible to all without cost or trouble. Most schools now use this document to base their teachings on, but because students (and a lot of members of society in general) are not always interested in learning things and are generally lazy, the education system is still required.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! In effect, elementary particles do last forever. This has nothing to do with how a human ages. We age because our DNA is not set up to make us immortal. When we die, the elementary particles that made us still exist. They are just incorporated into something else. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 23 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Aloysius, please take the tour and read up in our help centre about how we work: How to Ask $\endgroup$ – Hoyle's ghost Mar 23 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Agrajag - That's why I said "in effect". I didn't want to go into a lot of detail. Let's just say that on a human scale elementary particles effectively last forever. In any case, making them last forever won't make humans immortal. Humans would die just as soon as they do now. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 23 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ You are missing one component: altering it is not sufficient, you have to be able to detect as well what is happening to first identify the issue why you are dying and then to check if it has been fixed. The human brain doesnt have sufficient capacity to process the information and perform the calculations necessary to perform such an operation, but I guess you are ok with ignoring that? Btw, could you be specific as to why the person is dying? General hint: just say your character did it, if you need to ask, you can't possibly pull off details in a story $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Mar 24 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK I think you misunderstood my question. I know that elementary particles themselves do not directly affect the survival of humans. My question is, how could you use the ability to control them (and therefore reality, because elementary particles make up everything) to make yourself live forever? E.g. reversing the affects of aging, replenishing lost blood cells, etc. $\endgroup$ – Aloysius Mar 24 at 22:27
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This person has a nice power but it, by itself, can't prolong it's life. Aging and desease are complex phenomena, it's not enough for him to be able to create molecules at will by manipulating the electroweak forces, he needs to know which molecules to create, destroy and modifiy, when, and where. His power will help him study the process of aging but won't give what you want, he must do the research, like everybody else.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's more that it can't infinitely prolong life. If you could remove the oxidation damage from breathing oxygen, it would still would increase the maximum lifespan, but as you said- disease and other forces would still eventually get them. $\endgroup$ – David Mar 25 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ Would it make it more realistic if the character had constant access to the document I mentioned in my edit of my question through use of the brain implant I also referenced? I think they could use these two things to know which molecules to create, destroy, and modify, as well as where to do this. They would only not know when to do it, and this is the problem I have run into. I have thought of using a medical tricorder type of device to know what health problems they are experiencing at the moment, so they can solve them. $\endgroup$ – Aloysius Mar 25 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ Only if the causes of aging and how to deal with them are alredy known. If not the person will have to research them. $\endgroup$ – Geronimo Mar 26 at 12:41
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No

Life is 100% fatal. Decreasing one source of death increase the other sources. Curing cancer increases your chance of getting hit by a bus. Curing diabetes increases your chance of getting struck by lightning.

Basically to sum it up, whilst you might have the ability to avoid disease, but there are many many other ways to die such as traffic accidents, murder or lightning bolts from on high.

Even if you survive this, at some point the sun will die and the Earth burn and even then the universe itself will eventually die of heat death.

The greatest risk will be suicide. How many loved ones can you watch fade and die before you choose to unmake yourself to join them?

Immortality seems like a good idea but could easily become a curse.

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  • $\begingroup$ The first paragraph is plainly wrong. Thats not how probability math works. If you decrease or eliminate the chance of independent event A, the chance of indipendent event B does not change. If a coin has been flipped two times showing head the third flip still has a 50% chance to show head. You are right that over an infinite number of coin flips the odds to get head are nearly 100%. This of cause assumes that no technologies for creating backups of people has been invented. $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Mar 25 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDyingOfLight In practice, probability CAN work like that. If someone has a 1% chance of contracting fatal cancer every year, and a life expectancy of 20 years, their chances of dying of cancer are lower than if they have the same 1% probability of contracting terminal cancer in a given year, and a life expectancy of 80 years. Same periodic chance over a longer period is cumulatively a greater chance. This is reflected in the real world, with heart disease climbing as a cause of death, in part because other causes of death have been reduced. $\endgroup$ – Jedediah Mar 25 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Jedediah That wasn't my point. Obviously the more you flip a coin the higher the chances that a probable event happens. I never disputed this. What I disputed was your point of "Curing cancer increases your chance of getting hit by a bus". You made two statitically independent events dependent. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_and_dependence $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Mar 25 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDyingOfLight Um, I wasn't the one who posted the answer. However, yes, your chances of dying by bus increase (slightly) if cancer is cured, so the chances of dying of cancer go to zero. The event that you die of cancer isn't independent from the event that you die by being hit by a bus, because you only die once, hence each cause of death is mutually exclusive. Events cannot be both mutually exclusive and independent. $\endgroup$ – Jedediah Mar 25 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Jedediah Ups, sorry. No the chance of "getting hit by a bus" of say 0.1 %/year stays the same if the chance of "dying from cancer" turns from 1%/year to 0%/year. Yes the chance of "getting hit by a bus" beeing the cause of death becomes 100 %, assuming that "getting hit by a bus" and "dying from cancer" are the only two options. But the absolute chance of dying drops from 1.1%/year to 0.1%/year. The yearly chance of "getting hit by a bus" does not increase, just the likely hood of it beeing the fatal event. $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Mar 25 at 21:16
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we can manipulate elementary particles of a brain into a collecting them in a pattern which would produce a different from an existing concept of a person. If you can manipulate them into an idea that a person, for instance, is not necessarily someone with a body, but a bodiless creature too then the ageing would significantly slow down if not stop at all. Besides myths the religions are a lot of science and these two aspects of them are about to collide in the nearest future as they collide inside our brains now by the protons, neutrons, electrinos that play roles of theists and atheists unknowingly to themselves. Seriously, is not a thought a manipulation of the elementary particles? Our manipulations, meaning thoughts are not good enough to win over the ageing. The only thing we have to do is to come with a best one and live forever.

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He could stop the aging process by dying.

Living is a coherent and ordered process, death is the cessation of that coherent and ordered process.

Ageing is the process by which a living thing accumulates disorder. Once the disorder reaches a certain threshold the system is no longer coherent and ordered, and death occurs.

When an entity dies, by definition the thing which could age, no longer exists. Yes there are its components and sub-components, but the thing itself is no more - and therefore can never age.

Biological Maintenance

Aside from the definitional vagaries, the individual can effectively slow/stop aging by performing biological maintenance and remove the disorder from their systems. If they can remove it faster than it occurs that would be a fountain of youth, otherwise its on par, or a slower aging.

To accomplish this the individual will have to understand the biological computer of each and every cell species in their own body (both the human lineages, and the foreign symbiotic/parasitic lineages), and the biological computer that is the body (which also includes the mind).

Needless to say, this will require an extra-ordinary intellect. There is a reason why the somatic nervous system is in control over our guts, we the non-somatic nervous system simply do not have the intellect to handle it day in day out. While not definitive, I recommend reading Mind: A Unified Theory of Life and Intelligence Kindle Edition by Frank T. Vertosick for a thought provoking discussion on what life is, and what intelligence is.

Given they have access to a source of all/much human knowledge it is possible that given a specific symptom, they might administer and/or correct certain chemicals in their own/other bodies with some varying degree of success, not unlike modern medicine. Certain chemicals, procedures, alterations, etc... will have known effects, yet might still have knock on effects that won't manifest symptomatically for years.

Prions

Given that altering chemical makeups is probably dangerous, but more specifically very fiddly and likely hard to do at scale. One useful case might be in combating Prion based disease.

Prions are chemicals capable of self-replication, and can even refold other similar chemicals into their shape. Many prions are indeed useful biologically, others are highly dangerous. Mad Cow Disease is caused by prions that were misfolded from their biologically useful structure.

A suitably trained individual might be able to disassemble incorrect prions, or refold them into the correct shape. Given that they are self-replicators, these would quickly produce benefits, or at least avoid the issues.

Signalling Pathways

Alternately the cell could be asked to activate a repair pathway that for some reason has been de-activated or isn't activated enough.

The essential proposition is that by assembling certain chemicals within the cell, the cell can change the way it responds. The response being the desired effect of killing the cell, or causing particular repair functions to occur. These response occur because the chemicals being produced and in what quantities change, and perhaps even the segments of read DNA are shifted.

It might (though this is far from proven) even be possible to treat cancers this way, essentially renegotiating the cells role in the body by asking it to adopt this or that role (given that the DNA governing that role is still correct).

Still Ageing?

Would this stop aging? Probably not, there are many sources of disorder in biological systems. But it might slow, or alleviate certain disorderings, and hence slow aging in those individuals afflicted these ways.

It would probably still be more effective to use medicines engineered in a laboratory/factory. This method is scalable, where trained nano-surgeons (the chemical manipulators) could not scale so readily or easily, even though it would be beneficial for them to be around.

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Cancer

The first thing to do is to cure cancer. There are plenty of online articles about this.

Ironically cancer is immortal (until it kills its host) so finding a cure and understanding how cancer continues to live and grow is vital.


Evolution

Evolution (or a god) has provided us with built-in obsolescence. We die to make way for the next generation (and thus allow further evolution to take place).

There are many mechanisms that are 'designed' to make us die so you would have to tackle them one at a time. Getting old is not a matter of wearing out. It is there to kill us once we have successfully raised our children and grandchildren. It is a safeguard against overpopulation.


The telomere

The Hayflick limit or Hayflick phenomenon is the number of times a normal human cell population will divide before cell division stops.

The concept of the Hayflick limit was advanced by American anatomist Leonard Hayflick in 1961,[1] at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US. Hayflick demonstrated that a normal human fetal cell population will divide between 40 and 60 times in cell culture before entering a senescence phase. This finding refuted the contention by Nobel laureate Alexis Carrel that normal cells are immortal.

Each time a cell undergoes mitosis, the telomeres on the ends of each chromosome shorten slightly. Cell division will cease once telomeres shorten to a critical length. Hayflick interpreted his discovery to be aging at the cellular level. The aging of cell populations appears to correlate with the overall physical aging of an organism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayflick_limit

So, by preventing telomeres from shortening, you could immediately make a huge change to mortality.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why this down-vote? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 25 at 22:28
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I think your best bet would be to alter the body in such a way that you keep producing stem cells. According to this article

it's possible to slow and even reverse various aspects of ageing throughout the body.

This would probably also solve the problem you'd get with some age related diseases (to quote the first reference:)

As such, they do not accumulate damaged proteins like the ones related with diseases such as Alzheimer's or Huntington's.

You might want to check out the movie 'Can You Live Forever' with Adam Savage, where he goes through a lot of problems a human may encounter with (artificially) increased lifespan and provides some solutions (the movie is on dailymotion but I don't know whether I am allowed to link that directly so I just leave that as a hint).

It is worth noting that it is indeed possible for a more complex organism than let's say a bacterium to essentially live forever, like the immortal jellyfish proves. Of course you can't directly apply the same logic to a human since there's no juvenile state you can go back and especially the brain is far more complex, but again, stem cells could be your best bet to maybe come around this problem, as this seems to be some kind of equivalent. There is also probably a bit more to aging and dying than what we know today, so this may or may not be a way to live forever and nobody can say with absolute certainty.

Since it's not an answer to the question I just mention it loosely: Being able to live forever would have a massive impact on social life, so this may not be desirable at all.

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