Okay, so I have these beings that are supposed to be able to alter their bodies and do it in such a way that they can make themselves and other practically immortal. But now I am needing to know how they are doing it so I know what other powers they might have. So my question on the surface is pretty simple. How much magic does it take to make someone immortal?

Now, on the surface, that question is simple: as much as I, the author, desire. However, I need to make it more complicated than that in order to keep my magic system properly balanced.

To start off, what kinds of powers do I know they have? Firstly, the magic system is based on a Catholic conception of what a soul is, and this is important. Souls being made up of an intellect and a will, the intellect is capable of comprehending and understanding the operations of the body, the truth, and anything else the soul comprehends, and the will is capable of... well, enacting it's will upon the physical world, altering it.

Secondly, in this world, I am going off the idea that the will does not emit energy in order to affect the physical world, but rather it alters matter on the quantum level determining actions which would otherwise be indeterminate. The will, in this theory, is capable of collapsing quantum superpositions and constraining the possible ways that those superpositions can collapse. Magic, then, operates by means of the intellect or the will or both expanding to encompass more things outside of the body. The idea is that the reason we can function is because the brain is essentially a quantum supercomputer, and because of the soul's ability to collapse wave functions, the nervous system is the part of the body that the soul most effectively manipulates and practically is the only portion the soul manipulates without either creating or destroying energy.

Now, in the case of biological magic, they are "expanding their soul" so that their will is capable of influencing another person's nervous system (in the same way they influence their own) and their intellect also expands so that they can comprehend the nervous system even being able to make conscious any area of activity that would otherwise be unconscious. The subconscious, in this setting, is also governed by the soul, but by a part which is called the form which constrains quantum superpositions in a regular manner and which determines how the intellect and the will is capable of interacting with them.

However it seems being able to consciously control your entire nervous system, or the nervous system of your neighbor, would not be sufficient for achieving biological immortality. Something else is needed.

However, there seems to be another part of the body heavily affected by quantum mechanics and that is the fluid in your sack. Brownian motion does appear to be governed by random (quantum) events and, maybe, if the biomages could govern the movement of fluids in your bod, they would be sufficiently capable of altering your genetic code to the point that they could make someone immortal. My idea is that by controlling Brownian motion they could move proteins and RNA any which way, potentially using the material within a cell to reconstruct the telomeres to reverse their aging.

My question is, would my mages be able to gain any form of immortality by controlling Brownian motion to such a degree that they could turn themselves immortal?

I want internally youthful immortals, not invincible immortals. They are immortals that age and then, 30 or so years down the line, they go to the bio-mage and have their biological clock reset etc... Etc... That's the idea. Would controlling Brownian motion be able to make people immortal in this fashion?

  • $\begingroup$ There are numerous parts of the human body which have no self-repair mechanism. They are not made to "reset", they are made to work for three score and ten years and that's it. Wear and tear of the hyaline cartilage in the joints, of the intervertebral discs, of the lenses in the eyes, of the brain itself is cumulative and the body does not have any mechanism to undo it. No amount of will will ever be able to restore the lenses in the eyes to what they were when the person was five years old, because there is no process which can do it. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jul 30 at 1:54
  • $\begingroup$ VTC:Needs More Focus because (a) explaining everything that would have to change would easily fill one or more books (see help center). Worse, the question is generally a duplicate of dozens of more appropriately specific quesitons (search [biology] immortal). Finally, just to make a point, tagging a question about immortality science-based and magic is really stretching things - especially when there's no practical difference between magic and well-programmed nanites. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 30 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ answer : no magic is needed $\endgroup$
    – user104995
    Jul 30 at 7:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I find every story with immortals more or less handwaves it. I'm just suggesting that you probably don't need to spend a lot of time on it, unless it's a plot point. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Jul 30 at 16:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sure it does. E.G. asking to explain how quantum mechanics works lacks focus because the question isn't focusing on a single problem, but a lot of problems (pages and pages of problems). In your case, answering your question with any justice requires a lot of issues to be resolved (see @AlexP's comment about cells with no regenerative ability). In short, focusing on the 100,000 foot view of the problem is NOT focusing on a single problem. The question lacks focus because it violates the book rule (see help center). You need to focus on one issue at a time - like how to make teeth immortal. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 30 at 19:31

2 Answers 2



Or, to answer in longer form: A cell is not, despite what high school biology insists on teaching people, a sack of fluid with some organelles in. In reality, it is a densely protein filled structure, with tiny filaments forming a flexible skeleton, tiny tracks which larger molecules move along to their destination. Small molecules diffuse along concentration gradients, or are pumped against them.

Telomeres reduce in size because the replication process for a DNA strand can't reach the tips, causing a reduction in telomere length with each replication. They can be fixed by telomerase, an enzyme that attaches specific DNA base pairs to the telomeres

So, to fix this manually, you have to:

  1. grab some free DNA bases, and assemble them, avoiding the bits of the cell that really want to stop you doing so because they think you're a virus.

  2. slowly buffet this molecule round all the other stuff in the cell to the right spot

  3. line up some chain of particle hits to produce a nice, energetic collision, breaking the DNA

  4. somehow hit this with atoms in exactly the right way to shove it into the break you formed, and hold it there

  5. repeat for every fricking cell in your body

Your mages would, I think, die of old age before completing the average person's pancreas, and are likely to damage something important in the process.

As a side note, I'm not totally sure what it would mean to control Brownian motion, as it's the random movement of a larger particle in a solution, as it is bombarded by the smaller water molecules. Can your mages control the water molecules? Alter probability so more of them collide with the left side than the right side? It doesn't really have anything to do with quantum physics, however (you'd see the same effect, mostly, if you flung marbles at bigger marbles on a pool table)

However, this power could still be useful. You can't really make things with this power, but you can break them. If you activate telomerase in your humans, their telomeres will not reduce in size, but they will be more prone to cancers. Your mages can fix that - it would be relatively simple to, say, cause a random spike in salt concentration in the cancer cells, or precisely localize some common toxins, or break a cell's DNA in hundreds of places, causing it to die.

With perfect atomic level vision, you'd be able to achieve some form of life extension until, say, neurons start to die off, as they're not simply replaced. So, maybe an extra 50 years.

Side note: Your biomages, with these powers, would have a relatively simple job, say, walking into a city and killing everyone within their power's range, essentially by a good imitation of targeted radiation poisoning. They can control particle collisions, so you just collide a bunch of particles hard enough to break a bunch of the DNA in the nerves in their spinal column, or heart or brain. This is way easier than fixing cancer.

  • $\begingroup$ I do think I mean "controlling the (supposedly random) movement of water" when I am discussing controlling Brownian motion. You do make a good point, that it should be easier to kill cancer associated with turning on telomerase then it would be to manually extend the telomeres, and I imagine they would create and inject retroviruses and the like into the body in order to alter a person's genetic code to do something like turn telomerase on while they would just kill tumors with ease. 50 extra years is good progress, but now I need to think of some way to break that barrier. $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Jul 31 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ @skout - I think it hits the issue that basically plagues any discussion of immortality - errors stack up, and they're hard to fix. Trees can be immortal, because they're a relatively simple blueprint, and can just keep absorbing the errors. For animals to be immortal, you'd need some way of getting back to the original blueprint. On a meta level, that's sort of what having offspring is :P $\endgroup$
    – lupe
    Jul 31 at 19:59


enter image description here

Your species has the magic power to restore the telomeres in its cells.

As an organism ages, the ends of the chromosomes are forgotten. This leads to aging. The end of the genome has pieces called telomeres which don't do much, other than act as caps to prevent premature aging.

Modern pop-science (and maybe real science) will tell you the telomeres of some bats do not decay with age, or decay very slowly, leading to bats being potentially very long-lived for something their size. Though they can still be killed by arrows.

enter image description here

Telomere from The Lord of the Rings being killed with arrows.

  • $\begingroup$ I would probably say "this has been hypothesised to contribute to aging" rather than "this leads to aging", but for the purposes of framing a piece of fiction, I guess that's close enough. $\endgroup$
    – IMSoP
    Jul 30 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ No, that's Boromere, Telemere's brother. Lol $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Jul 30 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ The telomere theory of aging is only one of several that most biologists should be versed on. This is because the other theories seem to be more or less pronounced depending on the species. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Jul 30 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ "your species has the power to restore telomeres in the cells." This is not taken as a given. They have the ability to control Brownian motion within cells, that is a given, but would that make it possible for them to restore telomeres? $\endgroup$
    – skout
    Jul 30 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ @skout The telomeres degrade through Brownian motion. They can stop them degrading in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jul 30 at 19:54

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