Welsh professor backs 1,000 year-old humans

THE first human being to live for 1000 years is already walking the Earth, a Welsh academic has claimed. And he or she will already be at least four years old, owing their lifespan to the imminent ability of science to “cure” the ageing process and diseases.

Professor Mark Brake, of the University of Glamorgan, says this astounding fact is just one aspect of a future foreseen by science fiction writers decades – and even centuries – before becoming reality. Perpetual big-brother style surveillance, an environment in crisis, space tourism, rogue pathogens, and hyper-connected computers are all elements of everyday life taken for granted in the 21st century.

In a new book, FutureWorld, Prof Brake and his co-author, Reverend Neil Hook, list examples of where science fiction has created a concept which has since become reality.

Among the most remarkable is the vision of the 17th century Bishop of Llandaff, Francis Godwin, of men walking on the moon and using mobile phones, which was published posthumously in 1638.
“The first moon voyage and alien contact story in the English language, The Man in the Moone, was written by Godwin,” said Prof Brake. “The book’s protagonist, Domingo Gonsales, ends up on the moon after trying to reach China being pulled by geese.

“While on the moon he encounters other beings, one of whom picks up a sea shell and uses it to communicate with his counterpart on Earth, hence the first mobile phone. Godwin boldly went where no man had gone before, so to speak, and the tale even influenced the Royal Society.”

Great science fiction works like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and George Orwell’s 1984 are among those that predicted a way of living that has since become reality. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution generated a wave of alien-encounter literature, while the work of author HG Wells has been credited with inspiring the atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Godwin is not the only Welsh inspiration for visions of the future. Kubrick’s other sci-fi masterpiece, Dr Strangelove, was based on a book written by Peter Brian George from Treorchy.

In 2004, Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey sent shockwaves through the scientific world by claiming the first human to live for 1000 years was already alive. This theory is backed by Prof Brake.

“We live in a world where media headlines trumpet the discovery of new planets, discuss the pros and cons of cloning, or explain the possibility of teleporting atoms,” he told the Western Mail.

“As we switch on the television, we see walking and talking robots, private jets that ferry travellers to the edge of space and space probes that rendezvous with asteroids. Science tells us that the first human to live for 1,000 years has already been born. It’s not just me claiming that. Robotics will come to pass eventually – Honda and Sony already have humanoids. On such a threatened planet, science fiction has become hard realism. It seems somehow laced into global atrocities, such as September 11, and imminent threats such as avian flu. We are living in a futuristic world, and that’s what the book explores.”

Focusing on four main themes – space, time, machine and monster – FutureWorld details 100 ways in which science fiction has influenced the modern world.

FutureWorld, published by Boxtree Macmillan, £9.99

written by Steffan Rhys of the Western Mail


    Paul Gill

    July 22, 2008

    while i hate to throw a mother in law joke into the mix, i wouldnt mind guessing that my wife’s mother is nigh on a 1000 years old. she looks it anyway (honest)


    July 22, 2008

    Where will these 1000 year old humans live , how will they be fed. Ofcourse if such technology is available it wont be for everyone.
    On the other hand opportunities for interstellar flight currently lack those staples of Sf such as warp drive, cryogenics(that work) to get us anywhere fast so Humans ,living longer might be useful there.


    July 22, 2008

    Humans to live to 1000, with brains designed to live to 40-70.

    900 years of senility.
    920 years of old age.
    Even Windle Poons would shudder at the notion.

    And that’s before the words “demographics” and “sustainability” are even mentioned.

    Honestly, if they develop technological solutions to ageing, the scientists who do so will go down in history with the inventors of the atomic bomb, gunpowder, and biological warfare as the worst scientist criminals against humanity ever to walk the planet.

    Paul Gill

    July 22, 2008

    How long will we have to work until we retire? I’d planned on hanging up my gloves at 60ish. At this rate I’d have to work until I was at least 700! I dont think even B&Q would take me on at that age


    July 22, 2008

    I think de Grey said the first person to live to 150 was probably alive today and the first peron to live to 1000 would only be 10 years younger than them.

    Senility is part of the same breakdown as aging so if one is cured the other is too, probably. I suspect new diseases would run riot through the world population, culling huges amounts.

    There won’t be enough work in the West – (maybe there isn’t enough now?) – for manual workers, etc. before too long anyway. The standard 5 day+ working week for 40+ years is nearing its end for near future generations and society will have to adapt whether we live to 150 or not…

    Stop press – Welsh professor says “world is round” – A Welsh professor has backed 1530’s theory that the world is round…


    July 22, 2008

    It would be a strange, two-class society, where some of us live and live and live, while others fade in and out of the richest people’s eternal lives like mayflies.

    Imagine, 1000 years of Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Carl Icahn, or their equivalents.


    Now there’s a reason for bringing back the guillotine and revolution.


    July 22, 2008

    Maybe this debate will run for 1000 years…
    Its funny that back in the day things were built to last – 30 year old tv remember them?

    Now everything is designed to be disposable with cheap components. So its a bit ironic we are talking about 1000 yr humans, does anyone fancy ending up looking like DAVROS?

    Back in the 50s they were predicting technology and robots would allow us to have more leisure time to fly our personal planes around, not drowning in 1000s of emails 24/7.

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