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August 17th, 2007

radio lab: mortality.

i was listening to KUT and there was an awesome segment called "radio lab" and today's segment was on aging.

It was extremely fascinating. I've heard about the counter in cells that keeps track and limit reproduction, but never had it explained in such a lucid way. The counter is like a train track, a bunch of buffers, that each time you reproduce, a segment is removed, until you reach the 50th or so, which is a sensor telling the cells to stop reproduction. An enzyme, tellurase, allows the segment to be reattached once it is removed. However, it's also an enzyme that is found in most tumor/cancer cells.

Then they moved on to an awesome woman professor in UC Berkeley, who was talking about her round worms with such enthusiam: see how lively and wonderful they look?
She has managed to extend their lives up to 6 times longer, by crippling the "grim reaper" gene, which allows a fountain of life like gym to act uninhibited and activate 100 other genes, as well as modifying some genes related to reproduction, which causes the worms to live long long lives. The whole concept is astounding. Scary and awesome at once.

I forgot how much science excites me.