Silicon Valley's Quest to Live Forever

The New Yorker

" (In the book, the author, Yuval Noah Harari, discusses Google's anti-aging research, and writes that the company "probably won't solve death in time to make Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin immortal.") A few years ago, there was great excitement about telomeres, Liz Blackburn's specialty--DNA buffers that protect the ends of chromosomes just as plastic tips protect the ends of shoelaces. But it turns out that animals with long telomeres, such as lab mice, don't necessarily have long lives--and that telomerase, the enzyme that promotes telomere growth, is also activated in the vast majority of cancer cells. Aubrey de Grey likes to compare the body to a car: a mechanic can fix an engine without necessarily understanding the physics of combustion, and assiduously restored antique cars run just fine.

Why Peter Thiel Fears "Star Trek"

The New Yorker

A spectre haunts Peter Thiel: the spectre of "Star Trek." Earlier this week, in a cheeky exchange with the Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Thiel dove headlong into one of science fiction's most venerable debates. Asked by Dowd whether he was a bigger fan of "Star Wars" or "Star Trek," Thiel replied that, as a capitalist, he preferred the former. " 'Star Trek' is the communist one," he said. "The whole plot of'Star Wars' starts with Han Solo having this debt that he owes, and so the plot in'Star Wars' is driven by money."

The Transhumanists' Nominee for President

The New Yorker

After watching the least popular Presidential candidates in modern history fight for the country's highest office, one can't help wondering whether the problem isn't the political system but the species itself. Zoltan Istvan was in town recently, campaigning as the Presidential nominee of the Transhumanist Party. He was on track to appear on the ballot in zero states. "Politicians keep having the same old arguments about tax policy and Social Security," he said. "Transhumanists want to talk about how science can help us radically transform the human experience, how we can cure death and disease and upload our consciousness into the cloud, things like that."