New introduction variation for the book

When I first put the book How to Live Forever online, it was in order to figure out through split testing how to improve the chapters so they would definitely be read.

The idea was that if 100 people read a page, for example, then I would be able to record three basic stats on that:

  1. number of people that have visited the page
  2. percentage of those people that have then read the page (the test is – did they click the “Read More” button)
  3. percentage of those people that were interested enough that they then wanted to read the next chapter/page in the book (did they click Next Page at the bottom of the article)

The online version of the book does not get enough visitors yet to regularly break that down into meaningful numbers, so there has not been a lot of work yet on this.

The front page (the book’s introduction) just got its first 100 reads, so I decided yesterday to rewrite it it completely so I could have the rewrite and the original up at the same time to do a comparison against each other for the next 100 reads.

To rewrite the page, I didn’t just take each sentence and reword it. Instead, I read through the entire thing, and then wrote an entirely different version that was approximately the same length.

With future revisions, I may just change a few lines here or there, but I can’t be sure at this point that the article is even remotely written the right way, so I thought it would be best to have something written in a different style to test how that goes.

I mentioned three stats that can be easily measured from the page. Increasing those stats is the goal of this endeavour.

Stat 1, page-opens, the number of people that opened the page. This is not affected much by the content of the page itself, so can be ignored when it comes to split testing. I use it merely as a base from which to calculate percentages for the other stats.

Stat 2, full-reads, the number of people that clicked “Read More”. This is affected by the first half of the page, and by the total length of the page. Because the button appears at the half-way point in the page, if the page is very long, there is more to read to get to that point (and vice versa). The content of the first half needs to be high enough that people want to read the rest of the page. An easy split test to do would be to simply reword a few sentences in the first half of the article to see how that affects the full-reads. I may do that when the page-opens reaches 100 again on the introduction.

Stat 3, next-page, the number of people intrigued enough to want to go onto the next chapter. This is affected by the second half of the article. I’m in two minds about this – do I increase by setting up a “cliff-hanger” so the conclusion of the chapter is in the beginning of the next chapter (that’s evil), or do I try to make each article into a stand-alone? An issue with stand-alone articles is that readers may feel so satisfied by the end that they just go away. Well, I guess that’s a conclusion I’m happy with as well.

Here’s what I wrote for the new introduction:

How to Live Forever

When you look for a book on how to live forever, you find that most of the books are religious and/or fiction, or they were lifestyle books with no solid evidence behind their statements. This is not one of those books.

I started writing this book because I wanted to cut through the rubbish and figure out what exactly works and does not work. None of this “just exercise, and eat your vegetables” stuff – I wanted to know exactly how much exercise is necessary, exactly what vegetables.

This book is a collection of histories and research results that state very clearly what we are doing in order to extend our lives towards practical immortality, and how you can improve your own chances today.

What does it mean to live forever?

Literal immortality may be impossible. Even if you eat all of your vegetables and do all of your press-ups, it is still likely that if you were run over by a truck or fell out of an airplane, you might die. Having said that, Quantim Immortality addresses that, but we’ll get to that.

Instead, this book will mostly be working towards an idea of immortality called “negligible senescence”, which means that your body’s aging slows down until it’s just not noticeable. This way you can potentially live for centuries, as long as you avoid open doors on flying airplanes.

For most of human history, the attitude of doctors and scientists towards human life was that you had about 60 years of life and then you simply die of “old age”. It did not occur seriously to people that old age was something that can be studied like a disease and potentially cured.

There have been stories of aging cures, such as Juan Ponce De León’s Fountain Of Youth, or Tír na nÓg, or immortality through vampirism. Those are just stories, but every story told to a child can inspire a spark of “what if?” which may lead that child to look into the possibilities a little further than the previous generations.

Since the 19th century, scientists have made solid advances into finding out what nutrition the body needs, with a lot of horrifying experiments along the way, some of which were performed on animals, criminals and children.

Nutrition, though, is not the entire story. Even with the most perfect nutrition, the human body will still only live for a century or so before it winds down.

We have also found ways of transplanting organs from one body to another, overcoming problems such as blood type differences, and immune systems. In more recent years, artificial organs have been created which can address the lack of transplant donors.

The causes of diseases have been uncovered, and we have moved on from ancient theories such as balances and humours. We understand bacterial and viral infections now, and the importance of clean hands before operations.

Neither nutrition nor transplants will solve aging, though, because aging is not caused by any of those. No matter how many anti-virals or anti-bacterials you take, your body will still continue to age.

And no “alternative medicine” will help either. If it has not been tested and shown to work, then you can’t trust it.

In order to live forever, we must solve aging itself, which is a very difficult thing to do because it is a result of literally decades of chaotic interactions between cells and their DNA.

In recent years, it has become apparent that senescent cells are the main drivers behind aging, and the exact mechanisms by which cells turn senescent have been uncovered. This allows us to then find ways to stop this from happening, or destroy the senescent cells.

Clinical trials on this work have been performed on laboratory animals, showing that some methods (telomere extension, calorie restriction, senescent cell destruction, etc) can give extraordinary boosts to the length of lives, but human trials are just starting out now.

The most important buzzword to watch out for in the next few years is “senolytics” – a class of drug that can target and destroy cells which have converted from normal to senescent (old) cells and are now just hanging around in your body giving out inflamation cytokines that make your body feel like it’s sick all the time.

In this book, by “living forever”, I mean that you will literally not die. By following the guidelines in this book, you should add on a few decades at least to your life, which gives science time to come up with even more extraordinary advances, which I will of course talk about in future editions of this book and on my blog.

We live in amazing times, and I sometimes wonder at the sheer coincidence of it all – that we should be born into times where we are unlocking the secrets of immortality right there in our labs.

Because of the nature of how science works today, those secrets will be available to the common public within years of testing, and we can all have vastly extended lives because of this.

Modern lifestyle and health

Over the weekend, I was at an entrepreneur conference. I wasn’t there to attend any of the talks, but simply because a few of my CoderDojo students were giving talks themselves and a few of my fellow mentors were also involved with the conference, so we moved the entire CoderDojo to the venue (Monaghan Institute) for that weekend.

I spent about two hours answering every question the kids had about 3D printing, and there were a lot. When a child gets interested in something, they can dig really deep down into it and ask the most insightful questions. I had to explain the difference between PLA and ABS, why the bed was heated, how heat-breaks work and why they’re important, what kinds of materials can be printed (basically anything that melts and resolidifies at a predictable temperature) , how multiple-extrusion printers and why /they/ are important (for printing both chocolate and syrup, obviously), etc.

After the class was finished and the kids had mostly gone home except for some stragglers such as my own kids, I got a chance to see some other people’s talks. I got a few minutes of Niall Moyna’s talk on modern technology and health.

It’s unfortunate I didn’t get to stick around for the entire talk, because it is right up the alley of this website and my book, but the essence of what he was saying is that our bodies are “designed” to be active, and yet our technology is designed to keep us inactive.

To illustrate this, he pointed out that when an Australopithecus or Cro-Magnon got up in the morning, they’d better be prepared to run after their breakfast, because the local shop was a few tens of thousand of years away.

He said (and I don’t know the truth of this) that human beings can outrun every other animal on the planet, even if they’re faster, because most animals will need to stop every now and then to pant, while we simply sweat away the heat and keep going.

The point he was making is that we evolved to be active beings.

It has been shown countless times that when we are inactive, we are more likely to die early.

In 1949, Professor Jerry Morris did a study of 31,000 bus conductors and bus drivers and pointed out that bus conductors were 150% more likely per year to die of coronary heart disease. The correlation was because of two noted things: bus conductors are always actively moving and climbing stairs, while bus drivers sit all day and gain weight and fat around their organs.

Modern technology has a tendency of reducing the amount of “work” that we do in order to accomplish goals, which has the side-effect of slowly piling on the pounds on our bodies.

As an example, you are probably sitting while reading this. I’m certainly sitting while writing it.

When you drive your car to a shopping centre, you probably park as close as possible to the entrance. When you go anywhere at all, you try to park as close as possible, because it will reduce the amount of “work” that your body has to do.

Your body has evolved to expect that any energy it stores will be burned off sooner or later, so it doesn’t have a limiter. At no point does your body say “no more – I really can’t store any more of this energy”. Instead, as you eat more and more and don’t burn it off, it converts more and more to fat. All the while, it also makes it harder for you to do the work needed to shift the fat.

Fat is there for the lean times – it’s for the times when you are unable to find food nearby and need to walk miles and possibly days to find it. That scenario is ridiculous in modern days – there are always shops within minutes of any place where you are (in developed countries). But your body doesn’t know that.

Unfortunately, there is no single pill that will solve this.

We do have new methods that can convince the body to burn its fat, converting so-called “white fat” (the normal kind) to “brown fat”, but these methods have not yet been rolled out to the general public, and they only mimic one of the effects of exercise.

Exercise also has an effect on the oxygen intake of the lungs, resting blood pressure, and even happiness. Converting white fat to brown fat is not going to do these things.

It is in every person’s interest to do about 90 minutes of moderate exercise every week. Moderate exercise means something between walking and jogging. Walking up-hill, for example. Doing more than 90 minutes is probably a waste of your energy – you won’t get much more benefit from it, but if you don’t exercise at all, then taking regular walks will almost immediately lower your yearly chance of dying by about 14% and give you an extra 3 years life expectancy.

Modern technology is evolving much faster than the human body, so you need to keep that in mind and try to do more “work” than is necessary. Walk up stairs instead of taking a lift. Park on the far end of the car park. Cycle or walk to work.

The SBSI (Surface-based Body Shape Index) is a good measurement tool for figuring out if your body is “in shape” (literally), as it does a better job than the ABSI and the BMI of correlating body shape to mortality. Use my calculator to figure out your current SBSI, BMI and ABMI, and what you need to do to improve them.

recovering from a spinal injury using stem cells

Earlier this year, a man, Kristopher Boesen, suffered a traumatic injury to the spine when his car slid off the road into a tree and then a telephone pole. He was paralyzed from the neck down.

Luckily, though, he qualified for a clinical experiment, where he was injected with 10,000,000 AST-OPC1 stem cells into the neck. Three months after the treatment, he now has control over the upper body.

There is no guarantee that this treatment will be a total cure, but even the smallest improvement in a spinal injury is a wonderful step forward in the cure for everything.

Previous work on treatment of spinal injuries include bypassing the injured site using electronics, and a possibly spurious “glue” that one doctor intends to use in a notorious body transplant some time soon.

FOXO4-DRI peptide prices for September 2017

There has been no change in the prices of the two suppliers that advertise FOXO4-DRI peptide on their website; Bucky Labs and NovoPro.

(the FOXO4-DRI peptide blocks the FOXO4 gene from interacting with the p53 gene, allowing senescent cells to reach apoptosis and clear themselves up to let younger cells take their place, letting people get a little closer to living forever)

I got a price by email from the guys at YoungShe Chemical – $900 for 50mg. That translates to a price of $540 for 30mg (the FOXO4-DRI dosage I’m aiming for).

That’s still $308.85 more expensive than what was quoted to interested parties at Longecity, who were quoted about $231.15 per 30mg dose, based on a large 1000mg shipment.

Shop July September
Bucky Labs 2265 2265
NovoPro 1756.8 1756.8
YoungShe Chemical 540

It’s still looking cheaper to synthesise this yourself. Until the peptide cost gets down to below about $10 (for 30mg per day), it is still probably a good idea to work on building your own peptide synthesis lab. You’ll save money in the long term, and will learn some really cool science along the way.

CAR T-cell therapy (cancer cure) certified by FDA

Cancer is a hard collection of diseases to cure, because it is basically the cells of the body that are attacking itself, and the immune system is not supposed to attack cells that it recognises as belonging to the body.

The immune system has a group of cells called “T-cells”, which train themselves throughout your life to try to recognise invaders. However, cancer can look so similar to normal cells that the T-cells cannot differentiate them.

In the early 80s, a scientist had the idea of removing some T-cells, training them specially to attack cancer cells, and re-injecting them back into the body.

Recently, it has been found that this works very well. Some early trials resulted in illness and death, mostly due to inflammation caused by cytokine release from the T-cells as they did their job, but since those trials, scientists have learned to manage the side-effects.

In a recent trial, 83% of patients went into remission, with 64% still in remission a year later. The trial was not properly scientific, because it did not include a control group (people that do not receive the real treatment, in order to have numbers to compare the treatment against), but the results were still so stunning that a group of experts recommended unanimously to the FDA that the treatment should be immediately certified for public use.

After the treatment, the treated T-cells remember their training for at least six months, so if there is any remission in that time, they will spring back into action and destroy the fledgling cancer cells. And because one treated T-cell can kill 10,000 cancer cells, it doesn’t take a lot to cure the disease.

At the moment, the cost for T-cell treatment is almost half a million US dollars, but this is bound to shrink rapidly as the treatment becomes more and more popular. Also, the solution is being rolled out specifically to younger people with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia whose other treatments have failed, so it may be some time before it is available to everyone else. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a cancer which attacks the immune system itself, making it one of the deadliest cancers around.

If this new treatment works as expected, we will have crossed an important threshold in the fight against cancer, taking one step closer to learning to live forever.

3D printer ordered

I’ve finished covering the workshop framework for the winter, in order to keep the wood from rotting until I get the time and money to get onto putting proper walls and roof up, so I’m stuck indoors now for the winter.

Last week, I ordered a new 3D printer to replace the old Makibox printers that I had. They were okay for a few months but gradually degraded to the point that every print I made on one was a replacement part for the other.

The new printer is an Anet A8, which is a Prusa i3 derivative. I expect it to arrive within the next two weeks.

The end goal for all of this is peptide synthesis. Specifically, FOXO4-DRI, which is a peptide designed to stop the FOXO4 gene from interacting with the p53 gene, forcing senescent cells in the body to clear out, helping the body to rejuvenate itself, which is one step in how to live forever.

In order to get there, I need to build a load of tools. The first few are analysis tools – no point synthesising something if you can’t verify what it is!

There are a number of designs available already for 3D-printable analysis tools. For example, a spectrometer will help you determine the chemical makeup of a sample. I’m not sure yet of all the analysis tools I’ll need, but I’ll start with that.

Plans for a home-made peptide synthesis machine are also available online. It should be an easy matter to convert them into a 3D print design that can be shared. The costs on the bill of material are ridiculous – you can get most of those for a tiny fraction of the cost these days. A 200MHz CPU for $900? A $5 Raspberry Pi will beat that easily. All of the rest can be designed and printed, cutting a $3000 build down to probably about $30. I’ll update this as I actually build the thing, obviously, but I don’t think it will be anywhere near even $100.

Workshop progress

Construction takes longer than I thought. No wonder it costs so much!

When I started building my workshop/lab months ago (July – two months ago), I thought I might be done in a few weeks. It’s now September, and I’m just getting around to the roof now, and even then, it’s a temporary roof just to keep the structure from rotting through the winter!

The first thing I’ll be adding to the workshop is a 3D printer, with which I can start building the equipment I’ll need for working on my food replacement plan (a 100% nutrition food that’s designed on a person to person basis).

On a related note, based on an observation I made, Jimmy Joy is planning a low-calorie version of its Plenny-shake, which should allow better nutritional control for people that don’t consume exactly 2100 calories a day (that would be, oh, everyone!)

The second thing I’ll be adding is a weight and pulley system, to help me exercise. One thing I hate is going from no exercise to full-on exercise. For example, you can either do no press-ups, or you can do press-ups with your full weight. In order to do press-ups with lower weights (do build yourself up to full-on weight), I believe it would be better to start by having your body weight balanced so you’re essentially weightless, and start gradually adding more of your weight as you get stronger.

This is all part of my own attempt to extend my life. The ideal weight for my height is about 62kg, based on a BMI of about 23. That’s just the start, though – BMI does not discriminate between people that are overweight, and people that are just muscular.

To get a more accurate mortality calculation, you need to use something like ABSI or SBSI. The Surface Based Body Shape Index takes into account the weight, height, waist-size and vertical trunk-size, and uses that to generate a very accurate body-fat to mortality index. The people that live the longest are those that manage to reduce their SBSI score to .108 (male) or .105 (female).

To measure your own SBSI, please use my SBSI calculator.

Losing weight is straightforward – you just eat less calories than you use during a day. I’ve lost more than 12kg since the beginning of the year with little effort.

Reducing waist size, though, involves exercise. That’s a big change for a person (like me) that generally only does what is necessary. I generally don’t do anything that has no immediate purpose. Lying down and doing 100 pushups, or running a mile, doesn’t make any sense to me, because all I seem to get out of it is pain.

But, if there is an end-goal in the form of a number, suddenly it’s a game, which I intend to win 🙂

So – the plan – build the workshop, create custom exercise stuff, reach an SBSI of .108, and finish creating my food generator thing.

An eventual plan for the workshop is to build a protein synthesis machine capable of synthesising senolytics such as the FOXO4-DRI peptide, but that’s probably a year away.