The Pursuit of Immortality

  • By Rachel VanCott
  • Posted 08.26.10
  • NOVA scienceNOW

What if there were a potion that you could drink to double your life span? How about a pill or a genetic tweak that might allow you to live for centuries? Sure, the average human life span in the West has increased by more than 50 percent over the past century, but that was largely a matter of decreasing childhood mortality. We've never found one simple way to counteract the aging process, but that doesn't mean that we haven't tried. In this time line, see some of the ideas that people have devised and explored in our quest to live longer, healthier lives.

Launch Interactive

Humans haven't found a way to counteract or block the effects of aging, but we've tried. See how in this time line.



(Nicolas Flamel, depiction of the Fountain of Youth)
Public Domain
(depiction of the Fountain of Youth)
Public Domain
(laboratory mouse)
© Brandon Laufenberg/iStockphoto
(acai berries)
© Sam Aronov/iStockphoto
(cryonic capsule)
© Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
(futuristic robot)
© Vladislav Ociacia /iStockphoto
(nanomechanical robot animation)
© Guillermo Lobo/iStockphoto
(C. elegans)
taken by Bob Goldstein of UNC Chapel Hill, released under CC 3.0
(Aubrey de Grey)
taken from [TED Talks "Defeating Aging"]

Related Links

  • Cheating Death

    From a 122-year-old woman to the oldest organism on Earth, explore cases of remarkable longevity.

  • Can We Live Forever?

    Explore artificial organs, suspended animation, genes that impact aging, and lifelike avatars.

  • Aging

    Will research into "longevity genes" help us live longer and healthier lives?

  • The Future of Brain Transplants

    Will we ever grow replacement brains or do whole-brain transplants?


You need the Flash Player plug-in to view this content.