Google tells me its Bram Stokers 165th birthday today. I take that as a ‘signal from the universe’ as Paulo Coelho is so fond of saying. Here is a post i wrote sometime back and which has been sitting as a draft on this blogs dashboard for way too long.
So, did Dracula know the secret?
‘Red Star’ is a science fiction novel about a utopian life on Mars written by Alexander Bogdanov, a Russian physician and philosopher. The book touched upon various aspects which make the Martian lifestyle unique, one of them being their extended lifespan which is achieved by sharing of blood between older and younger individuals, so that “elements of vitality” were passed on. The book was an instant hit with the public as well as with the people in the government.
What is remarkable is that Bogdanov took the idea to the field. After many tedious negotiations with the government, he established the Institute for Haemotology and Blood Transfusions in 1924, where blood transfusion techniques were perfected and his theories were tested on mice. The study involved connecting the circulatory systems of pairs of old and young mice such that the blood from the two co-mingles. The results were startling. It was found that youthful blood revives the regenerative cells in muscles and livers, and also that there are some substances/ factors in the blood of older mice that appear to inhibit the brains ability to produce new nerve cells critical to memory and learning.
These findings have implications on aging and extending lifespan of humans. Now, it only remained to start testing it on humans, and Bogdanov started with himself.
In the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans, a research group from Stanford University presents its findings that blood from young mice reverses some of the effects of ageing in the older mice.
The work involves connecting the circulatory systems of an old and young mouse so that their blood could mingle. The results show an improved learning and memory in older mice, comparable to much younger animals. The findings show an increase in the connections between the brain cells and it is concluded that there are certain key factors that decrease with age and thus contribute to ageing.
Future work along these lines could one day help people stave off the worst effects of ageing, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
This was an example of how science fiction overlaps with reality and the lines blur. What is also interesting is the fact that I first read of the Stanford findings and while surfing the net came across references to Bogdanov and his crazy transfusion experiments on himself.
Internet has made it so easy for us to access information on myriad things. As we sit hunched over at our desks and stare at the flickering screens, we are transported places and we fly. We may complain ad nauseam about the social networking sites and how they infringe our privacy, but we grudgingly acknowledge that through them, we find old friends and stay connected… to our sanity and to each other.
Here is a fantastic description I found in a book that describes us as we are now:
“…and he now took the fancy that he would like to …. divert his mind with it. He had his wish. The connection was made with the international telephone-station, and day by day, and night by night, he called up one corner of the globe after another, and looked upon its life, and studied its strange sights, and spoke with its people, and realized that by grace of this marvelous instrument he was almost as free as the birds of the air, although a prisoner under locks and bars. He seldom spoke, and I never interrupted him when he was absorbed in this amusement. I sat in his parlour and read, and smoked, and the nights were very quiet and reposefully sociable, and I found them pleasant. Now and then I would her him say ‘Give me Yedo;’ next, ‘Give me Hong-Kong;’ next, ‘Give me Melbourne.’ And I smoked on, and read in comfort, while he wandered about the remote underworld, where the sun was shining in the sky, and the people were at their daily work. Sometimes the talk that came from those far regions through the microphone attachment interested me, and I listened.”
That was Mark Twain in his rare science fiction story ‘From the London Times of 1904‘ where he describes a telephone based system- the telelectroscope- that connects people the world over with both audio as well as video). The story was published in 1898 A.D.
And the lines blur again.