Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Great Beards of Our Time: Aubrey de Grey

Oh, what's better than a beard? What clearer symbol of raw male virility is there? And some, surely, are more awesome than others. I doubt this will become a regular feature, but I got the urge to profile a man with a great beard, who I also happen to like for other reasons.

Aubrey de Grey

Aubrey is a scientist and researcher in the field of human aging. His work is centered around identifying the mechanisms that cause us to age and decay, and finding methods to delay, prevent, and reverse these processes. He is a bit of a radical in that he believes complete immortality (with respect to aging and disease) is achievable within our era. He is the chief scientist of the Methusla Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes life extension research and awards prizes to scientists who break certain age barriers in mice. The implications of this kind of research are of course huge. There's a decent chance Dr. de Grey could become the next Norman Bourlaug.

I love this kind of science at the fringes. The collective body of research and literature about using technology and biology to fundamentally alter and improve human life is called Transhumanism. I've always been in favour of becoming a cyborg, like inspector gadget. I would like to have fake legs (maybe one of these) because I think the current technology is better than conventional human legs. Arms aren't quite there yet, but its just a matter of time. I would also like some kind of ocular implant, or even just a contact lens, that allows magnification and a heads-up display of some kind. There's no reason those things shouldn't be commercially available now. There's no telling what will be possible ten or twenty years from now. But I digress.

As well as doing very cool and very important scientific work, Aubrey sports one of the most Bad Ass beards around. No fooling around with this one, it's just a straight-up huge full beard. There are homeless men too self conscious to grow a beard this large, so for a Cambridge PhD to have one takes some serious balls.

Way to go Aubrey, and good luck curing death.

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