Thursday, September 27, 2007


There are exactly four routes to achieving immortality, but don't quote me on that:

1. Spiritual immortality. Virtually every form of religion from civilized societies preach about some form of postmortem paradise/bliss, in one form or another - heaven, Valhalla, Nirvana, etc. By the same token, there's also a form of punishment for those who didn't quite make it - hell, Tartarus, never-ending rebirth, etc. Of course, the specifics of which have long been debated - and by debated, I mean there have been tens of thousands of holy wars waged during the past ten thousand years of civilization.

2. Physical immortality. Ah, yes - such is the stuff that which supervillainy is made. Am I correct, Lord Voldemort? Unless you are a Scottish Highlander from the clan MacLeod or an Elf from Rivendell, it would be advisable not to attempt to attain such a fate. The possible outcomes include Dark Lordship (where you'll certainly be overthrown and lose said immortality by an alliance of heroes), eternal wandering, and/or intense boredom. Buyer beware.

3. Genetic immortality. Be fruitful, multiply, and make sure your children do the same - survival of the fittest. If your entire bloodline is diligent with this singular duty, then most of the genes that you carry will last until the end of the human race, or possibly beyond Homo sapiens! Since we're stuck on a world with a finite sun, make sure your descendants get on a space station to proliferate the anthropomorphic way to the edges of the universe...and beyond! How can you make sure of this? Through supervillainy, of course (see #2)!

4. Electromagnetic immortality. Your knowledge, wisdom, and art can potentially survive to the end of time (and beyond?). It's not enough to write books: Paper rots and ink disappears. It's not enough to create giant monuments: They will eventually crumble into ruins and dust. To achieve this form of immortality, one must encode one's legacy into electromagnetic waves, i.e. broadcast to the universe. Those precious radio waves need to escape the Earth (by not bouncing back and forth from atmosphere to ground) and travel at the speed of light to the farthest reaches of the Universe. Barring the Big Crunch, your legacy should outlast all life as we know it - that is, when all particles are evenly dispersed in a Cold Universe.

So what are you waiting for? If you can think of other routes, please let me know (comment!).

Image credit: "Hortus Deliciarum: Hell (Hölle)" by Herrad von Landsberg (about 1180).

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