Eternal youth
Eternal youth is the concept of human physical immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 free of aging. The youth
Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood . Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual's actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals could exist at all ages.-Usage:Around the world, the terms "youth",...

 referred to is usually meant to be in contrast to the depredations of aging, rather than a specific age of the human lifespan.

So far, achieving eternal youth remains beyond the capabilities of science. However, much research is currently being conducted in the sciences of genetics which may allow manipulation of the aging process at some time in the future.

Eternal youth is common in mythology, and it remains a popular theme in fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...



Eternal youth is a characteristic of the inhabitants of Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

 in Abrahamic religion.

The Hindus believe that the Vedic and the post-Vedic rishis have attained immortality, which implies the ability to change one's body's age or even shape at will. These are some of the siddha
A Siddha सिद्ध in Sanskrit means "one who is accomplished" and refers to perfected masters who, according to Hindu belief, have transcended the ahamkara , have subdued their minds to be subservient to their Awareness, and have transformed their bodies into a different kind of body dominated by...

s in Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

. Markandeya
Markandeya is an ancient rishi from the Hindu tradition, born in the clan of Bhrigu Rishi. He is celebrated as a devotee of both Shiva and Vishnu and is mentioned in a number of stories from the Puranas...

 is said to always stay at the age of 16.

The difference between eternal life and the more specific eternal youth is a recurrent theme in Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 and Roman mythology
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

. The mytheme
In the study of mythology, a mytheme is the essential kernel of a myth—an irreducible, unchanging element, a minimal unit that is always found shared with other, related mythemes and reassembled in various ways—"bundled" was Claude Lévi-Strauss's image— or linked in more...

 of requesting the boon of immortality from a god, but forgetting to ask for eternal youth appears in the story of Tithonus
In Greek mythology, Tithonus or Tithonos was the lover of Eos, Titan of the dawn. He was a Trojan by birth, the son of King Laomedon of Troy by a water nymph named Strymo . The mythology reflected by the fifth-century vase-painters of Athens envisaged Tithonus as a rhapsode, as the lyre in his...

. A similar theme is found in Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 regarding the Cumaean Sibyl
Cumaean Sibyl
The ageless Cumaean Sibyl was the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cumae, a Greek colony located near Naples, Italy.The word sibyl comes from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess. There were many Sibyls in different locations throughout the ancient world...


In Norse mythology
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

, Iðunn
In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth. Iðunn is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

 is described as providing the gods apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

s that grant them eternal youthfulness in the 13th century Prose Edda
Prose Edda
The Prose Edda, also known as the Younger Edda, Snorri's Edda or simply Edda, is an Icelandic collection of four sections interspersed with excerpts from earlier skaldic and Eddic poetry containing tales from Nordic mythology...



An individual's DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 plays a role in the aging process. Aging starts as soon as one is born. As soon as cells start do die and begin to need to be replaced. On the ends of each chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

 are repetitive sequences of DNA, telomeres, that protect the chromosome from joining with other chromosomes and have several key roles. One of these roles is to regulate cell division by allowing each cell division to take a small amount of genetic code off. The amount taken off varies by the type off cell being replicated. The slow wearing away of the telomeres restricts cell division to 40-60 times, also known as the Hayflick Limit
Hayflick limit
The Hayflick limit is the number of times a normal cell population will divide before it stops, presumably because the telomeres reach a critical length....

. Once this limit has been reached more cells die than can be replaced in the same amount of time. Thus soon after this limit is reached the organism dies. The importance of telomeres is now clearly evident, lengthen the telomeres, lengthen the life.

Studies have shown that 90 percent of cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 cells contain large amounts of an enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 called telomerase
Telomerase is an enzyme that adds DNA sequence repeats to the 3' end of DNA strands in the telomere regions, which are found at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. This region of repeated nucleotide called telomeres contains non-coding DNA material and prevents constant loss of important DNA from...

. Telomerase is an enzyme that replenishes the worn away telomeres by adding bases to the ends and thus renewing the telomere. A cancer cell has in essence, turned on the telomerase gene, and this allows them to have an unlimited amount of divisions without the telomeres wearing away. Other kinds of cells that can surpass the Hayflick Limit are: stem cells, hair follicles, and germ cells. This is because they contain raised amounts of telomerase.

See also

  • Ageless
    Ageless is an adjective describing a person or thing whose age cannot be defined, is nonexistent or does not change.It can also describe immortality, most specifically eternal youth.-Ageless people:...

  • Dorian Gray
    Dorian Gray
    Dorian Gray is the main character of Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.It may also refer to:* Dorian Gray , an Italian film starring Helmut Berger...

  • Elixir of life
    Elixir of life
    The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

  • Fountain of Youth
    Fountain of Youth
    The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and the stories of Prester John...

  • Indefinite lifespan
    Indefinite lifespan
    Indefinite lifespan or, indefinite life extension, is a term used in the life extension movement to refer to the longevity of humans, and other life-forms, under conditions in which aging can be effectively and completely prevented and treated. Such individuals would still be susceptible to...

  • Peter Pan
    Peter Pan
    Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie . A mischievous boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys, interacting with...

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