An anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota - the quietest place on Earth. It is said that an ordinary person would be driven crazy by staying here for longer than 45 minutes.
Benedict Sanchez already spent three hours here, thinking. Saner than ever. He loved this place. Only here he could clearly hear the sounds of his own body. His pounding heart, his breathing lungs, his gurgling stomach, his flowing blood. Everything reminded him of his mortality, of the frailty of his body, and of imminent death.
No, he wasn't terminally ill. Just, to him, even surviving for a hundred years wasn't considering long. What are one hundred years compared to the vastness of the universe? Even their tiny insignificant planet was 4,54 billion years old. The human lifespan was a joke to him.
'Grandpa, if only you still were here. Together, we could do so much more. Now, I have no one else to rely on but myself. All those other scientists can't understand our inspiration—the things they can do nothing but menial chores, compared to what I strive to achieve.'
Two years ago, when Benedict was seventeen years old, his grandfather Leonid Sanches died from COVID-19. It was ridiculous that one of the brightest minds of humanity died because of an insignificant virus. It took Benedict only two weeks to create a vaccine, but even this was too late. The world avoided a pandemic thanks to his actions, but was it truly worth the price? How many more people could Leonid save if he stayed alive?
'Without you, I have no confidence to live long enough to achieve our mission. Overcoming Hayflick Limit isn't hard. It will take me no longer than five years from now. But stopping the aging process in cells is just a small step towards true immortality.'
The aging of the cells in one's body is different from the aging of one's brain. The so-called "eternal youth" wouldn't change the fact that your brain will deteriorate with time and, eventually, you will become demented and die.
'The more I study, the more I start to think that the path of biology we choose is the wrong one. The true immortality also means being impervious to all diseases. And the solutions offered by biology are way too limited and complex.'
What is the point of having a body with a limitless lifespan if you can die from some unforeseen illness as his grandpa did?
I can see much more potential in cybernetics, but it has its own problems, and there are way too many variables.
Improving your biological body or change it to something else. One path was long and full of thorns. The other path was unpredictable and hidden in the fog.
Moreover, making your body ageless and immune to disease isn't enough. What is the point if your body is so frail that it can be easily damaged by almost anything? An immortal being dying by slipping on a banana peel would be a ludicrous outcome.
Benedict knew from experience how cruel and unexpected life can be. His outstanding parents died in a car crash when he was only six.
'Even with my genius, achieving all components of true immortality is just unrealistic, my lifespan isn't nearly enough. Moreover, society can't understand the importance of my research.'
Even though labeled as "modern Albert Einstein of molecular and cellular biology", the support he got from the scientific community and government wasn't nearly enough.
They completely forbid me from human experimentation in any form. Even death convicts are out of my reach. If you plan to kill those people anyway, why would you waste their precious lives for nothing? They can be sacrificed for the future of humanity and become true heroes. Should I switch my affiliation to China instead of the USA? But then again, the level of their laboratories is inferior, and I'm still not sure about their connection to COVID. If I find out that they are to blame for my grandpa's death...
He could clearly hear how his heartbeat accelerated at the thought, the sign of anger - something unusual for this cold youth. While analyzing the infection that took the life of his most important person, Benedict came to the conclusion that it isn't unlikely for this disease to be artificially created. In fact, he could create much more dangerous viruses, possibly even slaying the whole of humanity. Creating or enhancing life is always harder than to destroy it. Saving lives is always harder than taking them away.
'Those ignorant pigs in government only want my ability to create weapons of mass murder and use those to threaten other nations. If I agreed to their terms, would they still blabber about how priceless human life is or would provide me with countless human specimens to experiment with to my heart's content? In any case, they all can kiss my ass. Though if it is them, they can actually agree and literally do it, those lowly swines.'
Just thinking about those fat old faces made him disgusted. Benedict decided to change the topic of his inner monologue.
'It is interesting that all my problems were so easy to solve in the naive imagination of ancient people. I'm especially annoyed with all this Chinese folklore. Just meditate and train in martial arts to achieve a powerful and immortal body? What a joke.'
In his desperate pursuit of any sort of knowledge related to immortality, he once stumbled on the concept of Cultivation from Taoism. Even if he was back then only eleven-year-old, he still could clearly see that it is just an unscientific fairy tale for uneducated masses of the past. How easy would everything be if people could really extend their lifespan by meditating and repeating some silly body motions? Remembering how he even read some web-novels which used this concept as part of its world-building, Benedict felt shame for the actions of his past self. Even if he logically understood that cultivation is just nonsense, back then, he was still tender and innocent, so there was some curiosity towards its concept and even a sliver of hope, which, of course, soon turned into disappointment.
'After your death, I started to deepen my knowledge of bioengineering and its sub-disciplines. Instead of improving human bodies genetically or with molecular machines, it would be faster just to replace our body with an artificial one, leaving only the brain. Then, there would be a slim chance that I would manage to transfer the mind of a person from the brain to something more durable. There is a serious problem, though...'
Benedict clenched his fists. The more he learned, the more he felt that his life mission is but a pipe dream. From his early childhood, he was praised as a rare genius, but he always felt that his abilities were too lacking compared to his aspirations.
'At its fundamental level, the person's mind is but a brain activity. Even if all the processes could be transferred, it would ruin the continuity of consciousness. It would be just a copy of the transferred person. No different from copying and pasting a file on PC. Creating an identical copy of something is different from just moving it. It would be an effect similar to quantum teleportation when the person who teleported is an atomic copy and an original person annihilated on a fundamental level...'
When his thoughts achieved this point, suddenly, a bright light blinded his vision. And then Benedict Sanchez was, well... teleported somewhere far, far away from Earth. If this teleportation really worked as he assumed would be something for him to find out on his own later.
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