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nikipedia's avatar

Why is death permanent?

Asked by nikipedia (27327 points ) February 3rd, 2009

Why can’t you just fix all the broken parts and reanimate someone?

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22 Answers

eponymoushipster's avatar

it isn’t permanent.

Dog's avatar

Interesting question- one would need to learn to stop tissue death to preserve the body.

Darwin's avatar

It is in this dimension because when your time is up, your time is up. But it may not be the same in all dimensions.

Jack79's avatar

Well death can happen because of a variety of ways. And so in some cases (eg heart attack) it is in fact NOT permanent. Think also of all those people who are deep-frozen and will be brought back to life decades from now.

A body is like a car (only much more complicated). You can turn the engine back on if it stops, and even change it. But there’s not always a solution to every problem. You could run out of gas, or maybe your spark plugs don’t work, or just have an oil leak. Or even just have a flat tyre. There’s a variety of reasons why a car will stop working, and even more for a human body to stop working. And you can’t always repair it.

dynamicduo's avatar

I think one of the main issues with death is the brain dying. If the brain is deprived of oxygen for upwards of some number of minutes, it starts dying, so while we can fix the underlying cause of why the situation happened (such as a heart attack), if we cross over a certain time line, the brain will become irreparably damaged. Science is gaining knowledge of how the brain works every day, so some day in the future we will have the ability to fix our brains and thus have our life spans increase dramatically.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I’ve heard that some scientists have hypothesized that death is a gene as in your body will wear out around a specified time, provided you don’t die of something other than old age. Don’t know if it has any scientific merit, but it seems interesting.

Obscure scientific ideas aside, I think our bodies wear and die for the same reason a machine stops working. There are only so many times you can repair/replace the parts until the whole just stops working.

Bluefreedom's avatar

We haven’t gotten around to cloning ourselves to use our ‘others’ for spare parts yet. I heard the whole cloning a human thing was an ethical issue of some kind or another.

If memory serves me correctly, if you are of the Hindu religion, death certainly isn’t permanent for you. There is something to be said for reincarnation.

shilolo's avatar

After you stop breathing, the body no longer can regulate its pH (one of the main functions of breathing is to exhale out carbon dioxide, which is critical for regulating the acid-base balance of the body). With accumulating CO2, the pH drops significantly (like from 7.4 to 6.8, and lower). Most human enzymes are tuned to be most active at pH 7.4, and a drop to 6.8 renders them inoperable. Thus, most of your bodily activities cease, in dramatic fashion. This allows damage to cellular structures to ensue, including your cellular membranes, mitochondria, and nucleus. Even if you could later rectify the underlying “cause of death”, all of that damage is impossible to “repair”.

Edit: I should add that the lack of oxygen is also a major problem, as mentioned above, but also that reperfusion (i.e., the correction of a blood/oxygen deficit) can also lead to significant cellular damage via a number of mechanisms. So, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Fieryspoon's avatar

You can reanimate it if you can solve the problem fast enough sometimes. If you can’t solve the problem, then the body starts to decompose. You can still reanimate a body at this point again, but with brain damage, and other body damage. If it decomposes further, then the body would be too damaged to live.

WastaBwoy's avatar

Death is just a change.

Blondesjon's avatar

If death wasn’t permanent then the world would be a very crowded, dirty, starving place.

simpleD's avatar

@Blondesjon: You mean it isn’t?

answerjill's avatar

It all gets even more complicated if you believe that there is a soul…

Sakata's avatar

Evolving past death. Wouldn’t that be the end of evolution?

“Thank you Mr. Darwin but we won’t be needing your services anymore.”

If we abolish death then I guess natural selection would be pointless too.

“Go ahead and eat the marbles Timmy. While you’re at it here’s a bunch of pennies.”

janbb's avatar

Because it is.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Entropy? I imagine everything is subject to it, including us.

AstroChuck's avatar

I’d like to know why a permanent isn’t permanent. Seems like my mother gets one at the hairdresser’s every couple of months.

trendbreakr's avatar

@AstroChuck because hair grows and is replaced.

wundayatta's avatar

For some reason, the idea of quantum decay functions comes to mind, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s related to Shilolo’s explanation. SOrt of why, even if we had a supercomputer that could record every state of every particle in your body, and then “fix” it, you still would be dead. It simply wouldn’t work.

Brains's avatar

Only if conciousness can be revived if not, then at best you will be in comma. A simpler way to understand death is to assume that we are nothing else but “conciouness” – how ever it arises in our brains. This means that when you enter comma state (e.g under anasthetic) you are dead as far as you are concerned for that time duration. Only other people regard you as still leaving. When you are unconcious you as an intagible “person” become dissacociated wth the feeling of existance. This is whether you are in actual death or in comma or under anaesthetics. The only difference between death and total comma is that in the latter case the body cells are not necessarily damaged especially with induced comma/ when under anaesthetic. Once the blocking mechanism is removed, conciouness returns (that is you return to felt existance). Now conciousness is a property that is totally supported by brain activities/ channels. When these brain areas/channels are blocked/ or interrupted conciousness (you!) cease to exist, and this is immediate and totally painless. It is only before the loss of conciousness that you may feel discomfort or pain associated with body responses.

Now the state of unconciousness is caused by the dead body, unfortunately you will remain “unexisting” permanently. You can only return to existance if the body – i.e the brain can be restored to its original state. This is “theoretically possible” but its far beyond our capability as humans as we need to use our minds to figure out how to repair a dead mind. It is probably nature’s final checkmate of what is practically possible to achive with our minds. Remeber that almost all brain disorders can not be fixed as we speak, how much more to reverse a totally damaged mind??

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