These are cells from a person, Henrietta Lacks, which can be grown in a dish and which keep dividing, for ever.
HeLa cells are certainly the most famous. It should be noted that the HeLa stocks used in most labs now are radically different from original HeLa stocks.
Even in routine experiments, you have to keep a bunch of cells frozen in liquid nitrogen to replenish your "working stock" of cells. After around 30-40 passages (e.g. generations of cells), most immortalized cell lines start to get funky with mutations and exhibit different behaviors. You kill them off and go back to your frozen stocks to get back to the "original" genetics.
Patenting a human cell? That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard.
These cell lines do not exist in nature and what is patented was the creation of a new immortalized cell line.
But I have a sinking feeling that it could.
Or lobsters, for that matter, but much more so for these tiny organisms with potent regenerative capacities.
This is an interesting quote from the article given by another biologist Stefano Piraino, not the main focus of the article. If we did find the secret to immortality, it would be stupid to give it to everyone. In that case, who gets it?
Will it lead to overpopulation? Yes. Bloody wars? Yes. Almost completely stagnant population? Suicides left and right by 200-y.o. people? Perverse class imbalance? Complete overhaul of society as we know it? Yesyesyesnotreally.
Because once you institutionalise and put such and such rules in place (a bureaucracy), people stop thinking. They stop thinking and become not people, but things - and they do it to themselves, willingly.
And that is the greatest crime of all.
As far as the "immortality" for these jellyfish go though, they are rather easy to kill. They can't even eat a whole prawn egg, and their water temperature has to be just right.
It might potentially be fair to administer "longevity" to those willing to colonize another planet. This would solve the problem of distribution while creating a bit of an incentive to expand human civilization (which might well be an eventual necessity).
And you can't adopt nor rent a womb.
There, no overpopulation problem.
Also, if humans do go extra/multiplanetary, most religious apocalypse' are MOOT.
Dropping the name Betteridge or Dunning-Kruger or Godwin tells everyone "I heard about this phenomenon before it was cool and even know the name for it".
Basically a geeky way to be a hipster.
I'd rephrase that to be "geeks like to win arguments and like to think they value facts above opinions"
In my experience geeks are no more objective than any other messed up human being on this planet. We just have a giant collective superiority complex about our own supposed factualness.
This is related to the many, many posts you see on HN where programmers belittle professionals of other fields as if they were economists, political scientists, biologists, medical doctors, rocket scientists, architects, structural engineers, or what have you.