The Washington PostThe Washington Post

The long and gruesome history of people trying to live forever

By Theo Zenou

01 May 2022 · 5 min read

The Renaissance philosopher Montaigne quipped that "death has us by the scruff of the neck at every moment." He could have added: until, finally, it strangles us. But what if we knew how to escape death's chokehold? What if we could avoid death and live forever?

Immortality might seem like the stuff of science fiction, yet it's increasingly becoming the focus of real science. In 2013, Google launched Calico, a biotech firm whose objective is to "solve" death. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, meanwhile, has pledged to "fight" death. And last year, it was reported Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos had invested in Altos Labs, a company that plans to "rejuvenate" cells in order to "reverse disease." (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content