Act Your Age, Adaline

Lexie Frye Rochfort | Blogger | SQ Online (2014—15)

CD4x2ifUIAAD57OI just watched Age of Adaline, and I thought to myself: perfect. I’ve been dying to talk about something dumb that happens in a movie, but then they used “almost magical” as their excuse. Too bad, I’m still going to make fun of this movie: beware spoilers.

Fortunately, I already talked about what happens when you get electrocuted; this movie, however, suggests some science talk about electron compression, amperes, and deoxyribonucleic acid. Big words to cover up a lack of knowledge (sounds like what I do). The narrator suggests that getting into a car accident, dying of drowning/hypothermia, and then getting struck by lightning causes “electron compression in the telomeres of her deoxyribonucleic acid.” Sounds sciency, but I’ve been googling for half an hour what electron compression is, and I’ve got nothing.

Let’s talk about aging. As a matter of fact, in my molecular biology class, we were just talking about aging and the cause: shortening of telomeres. Each time you make a copy of your genome during cell division, telomeric regions at the ends of the chromosomal strand get shortened because of the nature of DNA replication. Telomeres exists as a repeating sequence of “junk.” Its use is to protect the important coding regions from being lost. The RNA primers that initiate DNA replication cannot bind past the ends of the DNA strand, so each time, between 50-100 base pairs are lost. Going from one fertilized cell to the plethora of cells in the human body, the amount of base pairs lost must be substantial.

Also in my previous article, I mentioned Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cultured cancer cells still exist today. How come cancer cells don’t die from telomere shortening after constant division? We do have enzymes called telomerase, which attempt to rebuild and extend telomeric sequences. Certain cancers simply promote the expression of telomerase. If Adaline were to have telomerase running around the clock in her cells, she may live forever as a cancerous blob.aug2012nl_telomere

Magically, again, she has a similar experience to undo her living forever near the end of the movie, so I guess telomerase was deactivated? Unfortunately, deactivating telomerase does not seem to be a viable treatment for cancer; it just makes the cancer angry. Ok, not really angry, but the cancer does seem to become more aggressive. Using some alternate mechanism to continue to extend telomeres, deactivating telomerase expression actually causes cancer-promoting changes through gene expression. We will certainly find a way to better treat cancer, but telomerase inactivation is unlikely.

There’s just no winning with this movie–it was really bad. I was actually taking someone on a date on her request to see this movie, and it was so boring she fell asleep during it! Bad movie, bad story, bad characters, bad science.

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  1. I get the point of your article but science in of itself isn’t only trial and observation, it’s also the imagination utilized to inspire one to commit to the trial and observation needed to acquire new understandings and so forth. My point is that often people utilize CURRENT science as an end all, be all explanation of possibility, when the truth is noone knows.

    In the 60’s the Jetsons showed us wall sized TV screens flat as can be, computers within our watches, etc. I use an example of relativity for the children I mentor. “Man is so capable, God is so powerful but nothing is more capable or powerful than belief. The world told man they cannot fly, but man believes he can, so he then goes and builds large metal tubes to fly in just to prove a point.” We only know what we know and NOONE knows what they do not. While the scientific explanation may not exemplify current scientific knowledge, nothing can be said about the future and to me the worst situation would be that someone would take your article for an end result, a completed theory of understanding and not for that which it is. An opinion of art.

  2. “There’s just no winning with this movie–it was really bad. I was actually taking someone on a date on her request to see this movie, and it was so boring she fell asleep during it! Bad movie, bad story, bad characters, bad science.”

    You were too boring for your date. Brush up on your romantics and personal in-theatre entertainment instead of dwelling too much on the science. Also, it isnt that hard to understand basically some cell functions were altered so she became immortal. Just take that at face value!
    However, good article, well written just that the movie is not as bad as you claim it to be, in fact I found it nice to watch.

  3. Just because of the nature of DNA replication, Telomeres get shorter ?!!! it is quite vague.

    It seems that you have been copying from your physiology book, but ‘DNA nature’ has no meaning. Same as Dr diagnoses their patient with allergy…. This is a bad science, not understanding the root cause.

    Why Telomeres get shorter,? what is the true cause ( without pointing at some DNA nature) when we understand the true reason then we can find a solution.
    And yes, I believe that we can live without looking/feeling (psychologically and physically) older.

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