Who, Freddie Mercury once asked, wants to live forever?
It’s a timeless question, even if in this particular instance it was asked as part of the soundtrack to the movie Highlander, a film where Frenchman Christopher Lambert plays an immortal Scotsman while Sean Connery, the world’s most famous Scotsman, pops up as an ancient Egyptian turned Spanish metallurgist with a ponytail. Or to put it another way, the greatest movie in history.
The point of Highlander was not just about gallivanting through time and lopping the heads off various nemeses but that living forever would be a curse with those unable to die forced to watch their loved ones age and die while they, and their accents, remain unchanged.
Because in real life we know growing old never comes by itself.
People now live longer, which puts even more pressure on pensions and health services. Rising rates of dementia are just one result of people living to a much greater age.
And yet we stand on the precipice of gaining the power to protect ourselves from conditions like dementia, even cancer, due to altering the human germline.
The ability to tamper with our own genes to extend our lifespans sounds like the wildest science fiction but it could soon be a reality.
Kevin Smith, from Abertay University, published analysis this week that found the risks of this gene editing are now so low that it is safe enough to warrant its use with human embryos.
The possibilities are endless: people could be spared from genetic conditions that drastically shorten their lives or cause enormous suffering.
Dr Smith warns that ethical concerns about these procedures which could delay the creation of so-called designer babies means we are failing those who suffer disease or other debilitating conditions.
Yet, while there are enormous potential benefits there are huge risks too.
The law of unintended consequences says we may not even know for certain what these are but it is possible to take a few educated guesses.
Human bodies are not perfect machines and it is likely other conditions, other failings, may make themselves known as we extend lifespans.
There are also real concerns that modification of embryos could even mark the difference between the haves and have-nots at a genetic level.
While it is recommended that no modification takes place to enhance humans, to bolster attractive characteristics, what would happen in a world where only the wealthy can afford such procedures or where the rich can choose to carry out additional gene editing when it is not a medical necessity?
A world where some people have been genetically created to be resistant to the physical ailments that still affect an impoverished underclass is the stuff of nightmares.
The dream of eternal youth and vitality has existed as long as humans have had the power to imagine better worlds and better lives. Chasing that dream has led to enormous advances in medicine and science that all of us in the developed world benefit from.
But there is a reason Mary Shelley gave Frankenstein the subtitle The Modern Prometheus, and that is the warning that we cannot always control the powers we obtain.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell once said she would not even get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.
Sadly, my efforts to use this tactic in pay negotiations have never been successful, although others have been far more successful than me.
Take Professor Andrew Atherton, for example.
The former principal of Dundee University received six months’ pay in lieu of notice after resigning earlier this month, which meant he effectively earned more than £10,000 a week for the short time he was in charge.
Not quite supermodel pay but still nice work if you can get it.
A bad weekend
Last weekend was fun, chez Morkis, as my wife, children, mother-in-law and my good self all came down with a rather virulent bug.
If you can remember the pie eating scene in Stand By Me – the classic teen movie about finding dead bodies in the undergrowth – you’ll have a fairly accurate picture of events.
So if you thought Prince Andrew’s interview with Emily Maitlis was weird, imagine how it came across through the fug of nauseous delirium.
Like many, I spent a strange few minutes searching online for whether an over-abundance of adrenalin can make a person stop sweating, only to come up – unsurprisingly – short.
Even odder was Prince Andrew’s insistence that he had somehow, miraculously, trained himself to sweat again. What a hero.
The crimes of Jeffrey Epstein are deadly serious. Prince Andrew seemed incapable of even recognising that.