65 Essays on Infinite Lifespans   Michael D. West cycle. The individual passes away, but there is a continuity of individuals. The ancients attributed the force of this continual renewal of life to the realm of the gods. The  ancient  Egyptians  witnessed  this  immortal  cycle  of renewal on the banks of the river Nile. They came to revere its permanence. Like the sun that dies every evening in the west- ern sky, only to be reborn the following morning, so the life of the individual is a transient phenomenon, but the immortal cycle of life itself is unchanging. In the mind of the ancient Egyptian mythologist, the phenomenon of immortal renewal was more than just a scientific observation; it was the corner- stone of the meaning of life itself. It was (so they reasoned) the work of a god, and they called that god Osiris. Osiris, often depicted with his face painted green to sym- bolize this force of immortal renewal, was the foundation of ancient Egyptian religion. Osiris not only escaped death and corruption himself, but, inasmuch as any of his disciples could learn the mystery of the path into immortality, he too could hope for an immortal renewal of life transcending death. IMMORTAL CELLS I think the ancient Egyptian philosopher would have mar- veled to know that from the dry desert sand, future scientists would learn to make clear glass, and then to mold that glass into lenses, and then to stack those lenses together to make telescopes to magnify the night sky, and microscopes to mag- nify the world too small for the unaided eye. The microscope allowed early biologists to peer into the cellular substructure of life, and by the mid-1800’s, it was confidently asserted that the mechanism of animal reproduction was via cells, not some amorphous “life force.” All life comes from pre-existing life, and all cells come from pre-existing cells. In other words, sci-