There is a jellyfish — a teeny, tiny, fingernail-sized jellyfish — out there in the world that can live forever. Whenever it gets old or injured, it retreats to “the jellyfish version of the fetal position,” The New York Times Magazine writes, turning into a blob of goo that gradually regrows tentacles and becomes a full-fledged adult.
No one knows how it does this, but there is one scientist in Japan — Shin Kubota — who’s dedicated his life to studying the jellies and thinks he’s close to figuring out their secret. The Times blabs on for a while about how hard it is to raise the jellyfish (Kubota feeds them with tiny shrimp eggs he has to slice into tinier bites) and how if only someone could figure out how it regenerates, we could, you know, cure cancer and live forever.
But that’s all pretty tentative and maybe not real at all. What is real is Kubota’s newfound celebrity in Japan as Mr. Immortal Jellyfish Man. Seriously:
His superhero alter ego has its own costume: a white lab jacket, scarlet red gloves, red sunglasses and a red rubber hat, designed to resemble a medusa, with dangling rubber tentacles. With help from one of his sons, an aspiring musician, Kubota has written dozens of songs in the last five years and released six albums. Many of his songs are odes to Turritopsis. These include “I Am Scarlet Medusa,” “Life Forever,” “Scarlet Medusa — an Eternal Witness,” “Die-Hard Medusa” and his catchiest number, “Scarlet Medusa Chorus.”
I hope the Times has a really good excuse for not posting the audio of these songs, because although they’re in Japanese, I really, really want to hear them. Anyway, here’s the translation of Scarlet Medusa Chorus:
My name is Scarlet Medusa,
A teeny tiny jellyfish
But I have a special secret
that no others may possess
I can — yes, I can! — rejuvenate
This is not exactly how you thought we were going to find the secret to immortality, I know. But hey, people who want to live forever can’t be picky about how they get attention and the funding that comes with that.
Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality?, The New York Times.
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