"And what is life? A beating heart? Individual consciousness? The genome itself? No, my friends. Life is much more. Life is an ineffable mystery, a gift that should inspire reverence and awe." His smile turned sad. "Yet we have demeaned it. Heedless of the consequences, we have schemed and cheated and deluded ourselves, arrogantly determined to bend this marvelous gift to our collective will. Greedy for immortality at any cost, we have thoughtlessly thrown life away. Does that sound like a contradiction? I promise you, it is not.
"We must face a newly discovered truth. The Known Span cannot be breached. It will never be breached. Centuries of meticulous, exhaustive research have ruled out the last possible biological cause for mortality. We do not die because we degrade physiologically. We die because we are meant to, because a force larger than ourselves has numbered our days at forty-three thousand eight hundred. One hundred twenty years. It is a constant as unyielding as the universe itself."
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