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What form an unending human life would take, or whether the soul exists and possesses immortality, has been a fundamental point of focus of philosophy and religion, as well as the subject of speculation, fantasy, and debate.As of May 2008, human physical immortality is not known to be an achievable possibility."The marvelous powers of the Hsien are so like those of the jinni of the Arabian Nights that one wonders whether the Arabic word, jinn, may not be derived from the Chinese Hsien." Axel Schuessler's etymological dictionary (207) suggests a Sino-Tibetan connection between xiān (Old Chinese *san or *sen) "'An immortal' ...men and women who attain supernatural abilities; after death they become immortals and deities who can fly through the air" and Tibetan gšen The word xiān is written with three characters 僊, 仙, or 仚, which combine the logographic "radical" rén (人 or 亻 "person; human") with two "phonetic" elements (see Chinese character classification).As of 2009, natural selection has developed biological immortality in at least one species, the jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula, Certain scientists, futurists, and philosophers, such as Ray Kurzweil, advocate that human immortality is achievable in the first few decades of the 21st century, while other advocates believe that life extension is a more achievable goal in the short term, with immortality awaiting further research breakthroughs further into an indefinite future.Aubrey de Grey, a researcher who has developed a series of biomedical rejuvenation strategies to reverse human aging (called SENS), believes that his proposed plan for ending aging may be implementable in two or three decades.Two linguistic hypotheses for the etymology of xian involve the Arabic language and Sino-Tibetan languages.Wu and Davis (194) suggested the source was jinn, or jinni "genie" (from Arabic جني jinnī).

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Biological forms have inherent limitations — for example, their fragility and slow adaptability to changing environments, which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions, engineering, etc.

On the other hand, biological immortality already exists among some simple, but multicellular life-forms.

Mortal or immortal, an [organism] must die." A timeless existence is also not known for certain to be achievable, or even definable, despite millennia of arguments for eternity.

Wittgenstein, in a notably non-theological interpretation of eternal life, writes in the Tractatus that, "If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present." Christian belief is that [spirits] never die only our bodies and souls go to the grave and will be raised in God own order.

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Xian semantically developed from meaning spiritual "immortality; enlightenment", to physical "immortality; longevity" involving methods such as alchemy, breath meditation, and T'ai chi ch'uan, and eventually to legendary and figurative "immortality". They dwell apart from the chaotic world of man, subsist on air and dew, are not anxious like ordinary people, and have the smooth skin and innocent faces of children.

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