It turns out, life and death isn't so much a flick of the switch as it is a long wave goodbye.
And it's accompanied by a fluorescent blue light.
At least, that's what scientists at the Institute of Health Aging in London have concluded after watching the trail of destruction on a cellular level.
“We’ve identified a chemical pathway of self-destruction that propagates cell death in worms, which we see as this glowing blue fluorescence traveling through the body," says Professor David Gems, who led the British study. "It’s like a blue grim reaper, tracking death as it spreads throughout the organism until all life is extinguished.”
The bright blue hue, as seen under a microscope, is actually necrosis — and more specifically, a molecule called anthranilic acid.
Published this week in the science journal, PLoS Biology, the study suggests this "cascade of cell death" washes over an organism, cell by cell, until the entire individual goes dark.
There is, however, a light at the end of this tunnel.
Scientists say they may be able to hold off the Blue Reaper — essentially halting the biochemical process that washes over cells.
In effect, a 'dying' individual may be revived by checking that trail of cellular self-destruction, notably when it's caused by a stress, such as an infection.
Because an entire organism doesn't just perish all at once, scientists can look for ways to fortify, or re-commission dying cells.
At the very least, by blocking the 'death path, researchers found they could delay total system shutdown.
The study also casts fresh light on aging — which is essentially, a gradual, lifelong process of cell deaths.
“We found that when we blocked this pathway, we could delay death induced by a stress such as infection, but we couldn’t slow death from old-age,” Gems said. “This suggests that aging causes death by a number of processes acting in parallel.”
"The findings," he adds, "cast doubt on the theory that aging is simply a consequence of an accumulation of molecular damage. We need to focus on the biological events that occur during aging and death to properly understand how we might be able to interrupt these processes.”
Catholic Prayer For The Dead
Eternal rest, grant unto him (her) O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him (her). May he (she) rest in peace (Amen) May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Jewish Prayer For The Dead - Mourners Kaddish
Exalted and hallowed be His great Name. (Cong: "Amen.") Throughout the world which He has created according to His Will. May He establish His kingship, bring forth His redemption and hasten the coming of His Moshiach. (Cong: "Amen.") In your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon, and say, Amen. (Cong: "Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity, blessed.") May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified, exalted and extolled, honored, adored and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He. (Cong: "Amen.") Beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world; and say, Amen. (Cong: "Amen.") May there be abundant peace from heaven, and a good life for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: "Amen.") He Who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen. (Cong: "Amen.")
Bahai Prayer For The Dead
O my God! This is Thy servant and the son of Thy servant who hath believed in Thee and in Thy signs, and set his face towards Thee, wholly detached from all except Thee. Thou art, verily, of those who show mercy the most merciful. Deal with him, O Thou Who forgivest the sins of men and concealest their faults, as beseemeth the heaven of Thy bounty and the ocean of Thy grace. Grant him admission within the precincts of Thy transcendent mercy that was before the foundation of earth and heaven. There is no God but Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.
Muslim Prayer Al-Fatiha
"In the name of God, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. All praise and thanks is for to God, [The] Creator, Owner, Sustainer of the Worlds. The Entirely Merciful, The Especially Merciful. Owner of the Day of Recompense. You alone do we worship and You alone we seek for help. Guide us to the Straight Path. The path of those whom Your blessings are upon, Not of those who You have cursed nor of those who have gone astray."
Hindu Prayer For The Dead
The wise have said that Atman is immortal: And that the phenomenon of death is merely the separation of the astral body from the physical body. The five elements of which the body is composed return to their source. Our scriptures teach us that as pilgrims unite and separate at a public inn, so also fathers, mothers, sons, brothers, wives, relations unite and separate in this world. He who thus understands the nature of the body and all human relationships based upon it will derive strength to bear the loss of our dear ones. In Divine plan, one day each union must end with separation.
Anglican Prayer For the Dead
O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant N., and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, on God, now and for ever. Amen.
Words For Parting
He is made one with Nature; there is heard His voice in all her music, from the moan Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird; He is a presence to be felt and known In darkness and in light, from herb and stone... He is a portion of the loveliness Which once he made more lovely. Words for Parting: 2 The courage of the early morning's dawning, And the strength of the eternal hill, And the peace of the evening's ending, And the love of God, be in our hearts. Words for Parting: 3 Farewell! The world is better for your having lived, We are better for having known you. We loved you living- we love you now. Farewell! Words for Parting: 4 Farewell, traveler. We do not know your destination but our love and gratitude go with you. Rest now- in peace- and in the love we bear you.