1. Gene therapy for hair loss

We already live in a time when you needn’t sport a shiny pate, if you care to make the investment. But current hair transplants have their drawbacks. There’s the pain of the procedure (both physical and financial); the scabby aftermath; nine to 12 months of wondering whether you’ve pissed your money away, and a scar that will draw inquiries if you cut your hair too short, like I did. Perhaps most concerning: The nagging awareness that you’ve depleted a finite amount of DHT-resistant donor hair as, inevitably, more of your once-lustrous mane swirls down the drain and out to sea.

That’s why it’s so exciting that there may be a non-surgical solution to a problem mankind has been trying to surmount for thousands of years. Balding, it’s been proved, can be halted by manipulating the genes responsible for hair growth and loss. Scientists have actually been aware of those genes for a while; the holdup has been figuring out how to turn on baldness-banishing genes in specific areas. (You wouldn’t want to pay for a full head of hair with a full mouth of hair, after all.) The dream of consigning the chrome dome to history came closer to reality after scientists at the University of Pennsylvania created a lotion that can implant a gene in the hair follicles of mice without affecting their skin. A permanent solution to baldness in humans may be just 10 or 15 years away.

3. Digital immortality: Uploading your mind

A growing number of studies show that the brain is merely meat. Meaning, what the brain does can theoretically be done on an artificial neural network. The implications of uploading complete brain function to the cloud are too numerous and mind-blowing to even broach here, but one easy-to-understand concept is the freeing of the mind from the limitations of the physical body. <i>That could translate to you, everywhere, forever</i>. Even wilder is the idea—supported by the correct-most-of-the-time futurist Ray Kurzweil—that this could be achievable by 2045. If Ray’s even close to being right, these words are being read by some of humanity’s first immortals.

Currently, prosthetic eyes such as the FDA-approved Argus II offer partially sighted wearers a vague sense of the world around them. But in 2012 scientists deciphered a neural “code” in a mouse’s retina and used it to create a device that restores near-normal sight in blind mice. After finding the same neural code in monkeys, scientists are confident that a Steve Austin-style bionic eye could soon be in development.

See how the Argus II functions in this video:

5. Beard transplants

As you’ve no doubt noticed, beards are back. Exactly how long longshoreman-chic will linger is anyone’s guess, but its prolonged stint on hip-and-trendy faces have made it clear that some of us just can’t hang with the hirsute, no matter how hard we try. This has led to plastic surgeons adapting the hair-transplant procedure to the face, redirecting hair from more thickly forested parts of the body. The procedure was originally developed to help cover facial scars, but as whiskers have become a manly mainstay, more guys are looking to put their money where their chin is for purely cosmetic reasons. Although the 12-hour procedure is already available, the price tag ($5,000-$15,000) can give even the most beard-bereft pause. But as more doctors are trained to do it, the price of looking like a Spartan will surely drop—just in time to coincide with beards becoming unspeakably gauche, no doubt.

See a March 2014 CNN report about beard transplants:

bionic limbs 6. Harder, better, faster, stronger: Bionic limbs 

The world’s oldest existing prosthetics—two wooden toes—were made and worn in Egypt more than 2,500 years ago. Over the next two-and-a-half millennia, prosthetic technology didn’t exactly set the imaginations of the world’s greatest innovators ablaze. Things did begin to improve around the Industrial Revolution, however, and, by the 21st century, Oscar Pistorius was whistling past unmodified runners on prosthetic blades. Those other runners complained that Pistorius’ carbon-fiber pins gave him an unfair advantage; if prosthetics improve in the way that many experts in the field are predicting, many of us may feel a similar sense of being left behind. Thought-controlled bionic limbs are still in their infancy, but in the decades to come, arms and legs with greater functionality, sensitivity and durability may have people lining up to have their own appendages removed. “We are going beyond the limits of evolution,” says Swiss psychologist Bertolt Meyer. He sports a bionic hand called the I-LIMB that wearers configure via a smartphone app and posits that, in the future, unenhanced bodies will be considered “boring.”

[caption id="attachment_155394" align="aligncenter" width="505"]i-LIMB The i-LIMB (Photo courtesy Touch Bionics)[/caption]

7.  Stopping the cellular clock

Every seven years, you are a completely different group of cells, meaning that at age 21 there’s nothing of the 14-year-old you left—at least on a cellular level. Each replacement cell has a copy of the DNA molecule in it. On the ends of those long DNA molecules are caps, called telomeres, that prevent the DNA from unraveling. Think of the telomere like that little plastic thing of the end of a shoelace. That little plastic cap gets shorter every time the cell is replaced. That’s aging. The youth of our skin, bones, organs and everything else is subject to this grim attrition. Scientists have already figured out that an enzyme called telomerase can rebuild the telomeres and keep that shoelace of DNA from fraying, extending the lifespan of our cells and keeping our faces taut, rosy and wrinkle-free. The challenge to discovering this latter-day fountain of youth is figuring out how to get the telomerase into the cell. Research aims to shed light on how this can be done in the next few years. Until then, moisturize, drink plenty of water and get your eight hours of sleep nightly.

See how telomerase works in this video:

8. Stem-cell penis enlargement

Pills, weights, jelqing, surgery— I’ve researched them all, and none give me hope of a bigger unit. But the most recent issue of esteemed medical journal The Lancet flings open the door to the possibility of me dying with a 12-incher and a correspondingly massive smile on my face. The published paper showed that four young women reported normal sexual function—desire, arousal, lubrication, pain-free intercourse, etc.—despite suffering from Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, a rare condition in which the vagina and uterus are underdeveloped or absent altogether. Between 2005 and 2008, the then-teenaged girls had vaginas—constructed in a lab and engineered from their own cells—installed and, years later, apparently they’re working out great. The head of the research team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine is Dr. Anthony Atala, a man concerned with helping people who have had their organs damaged or, as with these women, never had them in the first place. He’s already turned his attention to the male appendage, outfitting dismembered rabbits with functional lab-grown penises that the happy bunnies wasted no time in trying out.

9. Putting yourself on ice

Since the mid-1960s, 270 people have committed to never saying never and had themselves preserved at low temperature. (Contrary to popular belief, Walt Disney actually didn’t go through with the procedure, though baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams did.) The idea: Although there is no known way to thaw and resuscitate people, one day there will be. This may sound far-fetched, but there are naturally occurring examples of animals—including certain frogs—which can freeze solid and revive later. Sidenote: Something to consider if you’re thinking of freezing yourself is whether you have the full support of your loved ones. In 1979, nine bodies stored in a facility in Chatsworth, California, were found to have thawed, due to a depletion of funds by relatives of the deceased. Ouch.

bionic limbs 10. Thin pills: Turning off IRX3

In a study published in the March 2014 issue of Nature, scientists announced they’d discovered that the gene IRX3 is the “master regulator” of obesity in mice—and humans. Researchers genetically engineered mice to lack the IRX3 gene and found that those altered mice were significantly leaner than their unaltered counterparts. On average, mice without the gene weighed about 30 percent less, and most of the difference in weight was due to lost fat. Fascinatingly, the lean mice—who were not runtish in any other way—were found to be completely resistant to high-fat, diet-induced obesity. The skinny-mouse metabolism was higher, found researchers, because the fat they formed was of the calorie-burning brown variety, rather than energy-storing white fat. Supposing that eliminating IRX3 would work in humans as it does in mice, the impact on society would be difficult to overstate. A nationwide slim-down would slash U.S. annual health-care spending—which stands at about one trillion dollars—by more than a fifth. But for average people like me, it could mean permanently losing my navel bagel of adipose fat without sacrificing pizza and beer. It is truly a wonderful time to be alive.