business

Working to Avoid Eternal Rest

Tech guru Ray Kurzweil is busy planning for immortality, Cathy gets wedding donations, and an eponymous fragrance is unveiled

By Olga Kharif

While some of us are busy spending our gift cards, business luminaries have been up to much more. Here's a sampling:

A FULL LIFE.

  Sure, 1999 Medal of Technology winner Ray Kurzweil will be long remembered for such accomplishments as inventing the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the sounds of a grand piano. But in case those aren't enough to ensure immortality, there's his popular new book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. It offers advice to baby boomers on how to live to, say, 100 to 120 years old -- long enough to take advantage of advances in nanotechnology that will allow humans to live forever (think artificial limbs and organs).

"There's no reason for disease that we can't address," says Kurzweil, who takes 250 supplements a day. As always, he's finding gold wherever his scientific interests take him. He's selling supplements to the death-weary, and next year he plans to start a hedge fund. The private, closed fund will be run in accordance with mathematical models developed by one of his companies, FatKat.

He's also writing another book and working at top speed on a pocket-sized reading machine for the blind. Based on what he can accomplish, if the 50-year-old Kurzweil lives to be 100, there'll be nothing left for the rest of us to do.

CATHY'S BIG DAY.

  Terry Beard's TheBigDay.com, a honeymoon registry that allows wedding guests to contribute toward a couple's honeymoon or help them plan the trip, is serving as a donation spot for fans of the Cathy comic strip. Creator Cathy Guisewite -- whose neurotic shopaholic character is set to marry longtime love Irving -- is asking fans to donate money in honor of the cartoon's happy couple through the Web site. The funds will be used to help homeless cats and dogs in Southern California.

Since the strip's fundraising drive was announced on Dec. 27, traffic to TheBigDay.com has jumped 50%. Beard, the Web site's chairman, has decided to follow Cathy's example. He tells BusinessWeek Online that he'll use the site to solicit donations -- in lieu of gifts -- for his own wedding, set for July 23, 2005. The proceeds will benefit the Rotary Club of Portland, Ore., where Beard lives. Who says life doesn't imitate art?

SPREADING MEDICINES.

  William Haseltine, founder of Human Genome Sciences (HGSI ), which uses genomics to develop drugs, was supposed to have retired in October. But those who expect Haseltine, known worldwide for his research on AIDS, to take it easy will be sorely disappointed.

Haseltine is hatching a new venture. Called Haseltine & Associates, the startup -- whose exact activities are still hush-hush -- aims to help make the latest treatments for various diseases available and affordable faster, Haseltine tells BusinessWeek Online. The outfit might cooperate with the Institute for OneWorld Health, the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company in the U.S. supported by the likes of Microsoft (MSFT ) co-founder Bill Gates , says Haseltine, who joined the Institute's board on Dec. 16. So no gold watch for Haseltine just yet.

THE SCENT OF A MAN.

  Donald Trump's casino empire is in bankruptcy, ratings for the second season of his reality show The Apprentice were down, but cosmetics giant Estée Lauder (EL ) is hoping that Trump will come through it all smelling like roses. Last month, Estee Lauder released Donald Trump: The Fragrance.

Costing $60 for a 3.4 oz. bottle and sold through Federated Department Stores (FD ), the cologne is described by Trump's spin doctors as a "lush, woody fragrance [that] was created to capture the allure and magnetism of a successful man." Well, there's no denying that Trump is without equal when it comes to sniffing out opportunities for self-promotion.

Kharif writes for BusinessWeek Online from Portland, Ore.

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