Sep 10, Karel Baloun rated it really liked it The end of chapter summaries can make this a quick read, but the overall lack of endnotes can distract into the web searches.
Featuring 5 articles and 5 scientists Every four secondssomewhere in the world, a baby is born. Babies grow, become toddlers, teens, adults. They age, they die. As it turns out, aging is not the inexorable, straightforward process we once thought it was.
Our ideas of longevity and life expectancy have changed not only with medicine, but also with new views on history. And new research into rare aging disorders is revealing clues about how aging works, and whether it can be dramatically slowed down to extend lives. For example, inScientific American published a paper that reported that the average length of life in ancient Greece was 35 years, and in ancient Rome The problem with those numbers is that they estimated an average lifespan for every member of the population, including those who died in infancy, those who died at war or from other violent causes.
In fact, when the numbers are properly adjusted to include only those adults who died naturally of old age, it appears that our ancestors lived nearly as long as we do today. Prominent philosophers, poets and politicians of ancient Greece generally lived up to 68 years of age: Plato died at 80, Aristotle at Great Italian painters of the Renaissance lived to around Leonardo da Vinci died at 67, Michelangelo at Old man da Vinci Public domain Because ancient historians were more attentive to the lives of men than women, we lack sufficient data to compare gender differences in life expectancy before the 15th century.
Still, over the years from the late 15th to the early 20th century, life expectancy for women rose by 30 years. The other important cause of lower life expectancy, for most of history, was early childhood mortality — a figure that significantly declined as medicine improved in the 19th century.
Victorian life expectancies That said, age-associated diseases remain as common today as they were centuries ago. Twenty-four percent of elderly Americans die from heart disease, and 23 percent from cancer. So do we need to rethink the concept of aging altogether?
Investigating how aging works Some researchers, like the geriatrician Richard Miller of the University of Michigan, argue that unless scientists target the illnesses of aging holistically, we will see only very modest increases in disability-free life expectancy.
Consider Jane Doe, a perfectly average, year-old American woman. Based on current health risks, she would be expected to live for another 32 years.
If we could eliminate risks of death due to cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes altogether, it would increase her life by 14 years. But what about extreme cases, in which the aging process is sped up?
Patients with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome HGPSa premature aging disorder, might bear key answers to why we age, and to how we can work with nature to slow the aging down. Clues in disorders Progeria is a fatal disorder, the genetic origins of which were described only a few years ago, though it has been known of since the 19th century.
The condition is extremely rare and affects only one child out of 8 million. The children are born healthy, but within a year develop signs of growth retardation, with their appearance looking increasingly more like of an elderly person: He also happened to be born with a genetic mutation in a protein called lamin A.
Research has found that a single mutation of the gene that encodes lamin A determines whether a child will develop symptoms of progeria in the first year of life. Research on progeria is one of the many examples of how basic research can reveal important clues about how aging works.
In Augustcell biologist Abigail Buchwalterfrom the the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, published a paper that sheds light on why and how progerin, a mutated form of lamin A, affects normal cell function.
She was surprised to find that skin cells of progeria patients were making new proteins faster than cells of healthy donors. She then showed that this rapid protein turnover was caused by increased protein production, rather than degradation. Our work suggests that one driver of both abnormal and normal aging could be accelerated protein turnover.
The world is getting older, and the problems of aging are becoming more urgent. By that number is projected to double.Feb 21, · “It may sound a bit like science fiction,” said Kaeberlein, “but there is growing confidence in the field that we really can develop drugs that slow human aging and .
Why does time flies as we grow older and how do we slow it down? The Power of Time Perception: Control the Speed of Time to Slow Down Aging, Live a Long . Famous science-fiction author Robert Heinlein—whom I had the honor to know personally—wrote a novel called Methuselah’s Children, a story involving people who are extremely long-lived.
Heinlein gave two explanations for his characters’ longevity. One was selective breeding, which we now know. Nir Barzilai has a plan. It’s a really big plan that might one day change medicine and health care as we know it.
Its promise: extending our years of healthy, disease-free living by decades. Jul 16, · Number 7 doesn’t seem necessary or quite like it fits. For one thing, the differences between a parrot and a human toddler are considerable. Can we slow down aging and add decades to lives?
Massive Science Le Guin was a testament to how fiction reveals truth, empathy, and the beauty of knowledge. A new technique to expand cells seems like science fiction: it lets researchers bypass laws of microscope physics.