Those that know of my long-term involvement with the question of longevity will remember the essay and interview with Aubrey de Grey I have written a few years back, namely: Longevity? It’s for Lovers!! (A short aesthetic exploration into longevity and its implications on our emotional lives- including a brief interview with Aubrey De Grey. Please read it before commenting)
Today however I have been asked the question again and decided to open it to a larger audience here on the interwebs.
The short version of my present view:
The pleasure of existence
1. I have a lot to do within my own mind, as it appears at the moment, one average lifetime will not be enough.
2. An extensive desire to manifest the love I have for others (dear to me) demands time, lots and lots of time (again average lifespan not enough).
3. Curiosity and interest to see and explore the adaptability of my mind and that of the civilization from which I arose to the vicissitudes of time.
Your comments welcome.
(Interesting and pertinent comments will be integrated (and credited) in my forthcoming new essay on Longevity)
Toni Balcean turned 101 in September. How’d she beat a century? Simple. “Clean living and good Italian wine.” Case closed! Unless, of course, you like science. A retooled Archon Genomics X PRIZE aims to help scientists better understand healthy aging by sequencing 100 healthy centenarian genomes—in a month, with an accuracy of one error per million base pairs, and for under $1,000 per genome. All this may sound eerily familiar. In fact, the Archon Genomics X PRIZE was first proposed back in 2006. Singularity Hub covered it in 2008 when the goal was to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days for less than $10,000 per genome. Grant Campany, Senior Director of the Archon Genomics X PRIZE, recently told Singularity Hub, “From 2006 to 2009, competitors registered for the Archon Genomics X PRIZE with the best of intentions, but over the past few years the industry has fragmented significantly, so we needed to restructure the competition to be more inclusive of the emerging and established sequencing platforms.” So, in October 2011, the X PRIZE announced a new set of criteria. The payout remains $10 million; however, the Foundation upped the sequencing period to 30 days and made the target cost $1,000 to reflect rapidly declining sequencing prices.
A delicious feeling of smugness enveloped the idle at heart when we read that Britain’s oldest man, 110-year-old Reg Dean from Derbyshire, attributed his longevity to “being lazy”. Now I’m no biologist, but it seems to make a lot of sense that slow lives, as well as being enjoyable, are long lives. One only has to think of the example of the tortoise for proof of this theory from the animal world. That laziness might be good for your health is not a particularly fashionable view in an age when slothful Britons are castigated by politicians who praise the “hard-working family”, and schools and cereal packets alike push “healthy lifestyles”. Meanwhile we have had to suffer the spectacle of the Olympian ideal this summer, with vast parades of hyper-fit athletes bringing guilt to we slugabeds. The active life is the dominant model to which we are supposed to conform. But the active life is full of stress. It puts enormous pressures on our bodies. Long hours in the office lead to anxiety, depression and even nervous breakdown. And an excess of physical activity can be dangerous: four men died while taking part in the Great North Run, a half marathon, in September.
This is the author’s cat. This cat is not dead
As he muses about his mortality, statistician Prof David Spiegelhalter wonders if he is destined to live longer than his 20-year-old cat. Our cat is old. Old, deaf and a bit daft. But, as I steadily head that way myself, I’ve started to consider him as a role model. He’s over 20, and in the recent unseasonable sunshine has taken to lying corpse-like on the pavement. In a feeble impersonation of Schrodinger’s cat, he could be either alive or dead, and the only way to find out is to prod him, as he doesn’t respond to shouting. Last week, he took to doing his death act on top of a bin, and so it looked like he had just been thrown out with the rubbish. He got kidnapped by a concerned cat lover and carted off to the local Blue Cross, and we had to go and bail him out. Taking each cat year as seven human years makes him over 140 - twice the human three-score-years-and-10 Biblical use-by date. I recently “celebrated” my 59th birthday, which is only around eight cat years and so a relative youth. (via BBC News - Will I live longer than my cat?)
Large-brained animals may be less likely to go extinct in a changing world, perhaps because they can use their greater intelligence to adapt their behaviour to new conditions, according to an analysis presented to a meeting of conservation biologists this week. The finding hints at a way to prioritize future conservation efforts for endangered species. Brain size relative to body size is fairly predictable across all mammals, says Eric Abelson, who studies biological sciences at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “As body size grows, brain size grows too, but at slower rate,” he says. Plotting brain size against body size creates a tidy curve. But some species have bigger or smaller brains than the curve would predict for their body size. And a bigger brain-to-body-size ratio usually means a smarter animal. (via Mostly the Big-Brained Survive: Scientific American)