Magazine article Reason

Editor's Note

Magazine article Reason

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

WHILE READING reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey's cover story, "Forever Young: The New Scientific Search for Immortality" (page 26), I couldn't stop thinking of my parents, both of whom died within the past few years. My father was born in 1923 and my mother four years later; they each lived into their early 70s before passing. Given when they were born, the bleak conditions in which they were raised, and other factors (both were longtime smokers; my father had been wounded in World War II), it's no small miracle that they lived as long as they did. Yet their relative longevity is precisely the sort of progress we've come to take for granted in our everyday lives. The expected life span for boys born in the U.S. in 1923 was just 56 years; for girls born in 1927, it was a slightly better 62 years. By comparison, the average life expectancy for kids born in 1999 is 77 years.

Advances in nutrition, medicine, and technology didn't just extend the length of my parents' lives but enhanced the quality as well; both were in pretty good shape until the end. Of course, however much science and medicine lengthened their lives, it wasn't long enough, either for them to witness the birth of my second child or for them to benefit from the fascinating developments discussed in this issue of reason.

"The prospects of dramatically increasing human longevity are excellent," says Steven Austad, a University of Idaho biologist who predicts 20-to-40-year increases in life spans later this century. We're "on the cusp of the second longevity revolution," according to University of Chicago demographer Jay Olshansky. The first revolution took place last century and increased life spans mostly by reducing infant mortality and limiting infectious diseases. The second revolution promises to add years later in life.

How will that happen? One researcher is working to develop drugs that mimic the effects of a super-low-calorie diet, a proven means of extending life. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.