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Imagine living to 500 years old.

Artificial intelligence, drone delivery, self-driving cars, 3-D printers, the hyperloop, and a subway extension in LA. Beside all of those innovations, what has captured my attention most is the amount of progress scientists are making in understanding the aging process and extending our life to 200, 500 even a 1000 years old. We’ve been adding years to our life over the last 100 years. In the United States, we have extended our life by more than 30 years since 1850. In 1850, the average life span was 44 years old. The leading cause of death was infectious diseases: Tuberculosis, Cholera, Malaria, Typhoid Fever, Pneumonia, Scarlet Fever, and dysentery/diarrhea. By the 1900s, the average life span rose to 47 years old. The leading cause of death was still infectious diseases, i.e., influenza/pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhea/enteritis, along with heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, accidents, cancer, and senility. By 1950, we were living to 65 years old. This was a substantial increase in life expectancy, as people began living longer because of new vaccines and drugs that help cure diseases. The leading cause of death became heart disease, cancer, stroke, influenza/pneumonia, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, kidney disease, and diabetes. By 2000, the average life span went up to 75 years old. This progression was slower than before because the leading causes of death became more complicated to cure. However, progress is still being made to beat heart disease, cancer, lower respiratory diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, and septicemia. Now, in 2017, the average age for women to live is 81 and for men 76. Contemporaneously, the centenarian population has been growing over the last 30 years. The population has increased by 65%. As the baby boomers get older, the Pew research predicts an 8-fold increase in the population of centenarians by 2050. With that kind of numbers, imagine how many people will have be living well into their 100’s. In your 80s and 90s, there is still so much in life to be determined, as you still have another 40 years to live! I’ve always thought that aging was out of our human ability to control. According to Aubrey de Grey, a Cambridge scientist, most people live in a pro-aging trance. de Grey defines a pro-aging trance as believing that aging is immutable and unavoidable. That aging is part of a divine and natural order that should not be perturbed. Our trance doesn’t believe it’s possible to extend life for a 1000 years and we shouldn’t even be trying. I saw what happened to my grandmother, my parents, my sister and I know what will happen to me. There’s no mystery to it. Aging has always seem to be a natural process that occurred in nature. I have believed that we would have a blind spot understanding aging process because we are part of nature and not the creator of nature. This “creator” could be the only one to fully understand a process set in motion that occurs to all living beings. Even though I don’t believe in a supernatural being, the way aging made is sense is that it’s part of a natural order or even a divine order, either they suggest there is a larger force outside of nature that is in control of this process. So I have been thought of aging as immutable and unavoidable. I Over the last year as I have educated myself on the subject and listening to scientists who are researching aging in molecular biology, stem cells research, DNA have I come to understand that this is a biological event that can be ultimately understood. As our ability to develop technology that helps to see things smaller and smaller scientist are understanding the causes of aging on our body. This will lead to new drugs and therapies that keep our bodies functioning at an optimal level despite aging. Simultaneously, there are many studies going on with how we are going to handle living so many years longer and the effect that will have on humankind. No one can say for sure when these breakthroughs can happen, but Aubrey De Grey has the most optimistic time frame (with the caveat that he gets the proper funding for his research) in the next 25 to 50 years. Maybe for my kids or grandkids things can be different.

2018-12-13 21:11:37

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