May 27, 2013

There is only 1 man in the world who was born in the 19th century.

There was one other man, but he died last Thursday. There are also 21 women, and that's counting women born in the year 1900. 

The last man from the 19th century, Jiroemon Kimura, is also the oldest person alive today. I hate to tell you, but he's only 116, so if you're clinging to the notion that human beings can make it to 120, the evidence in support of that belief is awfully weak.
Mr Kimura retired in 1962 aged 65, after working for 45 years in the Japanese post office. He now lives in Kyō¯tango, Kyoto Prefecture, with his eldest son's widow, 83, and his grandson's widow, 59, and attributes his long life to eating small portions of food, and admits to spending most of his time ''in bed.''
ADDED: "How long do you want to live?"
Over the past three years I have posed this query to nearly 30,000 people at the start of talks and lectures on future trends in bioscience, taking an informal poll as a show of hands. To make it easier to tabulate responses I provided four possible answers: 80 years, currently the average life span in the West; 120 years, close to the maximum anyone has lived; 150 years, which would require a biotech breakthrough; and forever, which rejects the idea that life span has to have any limit at all....

The results: some 60 percent opted for a life span of 80 years. Another 30 percent chose 120 years, and almost 10 percent chose 150 years. Less than 1 percent embraced the idea that people might avoid death altogether.
AND: Here's Wikipedia's "List of the verified oldest people." There's exactly one person who lived to be 120 (and died at 122). There's one more who made it to 119 and then 2 who made it to 117. That's it.

88 comments:

Saint Croix said...

They always seem to be Japanese.

Fish! It must be the fish.

Jon said...


Althouse said: "I hate to tell you, but he's only 116, so if you're clinging to the notion that human beings can make it to 120, the evidence in support of that belief is awfully weak."

Actually, the longest documented human lifespan is that of Jeanne Calment of France (1875–1997), who died at 122.

Gahrie said...

They are making huge advances in the study of aging. Lifespans in the developed world are about to be radically extended. Some of the potential treatments will also make big advances in quality of life issues also.

Just last week, they used a 3d printer to custom make a replacement body part. They are already growing and transplanting organs in animals.

Ann Althouse said...

"Actually, the longest documented human lifespan is that of Jeanne Calment of France (1875–1997), who died at 122."

One lady, one time did it... that's giving you hope you could live that long?

edutcher said...

His father was the gardener on San Juan Hill.

Saint Croix said...

They always seem to be Japanese.

Fish! It must be the fish.


I thought it was Ukranian or something.

And it was yogurt, not fish (won't say it).

Ann Althouse said...

"They are making huge advances in the study of aging. Lifespans in the developed world are about to be radically extended. Some of the potential treatments will also make big advances in quality of life issues also."

Then why is the oldest person in the world only 116? When are we going to see actual survival to a longer lifespan? I don't see it.

"Radically extended"? It hasn't been extended at all! The one person who made it to 120 died 16 years ago. No one is on track to make it even that far. There are only 3 people right now who are over 112.

It isn't happening.

Oh... but you say it's just about to happen!

Again, Calment died 16 years ago, and no one is around anywhere near that record.

(Did they really have her date of birth right?)

Ann Althouse said...

This is a fantastic delusion.

People go around casually thinking you can get to 120 and that the ceiling is going up and up.

You can't.

It's not.

campy said...

Certainly not gonna happen with Obamacare.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Shouldn't we care more about getting and assimilating enough younger people to support those who make it to 80?

bgates said...

No one is on track to make it even that far

I am. Just extrapolate from the number of times I've died so far.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

This is a fantastic delusion.

People go around casually thinking you can get to 120 and that the ceiling is going up and up.

You can't.

It's not.


It depends on what is being extended.

If it's just old age, you're right.

If youth and middle age can also be extended (19 forever? God, spare me), that's different.

El Pollo Raylan said...

The Inga Zone #26

El Pollo Raylan said...

Mr. Ed's life "extension"

Anthony said...

When I was a kid, the guinness book had a category for people documented to have been alive in three different centuries. There were one or two. I wonder how many there were on January 1, 2001. A million or so?

Inga said...

Stilbenes.

Joe said...

Some months ago, I read an interesting interview with a doctor who studies these things and he observed that after [about] 75 it's all genetics.

Another point is that the sampling pool at that age is so small, you can't derive any meaningful information from it (applicable to anyone else.)

I also remember the comments my grandmother's doctor made after she died at age 94 (or was it 95?) He said that California required the cause of death be recorded so she died of complications of pneumonia exacerbated by cancer. However, he said, "she died of old age" since everyone over 70 has cancer. (He suspects that everyone has cancer if you look hard enough.)

(I have several great uncles and aunts on my dads side that lived to be over 100. I met the uncle when he was 105 and he was surprisingly mobile and with it.)

El Pollo Raylan said...

Stilbenes

Styrene goodnight.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Stilbenes

Sis or tranny?

Oso Negro said...

It depends on your experience of the extra years. If you end up drooling in your beard, who the hell wants more of that?

El Pollo Raylan said...

@Inga: Stilbenes (more accurately stilbenoids) have been implicated in pinus wilt. Is that what you're getting at?

bgates said...

I hate to tell you, but he's only 116, so if you're clinging to the notion that human beings can make it to 120....People go around casually thinking you can get to 120

Who are these people casually clinging to this idea, and why are you so upset about them? Are they wearing shorts? Are they frighteningly committed to their ideas? Do they publicize videos of abrasive women who got cell phones through welfare programs?

wildswan said...

NIH sponsors aging research on fruit flies which shows that after a certain time the mortality trend stops going upward almost vertically and goes horizontal or turns down. This has been interpreted by these researchers (James Vaupel, Jim Carey) as meaning that there is no species specific limit on age. No Hayflick limit. The research was published in Nature in 1992. Some including these researchers think that this means that advances in medicine (such as replacing or growing body parts) could abolish death for those fifty or younger in this generation as if they were vintage cars getting new parts as needed. And also there is a rumor floating around that there are "treatments" which will do it for anybody now but only certain people are getting them. Special people. This research is the basis of the new eugenics, biodemography, which I am always going on about. I consider the conclusions of the biodemographers unjustified - there is not a fruit fly or a mouse or anything which is living forever and on display. There's just a rumor of eternal life if you suck up to the right group by doing enough bad things to the weaker members of the human race.

Gahrie said...

People go around casually thinking you can get to 120 and that the ceiling is going up and up.

You can't.

It's not.


Life expectancy in the United States at the beginning of the 20th Century was approximately 30 years old. By the end of the 20th century that had more than doubled, to almost 70 years old.

Why is it absurd to expect that trend to continue? Say sort of a Moore's law for humans?

wildswan said...

PS. There's also another vision of eternal life where everybody gets eternal life + justice (Yikes!) from someone who is opposed to war on the weak.

David said...

"No, there is another."

-Yoda

wildswan said...

Even at the start of 20C people were living to be 90 or a 100. It wasn't average but it was happening everywhere. With sanitation, nutrition and medicine those extreme ages became more common so the average age moved up. But that doesn't mean that death - a deep fact in biological life - is going to be abolished. Get a grip

David said...

Why would you want to live 120 years or more?

Why would we spend scarce resources to enable longer life in the extremely old when billions of young are in need of care and cure?

I reach 70 in 2 months. I like my life but it's very likely to end during the next two decades. This does not bother me in the least.

Michael K said...

My mother lived in three centuries. She was born in 1898 and died in 2001. She had her own apartment until 6 months before her 100th birthday.

An aunt lived to 110 although she was deaf as a post the last ten years.

wildswan said...

Remember that if we start living longer that means working longer

Michael K said...

"I reach 70 in 2 months. I like my life but it's very likely to end during the next two decades. This does not bother me in the least."

I'm 75 and feel the same way. I have no wish to live as long as my mother did. She was working full time until she was 77. She lied about her age. My birth certificate gives her age as 29 but she was 39.

Gahrie said...

Why would we spend scarce resources to enable longer life in the extremely old when billions of young are in need of care and cure?

It's not an either/or proposition.

Besides, much of the gain in life expectancy in the 20th century was through improving infant and childhood mortality.

wildswan said...

The only fair thing to the younger people is to work longer because we are stronger longer. But there already aren't enough jobs. This why I think that older people who have retired on pensions should be allowed to do work that there is not enough money for in budgets such as work in in parks or libraries; and unions should stop obstructing this

Gahrie said...

When you look how far man has come in the last 100,000 years, the possibilities for our future are endless.

Aren't any of you curious to see what becomes of us?

Gahrie said...

Remember that if we start living longer that means working longer

Retirement is a modern luxury. For most of human history, most people worked until they died.

ErnieG said...

Although it's quite an honor, there's a terrible curse associated with being designated as "The Oldest Person" in any category.

Inga said...

Pterostilbene

wildswan said...

As part of Obamacare they did research (called demonstrations or demos) on whether a vegetarian diet or having your very own young boy-toy improved your arteries or would other wise extend your life. These therapies did not change outcomes or it would have been broccoli at breakfast and sex at nap time as soon as you turned 65 because it is the law under Obamacare that the outcome of these "demos" becomes the official and required treatment.

wildswan said...

Inga
You say "Pterostilbene"

It is true that good nutrition and lack of damage from inflammation mean that some effects of "aging" never happen to some people or they happen later. The same might be true of resveratrol. But do you see the difference between saying that and saying that we - unlike all other organic life - can live forever because we are going to engineer our bodies? i.e., treat an organic life as a machine?

El Pollo Raylan said...

Pterostilbene

Definitely tranny

Gahrie said...

treat an organic life as a machine?

Well we've been doing that ever since man first tamed an ox or a horse.

As to our bodies, we've been customizing and repairing them with spare parts for a while now.

Inga said...

Wildswan, resvertrol is also a stilbene, but has a very short half life. Pterostilbene has a much longer half life, more time to work its magic inside your body.

Of course we can't live forever, who would want to? But nothing wrong with making the end third of one's life less disease ridden.

heyboom said...

As a person of Japanese heritage, I don't know if I should celebrate or curse this genetic power of longevity.

Gahrie said...

Of course we can't live forever, who would want to?

Isn't that the ultimate promise of most religions? Eternal life?

Gahrie said...

or perhaps eternal existence would be more precise.

El Pollo Raylan said...

@Inga: Eat your Wunderbrot. It has BHT, borax, and brighteners.

dreams said...

Most people can only expect to live to about 85 years even if they live a healthy lifestyle. You have be lucky to be born with good genes to live to over ninety and even better genes to make it to one hundred.

dreams said...

I think a lot of older people realize that death is a good thing.

Paddy O said...

"Even at the start of 20C people were living to be 90 or a 100."

My great-great-great grandmother lived to be 103, died in 1923 or so.

dreams said...

I can remember in 1970 JC Penny celebrated his ninety fifth birthday and he said he wanted to live to make it to one hundred but he died just a few weeks later.

dreams said...

There have always been old people just less of them and the average lifespan was greatly reduced because of all the babies and children who never lived to become adults. The main reason lifespan average has increase is because of clean water and sanitation.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Arnold Orville Beckman was a midwestern wealth maker (he invented the pH meter and seeded Silicon Valley. He lived to be 104.

dreams said...

"Life expectancy in the United States at the beginning of the 20th Century was approximately 30 years old. By the end of the 20th century that had more than doubled, to almost 70 years old.

Why is it absurd to expect that trend to continue? Say sort of a Moore's law for humans?"


That is average life expectancy, average life expectancy has gone up because of less infant and childhood mortality, better nutrition, sanitation and clean water along with advances in medical care.

Patrick said...


Life expectancy in the United States at the beginning of the 20th Century was approximately 30 years old. By the end of the 20th century that had more than doubled, to almost 70 years old.


While that is true, the life expectancy for those who made it into adulthood was substantially longer.

Darrell said...

What dreams said. And in the past, there were people who reached the same maximum age as those today. Just less of them.

Tibore said...

Well, on the one hand, the professor has a pretty good point: Just because an outlier exists doesn't mean it's possible for someone else to make it that far "if only they try hard enough". It's really sort of a lottery: Bingo, your genes gave you a body that just kept on going. The illusion exists simply because of the shibboleth that says life expectancy has been rising for the past couple of centuries due to medical science. Yes, statistically it's true, but as others have pointed out elsewhere, that was accomplished primarily through decreases of infant mortality rate and secondarily through disease control. No actual genuine increase of "longevity capacity" (to coin a phrase) has been achieved, it's simply that medical science got good at keeping people from dying off before their "time".

But even with that said, nothing yet rules out the possibility of truly adding to the top end of a human lifespan. So far, only one mechanism for aging has been studied at length (cellular senescence due to things such as telomere shortening over time, mutations, etc.), but there's nothing that says at least that factor cannot be manipulated somehow.

So no, it's not like anyone can guarantee living beyond a certain age. Best thing they can do is take care of themselves enough to where it's not one of the currently known "early" killers that gets them. But at the same time, humans don't know enough to say it's impossible to change that.

DoneGoneGalt said...

I'll be content if I make it to 68. Some of the changes I've seen in the last 60 years are disturbing. If I live to 80 and beyond; I could really get pissed.

wildswan said...

Inga

"nothing wrong with improving the last third of your life."

I hope the last third of my life is healthy and to that end I avoid wheat to which I am allergic so I won't have constant inflammation going on in my body.

But some of the comments on this thread are talking about a deluded dream which is being circulated, a rumor to the effect that there is a way live forever, a secret to which some have access right now and some will get access if they have the right genes and the right thoughts. This is just rubbish. It's just like a late night television ad, pandering to the fears people have. There will be no more pain and sorrow if you just send in $100 or if you just send in your good sense.

Dante said...

Anne Rice wrote about Vampires that lived forever. All they needed to do to end their incredible boredom was to walk out into the sun one morning, but they couldn't. Fear of death is higher than living a boring life.

Another problem with living forever, is that someday, maybe not in a thousand years, or a hundred thousand years, but perhaps a million, humans are going to evolve. Who wants to be an ape around men?

wyo sis said...

Who would want to live forever in this life? I want to have eternal life. The kind of eternal life offered by God. Life as a resurrected being. That sounds pretty awesome.

Cedarford said...

Gahrie said...
When you look how far man has come in the last 100,000 years, the possibilities for our future are endless.

Aren't any of you curious to see what becomes of us?

-----------------------
One of the great follies of the last 50 years is "technology fans" seeing geometric improvement in one technology - jet airplanes, farm productivity, microprocessor speed..and thnking it will of course apply soon as heck to all technology.
No awareness that there is an improvement curve where technology develops - then natural limits are reached.

Crop yields doubled so of course miracle tech believers think that means we will soon double human lifespans.
Faster and cheaper microprocessors mean "believers just know!!" that faster and cheaper cars that will get 100 miles to the gallon are upon us.
Jet travel meant people in the 50s believing by 2000 we will have cheap jet cars a la the Jetsons..and cheap rocket travel and colonies on the Moon.

It doesn't work that way, Gahrie.

In the 1ate 1890s and early 1900s, we built high tech water turbines to "harness nature and bring electricity to the citizenry". Many of those water turbines are still in use today, although reconditioned, with French and Chinese replacement parts, and computer controlled a century later.

But same turbines and electric gen - because we ran into limits 100 years ago in the thermodynamic cycle.

Medicine is like that. Limits reached, and care is not cheaper and only marginally better than in the 80s.

Dante said...

Anne Rice wrote about Vampires that lived forever. All they needed to do to end their incredible boredom was to walk out into the sun one morning, but they couldn't. Fear of death is higher than living a boring life.

Another problem with living forever, is that someday, maybe not in a thousand years, or a hundred thousand years, but perhaps a million, humans are going to evolve. Who wants to be an ape around men?

wildswan said...


The way I see it any organic being is a whole with all its different organs working together to make it develop, grow, reproduce and die. They all die. Humans don't want to die so one of the ideas on the subject is that the organic human being can become "bionic", mechanical. Can an organic being become a mechanical being and what is the difference. It is interesting to debate these things and after all, we will all find out sooner or later. But when you see people beginning to think that health care reform is going to bring eternal life in our time if we hold our mouths right so to speak - well, that to me is social delusion that says something about our time. And it would be better to subscribe to a Nigerian scam than to this one about how we are going to kill death; it would be less expensive with fewer significant delusions and mental distortions.

Ann Althouse said...

"Life expectancy in the United States at the beginning of the 20th Century was approximately 30 years old. By the end of the 20th century that had more than doubled, to almost 70 years old. Why is it absurd to expect that trend to continue? Say sort of a Moore's law for humans?"

You're not talking about the same trend. You're talking about the average life expectancy, which goes up as fewer die in childhood and from treatable illnesses that arrive before old age.

I'm talking about the upper limit. I don't see any trend pushing up the top limit. As I said, Calment, the only life that is verified to have reached 120, died 16 years ago. Today, the oldest person in the world is 6 years younger than Calment was when she died.

I don't see any trend pushing up the top limit.

Gahrie said...

But when you see people beginning to think that health care reform is going to bring eternal life in our time if we hold our mouths right so to speak

1) I don't support health care reform. Except perhaps to eliminate all health insurance except castastrophic, and bring back pay as you go payment for health care. I gurantee prices would come down, and hundreds of thousands of useless cya tests would end.

2) Eternal life is not the issue...an expanded lifetime is, with a greater quality of life in old age.

Gahrie said...

I'm talking about the upper limit. I don't see any trend pushing up the top limit

There are some animal trials going on right now that hold promise.

Cedarford said...

We do have a golden period when technology in a field is developing and people not well-educated in tech think it is going to continue to have quantum improvements forever. A coal power plant cycle went from 12% effecient in 1915 to 23% effecient by 1928 and reached 37% effecient by 1936. But hard limits on laws of thermodynamics and entropy were there all the time and 1936 tech pushed it. In 80 years since, only marginal improvement - 39-43% efficient is where we are now.

Worse, the folly of non-techs seeing Moore's Law on microprocessors thinking it must apply to all other endeavors. If high tech means cost being cut in half there and performance doubled..why hospitals should do the same!
And all we need to do to have 20 billion people on earth is to simply double crop yield again and extract other resources twice and much and twice as cheap...and Moore's Law gurantees that!

With Althouse. ..she is probably right about hard limits on human lifespan unless we magically bypass telomere limits, can magically end genetic replication errors that eventually cause nearly all long-lived muticellular organisms to get cancer, and slow deterioration of the non-renewing CNS. Which looks as likely as "Jesus Christ" or "Allah" or the "Great Spaghetti Monster" divinely giving eternal life.

Or we could end-around it by taking human consciousness outside biological limits and residing it in AI in a machine built to self-repair and last tens of thousands of years so interstellar travel is possible. But that is many, many generations in the future, if possible at all...it will affect no one living today.
As in the 1800s, for those that survived childhood and had a society that supported elders..a few lucky ones live past 100. Only a few.

cubanbob said...

I would be quite happy if medical science can ever achieve the goal of giving someone in their late eighties and nineties the mental functioning and physical functioning of a healthy active person in their early to mid-sixties. Besides imagine winning some sort of cosmic lottery where you get to live to a hundred and fifty but no one you love and care for does. To outlive by decades all of your friends, siblings, spouse, children, grandchildren and possibly your great grandchildren would be like being sent to hell.

cubanbob said...

I would be quite happy if medical science can ever achieve the goal of giving someone in their late eighties and nineties the mental functioning and physical functioning of a healthy active person in their early to mid-sixties. Besides imagine winning some sort of cosmic lottery where you get to live to a hundred and fifty but no one you love and care for does. To outlive by decades all of your friends, siblings, spouse, children, grandchildren and possibly your great grandchildren would be like being sent to hell.

Alex said...

cubanbob - good point. What is the point in living if you have nobody to share the good times with?

Eric Jablow said...

There was no year 0 CE, so the 19th century ended in 1900. You're safe.

And, about living forever--move to Chicago. You'll be voting forever.

El Pollo Raylan said...

Mark Twain on science and extrapolation:

Now, if I wanted to be one of those ponderous scientific people, and `let on' to prove what had occurred in the remote past by what had occurred in a given time in the recent past, or what will occur in the far future by what has occurred in late years, what an opportunity is here! Geology never had such a chance, nor such exact data to argue from! Nor 'development of species', either! Glacial epochs are great things, but they are vague--vague. Please observe. In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. This is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

~Mark Twain, The Atlantic Monthly, 36, 193 (1875)

Nonapod said...

The absolute natural upper limit of the human lifespan seems pretty much around 120ish. That hasn't changed. Of course that's not the maximum achievable limit through technology. It's a virtual certainty that we'll one day have such fine control of our biological systems by various methods of genetics, nanotech, other advances in medical science that we'll be able to extend life indefinitely. I don't know when this will occur, probably within this century, but it will happen (unless there's some kind of large scale catastrophe that sets us back to the dark ages or wipes us out completely).

The ramifications for society in general will be huge obviously. If you could have the body of a 25 year old indefinitely, how long would you want to live? Would you get bored and kill yourself at 80? 120? 200?

Inga said...

The Sirtuin Pathway and Stilbenes

El Pollo Raylan said...

"Still Beans With Life"

David said...

You're not talking about the same trend. You're talking about the average life expectancy, which goes up as fewer die in childhood and from treatable illnesses that arrive before old age.

I'm talking about the upper limit. I don't see any trend pushing up the top limit. As I said, Calment, the only life that is verified to have reached 120, died 16 years ago. Today, the oldest person in the world is 6 years younger than Calment was when she died.


Commenter not ready for law school. But needing it.

DEEBEE said...

Shudder at the thought of having to take care of Julia for this long

Steve Koch said...

bgates said...

"Who are these people casually clinging to this idea, and why are you so upset about them? Are they wearing shorts? Are they frighteningly committed to their ideas? Do they publicize videos of abrasive women who got cell phones through welfare programs?"

Hilarious. It would have been interesting if Althouse had provided a link to those pie in the sky 120+ers.

Nonetheless, while Althouse may not know much about the potential for increasing human life spans, it is an interesting topic.

One way or another it seems that human form will change a lot in the near future. Cloning will facilitate organ replacement. Stem cell technology is exploding and will enable us to repair defective organs. Genetic engineering will be used to design better human organs. Biomechanics will enable replacing organic parts of human bodies with mechanical parts. Humans will be enhanced for military and economic gain.

Nobody knows all the forms that intelligent beings on earth will take but it seems very likely that we are on the cusp of rapid change.

Maybe some will clone themselves before they die and then reprogram their clone with what they learned in life so their clone is kinda, sorta a continuation of their life.

Sooner or later we will figure out how to program computers so that they can learn on their own. Very soon after that they will eclipse us. It seems highly unlikely that they will trust us with scissors.


dreams said...

I think there is a myth that country people live longer than city people.

My grandfather and one of his brothers as adults remained in the country and were lifelong farmers living to the age of 73 and 77 respectively. Their brothers moved to Louisville and got jobs and they lived into their mid to upper eighties with the youngest living to ninety.

I think people living in the city especially in recent years tend to be more health conscious, at least that has been my observation.

Joe said...

Life expectancy in the United States at the beginning of the 20th Century was approximately 30 years old. By the end of the 20th century that had more than doubled, to almost 70 years old.

Forgot the qualifying phrase "at birth". According to one source, in the early 17th century two-thirds of all children died before the age of four. That number likely went down by 1900, but not by much.

This increase is almost entirely due to reduction of childhood deaths due to disease, accidents and poor sanitary condition during childbirth.

Vaccinations, food safety, public sanitation and reduction of smoking have done more to improve life expectancy than anything else. Add in vastly better care for diseases that tend to hit those 50 to 65 (such as open heart surgery, pace makers, etc.) and it's easy to see why life expectancy has increased, but the "maximum" age hasn't budged.

Dante said...

wyo sis:

That sounds pretty awesome

You need to read "Letters form the Earth," by Mark Twain, and then decide how great it would be =)

The Godfather said...

The current issue of National Geographic has a cover photo of a baby and a caption that says This Child Will Live to 120. I haven't read the article, but my immediate reaction was, There goes Social Security.

The Godfather said...

Thanks to El Pollo Raylan for the Mark Twain quotation.

And thanks to Wyo Sis for reminding us that true eternal life doesn't mean getting older forever (there was a Greek myth about that; does anyone remember?)

The Godfather said...

I'm 70. If I lived to be 87, I could expect to see all three of my granddaughters graduate from college. That would be nice, but (pardon the expression) I could live without that. If I lived to 120, I could expect to meet my grandchildren's grandchildren -- but I'm not sure I see the point in that.

The Godfather said...

Nonopod says, "If you could have the body of a 25 year old indefinitely . . ." -- sounds great, if she's cute, but I don't think my wife would let me.

Jim S. said...

I always find it sad when the "last person to [fill in the blank]" passes away. It was sad when we lost the last veterans of World War I. It will be sad when we lose the last person to have been born in the 19th century. These people are connections to the past, and when there are no more left, that connection is gone and can never be re-established.

A blogger, I think it was Neo-neocon, said that she saw photos of her parents' or grandparents' wedding in 1915 or something, and some of the photos had an older woman there who was an aunt or something born in 1835. I always find these connections amazing. I tried to express it with this short story.

Astro said...

@ Jim S
I can remember my great-grandfather who died shortly before my 6th birthday. He was born in 1869. Obviously he knew people who were alive when Lincoln was president, and it's possible he knew people who were alive when Washington was President.

Astro said...

This is one of those topics where skepticism and imagination both need to be considered.
Just based on the current numbers of folks living past 100, it's understandable that someone would be skeptical of the notion of living to be 120.

However, anyone who is 100 years old now was already a teenager when Penicillin (the first antibiotic) was discovered.
Anyone over the age of 60 was born before there was widespread use of the Polio vaccine.
Only recently has tobacco smoking been banned from most public places.
A century ago medical science was primitive by today's standards. Our understanding of toxic substances like lead and asbestos in the environment is recent. Likewise there is much we know about nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

So some skepticism is in order when thinking about longevity, but it doesn't require wild speculation to project forward the advances of medical science and think 120 is attainable.

Anthony said...

I'd take immortality, as long as there's a suitable 'out', like in Highlander (removing one's head). I'd love o see what happens in 500 years. Think of the historian or archaeologist you'd make!

Of course, you'd have to hide it else you'd be decapitated right quick.

Oh, and no having to kill and bathe in the blood of four 23-year olds every 57 years or anything like that either.