How Long Will Humans Last

How Long Will Humans Last – Jeanne Calment enjoys her daily cigarette and a glass of red wine on her 117th birthday. In 1997, he died at the age of 122 and still holds the record for being the oldest living person. Credit: Jean-Pierre Fizet Getty Images

, performed by actress Irene Cara, includes the line “I’ll live forever.” Of course, Cara sang about living as long after death as fame can provide. But the literal expression of this arrogance resonates in some parts of the world, especially in the technology industry. In Silicon Valley, immortality is sometimes elevated to the status of a bodily goal. Many big names in tech have invested in companies to solve the problem of death, just like updating your smartphone’s operating system.

How Long Will Humans Last

How Long Will Humans Last

But what if death simply can’t be broken, and longevity always has a ceiling, no matter what we do? Researchers have now taken up the question of how long we might live if, through a combination of serendipity and genetics, we didn’t die of cancer, heart disease or being hit by a bus. They say that when the things that normally kill us are neglected, our body’s ability to restore balance to its myriad structural and metabolic systems diminishes over time. And even if we live life with little stress, this gradual decline puts the maximum human lifespan at 120 to 150 years. Ultimately, this basic resilience is eroded if clear risks don’t take our lives, the researchers conclude in findings published in May 2021.

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“They ask the question, ‘If everything goes perfectly and in a stress-free environment, can a complex human system live the longest?'” Aging and Human Development, which was not involved in the paper. points to a basic “aging rhythm,” he says.

For the study, researcher Timothy Pyrkov of Singapore-based Gero and his colleagues analyzed this “aging rate” in three large cohorts in the US, UK and Russia. To assess deviations from sustainable health, they assessed changes in blood cell counts and daily steps and analyzed them by age group.

The same was true for blood cell counts and stages: As age increased, factors other than disease led to a predictable and gradual decline in the body’s ability to restore blood cells or restore them to stable levels after a break. When Pyrkov and his colleagues in Moscow and Buffalo, New York, used this predictable rate of decline to determine when endurance would be completely lost, leading to death, they found a range of 120 to 150 years. (In 1997, the world’s oldest man, Jean Calment, died in France at the age of 122.)

Researchers have also found that with age, the body’s response to insults may deviate from a stable norm and take longer to recover. Whitson says this result makes sense: A healthy young person can develop a rapid physiological response to adapt to fluctuations and restore personal normality. But in an older person, he says, “everything gets a little damp, a little slower to respond, and you can go overboard,” for example, when the disease causes a big change in blood pressure.

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Measurements like blood pressure and blood cell count have certain healthy ranges, but Whitson says step count is very personal. The fact that Pyrkov and colleagues chose such a variable other than blood count and observed the same decline over time may indicate a true aging rate factor in different domains.

Study co-author Peter Fedichev, a physicist by training and co-founder of Gero, said that while most biologists see blood cell counts and step counts as “completely different,” both sources “paint the same future.” . that this component of the aging rate is real.

The authors pointed to social factors that underlie the findings. “We observed a sharp turn between the ages of 35 and 40, which was very surprising,” says Pyrkov. For example, he notes that this period is often the end of an athlete’s athletic career, “which suggests that something in the physiology can really change at that age.”

How Long Will Humans Last

The desire to unlock the secrets of immortality has probably existed since before humans became aware of death. But longevity is not the same as longevity, says S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved in the work. “The focus should not be on living longer, but on living healthier,” he says.

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“Death is not the important thing,” says Whitson. “Other things, like quality of life, start to matter more as people experience loss.” The death modeled in this study, he says, “is the ultimate lingering death. And the question is: Can we extend life without increasing the amount of time people spend in a vulnerable state?”

“The final conclusion of the researchers is interesting,” says Olshansky. He describes it this way: “Hey, think about it? Long-term treatment of the disease is not going to have the effect you want. These fundamental biological processes of aging continue.”

The idea of ​​slowing down the aging process has attracted the attention not only of Silicon Valley representatives who dream of uploading their memories to computers, but also of a group of researchers who see such interventions as a means of “compressing the disease.” illness and disease at the end of life to prolong health. The question is whether this affects the main upper limits set in the document

The paper remains highly speculative. But some research is underway, such as testing the diabetes drug metformin to reverse the signs of aging.

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In the same vein, Fedichev and his team are not afraid of their assumptions about the maximum human lifespan. He believes his research marks the beginning of a much longer journey. “Measuring something is the first step before intervention,” says Fedichev. The next step for the team to measure this independent rate of aging, he said, will be to find ways to “break down the resistance.”

Discover the science that will change the world. Browse our digital archive dating back to 1845, including articles by over 150 Nobel laureates. Nicholas R. Longrich does not work for, consult with, own stock in, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and discloses no relevant affiliations outside of his academic appointment.

Will our species become extinct? The short answer is yes. The fossil record shows that everything eventually dies out. Almost all species that lived now, more than 99.9%, have become extinct.

How Long Will Humans Last

The headlines often indicate that this extinction is imminent. The threat of asteroids grazing the Earth is a media favorite. Mars regularly appears as a bolt hole. And the threat of climate emergency continues.

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We humans have weaknesses. Large, warm-blooded animals like us do not take well to environmental disturbances. Small, cold-blooded turtles and snakes can go months without food, which is how they survived. Large animals with a fast metabolism (tyrannosaurs or humans) always need a lot of food. This also makes them vulnerable to short-term disruptions in the food chain caused by disasters such as volcanoes, global warming, ice ages, or winter impacts after an asteroid impact.

We also live long, have a long lineage, and few generations. Slow reproduction makes it difficult to recover from a demographic crisis and slows down natural selection, which makes it difficult to adapt to rapid environmental changes. Those doomed mammoths, earthlings and other megafauna. Large mammals have evolved too slowly to cope with or adapt to overhunting by humans.

So we are vulnerable, but there are reasons to think that humans are resilient to extinction, perhaps unique. We’re such a strange species—so widespread, so abundant, so accepted—that we’re here to stay.

First, we are everywhere. Geographically dispersed organisms do better during disasters such as asteroid impacts and between mass extinction events. A wide geographic range means that a species doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket. If one habitat is destroyed, it can survive in another.

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Polar bears and pandas are in danger of extinction. Brown bears and red foxes do not have large ranges. Humans have the largest geographic range of any mammal, living on every continent, on remote oceanic islands, and in habitats as diverse as deserts, tundra, and rainforests.

And we are not everywhere, we are many. With 7.8 billion people, we are one of the most common animals on Earth. Human biomass is greater than that of all other wild mammals. Even if we assume that a pandemic or nuclear war could wipe out 99% of the population, millions would survive to rebuild.

We are also generalists. Surviving species

How Long Will Humans Last

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