Science is the "Crucible" for Extending Life

People are living longer and societies are getting grayer. You hear about it all the time. You read about it in your newspapers. You hear about it on your television sets. Sometimes I'm concerned that we hear about it so much that we've come to accept longer lives with a kind of a complacency, even ease. But make no mistake, longer lives can and, I believe, will improve quality of life at all ages.

Now to put this in perspective, let me just zoom out for a minute. More years were added to average life expectancy in the 20th century than all years added across all prior millennia of human evolution combined. In the blink of an eye, we nearly doubled the length of time that we're living. So if you ever feel like you don't have this aging thing quite pegged, don't kick yourself. It's brand new.

And because fertility rates fell across that very same period that life expectancy was going up, that pyramid that has always represented the distribution of age in the population, with many young ones at the bottom winnowed to a tiny peak of older people who make it and survive to old age is being reshaped into a rectangle.

And now, if you're the kind of person who can get chills from population statistics, these are the ones that should do it. Because what that means is that for the first time in the history of the species, the majority of babies born in the Developed World are having the opportunity to grow old.

How did this happen? Well we're no genetically hardier than our ancestors were 10,000 years ago. This increase in life expectancy is the remarkable product of culture -- the crucible that holds science and technology and wide-scale changes in behavior that improve health and well-being. Through cultural changes, our ancestors largely eliminated early death so that people can now live out their full lives.


Our culture, our memes account for our extended lifespans.

Folksonomies: science memetics culture technology longevity

/art and entertainment/books and literature/magazines (0.577403)
/art and entertainment/movies and tv/television (0.577267)
/business and industrial/advertising and marketing/brand management (0.574904)

life expectancy (0.959244 (positive:0.218416)), longer lives (0.831881 (negative:-0.308364)), extended lifespans (0.657580 (neutral:0.000000)), Extending Life (0.656120 (neutral:0.000000)), television sets (0.642484 (neutral:0.000000)), prior millennia (0.633552 (neutral:0.000000)), human evolution (0.616458 (neutral:0.000000)), 20th century (0.613189 (neutral:0.000000)), wide-scale changes (0.612732 (positive:0.799950)), remarkable product (0.606211 (positive:0.539783)), fertility rates (0.604902 (negative:-0.321367)), young ones (0.603041 (neutral:0.000000)), tiny peak (0.601852 (neutral:0.000000)), early death (0.594403 (negative:-0.373827)), population statistics (0.593070 (positive:0.364142)), Developed World (0.592017 (positive:0.268052)), older people (0.583726 (neutral:0.000000)), cultural changes (0.583396 (neutral:0.000000)), old age (0.576909 (neutral:0.000000)), crucible (0.475491 (positive:0.799950)), time (0.471293 (neutral:0.000000)), kind (0.431187 (positive:0.055779)), science (0.422147 (positive:0.799950)), culture (0.422064 (positive:0.539783)), grayer (0.409619 (neutral:0.000000)), ancestors (0.409432 (negative:-0.373827)), complacency (0.391256 (negative:-0.308364)), memes (0.387533 (neutral:0.000000)), chills (0.376921 (positive:0.364142)), mistake (0.376304 (negative:-0.338144))

10,000 years:Quantity (0.010000 (neutral:0.000000))

Demography (0.983095): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Gerontology (0.980298): website | dbpedia | freebase
Life expectancy (0.896915): dbpedia | freebase
Population (0.855410): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Aging (0.789581): dbpedia
Ageing (0.778564): dbpedia | freebase
Death (0.754238): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Human Development Index (0.749666): dbpedia | freebase

 Older people are happier
Proceedings of Meetings and Symposia>Speech:  Carstensen, Laura (Dec 2011), Older people are happier, Ted Talks, Retrieved on 2013-11-27
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: aging perspective longevity well-being


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