The Immortality of Humans
Posted by kenhoward on March 5, 2008
Simply put, ignoring all other factors, scientists have discovered that all creatures large and small have one common characteristic related to mortality: their hearts beat an average of 1.5 billion times over their lifetime. Finally – a biology problem that can be solved using a spreadsheet! That is, all creatures except human beings, whose heart beats as much as double that number – closer to 3 billion. (Go ahead, do the math, I know you’re dying to.) When you put your spreadsheet together, notice what happens to your life expectancy when you drop your average pulse from 70 bpm to 60 bpm. Makes all that that exercise you’ve been thinking about seem more important than you may have thought.
Humans weren’t always so askew from the rest of the creatures. Over time, through science and other evolutionary changes, we have managed to throw a kink in an otherwise perfect correlation. It hasn’t been easy, though. As we introduce technologies that extend our lives, we also introduce new risks that may shorten it. (There wasn’t much risk of getting hit by a bus in 500 B.C.)
Some scientists believe that it’s plausible to push the life expectancy of newborns born in the next decade up to the age of 100. If you think the Social Security system is in peril now, just wait!
If you find this stuff interesting, listen to Robert Krulwich explain in more detail in his Podcast here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12877984&ft=1&f=1007