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Transcript

Question: Does a fixation on longevity detract us from living a full life?

 

DeGrasse Tyson: rather think that we’d be spending more energy learning how to live better. I’d rather start there and then worry about the longevity thing a little later.

Part of knowing that you’re going to die, not to get all philosophical on you, but knowing that you’re going to die creates a certain focus on your activities in life in the present.

If you knew you’re going to live for a thousand years, then, at any moment, you would say, well, what’s my hurry, why should I finish this manuscript today or why should I work late in the lab. I can just go home and watch the game. A

nd so, knowing that you lead a finite life creates a certain urgency to the minutes that you live that I value greatly. I don’t know what would mean if we live forever or live a really long time. I don’t know what would mean for my focus. Maybe it’s, you have to be careful what you wish for here. They would live a long time, people become less productive than they do when they don’t live very long at all.

I think of the mayfly that live no more than 24 hours. What is life like to them? They will never see a sun rise if they’re born in the daytime. The things that we take for granted that they never see. So every minute of their life, it’s a wall. It’s a ceiling. It’s a moon. It’s a grass. Everything is this life experience that’s captured and presumably valued in their little brain.

So, I like to take my 75 years on this planet and be like the mayfly, thinking they’re only living for a day and just take it all in.

 

Recorded on: February 9, 2009

 

More from the Big Idea for Saturday, August 09 2014

The Longevity Revolution

In 1970, life expectancy in the U.S. was 70 years old; today it's around 78. In China, over 40 years ago, the life expectancy was around 62, and now it's around 73 years old. Why are we living lon... Read More…

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Livi...

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