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Studies Reveal If Humans Can Live Forever
New studies look at possible age limits to the human lifespan.
Scientists are waging a battle over how long humans can live. Recent research seemed to put the maximum number at 115 years. But a new study seeks to disprove that and claims that there is no such limit. Can we, theoretically, live forever?
Biologists Bryan G. Hughes and Siegfried Hekimi from McGill University analyzed the lifespans of the longest-living people in the USA, the UK, France and Japan from 1968. This included Susannah Mushatt Jones, the last living American born in the 19th century who made it until 116 years, dying in 2016.
The researchers did not find evidence of a top age limit, but left the possibility open that a limit may exist but has not yet been identified. They certainly don't think it's 115. That number may just be a temporary plateau, similar to those recorded in the past, and will generally continue to go up.
"We just don't know what the age limit might be. In fact, by extending trend lines, we can show that maximum and average lifespans, could continue to increase far into the foreseeable future," said Hekimi.
He also pointed out that while there could be a limit, it’s also possible there is no limit at all.
“Because we can detect no limit it is possible that indeed there is no limit," added Hekimi. "Average human life span keeps increasing dramatically and maximum human lifespan seems to follow. I see no statistical or demonstrated biological reason how we would know that this must stop."
The average life expectancy is going up in many countries, with women still likely to live longer than men. For the first time ever, South Korean women might live as long as 90.8 years on average within the next 15 years - jumping up 5 years from the current 85.8. The life expectancy in the U.S. is not going up quite so robustly, inching up by 2030 from 82.1 years to 82.3 for women and from 77.5 to 79.5 for men. Researchers blame this fact on rising healthcare inequalities and increasing mortality in certain subgroups.
Why is life expectancy going up overall? Scientists point to better medical care, technological advancements and improving living conditions as some of the possible factors. How much more can our lifespan expand? The researchers are not placing bets.
"Three hundred years ago, many people lived short lives," explains Hekimi. "If we would have told them that one day most might live up to 100, they would said we were crazy."
Other teams of scientists also took issue with the paper arguing for a limit of 115. These scientists argue that not enough data was used for that research or that there's no biological evidence for any limiting statistics.
If you're wondering, the oldest human we know of was the French woman Jeanne Calment, who lived until 122 years and 164 days. The oldest person currently alive? Violet Brown from Jamaica, who is 117.
You can read the new study in Nature magazine.
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.