10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
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Culture & Religion

The science of why we can’t live forever

Here's why stars fade out — and so do we.

  • According to scientists the reason we die is because the second law of thermodynamics and natural selection.
  • The whole universe runs down, so, ultimately, even if you could lengthen your lifespan indefinitely, the universe itself will eventually die in a heat death.
  • We die, one predominant view goes, so that our progeny may live — because there are limited resources.
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Videos

Across the world, women outlive men — here's why

Why do women live longer than men? New data from the WHO tackles age-old questions about longevity.

Photo credit: ALEXEY GROMOV / AFP / Getty Images

What could add almost four and a half years to your life?

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Surprising Science
  • A huge segment of America's population — the Baby Boom generation — is aging and will live longer than any American generation in history.
  • The story we read about in the news? Their drain on social services like Social Security and Medicare.
  • But increased longevity is a cause for celebration, says Ashton Applewhite, not doom and gloom.


Videos

Vikings unwittingly made their swords stronger by trying to imbue them with spirits

They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.

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  • Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
  • To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
  • They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
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Culture & Religion