Why We Die
Tyler Volk: Yeah, well atoms have such long lives because they are made of fundamental particles that themselves are long-lived to infinity. There are some issues about the proton having some kind of a long decay constant, but organisms are dynamical systems made of parts, enzymes that interact very volatility, they have to be rebuilt constantly, the organisms themselves have to have constant inputs of matter and energy in order to carry on to regenerate these complex internal dynamics that they have going all the time.
Question: On the molecular level, what causes humans to die?
Tyler Volk: The body wears down after a while. There are repair mechanisms that we have. You cut your skin; you’ll notice that your skin repairs. You break a bone; the bone repairs. Many of these repair mechanisms, as any of us who are aging know, become less efficient as we get older. And one reason that diseases become more statistically probable as we get older has to do with a general running out of these repair mechanisms; the efficiency of these repair mechanisms that were with us from our birth as human beings, but have themselves a kind of longevity that varies from individual to individual. But you can see, most people when they get to be around 70, 80, or 90, they’re going to look old. There are some certain expectations. So there is some commonality we have as humans as a species in terms of shared genetic capabilities of repair our bodies that wear down over time.
Our atoms are formed from particles with seemingly infinite lifespans, so why do organisms die? The NYU professor explains the biology of death.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.
- Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
- He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
- Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.
- Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
- A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
- The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.