Is 100 the New Life Expectancy for People Born in the 21st Century?
Is the first person who will live to 150 alive today?
That’s the subject of a “$1 billion bet” between two leading scientists in the field of aging: S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Steven N. Austad, a biologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Friends since the early 1990s, the two made their bet in 2000 after a newspaper article quoted Prof. Austad as saying that living to 150 will soon be within our grasp. Each has put $300 into an investment account that the two men hope will be worth more than $1 billion in 2150, when the bet comes due. But even Prof. Austad, the optimist, says, “It’s going to be our descendants who get to collect that money.”
Distinguished professor and Chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Steven N. Austad, joins the podcast to discuss his research on the biology of ageing.
Tune in to learn the following:
The importance of proper protein folding in terms of healthy ageing and longevity, and what secrets the Arctica islandica clam might hold in this regard
How the human lifespan stacks up against other mammals of similar size
Why the study of lab mice might not be the best model for improving human longevity
For over 30 years, Austad has been studying the biology of ageing. He more or less stumbled upon this area of research while conducting field work in South America on opossums; much to his surprise, he learned that the lifespan of these animals is very short—just 18 months on average—and as they age, they develop numerous ailments, including cataracts, muscle atrophy, and dental issues. This spurred Austad’s interest in the topic of ageing and compelled him to research why certain species age at the rate they do, and more broadly, why ageing occurs at all. Listen here now!
“Fall in love with some activity – and do it.”
- Richard Feynman
I am a scientist/writer. Look for my new book, Methuselah's Zoo, coming soon. An assortment of my newspaper columns can be found below.
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Topics Discussed: Taxi driving in NYC, training lions, entering the biology field, studying animals in the wild, the impossibility of immortality, how aging helps evolution, the power of natural selection, breakthroughs in aging research, expectations for extending human health, extending life through dietary intervention, the impact of drug treatments, differences in drug efficacy between sexes, drugs that show promise in preserving health in humans, predictions for human life expectancy, how to extend your life right now, ethical impact of life extension, and how society could change as life expectancy is extended.
In this interview, biologist and aging expert Dr. Steven Austad joins host Don MacPherson to discuss how and why we age, various ways to extend human life, and ethical questions that accompany a 100-year life expectancy. They also dive into medical treatments that show signs of slowing the aging process, the impossibility of immortality, and the societal changes that will occur if we all live longer.