EssentialstheDiagonal is a personal blog by Mike Gerra, skeptic, technologist, psychologist, artist, humanist, collector of grand, eclectic ideas.theDiagonal blog connects the dots across multiple disciplines for inquisitive, objective and critical thinkers, exploring the vertices of big science, disruptive innovation, global sustainability, illuminating literature and leftfield art. It is on this diagonal that creativity thrives, big ideas take flight and reason triumphs.
Tag Archives: aging
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
It’s safe to suggest that most of us above a certain age — let’s say 30 — wish to stay young. It is also safer to suggest, in the absence of a solution to this first wish, that many of us wish to age gracefully and happily. Yet for most of us, especially in the West, we age in a less dignified manner in combination with colorful medicines, lengthy tubes, and unpronounceable procedures. We are collectively living longer. But, the quality of those extra years leaves much to be desired.
In a quest to understand the process of aging more thoroughly researchers regularly descend on areas the world over that are known to have higher than average populations of healthy older people. These have become known as “Blue Zones”. One such place is a small, idyllic (there’s a clue right there) Greek island called Ikaria.
From the Guardian:...read more
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Researchers are continuing to make great progress in unraveling the complexities of aging. While some fingers point to the shortening of telomeres — end caps — in our chromosomal DNA as a contributing factor, other research points to the hypothalamus. This small sub-region of the brain has been found to play a major role in aging and death (though, at the moment only in mice).
From the New Scientist:
The brain’s mechanism for controlling ageing has been discovered – and manipulated to shorten and extend the lives of mice. Drugs to slow ageing could follow
Tick tock, tick tock… A mechanism that controls ageing, counting down to inevitable death, has been identified in the hypothalamus?– a part of the brain that controls most of the basic functions of life....read more
Saturday, January 5, 2013
The next time your spouse tells you that you’re “just not the same person anymore” there may be some truth to it. After all, we are not who we thought we would become, nor are we likely to become what we think. That’s the overall result of a recent study of human personality changes in around 20,000 people over time.
When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions.
They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement....read more
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Many of us harbor dreams, often secret ones, of becoming a famous rockstar. Well, if you want to live well passed middle age, think again. Being a rockstar and living a long life are not statistically compatible, especially if you’re American. You choose.
From ars technica:
Hedonism. Substance abuse. Risky behavior. Rock stars from Elvis Presley to Amy Winehouse have ended up famous not only for their music but for the decadent lifestyle it enabled, one that eventually contributed to their deaths. But how much does the rock lifestyle really hurt?
Quite a bit. That’s the conclusion of a new study that tracked nearly 1,500 chart-topping musicians and found that their life expectancy after fame really was lower than that of the general population. North American solo musicians seem to have it especially bad....read more
Monday, November 26, 2012
In 1977 Elizabeth Blackburn and Joseph Gall, molecular biologists, discovered the structure of the end caps, known as telomeres, of chromosomes. In 2009, Blackburn and colleagues Carol Greider and Jack Szostak shared the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the enzyme telomerase, the enzyme responsible for replenishing telomeres.
It turns out that telomeres are rather important. Studies shows that telomeres regulate cell division, and as a consequence directly influence aging and life span. When a cell divides the length of its chromosomal telomeres shortens. Once a telomere is depleted its chromosome, and DNA, can no longer be replicated accurately, and the cell no longer divides, hastening cell death.
From the Independent:
A blood test to determine how fast someone is ageing has been shown to work on a population of wild birds, the first time the ageing test has been used successfully on animals living outside a laboratory setting....read more
Monday, June 25, 2012
From Mind Matters over at Scientific American:
The poem “Maud Muller” by John Greenleaf Whittier aptly ends with the line, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” What if you had gone for the risky investment that you later found out made someone else rich, or if you had had the guts to ask that certain someone to marry you? Certainly, we’ve all had instances in our lives where hindsight makes us regret not sticking our neck out a bit more.
But new research suggests that when we are older these kinds of ‘if only!’ thoughts about the choices we made may not be so good for our mental health. One of the most important determinants of our emotional well being in our golden years might be whether we learn to stop worrying about what might have been....read more
Friday, April 20, 2012
David Bainbridge, author of “Middle Age: A Natural History”, examines the benefits of middle age. Yes, really. For those of us in “middle age” it’s not surprising to see that this period is not limited to decline, disease and senility. Rather, it’s a pre-programmed redistribution of physical and mental resources designed to cope with our ever-increasing life spans.
From David Bainbridge over at New Scientist:
As a 42-year-old man born in England, I can expect to live for about another 38 years. In other words, I can no longer claim to be young. I am, without doubt, middle-aged....read more
Friday, October 21, 2011
Would you like to know when you will die?
This is a fundamentally personal and moral question which many may prefer to keep unanswered. That said, while scientific understanding of aging is making great strides it cannot yet provide an answer to the question. Though it may only be a matter of time.
Giles Tremlett over at the Guardian gives us a personal account of the fascinating science of telomeres, the end-caps on our chromosomes, and why they potentially hold a key to that most fateful question.
From the Guardian:
As a taxi takes me across Madrid to the laboratories of Spain’s National Cancer Research Centre, I am fretting about the future. I am one of the first people in the world to provide a blood sample for a new test, which has been variously described as a predictor of how long I will live, a waste of time or a handy indicator of how well (or badly) my body is ageing. Today I get the results....read more
Thursday, June 30, 2011
No, not a cosmologist’s convoluted hypothesis as to why time moves in only (so far discovered) one direction. The arrow of time here is a thoroughly personal look at the linearity of the 4th dimension and an homage to the family portrait in the process.
The family takes a “snapshot” of each member at the same time each year; we’ve just glimpsed the latest for 2011. And, in so doing they give us much to ponder on the nature of change and the nature of stasis.
From Diego Goldberg and family:
Catch all the intervening years between 1976 and 2011 at theSource here.
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Sunday, March 5, 2006
From Scientific American:
A handful of genes that control the body’s defenses during hard times can also dramatically improve health and prolong life in diverse organisms. Understanding how they work may reveal the keys to extending human life span while banishing diseases of old age.
You can assume quite a bit about the state of a used car just from its mileage and model year. The wear and tear of heavy driving and the passage of time will have taken an inevitable toll. The same appears to be true of aging in people, but the analogy is flawed because of a crucial difference between inanimate machines and living creatures: deterioration is not inexorable in biological systems, which can respond to their environments and use their own energy to defend and repair themselves....read more