The modern attitude is to treat old age and death as technical problems, no different in essence than any other disease, particularly among (over) optimistic tech billionaires. However, although life expectancy has been climbing for decades, maximum lifespan is not rising in step with average lifespan.
In a study(1) published in Nature this week, “Evidence for a limit to human lifespan,” Xiao Dong, Brandon Milholland and Jan Vijg, suggest that the maximum lifespan of humans is fixed and subject to natural constraints.
By analysing global demographic data, they show that, although human life expectancy has increased greatly since the nineteenth century, improvements in survival with age tend to decline after age 100, and that the age at death of the world’s oldest person has not increased since the 1990s. On Aug. 4, 1997, Jeanne Calment died at age 122, setting a record for human longevity, so far.
So, one thing seems certain: If we are ever going to achieve immortality, it won’t be within our present biological bodies.
(1) Dong, Xiao, Brandon Milholland, and Jan Vijg. ‘Evidence for a Limit to Human Lifespan’. Nature, 5 October 2016. doi:10.1038/nature19793.
Featured Image: Jeanne Calment