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Blood of World's Oldest Woman Hints At Limits of Life

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  • Strange conclusion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geogob (569250) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:25AM (#46840679)

    I find the conclusion that there is an absolute limit to the human life span because at some point the stem cells producing white blood cell all die out quite strange.

    A few centuries ago, we could have concluded that there is an absolute limit to human life span because at some point someone can't eat anymore while he lost all his teeth. Any similar logical train of though could lead to the same conclusion.

    And now, what if you find out why the cells die and manage to prevent it? Then the next thing that kills us will limit our life span, until we find out how to fix that as well. Absolute limits are difficult to set.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:27AM (#46840695)

    If this is a critical factor for maintaining longevity ...

    It is not clear that it is. So far there is ONE data point. Before we start extrapolating, we might want to look at some other old people.

  • Re:She was 115 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday April 25, 2014 @10:45AM (#46840861)

    Since the summary didn't mention it, and I'm sure others were wondering.

    Ya. That first sentence could have been written: "When Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper died in 2005 at age 115, she was the oldest woman in the world."

    Typing another 10 characters wouldn't have killed the submitter. And it would've spared many Slashdotters from puzzling through a tedious run-on sentence in the Wikipedia article.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by briancox2 (2417470) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:00AM (#46840981) Homepage Journal
    Really? You're trying to solve this "problem"?

    My thought upon reading this story was, "Oh, thank God!!"

    I had been hoping there was a definite end that science could not trick. I was beginning to fear that the medical community was going to try to force any level of existence to continue without regard to quality. Death is a part of life. I'd rather live with that than trying to force a 100 year old body to keep it's heart beating just because some family member doesn't know how to cope any other way.

    Try working in the healthcare field. You'll see that that is the norm. Older patients often would be fine with letting go. But the family falls apart emotionally and pushes for ANY MEANS POSSIBLE to save them. It's pathetic. And it costs our healthcare industry billions that could be spent much better.
  • Re:Bank them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danbert8 (1024253) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:05AM (#46841013)

    Sadly it doesn't stop with death too. Many more billions are wasted in the funeral racket. In my family my grandmother is a very simple and humble woman, but her darn kids keep insisting on fancy expensive gravestones and caskets in her end of life planning. It's like, you realize we are just going to throw dirt on this right? And she won't be "comfortable" regardless of how many pillows are in there.

  • by danbert8 (1024253) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:09AM (#46841057)

    Where they hell are you getting 5%API right now in a retirement disbursing account? At retirement you are looking at money markets for most of your assets and you'll be lucky to get 2%. A million isn't enough to retire on for most people anymore. Millionaires aren't the 1%, they are the majority of the middle class.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:26AM (#46841229)

    Death is a part of life.

    Death is a part of life. That doesn't mean it's good or shouldn't be fought against. Smallpox used to be a part of life too, and I doubt anyone's life is made worse by not having it around anymore.

    I'd rather live with that than trying to force a 100 year old body to keep it's heart beating just because some family member doesn't know how to cope any other way.

    The idea of longevity research, of course, is to make 100 year old body indistinguishable from a 20 year old body, not merely to "keep the heart beating".

    And it costs our healthcare industry billions that could be spent much better.

    Really? On what, for example?

  • Re:Bank them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:30AM (#46841257)

    I'd rather live with that than trying to force a 100 year old body to keep it's heart beating just because some family member doesn't know how to cope any other way.

    False dichotomy. If we manage one day to make 100 year old bodies to be more like today's 60 year old bodies, you'll have a different option.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tmosley (996283) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:56AM (#46841527)
    Funny how reactionaries always seem to think of life extension as living a long time as an old person rather than living a long time as a young person.

    Such is life in idiocratic paradise.
  • Re:Bank them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday April 25, 2014 @11:58AM (#46841549)

    I had been hoping there was a definite end that science could not trick.

    There isn't. Our bodies are machines, no more no less, and ultimately science will solve every riddle they pose. Soon, fifty or a hundred years from now, the first immortals will be born. Who knows, perhaps they already have been.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 25, 2014 @12:26PM (#46841843)

    The comfort is actually for those who see her into the ground. They're not comfortable if the dead person doesn't look like a fucking piece of art. They call this "respect". They do it out of "respect" for the dead person. And so that the living left behind don't poke their eyes out for the rest of their lives that "this guy had no respect for this mother; he bought the cheapest plywood casket with a pillow made of hay". And if you don't want to move to a different state/country, you comply.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Friday April 25, 2014 @12:58PM (#46842221)

    Make your living wills now.

    Get the funeral (or lack of one) that you want.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Friday April 25, 2014 @12:59PM (#46842233)

    Death is a part of life.

    Death is a part of life.

    ...for 93% of us.

    With 7 billion people on the planet, and only 100 billion of us having ever lived, only 93% of us have died.

    As part of the 7%, I'm keeping my hopes high.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Friday April 25, 2014 @01:01PM (#46842269) Homepage

    Death is a part of life. I'd rather live with that than trying to force a 100 year old body to keep it's heart beating just because some family member doesn't know how to cope any other way.

    Fuck you fuck you fuck you. I'm grabbing every second of consciousness that I can. My grandfather dealt with crippling arthritis, and kept going. I have no plan to cash it in for health reasons. Is it possible to be productive to society with a worn out body? Ask Steven Hawking.

  • Re:Bank them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Friday April 25, 2014 @02:35PM (#46843191)

    , fifty or a hundred years from now, the first immortals will be born.

    That would, IMHO, be an utter disaster for mankind. Human beings are really good at learning what their world is like when they are children, because they are more or less starting from scratch. What they absolutely suck at is adapting to change after they've figured all that out. We form our opinions and view of the world when we are growing up. We can see then with (relatively) unclouded eyes the way things are, and even reason out the way we think things ought to be. But that becomes relatively set. This is why Max Plank remarked:

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

    It isn't just science either, it's pretty much every realm of human thought. I was born into a society (1967) where it was accepted that black people should be kept away from white people, women were inferior to men in every way and belonged in the home, and "gay" was not a state of being, but a repulsive activity that needed to be suppressed at all costs. Its true that lot of people's minds changed since then, but by and large what happened is that the old folks who felt strongest about society staying that way died . Social conservatism is far more prominent with older people at pretty much every level you check.

    While I'd like to think that all that was wrong with the 70's is gone from me, the fact is its all still lurking down in my head, because that's the world I was born into. The best I can hope for to personally advance society is to raise my own kids without my prejudices, and then when its just me left that remembers the early 70's I can die and all that horrible shit will die with me.

    Anyone trying to "fix" this is an active threat to humanity.

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