“Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σιβυλλα τι θελεις; respondebat illa: αποθανειν θελω.” [I have seen with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her “What do you want?” She answered, “I want to die.”] – epigraph to ‘The Wasteland’ by T.S. Eliot
This week we are joined by Dr Nic Woods, a doctor, health IT expert and fellow gentleman scientist. We’re all in our forties now (‘the decade that matters’ as on of our friends told us) and aging is on our minds. The Cumean Sibyl of legend wants to die as the price of immortality. In the modern world, we are encouraged to pretend to be young.
In our case, we’d just be happy to get a few more years 🙂
I look the same – right?
But medical science is already prolonging our lives, in the future maybe by decades or more. Forty is the new thirty, thirty is the new twenty etc. etc. But are we here for a long time or a good time? No one wants to cling on for years and years as a vegetable, but conversely it seems morally imperative that we pursue longer life if we can.
Nic gives us some excellent expert medical viewpoints to augment our usual gentlemanly ramblings, including a description of aging as an accumulation of errors. And with recent revelations about neuroplasticity in older age, there is hope for all of us.
The Hef, still going strong …
Entropy is entropy. Whatever else we might achieve, we’re unlikely to be able to cheat the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Even if we preserve our bodies, there is systemic physical decay, not the mention the psychological costs of aging and the decline of the mind. Change is the way of the world, and the old must make way for the new eventually.
There may be such a thing as living too long. There may be such a thing as the ‘right’ time to go.
Then again, bring on the nanobots!
More red blood cells! More!
Thank you for joining us again gentlemen and women – may you live long and prosper. Remember, you’re never too old to disco. But sometimes we lie about our age. As Auden says –‘Time will have his fancy/To-morrow or to-day.’
Special apologies for the poor audio quality in this discussion. Also check out our previous Discussion #15 – the Mindset of Aging
3An article about injecting young blood into your bloodstream
5The proposed head transplant of the Russian man has made the news media lately as in this article
6A paper describing a computer simulation of the biological aging process.