Alienation Is Killing Americans and Japanese
The stories have become all too familiar in Japan, though people often do their best to ignore them. An elderly or middle-aged person, usually a man, is found dead, at home in his apartment, frequently right in his bed. It has been days, weeks, or even months since he has had contact with another human […]
Seven Scientists Describe Seven Kinds of Aging
The novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez struck an optimistic note about aging: “The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time,” he once wrote. On the other hand, Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, was a bit less sentimental: “It happens fast for some people and slow for some, accidents or gravity, […]
Why David Hume Is So Hot Right Now
David Chalmers, co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, once undertook something odd for a philosopher: He conducted an international poll. In November 2009, he and his then-PhD advisee, David Bourget, asked over 2,500 of their colleagues—professors and graduate students alike—among other things, with which dead thinker they most […]
How Facebook Fuels Relationship Anxiety
John Bowlby, born in 1907 London to an upper class family, had little parental love. His mother believed (as was common at the time) kindness would spoil children, and his father, a knighted surgeon, left home to fight in the Great War; his primary caregiver, a nursemaid named Minnie, who did love him, was let […]
Evolution Puts on the Best Freak Show Going
Suicide-bombing ants. Bone-breaking frogs. Spit-flinging arachnids. Back-birthing toads. And bone-dissolving worms. What do all of the above have in common? Specialized adaptations. They’ve become so accustomed to their distinct habitats that they’d be more likely to perish, compared to their more generalist relatives, if moved to a slightly different locale. Each of them, as a […]
We Have No Idea How Most Species Age
To humans, aging can seem to be inextricably linked with physical decline. In 1975, “on a whim,” the photographer Nicholas Nixon decided to illustrate this process. That year he took a picture of his wife and her three sisters standing together, shoulder-to-shoulder; and every year after, for four decades, they stood for a picture in […]
What Do Women Want in a Political Career?
On New Year’s Day, perhaps as a way to celebrate, the National Women’s Political Caucus endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. The NWPC, based in Washington, D.C., is a grassroots organization aiming to increase the presence of women in politics—well under one quarter of our nation’s politicians are women. Paula Willmarth, the NWPC’s Vice President of […]
This Is Life at 400
Ballooning life expectancies are upending age-old definitions of life stages.
Physics Makes Aging Inevitable—A Response to Comments
When I published Life’s Ratchet four years ago, I was focused on how life can create and sustain highly ordered systems in the presence of the surrounding molecular chaos—how molecular ratchets, in other words, “extract order from chaos.” To my surprise, the book generated great interest in the area of aging research. Aging, says Ed […]
Are We in the Anthropocene Yet?
In the early 1990s, a few miles west of El Kef, a town in Tunisia, geologists set a small golden spike in between two layers of clay that remains there to this day. They wanted to mark the tiny yet striking layer of iridium—a hard, dense, silvery-white metal—sandwiched in the middle. It was deposited by […]