October 17th, 2014
The world just celebrated the birthday of the currently oldest person in the world: Besse Cooper. This month she turned 116, as only 8 people have been reported to have done so far. But in a few decades 116 probably isn’t that special anymore. How are your chances of ever placing 116 candles on your birthday cake?
What we usually hear about life expectancies are average numbers. In 2010 this average life expectancy of people being born in the UK today was estimated at over 90 for men and close to 95 for women. But ‘average’ does not say everything. As BBC-columnist David Spiegelhadter describes: ‘After all, people in the UK have on average one testicle each’.
He asked himself the same question and happily concludes that he, currently in his sixties, has a good chance of turning 82 in ‘good’ to ‘very good’ health. It remains a difficult question though, since there are a lot of ways to calculate life expectancies.
The most optimistic average life expectancy by the Brittish Office of National Statistics is a good 111,8, that counts for women being born in 2010. Again keeping in mind that this is an average number, this offers young people a good chance of indeed turning 116.
But these high life expectancies count on ever-continuing improvements in health care. Decide for yourself if you think that is justified, or that it is actually more likely that we are finally approaching an age-limit.
Biologists have long been predicting this ceiling and have untill now always been proven wrong, write Oeppen and Vaupel in Science in 2002. For a steady 160 years the best performance life expectancy has been increasing a quarter of a year each year.
There are even scientists that think aging is not even gonna be there in the future. Dr. De Grey wrote a book about it, called Ending Ageing: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs that Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. He believes that defeating aging could be possible within a few decades.
Photo: Flickr, Roadsidepictures
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