The Long and the Short of It
The Science of Life Span and Aging
With The Long and the Short of It, biologist and writer Jonathan Silvertown offers readers a witty and fascinating tour through the scientific study of longevity and aging. Dividing his daunting subject by theme—death, life span, aging, heredity, evolution, and more—Silvertown draws on the latest scientific developments to paint a picture of what we know about how life span, senescence, and death vary within and across species. At every turn, he addresses fascinating questions that have far-reaching implications: What causes aging, and what determines the length of an individual life? What changes have caused the average human life span to increase so dramatically—fifteen minutes per hour—in the past two centuries? If evolution favors those who leave the most descendants, why haven’t we evolved to be immortal? The answers to these puzzles and more emerge from close examination of the whole natural history of life span and aging, from fruit flies, nematodes, redwoods, and much more.
1. Death and Immortality: Destination
2. An Hourglass on the Run: Life Span
3. After Many a Summer: Aging
4. The Eternal Thing: Heredity
5. Green Age: Plants
6. The Visionary Solution: Natural Selection
7. Semele’s Sacrifice: Suicide
8. Live Fast, Die Young: Pace
9. Forever Young? Mechanisms
Appendix: Scientific Names of Species Mentioned in Text
"Jonathan Silvertown writes with grace and wit about one of the most important issues of our time. Drawing from the most up-to-date aging research and his personal and very sympathetic observations on the human condition, Silvertown makes the science of longevity accessible to the lay reader and insightful to the practitioner--a book that will be a pleasurable and informative read for everyone."