And tertiary education for all

Monday, 1 December, 2014

Food for thought, given people are generally living longer, or are projected to, it is time to consider making tertiary education compulsory? Should we skill up, as it were, for a long life?

Of course, college is about much more than just scholastic education. It’s also about interacting with professors, debating peers over controversial books, and choosing a worthy major. For many, college also goes hand in hand with wild parties, foreign travel, drugs, new philosophies, and sexual exploration. It’s no wonder many people call college the best years of their lives. So why doesn’t society legally mandate such a universally positive experience? Why do we stop at high school and leave the main course of educational development on the table, untouched?

As long as I’m able to study for a liberal arts degree, I’m in.

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Longevity may soon be something we’re able to take at face value

Friday, 11 July, 2014

A facial recognition technology variant may soon be able to predict how long someone might live, by scanning and studying the signs of ageing on their face:

The technology involves using a computer to scan a photograph of a face for signs of ageing. Factoring in the subject’s race, gender, education level and smoking history – all known to affect longevity prospects – it would analyse each section of cheek, eye, brow, mouth and jowl looking for shading variations that signal lines, dark spots, drooping and other age-related changes that might indicate how the person is doing compared with others of the same age and background.

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If only I’d turned right instead of left I may have lived a lot longer

Wednesday, 30 April, 2014

Maybe I’ll start compiling a list of tips to aid those keen in living, and leading, a long, healthy life. First up, work to eliminate bad stress, bearing in mind a certain degree of stress can be beneficial. All things in moderation, so to speak.

Next, go by a name beginning with one of the first letters of the alphabet. Anita or Andrew, say. For some reason people with names starting with A or B tend to have longer lifespans than others. Names starting with D aren’t so good though. Seemingly there is some tie in with school grading systems. An A mark is good, D not so much.

Avoiding left turns is another. Though this depends where you live, and the side of the road you drive on. In the US for instance, those who steer clear of making left turns, as it generally means moving against a line of on-coming traffic, may live longer. This may be anecdotal, but then again there may be something in it:

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?” “I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre. “No left turns,” he said. “What?” I asked. “No left turns,” he repeated. “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

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A longer life is elsewhere, such as a longevity hot spot

Monday, 17 February, 2014

People residing in certain regions of Greece, Italy, Japan, California, and Costa Rica, tend to live longer than those elsewhere. Relocating to one of these places would only be part of the longevity equation though, if you wanted to try and boost your lifespan.

After discovering that there are longevity hot spots where people tend to live especially long, writer Dan Buettner spent the last 12 years locating and documenting these areas, dubbed “blue zones.” “I increasingly was interested in mysteries that dealt with the human condition,” says Buettner, a National Geographic fellow. Through that research, he found several factors that might prolong health and life for people in blue zones. “Longevity is a consequence of constant, longterm little things,” Buettner says. “There’s no silver bullet.”

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Old people have been millions of years in the making

Monday, 16 September, 2013

Old people, in this instance anyone aged thirty or over, are the not so gradual result of several million years of human evolution and development… people really just didn’t get “old”, or passed age thirty in the distant past, it’s something that only started happening relatively recently.

Anthropologist Rachel Caspari of Central Michigan University used teeth to identify the ratio of old to young people in Australopithecenes from 3 million to 1.5 million years ago, early Homo species from 2 million to 500,000 years ago, and Neanderthals from 130,000 years ago. Old people – old here means older than 30 (sorry) – were a vanishingly small part of the population. When she looked at modern humans from the Upper Paleolithic, about 30,000 years ago, though, she found the ratio reversed – there were twice as many adults who died after age 30 as those who died young.

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Even though we want more life, living to 90 isn’t a bad innings

Wednesday, 14 August, 2013

Even though advances in medical science may allow us to live healthy, active, lives up to age 120, most US adults see living to age 90, and not much longer, as being ideal:

Given the option, most Americans would choose to live longer than the current average. Fully 69% of American adults would like to live to be 79 to 100 years old. About 14% say they would want a life span of 78 years or less, while just 9% would choose to live more than 100 years. The median ideal life span is 90 years.

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Why do women often outlive men? It comes down to mitochondria

Monday, 6 August, 2012

Women tend to outlive men by about four years, and up until now the difference in lifespans had been attributed to things like testosterone, and men’s general inclination to engage in risky behaviour. Some joint Australian-British research however has found that women are less prone to certain cell mutations than men, and this may account for their longer lives:

Both men and women have mitochondrial DNA but researchers from Monash University in Melbourne and Lancaster University in Britain found only females were immune to mutations carried in the mitochondria, which is found in every cell of the body. This “evolutionary quirk” means males are more susceptible to the mutations, negatively affecting their life expectancy. “A significant genetic difference in lifespan between men and women can be traced back to the mitochondria,” said the Monash University evolutionary biologist Damian Dowling. “This difference is not caused by hormonal differences between the sexes, such as testosterone in males, or to risk-taking behaviour. It’s genetic.”

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Your colleagues may need a government health warning

Thursday, 18 August, 2011

Annoying colleagues may be more than a mere (or not so mere) nuisance… their antics may be detrimental to your health and even longevity

In particular, the risk of death seemed to be correlated with the perceived niceness of co-workers, as less friendly colleagues were associated with a higher risk of dying. While this correlation might not be surprising – friendly people help reduce stress, and stress is deadly – the magnitude of the “friendly colleague effect” is a bit unsettling: people with little or no “peer social support” in the workplace were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study, especially if they began the study between the ages of 38 and 43. In contrast, the niceness of the boss had little impact on mortality.

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See you next millennium… here’s some tips for living that long

Thursday, 10 March, 2011

Twelve “unusual” tips for living a longer – possibly eternal – life, including advice to eat less and exercise more.

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Only the jerks die young, to live long longer become conscientious

Tuesday, 8 March, 2011

Live fast, or hard… and die young, in the longevity stakes its the well-behaved, conscientiousness, and confident, who will outlive the rest of us.

Studies have shown for nearly 20 years that the key personality trait that predicts longevity is conscientiousness. In one long-term study, students judged by their parents and teachers to be conscientious as 12-year-olds were more likely to be alive when researchers followed up 64 years later. Surprisingly, though, the same study found that cheerfulness was related to greater mortality risk, suggesting that happy, popular kids turn out to be at greater risk for disease later on, perhaps because they feel overly confident about their abilities to defeat life’s difficulties.

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