Must we age?
A long life in a healthy, vigorous, youthful body has always been one of humanity's greatest dreams. Recent progress in genetic manipulations and calorie-restricted diets in laboratory animals hold forth the promise that someday science will enable us to exert total control over our own biological aging.
Nearly all scientists who study the biology of aging agree that we will someday be able to substantially slow down the aging process, extending our productive, youthful lives. Dr. Aubrey de Grey is perhaps the most bullish of all such researchers. As has been reported in media outlets ranging from 60 Minutes to The New York Times, Dr. de Grey believes that the key biomedical technology required to eliminate aging-derived debilitation and death entirely - technology that would not only slow but periodically reverse age-related physiological decay, leaving us biologically young into an indefinite future - is now within reach.
In Ending Aging, Dr. de Grey and his research assistant Michael Rae describe the details of this biotechnology. They explain that the aging of the human body, just like the aging of man-made machines, results from an accumulation of various types of damage. As with man-made machines, this damage can periodically be repaired, leading to indefinite extension of the machine's fully functional lifetime, just as is routinely done with classic cars. We already know what types of damage accumulate in the human body, and we are moving rapidly toward the comprehensive development of technologies to remove that damage.
By demystifying aging and its postponement for the non-specialist listener, de Grey and Rae systematically dismantle the fatalist presumption that aging will forever defeat the efforts of medical science.
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A Roadmap for Conquering the Scourge of Aging
I know of the narrator's work in podcasting, and she really nails this. She has a PhD in biochemistry, and the enthusiasm of the narration demonstrates a real familiarity with the material. The science can get pretty dense in this book, but Stephanie's voice always keeps you engaged.
As of the time of writing this review, I've only listened to about a third of the book. This is a dense subject, and if you have an interest in life extension (as I do), you'll want to take your time with it. The introductory section lays out the book's arguments in a broad sense before delving deeper into the details of cell biology and the causes of aging-related damage.
De Grey also smashes any argument against pursuing the goal of ending aging, but, admittedly, I was already convinced of the urgency of his project before I started listening. It's bold, but there is no reason why humans should die as early as we do, and all avenues must be exploited to end this menace. De Grey shows the way in demonstrating how cell damage occurs and how it can eventually be reversed.
The one major fault in this book is that it was published nearly a decade ago, and there have been further advances in understanding and possibly treating aging since then. I would love to see a revised and fully updated version.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this audiobook from the narrator.
Here's to the human future!!!!
- Tyrone Anderson