Extra Life: A short history of living longer

Extra Life: a short history of living longer

Human lifespans doubled in less than a century!! But I don’t see this as miraculous. So how did it happen?

This is a 4-part series, and part 1 (on vaccines) starts tonight on PBS. Will be available for streaming.

Sounds interesting. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal book makes it clear that longer life is not always better. Health makes a huge difference and not all the variables can be controlled. Still I hope to stick around as long as I can still get around to walk my dogs and keep up the garden. Being able to keep the head straight makes a difference too.

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It is sort of interesting watching myself and others age, and noting that as you approach death from old age, it becomes less an evil and becomes eventually a welcome respite.

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But it’s always better to live beyond 30 or 40, right?

I remember 30 and 40 very fondly. 50 was well worth it but in my 60’s is when I started needing upgrades.

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With my first few dogs every time I brought my decrepit old dog to the vet, they’d put them down but scold me about making them suffer. With the most frequent few I’ve been consciously trying to stick the landing by sending them off on the first day they had no interest in food or sniffing anything. I intend to put that knowledge to work for the missus and I, though the sniffing won’t be one of our tells.

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Part 1 was fascinating!!!
To think that for most of our existence our average life expectancy was 32 years!

It is now streaming:
Vaccines

Thanks for including the link. Watching it now.

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I’m definitely interested in looking it later on. I have always been told and read in various books that humans lifespans have not actually increased. But our life expectancy has increased due to scientific breakthroughs but that if you did not fall ill and die thousands of years ago you would have lived just as long as we do now.

Just checked to see if the next part was on tonight. Not locally for me at least. But tonight on KQED at 10 pm there is something called Human: The World Within which came out this year so possibly new. The blurb on my television says: “Go deep into the world of the human gut, which processes the fuel our bodies need to keep going.” A little past my bedtime but what the heck, I slept well last night.

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It seems that episodes will be shown weekly, so watch for part 2 next Tuesday.

Here’s the Episode List:

Episode 1 | Vaccines

Discover the role vaccination plays in our growing ability to prevent the spread of illness. Travel through the remarkable history of vaccines and learn how new ones are developed when never-before-seen diseases emerge.

Episode 2 | Medical Drugs

Learn about the surprisingly recent invention of medicine that combats illness directly, such as antibiotics. From the accidental discovery of penicillin to today’s hunt for antivirals, this history underpins work to find COVID-19 treatments.

Episode 3 | Data

Track the importance of data mapping and analysis in the quest to improve public health. The painstaking work of past data detectives made us aware of epidemic “curves” as well as the extent of health inequalities among different U.S. communities.

Episode 4 | Behavior

Understand the importance of persuading the public to protect themselves during health crises.

It seemed to me that episode 1 has the potential to persuade at least some of the vaccine deniers. I plan on sending the link to a friend in San Diego who is a little out there on a couple topics.

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“Extra Life” is based on a new book, and you can read parts of it
here

There was also the NY Times article which I had previously posted.

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You can stream part 2 now:

Medical Drugs

Learn about the surprisingly recent invention of medicine that combats illness directly, such as antibiotics. From the accidental discovery of penicillin to today’s hunt for antivirals, this history underpins work to find COVID-19 treatments.

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This was so interesting. I hope somebody will watch it. It seems that Pfizer started as a company that made citric acid for soda. Then they started to tackle antibiotics. The rest is history.

I still hope to watch this but things are a little busy lately.

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Part 3 of this series was on this evening and may be streamed here.

It tracks the importance of data mapping and analysis in the quest to improve public health. The painstaking work of past data detectives made us aware of epidemic “curves” as well as the extent of health inequalities among different U.S. communities… Dr. Francis Collins appears in this episode.

I finally got to see the one on penicillin today. Very well done.

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The biggest change is that child mortality rates are about a quarter of what they were 2000 years ago.

No. In the course of the past 100 years we have doubled our average lifespans with such things as vaccines, antibiotics, clean water, etc.

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