Over at boingboing, guest blogger Charles Platt has initiated a series of posts in which he looks at lifespan projections graphical form (the first two are histograms). He’s staying very close to the primary data, but it’s clear from some of his prose and comments that Mr. Platt would fit in just fine around here:

The good news is that the longer you live, the longer you are likely to live. Thus, at birth in the United States, under conditions that prevail today, you can expect to live for a little more than 75 years. But at age 75, on average you still have another 10 years left. How can this be? Because some of the people who were born around the same time as yourself have already died by the time you’re 75, leaving only a subset who were less susceptible to disease (or accidents).

The bad news is that despite all our advances in medicine, sanitation, and other relevant factors, the chart still tapers off around age 100. Average lifespan has increased, but maximum lifespan has not changed significantly.

One reason may be that research to prolong maximum lifespan receives minuscule funding, especially compared with popular endeavors such as cancer research. Many people seem to feel that extending maximum lifespan would be “wrong” (even at a time of rapidly declining birth rates in many nations) or “unnatural” (even though our average life expectancy used to be around 40, and has improved through totally unnatural means such as antibiotics).

As you may infer from the quotation marks, I disagree. …

How will our current prediction turn out fifty years from now? Presumably the answer depends on our priorities. If lives are worth saving, perhaps it will make sense to fund more research into the aging process.

I’ll keep a running tab of his lifespan-related posts here; at present I have no idea how many of them he plans to run.

Always nice to encounter a fellow traveller.