Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Jonathan Weiner comes a fast-paced and astonishing scientific adventure story: has the long-sought secret of eternal youth at last been found?
In recent years, the dream of eternal youth has started to look like more than just a dream. In the twentieth century alone, life expectancy increased by more than thirty years—almost as much time as humans have gained in the whole span of human existence. Today a motley array of scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs believe that another, bigger leap is at hand—that human immortality is not only possible, but attainable in our own time. Is there genius or folly in the dreams of these charismatic but eccentric thinkers?
In Long for This World, Jonathan Weiner, a natural storyteller and an intrepid reporter with a gift for making cutting-edge science understandable, takes the reader on a whirlwind intellectual quest to find out. From Berkeley to the Bronx, from Cambridge University to Dante's tomb in Ravenna, Weiner meets the leading intellectuals in the field and delves into the mind-blowing science behind the latest research. He traces the centuries-old, fascinating history of the quest for longevity in art, science, and literature, from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare, Doctor Faustus to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
And he tells the dramatic story of how aging could be conquered once and for all, focusing on the ideas of those who believe aging is a curable disease. Chief among them is the extraordinary Aubrey de Grey, a garrulous Englishman who bears more than a passing resemblance to Methuselah (at 969 years, the oldest man in the Bible) and who is perhaps immortality's most radical and engaging true believer.
A rollicking scientific adventure story in the grand manner of Oliver Sacks, Long for This World is science writing of the highest order and with the highest stakes. Could we live forever? And if we could...would we want to?
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
It is difficult to rate the book as a whole, for the first two of the three parts were excellent. I found it to be a faster-paced read than most fiction, yet I still learned quite a bit. The writing style is that of a memoir. It is, essentially, a memoir of the parts of the author's life wherein he learned about gerontology. We begin by finding out that the reason aging is so hard to study is because, as opposed to our orderly and predictable development, aging is chaotic. Every person ages differently. This provides natural arguments for almost any theory, making it difficult to narrow down the field. We go on to learn several different theories and possible solutions to the problem of aging, which were fascinating. I liked how the author explains the theories in several different ways to ensure comprehension. I disliked how many references there were to the Bible and to Shakespeare. Referencing religious texts decreases the credibility of any science book. The third part of the book was a huge disappointment. I thought the author would go further in depth into current research and findings, but instead he completely changed directions. The science book turned into a philosophy text, with the author discussing different opinions on the desirability and feasibility of immortality. The one part of this section that interested me as food for thought: hydra (multicellular creatures) live forever. They do that by constantly shedding old cells and growing new ones. The price they pay for living forever, then, is that their memories are replaced along with the old cells and they have no historical memory.
Review: Long for This World: The Strange Science of ImmortalityUser Review - Goodreads
This book was a bit disappointing. how can you write a book about immortality without mentioning Ponce De Leon and his search for the fountain of youth. That being said I have learned that immortality ...
THrEE Life and Death ofa Cell
FOUr Into the Nest of the Phoenix
SIx The Garbage Catastrophe
SEVEN The Seven Deadly Things
EIGHT The Methuselah Wars
NINE The Weakest Link
TEN Long for This World
ELEVEN The Trouble with Immortality
TWELVE The Everlasting Yes and No