why do we die?

Mary K. Kuhner mkkuhner at phylo.genetics.washington.edu
Thu Oct 26 10:44:25 EST 1995

In article <schwarze.ccomail-2610950102450001 at> schwarze.ccomail at starbase1.caltech.edu (Erich Schwarz) writes:
>Jonah Thomas wrote:

>> Also we're looking at a _long_ feedback loop.  Come up with a better 
>> gene product that should aid old people, and it may be 80 years before 
>> you find out how well it works really.  Try too many different things at 
>> once and they may interact strangely.

>    Well, yes, but you *could* try them in mice first.

I went to a lecture some years ago on the use and misuse of mouse as a
model for man.  One of the points made was that mice do *not* do the
same kind of aging in their two year lifespan that humans do in their
eighty--and indeed, it's hard to see how they could.  It's also rather
hard to assess personality changes in mice.  A common topic in science
fiction is the cure for aging that sacrifices some desirable property
such as continuity of memory or personality....

It might be hard to find young, healthy volunteers who'd try something
supposed to make them a little healthier and longer-lived fifty years
later.  This is an interesting model of what evolution may be
"thinking".  If the organism has to put in resources at age 20 in order
to live to age 100, is it worth the bother?   After all, death due to
other causes may make the investment a total waste.

Mary Kuhner mkkuhner at genetics.washington.edu
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