How long can a human live for? | New Scientist Weekly podcast 180 | Summary and Q&A

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April 6, 2023
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New Scientist weekly podcast
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How long can a human live for? | New Scientist Weekly podcast 180

TL;DR

Humans may start living longer based on a study analyzing birth and death records, and researchers have reimagined the double slit experiment with a new twist.

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Key Insights

  • 💡 Theoretical calculations suggest that average human lifespan may continue to increase, challenging the idea of an innate limit.
  • 🧔 Advancements in modern medicine and hygiene have contributed to longer lifespans in people born after 1910.
  • ⌛ Researchers have reimagined the double slit experiment by separating the slits in time, resulting in a different interference pattern.
  • 😀 Child asylum seekers in Australia have faced dire conditions in detention centers, resulting in nutritional deficiencies, lack of routine vaccines, and high rates of mental health issues.
  • 🥹 Holding children in detention centers exacerbates mental health issues due to poor living conditions and uncertainty.
  • 🧠 Brain scanning techniques reveal that the brain's waste disposal system may be activated during intense mental stimulation.
  • 🗑️ Poorly functioning waste disposal systems may be implicated in neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why hasn't the maximum human lifespan increased despite improvements in average lifespan?

The latest study challenges the idea of an innate limit on the human body by analyzing birth and death records, suggesting that advancements in medicine and hygiene have contributed to longer lifespans in people born after 1910.

Q: How does the new version of the double slit experiment work?

Instead of having slits in a card, researchers use a special material that becomes reflective when a laser is shone at it. By separating the laser pulses in time, they create a new interference pattern that affects the frequency of the light.

Q: What were the findings of the study on the health of child asylum seekers in Australia?

The study found that child asylum seekers in detention centers had high rates of nutritional deficiencies, absent routine childhood vaccines, mental health issues, and developmental concerns.

Q: Why are mental health difficulties high among these children?

The study suggests that holding children in detention centers exacerbates mental health issues due to poor living conditions and the uncertainty of their situation, leading to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • A theoretical calculation suggests that humans may start living longer, challenging the idea that there is an innate limit to the human lifespan.

  • The study analyzed birth and death records from 19 countries, revealing a trend of longer lifespans in people born after 1910 due to advancements in modern medicine and hygiene.

  • Researchers have conducted a new version of the double slit experiment by separating the slits in time using a special material that transitions from transparent to reflective with laser pulses.

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