Saturday, August 26, 2017

Robert Conquest's Summary of Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" (and other stuff)

I've read Conquest but had never seen this.

The $1 Billion Misunderstanding of Aging
Robert Conquest, a historian of Soviet Russia and a poet, once summarized Shakespeare’s 28-line poem, “The Seven Ages of Man,” in five lines. They go like this:
  • Seven Ages: first puking and mewling
  • Then very pissed off with your schooling.
  • Then fucks and then fights.
  • Then judging chaps’ rights—
  • Then sitting in slippers—then drooling.
For biotech researchers and entrepreneurs who see aging as an engineering problem to be solved, the goal is to halt the process somewhere, I imagine, between the third and fourth lines. They want to grow up but not grow old, because once you’re old, things start going wrong. “The current system in healthcare is a whack-a-mole of your symptoms until you die,” Joon Yun, the founder of the Race Against Time Foundation, told Nautilus. “It addresses the diseases of aging, but not curing the underlying process behind aging itself. The healthcare system is doing a good job of helping people live longer and stronger lives, but aging is still a terminal condition.”

It’s also still a concept without a clear definition. Nevertheless, scientists have a rough idea. Leonard Hayflick, a co-founder of the National Institute on Aging and a past president of the Gerontological Society of America, says aging is “the result of the accumulation of unrepaired changes or losses in molecules (a catabolic process).” Research on aging, he says, tries to answer the question: “Why do things ultimately go wrong?”
“The study of Alzheimer’s Disease and even its resolution will tell us nothing about the fundamental biology of aging.”
In his Ingenious interview, we recently asked Hayflick how scientists might make some progress on it. Focus on the fundamentals, he said, rather than what’s gone wrong....