Gongol.com Archives: July 2007
Brian Gongol

July 31, 2007

Graphics Graphic of the day: Infinite Expectancy

Water News Mississippi tributary is low in oxygen and high in pollution

Computers and the Internet Rising floodwaters put London's Internet access at risk
That could be catastrophic, especially for the financial markets there

Science and Technology Is infinite life expectancy just over the horizon?
One futurist thinks that life expectancy could increase by more than one year per year in just 15 years. In other words, if you can make it until then, you could expect a reasonably good statistical chance at an indefinite lifespan. Which raises an interesting prospect: If the natural limitations to life expectancy (like heart disease, cancer, or just old age) are done away with, then wouldn't that leave accidents as the sole remaining cause of death? And, if that were the case, would everyone simply slow down at just about everything? An indefinite life span would create its own sort of bizarre relativity.

It should be noted, though, that forecasts of this type assume a smooth rate of progress which compounds itself in a predictable pattern. That's clearly not the case. Life expectancies superficially appear to have risen in a smooth pattern over the last 100 years:

Life expectancies from 1900 to the present, with forecasts from 2000 through 2050

But in reality, the rate of change is variable. In terms of months of life added per year, the increase is extremely volatile:

Additional months of life added per year

Over the last 100 years, US life expectancies have risen by 5 years in a single decade (for newborns, between 1910 and 1920) and fallen by more than a year (for 65-year-olds, between 1900 and 1910). Those changes translate into almost six months in gain per year or a third of a month of loss per year. While that variability will probably render the "unlimited life by 2022" prediction inaccurate, the fact that there have been periods of high rates of growth should itself be confirmation that we may have the potential to extend life expectancies almost indefinitely.

Related: Intense pulses of visible light may be able to kill viruses without harming human cells.

News Venezuela's oil industry could be stuck in a "significant operational emergency"
Venezuela is the fourth-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States. Meanwhile, Berkshire Hathaway is dumping shares in PetroChina, and Belarus is "on the brink of economic collapse", in part because they don't have enough money to pay for Russian oil and gas.

News After almost 30 years, first charges laid against Khmer Rouge

Computers and the Internet Firefox update released

Threats and Hazards Iran shopping for 250 Russian-built fighter jets
Meanwhile, the US is selling $63 billion in arms to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE

News What are we getting for $12 billion a month?
House Budget Committee wants answers from the Pentagon about the ongoing costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

News British girl scouts say #1 priority is learning to manage money
They also have an interest in learning how to practice safe sex, though money comes first. Given the amount of irresponsibility so many people show with their dollars, it's a good sign. In a related bit of goofiness, "vegansexuals" say they'll only sleep with people who don't eat meat.

News Papal aide says he's worried about Muslim domination of Europe
What really matters anywhere is not the predominant religion but the predominant respect for secular rights and freedoms

Science and Technology Rating biofuels for their environmental benefits
Related: Print-at-home solar panels might only be a few years away. The efficiency of solar cells is rapidly increasing, and is getting close to 50%.

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