The Long And The Short Of It: The Science Of Life Span And Aging

Hardcover | October 21, 2013

byJonathan Silvertown

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Everything that lives will die. That’s the fundamental fact of life. But not everyone dies at the same age: people vary wildly in their patterns of aging and their life spans—and that variation is nothing compared to what’s found in other animal and plant species. A giant fungus found in Michigan has been alive since the Ice Age, while a dragonfly lives but four months, a mayfly half an hour. What accounts for these variations—and what can we learn from them that might help us understand, or better manage, our own aging?

With The Long and the Short of It, biologist and writer Jonathan Silvertown offers readers a witty and fascinating tour through the scientific study of longevity and aging. Dividing his daunting subject by theme—death, life span, aging, heredity, evolution, and more—Silvertown draws on the latest scientific developments to paint a picture of what we know about how life span, senescence, and death vary within and across species. At every turn, he addresses fascinating questions that have far-reaching implications: What causes aging, and what determines the length of an individual life? What changes have caused the average human life span to increase so dramatically—fifteen minutes per hour—in the past two centuries? If evolution favors those who leave the most descendants, why haven’t we evolved to be immortal? The answers to these puzzles and more emerge from close examination of the whole natural history of life span and aging, from fruit flies, nematodes, redwoods, and much more.
 The Long and the Short of It pairs a perpetually fascinating topic with a wholly engaging writer, and the result is a supremely accessible book that will reward curious readers of all ages.

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From the Publisher

Everything that lives will die. That’s the fundamental fact of life. But not everyone dies at the same age: people vary wildly in their patterns of aging and their life spans—and that variation is nothing compared to what’s found in other animal and plant species. A giant fungus found in Michigan has been alive since the Ice Age, while...

Jonathan Silvertown is professor of ecology at the Open University, Milton Keynes, and the author or editor of a number of books, including, most recently, An Orchard Invisible. He lives in Milton Keynes.

other books by Jonathan Silvertown

Introduction to Plant Population Biology
Introduction to Plant Population Biology

Paperback|Nov 28 2001

$105.29 online$130.99list price(save 19%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.8 inPublished:October 21, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226757897

ISBN - 13:9780226757896

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

1. Death and Immortality: Destination

2. An Hourglass on the Run: Life Span

3. After Many a Summer: Aging

4. The Eternal Thing: Heredity

5. Green Age: Plants

6. The Visionary Solution: Natural Selection

7. Semele’s Sacrifice: Suicide

8. Live Fast, Die Young: Pace

9. Forever Young? Mechanisms

Appendix: Scientific Names of Species Mentioned in Text

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

"Packed with cultural allusions and useful scientific shorthand."