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The Clock of Ages: Why We Age, How We Age, Winding Back the Clock [Kindle Edition]

John J. Medina
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A few gray hairs and a couple of wrinkles are often the first visible signs of aging on our bodies. For most of us, however, aging remains largely a mystery. We can only wonder why we have to age and what casualty of age hovers nearby. Written in everyday language, The Clock of Ages takes us on a tour of the aging human body--all from a research scientist's point of view. From the deliberate creation of organisms that live three times their natural span to the isolation of genes that may allow humans to do the same, The Clock of Ages also examines the latest discoveries in geriatric genetics. Sprinkled throughout the pages are descriptions of the aging of many historical figures, such as Florence Nightingale, Jane Austen, Billy the Kid, Napoleon, and Casanova. These stories underscore the common bond of senescence that unites us all. The Clock of Ages tells us why.


Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is simply a fantastic book. Research scientist Medina (bioengineering, Univ. of Washington Sch. of Medicine) discusses what death is, what it is not, and the biological process of how we get there. He is able to take general readers through very complex and involved biological concepts and leave them asking for more. Medina explains the normal operation of separate body systems, such as the skin or the brain, and how the aging process affects them. He includes ample illustrations to summarize difficult concepts. Interesting asides about noted historical figures are strewn throughout the text to help illustrate the topic at hand. For instance, Medina uses a story about Rudolph Valentino's demise to talk about aging and death. (The movie star never aged because he died young.) This is the best biology book written for the lay public to appear in many years. Recommended for all libraries.?Eric D. Albright, Galter Health Sciences Lib., Northwestern Univ., Chicago
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Aging is a universal human experience, yet even now a poorly understood one; Medina's book is an accessible summary of what we know. Medina (Bioengineering/Univ. of Washington) begins with a brief description of his own mother's life and last days, which inspired him to investigate the aging process. The text then turns to a discussion of the biological meaning of aging and death. A key point is that death is not the simultaneous failure of an entire organism; it is the failure of some key component, such as the heart or lungs, that brings about the end. Medina thus devotes the middle portion of the book to an examination of how each system of the body changes with age. The skin wrinkles, the bones weaken, the lungs lose their capacity to oxygenate blood. But the processes do not proceed at the same pace; half the nerve cells in the occipital cortex will die before a human reaches old age, but almost all those in the thalamus will survive. Vision and hearing deteriorate, but taste buds actually regenerate. Each chapter is introduced with a brief biography of a person whose death in some way illuminates the system under discussion and adds human interest: Goya for the brain, Elizabeth Barrett Browning for the heart, Casanova for the reproductive system. Finally, Medina looks at aging from the biochemical perspective. One theory suggests that aging is a result of cumulative errors in the reproduction of an organism's cells; another, that it is programmed into the genes and promoted by toxic waste products of metabolism. (There is good evidence for both.) Finally, strategies to combat aging are discussed: exercise, a moderated diet, the replacement of certain hormones that decrease with age. While no one has discovered a way to prevent aging and death, Medina ably brings together what we know about these inevitable processes and provides insight into possible avenues of future research. (47 line drawings) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 7517 KB
  • Print Length: 348 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (March 29, 1996)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001F0RIYK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,254 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
(6)
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A journey into the mechanics of aging March 24, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Reading this book reminded me of a ride I once took at Disneyland where everything gets bigger and bigger so that you feel as if you are being reduced to microscopic size. You then travel into the human body, then a cell and then see the molecules that make them up. Medina starts with the human face of ageing - the final moments in the life of his aged mother - and then takes us on a journey from the outward signs of ageing to the molecular machinery which makes what he calls the "clock of ages" tick.
Despite our anxieties of "getting old" ageing starts long before we see wrinkles or grey hair. In fact, ageing is a complex developmental process which starts at conception. Despite taking such a biological view Medina never loses sight of the individual. The effects of ageing on the lives of many famous people are interspersed through the book with amazing facts about the body: Florence Nightingale was a hypochondriac who spent most of her adult life in bed and each of us contains about 60,000 miles of blood vessels!
Some in the field claim that our exploding knowledge of the mechanics of cellular renewal and DNA will see us living twice or three times our current life spans in approximately 30 years.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Clock of Ages" Makes for Good Time February 1, 1997
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
"The Clock of Ages" by John J. Medina is subtitled 'Why We Age, How We Age, Winding Back the Clock.' Dr. Medina more adequately addressed the 'Why' and the 'How' of aging than the 'Winding Back the Clock.' As might be expected from a molecular biologist, Medina is at his most technical and most detailed when he is describing the major theories of aging--error accumulation and programmed death. Generally, he succeeds in clarifying technical concepts for the non-technical reader. The book is liberally seasoned with historical vignettes, analogies and diagrams. "Clock" clarifies various definitions of aging, different philosophies of aging and various theories of the biochemistry of aging. At the same time we are introduced to such diverse people as Casanova, Billy the Kid, Isadora Duncan, Alfred Nobel and Florence Nightingale. The vignettes of these people often liven up the book, but at times the analogies made from person to concept are a bit of a stretch.
Medina serves as a tour guide of the aging body with stops at the skin and hair; the bones, the muscles and joints; the brain; the heart; the lungs; the digestive system; the senses; and the sexual anatomy and physiology. "Clock" is mostly a story of decline and fall of the human body with predictions about future high-tech genetic and hormonal antidotes.
The third part of the sub-title 'Winding Back the Clock' only consumes 17 of 316 pages which is not in balance with the other two parts. Medina acknowledges but underplays the role of diet and exercise in winding back the clock. And although Dr.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting book December 29, 2005
By Laura
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this didactic book, but I was a little dissapointed at the end.... I thought he was going to talk more about diet and life style, but he didn't. Maybe in a future edition, who knows. Anyway, it's a very good book, you should read it.
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More About the Author

John Medina, author of the New York Times bestseller "Brain Rules," is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is an affiliate professor of bioegineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University.



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