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The Long and the Short of It: The Science of Life Span and Aging Hardcover – October 21, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Potatoes live longer than kings," sighs ecologist Silvertown (An Orchard Invisible) in this whimsical book on aging. Aging is a complex topic, but the author mixes art, science, and humor to brew a highly readable concoction, presenting one aging theory after another. For instance, the "rate of living" hypothesis—live fast, die young—may be defunct, but Silvertown instills awe for the science that tried to make it work: researchers gauged the metabolism of water fleas by simply capturing them in jars, and counting the visible heartbeats in their near-transparent bodies. He also asks why postmenopausal women live longer than men. The latest studies say that in certain periods of human history, grandmothers who stopped reproducing channeled their energies and became useful secondary caregivers. But grandfathers who reproduced their entire lives apparently didn't feel pressured to become otherwise useful—and went "redundant." Indeed, reproduction comes with longevity tradeoffs throughout nature. But the ultimate answer to why we die likely has to do with Nobel Prize–winning immunologist Peter Medawar's casual observation that the aged make diminishing contributions to future generations. Silvertown's engaging tour through this enigmatic science ends wondering whether stem cell research will let us sidestep aging altogether. Who knows? (Nov.)

About the Author

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (October 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226757897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226757896
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jonathan Silvertown's compact new book, "The Long and the Short of It", details why things live so long (or not so long as the case may be). It delves into the human, animal and plant world and offers some fascinating information. I knew of course, that women went through menopause but the female members of our closest cousins, the chimpanzees, do not. There's a great chapter called, "Live Fast, Die Young", and his research on why plants live the longest is terrific. Occasionally, the book bogs down in scientific speak, but otherwise this is a fun and informative read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book, honestly. At my age, I should probably be more interested in longevity, but what I enjoyed most was , first the humor, and second, the image of the train.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book that taught me many different concepts on animal aging and human aging. I am studying the subject matter for a living and this book gave me incite that I did not have before on the aging process across organisms and why aging was not solved by evolution.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written scientist's book , as much details for a layman to muster, on repeated reading. Highly recommended for and familiarize a mature view of life.
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By Bud on March 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're not depressed about the idea of dying, then this book will fill you with new information. The quotes and anecdotes are enjoyable and worth repeating.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As implied by the author, there is nothing new or unheard of in this book. It is a compilation of some of the facts that are out there.
There is no central driving theme and each chapter stands on its own. Some are downright boring (Thankfully it is a small book). So I wouldn't recommend it for a high school student's (science) reading list.
This book is ideal for a doctor's or dentist's waiting room where the average wait-time (past the appointed time) is an hour or more and one picks up whatever throwaway is on the table.
Start with the last chapter (the only one worth any of your time) and by the time you finish it the doctor's aid will usher you in to the exam. room.
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