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This Week at Physics

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Event Number 3484

  Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
Human Longevity: Where are we going and how are we getting there?
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin Hall (Refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Alberto Palloni, UW Department of Sociology
Abstract: Our species has been around for 250,000 years or so. During nearly 249,800 of these, life expectancy at birth was steady at a level hovering around 25 years. But over the last 200 years, that is 0.1 percent of our species' lifetime on the planet, life expectancy at birth increased from about 25 years to about 80 years or, equivalently, Homo added 2.6 months of life per year. Some countries have cruised along with a pace of gains in survival twice as large as this average. It turns out that, on average and contrary to most past forecasts, life expectancy at birth has been going up linearly for a long time.

How did this happen? Can we keep it going? Aside from occasional setbacks (HIV, collapse of social organizations, wars, Ebola(?)) can one harbor the hope that by the year 2050 newborn cohorts will be expected to live 90-100 years? And if so, how healthy could the 90% of newborns who will make it to their 90th birthday expected to be? And what does this do to the course of human evolution?
Host: Clint Sprott
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