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Aging Happens by Default


Today, we have a talk by Dr. Alvaro Macieira-Coelho, who discusses how aging is a consequence of thermodynamics and entropy. Quite simply, aging is the default for most species.

Earlier this year, we hosted the Ending Age-Related Diseases 2018 conference at the Cooper Union, New York City. The event was focused on bringing the worlds of research and investment in the rejuvenation biotechnology field together and saw a number of talks and panels focused on research and investment.

Dr. Alvaro Macieira-Coelho is a research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research – INSERM. His talk was about how aging is the default behavior and that life is a balance between entropy and the availability of free energy. Essentially, due to the second law, all species progress through changes, and they age as their ability to resist entropy declines.

However, that is not to suggest that aging cannot be brought under medical control via intervention; this talk simply demonstrates how aging is hardwired into the majority of species and is the default.

The second law of thermodynamics is sometimes used as a reason why increased lifespans are not possible, but this is due to a misunderstanding of what the second law really means in terms of biology; even many scientists get this wrong. While it is true that entropy makes aging the default, it does not preclude rejuvenation in an open system, and as living animals, we are open systems. If this were not so, then our children would be born aged rather than young, but they are not.

It is perfectly plausible to take an open system and impose order upon it to reduce its level of entropy. This happens all the time, and we are surrounded by examples of this constantly, in the natural world and in the technology we use. We repair the damage caused by entropy to our cars, we paint our fences periodically to prevent rot, and, in the same way, we could potentially use medicine to periodically repair the damage that aging does.

We hope you enjoy the talk and the insights into why aging is the default, but the jury is most certainly still out on the defeat of aging.

About the author

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 600 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, as well as attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve is one of three recipients of the 2020 H+ Innovator Award and shares this honour with Mirko Ranieri – Google AR and Dinorah Delfin – Immortalists Magazine. The H+ Innovator Award looks into our community and acknowledges ideas and projects that encourage social change, achieve scientific accomplishments, technological advances, philosophical and intellectual visions, author unique narratives, build fascinating artistic ventures, and develop products that bridge gaps and help us to achieve transhumanist goals. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.
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