Chapter 1: Is Death Optional?

Immortal animals, zombie-killing pills and super-centenarians

Meet the longest lived human ever -- Jeanne Calment

"When Calment agreed to be moved to a nursing home at the age of 110 (after she had almost set her house on fire by trying to defrost pipes with a self-made torch — long story), she made three demands: that the staff would provide a hotel-style bed turndown service for her;that every day she would be woken up fifteen minutes before everyone else so that she had time to primp herself; and, that the head doctor would allow her to call him “my dear”. Yes, she was bossy. But above all, she was an optimist, something that Robine speculates was at least in part responsible for her longevity...." [excerpt from Growing Young]

The oldest ever person on Earth, Jeanne Calment (lived to be 122 years old) -- here in 1895 at the age of 20

Meet the immortal animal: Hydra:

Perfect animal to observe the wear-and-tear of aging: Caenorhabditis elegans

  • Are aging and death unavoidable?

  • Why are some animals immortal?

  • Why do people rarely live beyond 115?

  • Was there anything unusual about the longest lived human ever, Jeanne Calment?

  • Are we any close to inventing longevity pills?

  • Answers to these questions (and much more!) in the book