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Today in mixed emotions: The human life span may have no upper limit

Emma Morano celebrates her 117th birthday last fall. (Photo: Xinhua News Agency / Getty Images)

In case you haven’t seen Logan yet, living way longer than the average person isn’t all it‘s cracked up to be. In fact, it kind of sucks. You see, although centenarians disagree on the secret to a long life—117-year old Emma Morano, currently the oldest living person on Earth, says that she eats three eggs every morning—111-year-old Agnes Fenton’s prescription of three Miller High Lifes and a shot of Johnnie Walker Blue Label a day seems to be, sadly, very much a minority opinion.

So it’s with a healthy fear of our own mortality and a bowl of wheat germ that we relate a story that recently ran in The Guardian about a series of papers printed in the journal Nature, suggesting that the human life span has no naturally occurring upper limit. Professor Jim Vaupel from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research tells the paper, “at present the balance of the evidence suggests that if there is a limit it is above 120, perhaps much above—and perhaps there is not a limit at all.” And Professor Siegfried Hekimi of McGill University in Montreal predicts that by the year 2300, the oldest person on Earth will be around 150 years old. In a delightfully spiteful turn, all this new research seems to have been prompted by the desire to refute another recent paper, which suggested that human life maxes out at around 115 years.


With the proper advancements in medical care, then, a person could theoretically live for centuries, watching the world get dumber and dumber for decades upon end in their own private hell. But hey, at least we could fix the whole “friends and family slowly dying before our eyes” part of the “immortality = suffering” equation, right? Only time will tell.

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