Why We Age – And How We Can Stop It

Published on Oct 21, 2012
SciShow moderator Hank Green hates death. In this fast-paced, 10-minute video, Green discusses the process of aging and how scientists are studying ways to prevent it.

The show reports on the serious subject of dying by starting the show with a little humor:

“I hate death. More than 150,000 people die on this planet every day. Some of those people are getting hit by buses…but in most cases, their bodies are just succumbing to the dirty work of aging. I’m tired of it and I don’t want George R. R. Martin to die before he finishes the Game of Thrones series.”

Questions tackled in this episode are:

  • How do human cells die?
  • Why human cells die?
  • How do human genes make us age?
  • How does human behavior influence longevity?

Terms used in this episode include:

  • Senescence: the condition or process of deterioration with age, loss of a cell’s power of division and growth.
  • Cellular senescencethe phenomenon by which normal diploid cells cease to divide.
  • Negligible Senescence: the lack of the symptoms of aging in organisms.
  • Hayflick Limit: The Hayflick limit (or Hayflick phenomenon) is the number of times a normal human cell population will divide until cell division stops.
  • Longevity: the length or duration of individual life. The word “longevity” is sometimes used as a synonym for “life expectancy” in demography and is sometimes meant to refer only to especially long lived members of a population.
  • Homeostasis: The ability of a system or living organism to adjust its internal environment to maintain a state of dynamic constancy.
  • Predation: predation is a biological interaction where a predator (an organism that is hunting) feeds on its prey.
  • Somatic Cells: any biological cell forming the body of an organism (any cell other than a gamete, germ cell, gametocyte or undifferentiated stem cell).
  • Telomeres: Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.
  • Telomerase: Telomerase, also called telomere terminal transferase, is an enzyme made of protein and RNA subunits that elongates chromosomes by adding TTAGGG sequences to the end of existing chromosomes. Telomerase is found in fetal tissues, adult germ cells, and also tumor cells.
  • IGF-1: IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1 (somatomedin C)) is a protein-coding gene.
  • Nematode: The nematodes or roundworms are a diverse animal phylum inhabiting a very broad range of environments. Nematode species can be difficult to distinguish, and although over 25,000 have been described, of which more than half are parasitic, the total number of nematode species has been estimated to be about 1 million.
  • Oxidation: The chemical, reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent, is called oxidation. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death to the cell.
  • Antioxidant: An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation in cells, thus preventing damage or death to the cell.

Age researchers mentioned in the video:

Other Age-related Resources:

  • Aubrey de Grey is an English author and theoretician in the field of gerontology and the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation.
  • Methuselah Foundation: Methuselah Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to extending the healthy human lifespan by advancing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine therapies. It was co-founded in 2003 by Aubrey de Grey and David Gobel, and is based in Springfield, Virginia, United States. Methuselah Foundation Website: mfoundation
  • SENS Research Foundation: The SENS Research Foundation (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Research Foundation) is a 501 non-profit organization co-founded by MichaelKope, Aubrey de Grey, Jeff Hall, Sarah Marr and, Kevin Perrott, which is based in Mountain View, California, United States. SENS activities include research programs and public relations work for the application of regenerative medicine to aging. SENS Research Foundation
  • New Organ is an initiative of the Methuselah Foundation, a public charity dedicated to advancing and celebrating regenerative technologies to reduce unnecessary suffering and extend healthy life. The New Organ Liver Prize is the first in a series of whole organ challenges and awards designed to
    help solve the global organ shortage, which affects millions of people around the world. If successful, New Organ will help mobilize scientists, innovators, academia, government, philanthropy, and industry around the world to solve specific tangible objectives that will move us more quickly toward saving more lives.