Seven Scientists Describe Seven Kinds of Aging

The novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez struck an optimistic note about aging: “The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time,” he once wrote. On the other hand, Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, was a bit less sentimental: “It happens fast for some people and slow for some, accidents or gravity, but we all end up mutilated.” Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg likened aging to becoming a myth.

In common understanding, there may be as many types of aging as there are years of age. Is it different in science? To unravel this complexity—or perhaps add to it—Nautilus spoke to scientists and scholars from a wide range of disciplines about their own perspectives on aging.

Caleb Scharf Astrobiologist, director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center at Columbia University

The first thought that comes to my mind is “planet age.” We have this prejudice that young planets might give rise to life, and old planets cannot, even though we have no

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