“[A] searching and surprisingly witty look at the scientific odds against tomorrow.”
Jonathan Weiner—winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and one of the most distinguished popular science writers in America—examines “the strange science of immortality” in Long for This World. A fast-paced, sure-to-astonish scientific adventure from “one of our finest science journalists” (Jonah Lehrer), Weiner’s Long for This World addresses the ageless question, “Is there a secret to eternal youth?” And has it, at long last, been found?
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2010: With the bookshelves full of deathless vampires these days, it's refreshing to read about immortality in the real world for a change. In Long for This World, Jonathan Weiner, who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Beak of the Finch, has written an elegant, curious, and personal account of the modern scientific search for a Fountain of Youth. The search for immortality has long been seen as a fanciful, alchemic quest, and the study of aging a mere biological backwater, but recent advances in both evolutionary and molecular biology have made the prospect of finding a cure for our apparently inevitable deterioration seem tantalizingly reachable, at least to figures like Aubrey de Grey, the bearded, beer-drinking English researcher whose impossibly confident drive toward thousand-year life spans is at the center of Weiner's tale. Is Weiner convinced? He's appealingly skeptical, and clear enough in explaining the science to make us equally so: if aging is a disease, it's at least as complicated to cure as cancer (and in fact would require us to cure cancer, along with everything else that hunts us down). But he presents the optimists' case with verve and appreciation, making their quest to exceed our human limits into a wonderfully human story. --Tom NissleyFrom the Back Cover:
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Jonathan Weiner comes a fast-paced and astonishing scientific adventure story: has the long-sought secret of eternal youth at last been found?
In recent years, the dream of eternal youth has started to look like more than just a dream. In the twentieth century alone, life expectancy increased by more than thirty years—almost as much time as humans have gained in the whole span of human existence. Today a motley array of scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs believe that another, bigger leap is at hand—that human immortality is not only possible, but attainable in our own time. Is there genius or folly in the dreams of these charismatic but eccentric thinkers?
In Long for This World, Jonathan Weiner, a natural storyteller and an intrepid reporter with a gift for making cutting-edge science understandable, takes the reader on a whirlwind intellectual quest to find out. From Berkeley to the Bronx, from Cambridge University to Dante's tomb in Ravenna, Weiner meets the leading intellectuals in the field and delves into the mind-blowing science behind the latest research. He traces the centuries-old, fascinating history of the quest for longevity in art, science, and literature, from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare, Doctor Faustus to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
And he tells the dramatic story of how aging could be conquered once and for all, focusing on the ideas of those who believe aging is a curable disease. Chief among them is the extraordinary Aubrey de Grey, a garrulous Englishman who bears more than a passing resemblance to Methuselah (at 969 years, the oldest man in the Bible) and who is perhaps immortality's most radical and engaging true believer.
A rollicking scientific adventure story in the grand manner of Oliver Sacks, Long for This World is science writing of the highest order and with the highest stakes. Could we live forever? And if we could...would we want to?
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