No scientific advances inspire more media hype than ones in gerontology, the study of aging. Even the crustiest editors have been known to turn giddy when new light is shed on the topic and take to blowing raspberries at the Reaper with headlines suggesting immortality elixirs are just around the corner.
Biologists aren't so easily wowed, though, and before the mid-1990s they generally saw gerontology as a dismal bog where once-promising peers sank out of sight, or worse, re-emerged clutching beakers of snake oil. Compelling logic underlay the dismissiveness: Natural selection has sculpted our genes to care about getting to the next generation, not about keeping our bodies youthful for a long time. Thus, soon after we reach reproductive age, our genes' preservative influence fades, and escalating random damage sets in. Studying the details of this inexorable, chaotic decay seemed a waste of time to most life scientists. And attempting...
David Stipp is a freelance science writer, formerly with the __Wall Street Journal__ and __Fortune__, who has extensively covered gerontology since the late 1990s. One of the key inspirations for his new book on the topic was a linkurl:2006 article; in __The Scientist__ calling for pursuit of the "longevity dividend" promised by anti-aging research. He recently launched a blog on aging science at his website,;

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