The Clock of Ages: Why We Age, How We Age, Winding Back the Clock / Edition 1

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A few gray hairs and a couple of wrinkles are often the first visible signs of aging on our bodies. For most of us, however, aging remains largely a mystery. We can only wonder why we have to age and what casualty of age hovers nearby. Written in everyday language, The Clock of Ages takes us on a tour of the aging human body--all from a research scientist's point of view. From the deliberate creation of organisms that live three times their natural span to the isolation of genes that may allow humans to do the same, The Clock of Ages also examines the latest discoveries in geriatric genetics. Sprinkled throughout the pages are descriptions of the aging of many historical figures, such as Florence Nightingale, Jane Austen, Billy the Kid, Napoleon, and Casanova. These stories underscore the common bond of senescence that unites us all. The Clock of Ages tells us why.

Appropriate for: Patients, Lay Public.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...Medina presents the research in a readable, even amusing, fashion...Diagrams accompanying each section help explain the aging process in a clear and meaningful way...Recommended." Bonnie Morris, Book Report

"If you're one of the many who confront the mysteries of aging every time they look in the mirror, this book may be for you." Ellen Emry Heltzel, Portland Oregonian

"It's one thing to do the work of science--testing, experimenting, discovering. It's another to communicate that work with those science serves. John Medina is one who does the latter in exemplary fashion." Bill Dietrich, Seattle Times

"...a fascinating book about aging and what it means to the human body." Bob Trimble, Dallas Morning News

"...this fascinating book takes us on a comprehensive tour of our aging bodies, inside and out...Clearly illustrated and very readable, the book approaches what is often a taboo subject with both humor and humanity." The Good Book Guide

"The author, a molecular biologist and unusually gifted writer-interpreter from the esoteric world of high science...will leave even the scientifically illiterate with some understanding of the complex and mysterious ways of the 60 trillion cells that make our bodies tick...Medina's reporting and his insights challenge and expand the mind." Natalie Davis Springarn, Washington Post

"...the best illustrations on aging and the body I've seen recently in a mass market publication..." John A. Cutter, St. Petersburg, FL Times

"An entertaining and edifying book with a cast of characters including Oscar Wilde and Billy the Kid as a bonus." Roy Herbert, New Scientist

"This is simply a fantastic book...the best biology book written for the lay public to appear in many years." Eric D. Albright, Library Journal

"...the most reader-friendly book to date about growing old....From this unique-and some would say optimistic-perspective, Medina attempts to humanize aging and death." Medical and Health Annual

Library Journal
This is simply a fantastic book. Research scientist Medina (bioengineering, Univ. of Washington Sch. of Medicine) discusses what death is, what it is not, and the biological process of how we get there. He is able to take general readers through very complex and involved biological concepts and leave them asking for more. Medina explains the normal operation of separate body systems, such as the skin or the brain, and how the aging process affects them. He includes ample illustrations to summarize difficult concepts. Interesting asides about noted historical figures are strewn throughout the text to help illustrate the topic at hand. For instance, Medina uses a story about Rudolph Valentino's demise to talk about aging and death. (The movie star never aged because he died young.) This is the best biology book written for the lay public to appear in many years. Recommended for all libraries.-Eric D. Albright, Galter Health Sciences Lib., Northwestern Univ., Chicago
Kirkus Reviews
Aging is a universal human experience, yet even now a poorly understood one; Medina's book is an accessible summary of what we know.

Medina (Bioengineering/Univ. of Washington) begins with a brief description of his own mother's life and last days, which inspired him to investigate the aging process. The text then turns to a discussion of the biological meaning of aging and death. A key point is that death is not the simultaneous failure of an entire organism; it is the failure of some key component, such as the heart or lungs, that brings about the end. Medina thus devotes the middle portion of the book to an examination of how each system of the body changes with age. The skin wrinkles, the bones weaken, the lungs lose their capacity to oxygenate blood. But the processes do not proceed at the same pace; half the nerve cells in the occipital cortex will die before a human reaches old age, but almost all those in the thalamus will survive. Vision and hearing deteriorate, but taste buds actually regenerate. Each chapter is introduced with a brief biography of a person whose death in some way illuminates the system under discussion and adds human interest: Goya for the brain, Elizabeth Barrett Browning for the heart, Casanova for the reproductive system. Finally, Medina looks at aging from the biochemical perspective. One theory suggests that aging is a result of cumulative errors in the reproduction of an organism's cells; another, that it is programmed into the genes and promoted by toxic waste products of metabolism. (There is good evidence for both.) Finally, strategies to combat aging are discussed: exercise, a moderated diet, the replacement of certain hormones that decrease with age.

While no one has discovered a way to prevent aging and death, Medina ably brings together what we know about these inevitable processes and provides insight into possible avenues of future research.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521594561
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 332
  • Sales rank: 1,045,014
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Introduction; Part I. Who Ages?; Introduction; 1. A slippery overarching definition; 2. Humanizing ageing and death; 3. Why age at all?; Part II. How Do We Age?; Introduction; 4. How the skin and hair age; 5. The ageing of bones, muscles and joints; 6. The ageing of the brain; 7. How the heart ages; 8. The ageing of the lungs; 9. What happens to the digestion; 10. How the senses age; 11. The ageing of the reproductive system; Part III. Why Do We Age?; Introduction; 12. A tale of two theories; 13. Error accumulation; 14. Programmed death; 15. Winding back the clock; Conclusions; Further reading; Index.
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