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The Evolution of Aging: How New Theories Will Change the Future of Medicine


Why do we age? Scientists have been baffled by this question for centuries and disagree regarding even the general nature of aging. Is aging the result of fundamental limitations that apply to all living things, or are organisms designed by nature to age because a limited life span conveys some advantage? All of the theories either fail to fully explain observed animal characteristics or conflict with generally accepted evolution theory.

This issue has potentially enormous ...

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Why do we age? Scientists have been baffled by this question for centuries and disagree regarding even the general nature of aging. Is aging the result of fundamental limitations that apply to all living things, or are organisms designed by nature to age because a limited life span conveys some advantage? All of the theories either fail to fully explain observed animal characteristics or conflict with generally accepted evolution theory.

This issue has potentially enormous implications for medicine. If aging is the result of fundamental and unalterable forces of nature, then anti-aging medicine is impossible and anti-aging research is futile and foolish. If aging is imposed by an evolved life span regulation system, then research will likely reveal means for altering the operation of the aging mechanism and thereby improve the treatment of many age-related diseases and conditions.

This book provides a historical review of biological aging theories including underlying evolution and genetics issues and describes exciting recent discoveries and new theories that are causing renewed interest in aging-by-design. The author discusses Darwin's theory of evolution as well as more recent proposed modifications such as the selfish gene theory, evolvability theory, and group selection in connection with their effects on aging theory. A chapter is devoted to describing the aspects of modern genetics that have implications for evolution theory including the application of digital information theory to genetics.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780978870904
  • Publisher: Azinet LLC
  • Publication date: 10/28/2006
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,123,183
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

(Why Do We Age? - What Is Aging - Human Mortality - Aging and Disease - Aging Variations in Animals Evolution Fact and Theory -  Biological Design )

2. Evolution Theory

(The Theory of Natural Selection - Variation and Incremental Steps - Darwinian Evolution Requires Individual Benefit - Miscellaneous Objections - Darwin's Dilemma - Summary of Darwin's Theory - Unresolved Discrepancies with Darwin's Theory )

3. Historic Theories of Aging

(Weismann's Theory of Programmed Death - Accumulation of Damage Theories)

4. Traditional Theories of Aging

(Medawar's Mutation Accumulation Theory - Williams' Antagonistic Pleiotropy Theory - Disposable Soma Theory - Common Problems with Traditional Theories -

5. Digital Genetics and Evolution Theory

(Analog and Digital Data - Serial Digital Genetic Codes - Errors and Mutations - Genes - Meiosis and Recombination - Crossover - Unequal Crossover - Sexual Reproduction - Polymorphism - Digital Variation - Biological Plans and Schedules - Chickens and Eggs - Evolutionary Genetic Processes -

6. Discoveries Affecting Aging Theory

(Senescence of Salmon - Elephant Teeth - Fruit Fly Inheritance - Mutation Experiments - Canine Longevity - Insect Life Cycles - Spider Suicide - Bamboo - Non-Aging Species - Aging Genes - Progeria and Werner's Syndrome - Caloric Restriction - Stress and Aging - Complex Aging Interactions - Sex and Aging - Non-deteriorative Human Aging)

7. New Theories of Evolution and Aging

(Completeness of Natural Selection Theory - Evolutionary Effects of Aging - Species Semantics - Group Selection  - Complex Evolutionary Process - Inheritance Efficiency and Individual Advantage - Genetic Diversity and Individual Advantage - Genetic Diversity and Evolution - The Selfish Gene Theory of Evolution - Information Based Evolution Concepts - Programmed Cell Death - Evolvability - Death Rate and Evolvability - Adult Death Rate - Protection of Young - The Cycle of Life - Mating Rituals - Mating of the Bighorn - The Challenge Effect - Evolutionary Disadvantages of Immortality - Mechanics of Evolvability - Evolution of Intelligence)

8. Attitudes about Aging

(The Fountain of Youth - Good and Evil - Aging Attitudes Survey - Popular Attitudes about Aging - Public Knowledge About Aging - Anti-Aging Morality and Ethics - Public Opinions on Anti-Aging Research)

9. Anti-Aging Research

(Evolutionary Biology - The Indicator Problem - Aging Damage Mechanisms - Causes and Effectors - Biological Control Systems - Hormones - Impact of Theories - Anti-Aging Quacks and Scams - Maintenance Functions Versus Complex Mechanisms - Caloric Restriction Mimetics - Reversibility of Aging - Aging Research Budget -
Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor)

10. Conclusions - Implications for Medicine

(If You Think You Can't, You're Right - Evidence Summary - Research Inhibiting Factors)

11. Online Resources

(Darwin - Traditional Theories of Aging - New Adaptive Theories of Aging - Anti-Aging Research - Other Resources)

Appendix - Aging Attitudes Survey
About the Author
Notes and References

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I am sometime asked: "Why is digital communications theory im-portant to genetics, evolution, and theories of biological aging?" Biology and space communications certainly seem to be entirely unrelated.

However, there is actually an important and very interesting connec-tion. All living organisms have the ability to communicate their design characteristics to their descendents by means of their genetic codes. This inter-generational genetic communications system is strikingly similar to modern space communications systems. The genetic code is a serial digital data stream. Nature and NASA face similar issues in areas such as data redundancy, error recovery, synchronization, and data merging, and have developed similar solutions. Both systems have benefits and limitations conferred by the fundamental nature of digital communications.

Evolution is the process whereby genetic codes are modified, ini-tially as the result of "transmission error." Evolution is therefore highly dependent on the details of the genetic communications and data storage scheme including the digital benefits and limitations.

Finally, as the title of this book implies, theories of aging and anti-aging research are very constrained by evolution theory.

The merging of biology and information technology has spawned a number of new fields of science including genomics, and proteomics, under the general term bioinformatics. My main area of scientific interest concerns the consequences of the digital nature of the genetic communications system on evolution theory and thereby aging theory.

Some say Darwin was wrong. Others take the position that Darwin was 100 percent correct and that any valid deviation is "impossible." This book presents the case that Darwin was perhaps 99 percent correct. Digital genetics analysis and much other evidence suggest that minor adjustments to Darwin's theory are necessary. Although these changes have little effect on our general understanding of evolution, they have a potentially large impact on aging theory.

Some of the material in this book was originally published in 2003 under the same title. This second edition represents a major revision.

The Commission for Publication of Biological Monographs (MAIK Nauka-Interperiodika Publishers - Russian Academy of Sciences) has selected the earlier version of this material for publication in Russian.

Theodore. C. Goldsmith
September, 2006
Annapolis, Maryland

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  • Posted June 10, 2009

    A book with different perspective

    This is a book written by an engineer.Interesting analogies between electrical engineering and genetics are presented to explain the aging phenomena.
    From this point of view this book in unique and deserves to be read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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