Today, there are some scientists who study human aging who say that 122 years of age is the at or near the limit of human longevity. The official record of a longest lived human (with verified evidence) is Jeanne Calment who lived 122 years.
The 4 minute mile for running was believed for decades by many scientists and people as a barrier that could not be physically surpassed.
In 1925, The Scientific Monthly had an article- The Physiological Basis of Athletic Records. This scientist proposed a theory of oxygen intake that would limit humans to 4 minute 40 second mile times. The bottom chart under 1 m (which refers to one mile).
Interestingly, there were 4 minute 12 second times by 1886. There was a 4 minute 10 second time by 1923.
From 1937-1946 the records for the mile went from 4:06 to 4:01.
It took til 1954 for Roger Bannister to break the barrier with 3:59.4. In the reporting, they said that dozens of medical journals reported that it was physiologically impossible for the human body to break through the barrier.
Thousands have broken the 4 minute mile and the record is at 3 minutes 43 seconds.
How about human longevity?
Here is the official top ten.
There are claims of ages older than 122 years and 164 days.
It can be noted that bad record keeping (wars, lack of birth records in some countries) prevents verification. We do not know if there have been many people older than 122.
Another observation is that the official recognized list only has 4 people over 117. If those four people get hit by cars or some other accident happens to them, then some aging scientists would be trying to justify 117 as the limit.
How about people staying active into very old age? Robert Marchand was a competitive cyclist in age group races until he was 106 and still road a 20 kilometer ride when he was 108. The oldest professional actor was 104. There have been masters swimmers over 100.
In the wild, a gorilla’s lifespan is around 35-40 years, but they often live longer in captivity, sometimes for over 50 years. The oldest gorilla ever recorded was a female western gorilla at the Columbus Zoo that reached the ripe old age of 60 before dying in 2017.
There are cases of extremely long lived pet cats, pet dogs and pet mice. A pet dog lived to over 30 years of age. A pet cat lived to 38. The oldest living mouse (a pacific pocket mouse) in human care lived past nine years and 209 days. In captivity, Pacific pocket mice may live four to six years; in the wild, mice may live one to two year.
We have not tried to enable a comprehensive system of optimal aging health management. We have difficulty having any monitoring of what is good to eat, bad to eat or how to live. There is now substantial evidence that getting enough sunlight is very important to health. The excessive usage of sun screen could be a net detriment. People who get a lot of the right wavelengths of sunlight are healthier without getting skin cancer and if they get skin cancer it does not kill them.
If there was comprehensive measurement of all organ and system function in the body and how it relates to health aging then we could monitor and understand organs, cells, blood etc… and determine what the net good and bad impacts are. AI/simulations could be made for each individual. We could create effective interventions to help people stay healthy and active for longer with daily or hourly or real time monitoring, feedback and tracking.
Crude behavior and diet guidelines have resulted in longevity improvement for large human groups. Data from the study of Seventh Day adventist link their diet to less cancer and coronary heart disease. Specifically: On average Adventist men live 7.3 years longer and Adventist women live 4.4 years longer than other Californians.
Jeanne Calment who lived to 122 years in the wild. She did not have the optimal life for taking care of herself.
Unlimited Young and Health Cells
New research published in Stem Cell Reports from Jinyong Wang and colleagues with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Guangzhou Medical University has now optimized a combination of proteins, so-called transcription factors, which when introduced in mouse PSCs convert them to HSPCs in the dish.
When transplanted into mice with impaired HSPCs, the PSC-derived cells generated all types of white blood cells over a period of six months. Importantly, the transplanted HSPCs did not give rise to tumors or leukemias in the receiving mice.
This proof-of-principle data suggests that PSCs can serve as a limitless source of transplantable HSPCs but future work is required to obtain HSPCs that maintain high levels of blood cell production over extended periods of time and, of course, to see whether this process would work in humans.
The stem cell approach could also be used to restore bone marrow.
Prof John Rogers and his team at Northwestern University have made tiny artery exploring robots. These could be used for microsurgery and monitoring within the body. Smaller than a flea, the crabbot is not powered by complex hardware, hydraulics or electricity. Instead, its power lies within the elastic resilience of its body. To construct the robot, the researchers used a shape-memory alloy material that transforms to its remembered shape when heated. In this case, the researchers used a scanned laser beam to rapidly heat the robot at different targeted locations across its body. A thin coating of glass elastically returns that corresponding part of structure to its deformed shape upon cooling.
Instead of wheelchairs, people could have soft exoskeletons that can assist with balance, walking and running. This would enable people to safely stay active without worrying about falling. They will be able to exercise and not lose physical functions. The downward spiral from loss of mobility can be prevented or reduced.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.