Not Elves Exactly

A couple of years ago, I read an article about a man who was doing research on longevity with fruit flies. He said that it was actually a pretty simple thing to increase their lifespan because it was just a function of how late they were able to reproduce. All you had to do was force them to wait later until they were allowed to reproduce, and the ones that were still fertile at an older age also ended up living longer. I’m making these numbers up, but for instance: A typical fruit fly hits adulthood at 14 days and lives to be 30 days total. You select for flies that can reproduce at 3 weeks old, and you get a fly that dies at 42 days, etc.

The scientist extrapolated this onto people and said that we were basically doing this to ourselves right now. How many women put off children till after college? After a career? Some women don’t start trying until they’re nearly out of their 30s. And of course, most of those that wait so long usually have a hard time getting pregnant. But some do fine. Keep that program up and you’ve got a long-term plan for increasing human lifespan, at least for a part of the population.

From here it just gets fun to extrapolate: The key to extending life is therefore postponing menopause, and everything else stretches out proportionately. Postpone menopause, you postpone puberty as well, for both sexes.

So now I’m imagining a small portion of the population, say 10 percent, that lives to be 400 years old, but by that same measure, hits puberty in their early fifties and starts thinking seriously about marriage in their 80s.

I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly…

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