Why We Die: The New Science of Aging and the Quest for Immortality

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Why We Die: The New Science of Aging and the Quest for Immortality

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"Utterly fascinating." —Bill Bryson

"An incredible journey." —Siddhartha Mukherjee

"[Ramakrishnan] has a knack for making biology accessible, and he brings a searching philosophical sensibility when considering the wisdom of seeking to extend life." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A groundbreaking exploration of the science of aging and mortality—from Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Venki Ramakrishnan

The knowledge of death is so terrifying that we live most of our lives in denial of it. Throughout human history—from the immortal afterlife of Judeo-Christian thought to the cycle of reincarnation posited by many Eastern religions—we have developed beliefs that allow us to avoid recognizing its finality. One of the most difficult moments of childhood must be when each of us first realizes that not only we but all our loved ones will die—and there is nothing we can do about it.

Or at least, there hasn’t been. Today, we are living through a revolution in biology. Giant strides are being made in understanding why we age—and why some species live longer than others. Could we eventually cheat disease and death and live for a very long time, possibly many times our current lifespan?

Venki Ramakrishnan, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and former president of the Royal Society, takes us on a riveting journey to the frontiers of biology, asking whether we must be mortal. Covering the recent breakthroughs in scientific research, he examines the cutting edge of efforts to extend lifespan by altering our physiology. But might death serve a necessary biological purpose? What are the social and ethical costs of attempting to live forever?

Why We Die is a narrative of uncommon insight and beauty from one of our leading public intellectuals.

Venki Ramakrishnan shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for uncovering the structure of the ribosome. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Venki runs the Ramakrishnan Lab at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. From 2015 to 2020, he served as president of the Royal Society, one of the world's oldest scientific organizations. He is the author of the frank scientific memoir Gene Machine.

ISBN: 9780063113275

ISBN-10: 9780063113275

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: 03/19/2024 - 12:00am

On Sale: 03/19/2024 - 12:00am

Pages: 320

Language: English

Categories

Science / Life Sciences / Biology

Social Science / Death & Dying

Psychology / Developmental / Adulthood & Aging