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Today, we have a talk by Dr. Alvaro Macieira-Coelho, who discusses how aging is a consequence of thermodynamics and entropy. Quite simply, aging is the default for most species.

Earlier this year, we hosted the Ending Age-Related Diseases 2018 conference at the Cooper Union, New York City. The event was focused on bringing the worlds of research and investment in the rejuvenation biotechnology field together and saw a number of talks and panels focused on research and investment.

Dr. Alvaro Macieira-Coelho is a research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research – INSERM. His talk was about how aging is the default behavior and that life is a balance between entropy and the availability of free energy. Essentially, due to the second law, all species progress through changes, and they age as their ability to resist entropy declines.

However, that is not to suggest that aging cannot be brought under medical control via intervention; this talk simply demonstrates how aging is hardwired into the majority of species and is the default.

The second law of thermodynamics is sometimes used as a reason why increased lifespans are not possible, but this is due to a misunderstanding of what the second law really means in terms of biology; even many scientists get this wrong. While it is true that entropy makes aging the default, it does not preclude rejuvenation in an open system, and as living animals, we are open systems. If this were not so, then our children would be born aged rather than young, but they are not.

It is perfectly plausible to take an open system and impose order upon it to reduce its level of entropy. This happens all the time, and we are surrounded by examples of this constantly, in the natural world and in the technology we use. We repair the damage caused by entropy to our cars, we paint our fences periodically to prevent rot, and, in the same way, we could potentially use medicine to periodically repair the damage that aging does.

We hope you enjoy the talk and the insights into why aging is the default, but the jury is most certainly still out on the defeat of aging.

About the author

Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity and the technologies to promote them, Steve has provided the community with hundreds of educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity reporter, Psychology Today and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book “Aging Prevention for All” – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).
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