The history of our Extra Life

Lessons for Longevity

I was very taken by this piece by the author Steven Johnson, in the Health issue of the NYT, based on his upcoming book and series "Extra Life" - the history of how we doubled life span. It made me think that Longevity might have a similar trajectory: no moon landing or Elon Musk, but a series of "nanoevents" that lead to mass adoption.

Not good news for all the SpaceXs or Silicon Valleys of Longevity or whatever gets someone the crown of most Longevitist of them all, however an overall win for society.

An advanced thank you to all the silent pioneers, scientists, advocates who are working for what could be the next "The Great Escape", the term coined by Nobel-laureate economist Angus Deaton of the breaking through the ceiling that had limited Homo sapiens.


Some big takeaways:

  • The story of our lifespan is a non-story. For me, it struck a chord as in our pitch deck, we remind investors, that doubling lifespan was a huge breakthrough. The problem now is a lot of this extra life is spent sick. This is why longevity matters.

  • Doubling lifespan was not a going to the moon moment, it was closer to universal suffrage and the abolition of slavery; progress that required new social movements.

    We should be inspired to correct our vision: Clean water, vaccines, antibiotics - things we now take for granted - took time - and it was all of them combined that made the difference.

Pretty sure longevity will be a combination of many things as well. Not one person, or company, (or fund), but a compound of many occurrences.

  • Life expectancy held steady for most of human history - and one day - it just changed. Good news for Longevity!

  • British aristocrats were the first to increase average life expectancy. So yes...dear mass media, it will be most likely billionaires who get life extension first.

In the case of the aristocrats, it was the daring woman that was Lady Montagu, who brought inoculation to this class.

  • No matter, it reached the masses, if with a caveat: the advancement of smallpox was overwhelmed by industrialization.

This begs the question, will climate change be our industrialization moment that puts the breaks on advancements on longevity?

  • Progress won't happen with scientific discovery alone. It will require crusading journalism, (hopefully of the less clickbait type), activism, politics.

    And in this new era, memes and creators?

  • It was the fight for Pasteurized milk that brought truly egalitarian life expectancy, and it is an incredible account of several mass interventions over a very long time:

    It took half a century between Pasteur discovering sterilization (Pasteurization), to a department-store impresario named Nathan Straus advocating for this and paying for depots providing this milk to poor children in New York. In 1907, Straus told an assembled mass of protesters, “The reckless use of raw, unpasteurized milk is little short of a national crime.”

    It is astounding to me that the food and agriculture industry has been insidious for so long...and if anything it is bigger than ever: it is the number one industry in the world.

    Straus’s advocacy attracted the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt, and it took until the early 1920s for sterilized milk to reach mass adoption. "Originating in 19th-century science but not implemented at scale until the early 20th century".

I hope that scientific discovery, the work of so many scientists, startups, and advocates, makes Longevity a reality and gives "Extra Life" to Steven Johnson so he can write the sequel to his book


Anyone not on Clubhouse yet? Please join us HERE, we have an amazing lineup talking to a lot of the pioneers that are part of Longevity’s ongoing history.

Click here for scheduled links


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Please note all ESL grammar and typos are original. Laura