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SAGE KE Bulletin Board

Impetus for Studying Aging?

21 September 2002

Richard A. Miller

After seeing the Disney version of Peter Pan, I decided it might be nice to stay young forever. Mom told me that no one had figured out yet how to do this, and she suggested I ought to take a crack at it.

As a scientific field, biogerontology has two advantages, a disadvantage, and a feature that could be either, depending on how you view the matter. The first advantage is that progress in aging has more potential to prevent disease than progress in anything else. The second advantage is that the field is a frontier, far less populated than more mature fields; it's possible to find lots of important unexplored problems that (almost) no one else is working on. The disadvantage is that for a variety of reasons biogerontology is a scientific backwater, combining the financial support of major league croquet with the prestige of a job as night shift manager at the 7-11 in Deverette, Utah. Finally, gerontology poses the same kind of intellectual challenge as infectious disease in the miasma era or thermodynamics in the phlogiston era: we know so little about what's really going on that we can be confident of our approach only if we aren't paying much attention. This leads to oscillations between depression and mania.

Rich Miller

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Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150