Saturday, January 4, 2020

Predicting future – Do you want to know whether you will turn 100


Most humans exhibit a passion (or perhaps arising out of fear) to know what future holds for them.  From time immemorial people have resorted to knowing the future though some would question the rationality of reading the future or fortune telling, as they call it.  There are Psychics – some who possess ability to perceive information hidden from normal senses through extrasensory perception (ESP).  Many believe in horoscopes and astrology.  Astrology is stated as the Science of foretelling the future of people.


There are some astrologers who use animals for foretelling.   Astrologers  with green parrot in cage, parrot sliding out of the cage, picking up a card and fortune being read from the carrot is common.  There are people who carry slender loris too….    If your memory is not weak, you would recall the Octopus who made predictions during the Football WC – Paul the Octopus received  International recognition after he correctly predicted Germany’s win over England and made four more correct predictions after that.  Challenging the Octopus was a Parakeet called Mani, a Malaysian-born  Rose-ringed Parakeet resident of  Singapore and  an astrologer 'assistant' engaged in fortune prediction.    In Western countries also, there is tarot and tarot readers – pack of cards used by mystics and occultists in efforts at divination.

 

So, Mankind’s anxiety to know how long one would live and how well – appear insatiable.  I heard a Doctor advice that ‘nobody comes with a fixed shelf-life and the expiry date is never known’.  Now there is a report in Daily Mail which states that a simple Blood test will tell whether one would live to be 100 -  but will people be truly interested or would they be afraid to know their future scientifically.

The report mentions of Scientists working on a blood test which, should we really want to find out, would reveal who will be a centenarian.  Researchers identified 281 genetic markers associated with longevity after examining 800 pensioners with an average age of 104 along with a control group of people of all ages. Many in the study had managed to reach their advanced age despite unhealthy lifestyles. This led U.S. scientists at Boston School of Medicine to conclude that their genes appeared to ‘trump’ that behaviour.  Using only genetic data, they were able to predict those who had lived past 102 with 71 per cent accuracy and beyond 105 with 85 per cent accuracy.  Lead author Prof Thomas Perls, associate professor of medicine, said: ‘Many of the genes we found have already been associated with Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and free radical damage which plays an important role in age-related diseases.

 ‘That’s very interesting because the evidence we have seen suggests that super-centenarians do not become disabled until they are in their 90s – they seem to delay or avoid age-related diseases. ‘Environmental factors are very important in living a long life but beyond the 90s there is an increasingly important genetic component that takes these people above the average.’  The researchers say that  living beyond 100 involves a ‘very complex’ genetic mix and cannot be explained by one or two genes alone.  So advanced studies would foretell the longevity accurately through blood tests. 

Whether through Science or otherwise, life is great and interesting only  because of its uncertainties and trying to know it could only create new type of complications. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
Feb 2012

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