We’re all living longer, but not too long

An international study has concluded that 115 is as good as it gets in terms of human lifespan, and it is unlikely to surpass this. Data from 41 different countries has indicated that more people are living longer, particularly in the 70+ category, however there has been no increase in the number of people living beyond 100. The most prominent theory to explain this is that the body fails at this age as a consequence of genetic programs that regulate growth and development. Therefore, it has been advised more effective measures to extend lifespan should focus on slowing the ageing process.

It may be a while before you win your Nobel prize.

In the latter half of the 20th century the average age of Nobel laureates for Physics, Chemistry and Medicine have steadily inclined. 2016 proved to be no exception, the winners of the Nobel prizes in these disciplines were all over 65 years old, most over 70. This is in stark contrast to the first half of the 20th century, when the average age of Physics laureates was 47. Despite many of the significant discoveries being made much earlier in a scientist’s life, the impact and recognition for the work can take decades to manifest. The trend is blamed on increasing competition and knowledge, put simply, there used to be fewer scientists and more ‘big stuff’ to discover. As a young researcher, you may be dreaming of the day your hard work is recognised with a Nobel Prize, however it is likely you will have to wait quite some time.

You can’t fool a chimp

A ‘Planet of the apes’ scenario may be increasingly more realistic, as yet another study has investigated the social intelligence of apes, including chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans. Recent work published in Science uncovered that apes are able to guess the beliefs of others, even if they know these beliefs are wrong. This was discovered by tracking the eye movements while showing the animals videos. In the movies a man would place an item in a specific place, which would later be removed. When the man returned for the items, the apes would look to the place where it was originally. This was interpreted as anticipation the man would look there. The study provides evidence that apes have the cognitive ability to ‘place themselves in someone else’s shoes’, a quality believed to be distinctly human.


Written by: Rosemary Pike