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What makes us live longer? October 27, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben read an article two days ago that confirmed everything I believe, yet left unanswered questions. I have long assumed that, just as we perceive time as very slow when we’re young children and very fast as we get older, so every creature perceives its own span in its own terms. A mayfly’s three days pass so slowly for it that every second is an hour, every minute a year. A dog’s 12 years do indeed seem like 84. A parrot’s hundred years pass just like ours.

This is why I’ve never understood why creationists have such a beef with evolution: Who are we to say what a day is to God? Seven of God’s days might be seven million, or billion, of ours.

Anyway, this article showed a researcher’s evidence that proved that every species did indeed live as long in their terms as we do in ours. But unfortunately, I had to go move furniture and reshelve hundreds of books, and didn’t get to write the blog post I’d hoped to about the piece. When I went back yesterday to try to find it, no amount of Googling turned it up, and ditto today. (It had been on the Yahoo! home page; maybe some of you would have better luck.)

Our friend Ben is always both irritated and pleased when science manages to confirm what appears to be intuitively obvious, as in this case, or science’s continual “shocking” discovery that pets actually have emotions and animals feel pain, something every pet owner can see for themselves without requiring millions of dollars of government grants. Grrrrr!!!!

But the article went on to say something else that I had long wondered about. It noted that the species with the fastest heartbeats had the shortest lives. I have read that the heart, like any muscle, has only so much staying power, in other words, only so many beats in it. So it seemed logical to me that the slower your heart rate, the longer you’d live, much like Indian yogis who can slow their heart rate to practically nothing, like Japanese Zen monks who sit for hours, barely breathing.

But this flies in the face of Western medicine, which tells you to exercise, run, crank that heart rate up!!! If the scientists who conducted the study on animal longevity could say, in a casual toss-off remark, that it was well known that the slower the heartbeat, the longer the life, then what does that say about our frantic efforts to speed up our heartbeats at all costs?

I don’t have any answers, just the one burning question. If you can shed light on this, please help me out!