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a velvety March evening in Mandeville Canyon, high above the rest of Los Angeles, Norman Lear’s living room was jammed with powerful people eager to learn the secrets of longevity.
“I have the idea that aging is plastic, that it’s encoded,” he said.But Rothblatt suggested that the evening marked an inflection point. Norman Lear, still vigorous at ninety-four, closed the night by saying, “Seven years ago, I wrote a pilot script for a TV show called ‘Guess Who Died? I just learned the first time, there will be more people on Earth over the age of sixty-five than under the age of five. The idea that age could be manipulated by twiddling a few control knobs ignited a research boom, and soon various clinical indignities had increased the worm’s life span by a factor of ten and those of lab mice by a factor of two. Age went from being a final stage (a , 1970: “Growing Old in America: The Unwanted Generation”) to something avoidable (1996: “Forever Young”) or at least vastly deferrable (2015: “This Baby Could Live to Be 142 Years Old”).Turning to Dzau, she declared, “It’s gratifying to have the epitome of the establishment, the head of the National Academy of Medicine, say, ‘We, too, choose to make death optional! of Verily, a life-sciences firm owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Lear continued, “So what I wish to offer you is, we have a stage now to get some of the things you’ve said tonight out to a national audience.” More applause: the message would spread! Death would no longer be a metaphysical problem, merely a technical one. Gordon Lithgow, a leading researcher, told me, “At the beginning, we thought it would be simple—a clock!When Liz Blackburn, who won a Nobel Prize for her work in genetics, took questions, Goldie Hawn, regal on a comfy sofa, purred, “I have a question about the mitochondria.I’ve been told about a molecule called glutathione that helps the health of the cell?