Media Coverage and Discussion of the Article
"The Reliability Theory of Aging and Longevity"
Journal of Theoretical Biology, 2001, 213(4): 527-545

Media Coverage:

Excerpts from Spontaneous Scientific Discussion on the Internet

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On 24 Dec 2001, Tom Kobzina wrote:
> This theory ("Reliability Theory of Aging
> and Longevity") claims that aging is a
> direct consequence of systems redundancy.
> J Theor Biol 2001 Dec 21;213(4):527-545
> The Reliability Theory of Aging and Longevity.
> Gavrilov LA, Gavrilova NS.
> The full text of this article is at:
> The Concluding Remarks section has a summary of the theory.


A nice paper -- Thank you. I read it front to back.
Aging means that the probability of death increases
with age (time) -- the Gompertz law, human mortality
rate doubling time of approx 8 yrs, yielding an
exponential mortality rate distribution.
With n = number of survivors at time t,

dn/dt = -k2*n*exp**(a*t)

If the probability of death were constant with age,
we wouldn't age, but still would all eventually die --
following the Weibull (power) law distribution.
With n = number of survivors at time t,

dn/dt = -k1*n

And the general mortality curve (Gompertz-Makeham law)
containing both aging and non-aging components:

dn/dt = -k1*n - k2*n*exp**(a*t)

-- Warren

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Thanks for this abstract and link to the full paper. This is a very
interesting theory!!

I worked with reliability modeling for 15 years and
suspected that this same modeling approach could be applied to modeling
animal lifetimes.

Doug Younkin

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Tom and all:

The paper originally noted by Tom, "The Reliability Theory of Aging and
Longevity," is quite interesting and I think provides a pointer in the
direction of how to understand the aging process.

The main point of the paper is that animal aging looks just like a system of redundant elements
that do not age, but fail randomly. "Redundant elements" means that an
organism has many ways to cope and still remain alive.
 Now I could grasp what kind of redundancy might be in my own life that would
deteriorate as I age. It is as simple as counting what faculties of life I
still have or have lost.   ...

So, on a macroscopic scale, my ability to remain alive depends on how many
ways I have left of coping with my environment. At some point, I will be in
the situation of the "straw that broke the camel's back": one more loss of
capability and I die. Sort of obvious, but this way of looking at mortality
of a population of organisms seems to explain the Gomperz rate of aging
(mortality rates increase exponentially with age, doubling about every eight
years) until old age, then non-Gomperz aging rate (flattened tail, with a
constant failure rate) in the very oldest old.

Doug Younkin

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Hi Doug,
You might say that the endocrine and autocrine hormones comprise redundant systems

Tom Kobzina