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Mr. P. J. Feakins (Surrey, England)

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Why we age: Insight into the cause of growing old
Why we age: Insight into the cause of growing old
Price: £4.45

3.0 out of 5 stars A novel, interesting and well-informed theory of aging, sadly let down by many factual inaccuracies, 10 Jun. 2014
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I was incredibly excited to read an article about how during the 60s the (then 26 year old) author was painfully aware of his mortality and made up his mind to conquer aging by the age of 40!

To say that Dr Walker has an impressive CV is an understatement of the highest order. Having worked for large pharmaceuticals at the top levels (such as a Director of R&D at SmithKline Beecham), earned many degrees, masters, doctorates and post-doctorates, held many academic positions and positions in aging research institutions, he has been in the field his entire working life.

I was absolutely shocked then, as nothing more than an interested amateur myself, to find factual errors that could only be described as "schoolboy".

Dr Richard Walker claims that:

- No animals on earth are immortal.
Has Dr Walker never heard of Hydra, Turritopsis dohrnii, Lobsters(!) or Planarian flatworms?

- Death has no evolutionary benefit.
If Dr Walker had read The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, he'd realize that the unit of selection is not the organism but the gene itself and therefore if it was beneficial for an organism for its parents to die (to free up resources etc.) then the trait would be selected for. A real-life example is an octopus that dies after it gives birth so its offspring can feed on its body. There are many others.

- If all beings were immortal originally, aging could not have evolved.
A strange argument, but seeing as mutations can occur, any new trait can suddenly appear by random chance even if no ancestor has ever had it.

- Animals in the wild die before they age.
There are many examples of species where it is the ones who are old that become weak and slow because of aging and are therefore eaten. Interestingly the lobster does the opposite and mortality does not correlate with age.

- An aeroplane that keeps climing would stall and crash.
An analogy in the book of the main theory, that developmental inertia causes aging is that a plane that kept going upwards would eventually get too high, stall and crash. In fact, it's more likely to level off at a point where the air is so thin that it can only generate enough lift to maintain its height. With a constant input of energy (which an organism has) it could stay like this indefinitely. This flaw with the analogy perhaps applies to the theory itself.

- There is no selective pressure 10 years after reproduction.
A theme touched on many times throughout the book is that aging is an accident of evolution and that after the young have been raised there is no selective pressure whatsoever on an organism to stay fit and healthy. If you look at how humans (as just one example) have evolved you'll see that grandparents have long played a role in the process of raising children. Surely if a parent was killed for example, a child with fit, healthy grandparents would be at an evolutionary advantage and therefore the gene for longevity would be selected. Over a long enough time period, evolution will select for traits that have even the most miniscule advantage.

- Immortal animals would have no evolutionary advantage.
Dr Walker seems to contradict himself here but surely an organism that lived forever would be in a far better position to raise many more young, all of which contained that longevity/immortal gene. This is a very strong evolutionary advantage.

- Sexual reproduction is the cause of aging.
There are many organisms that reproduce asexually but do age.

- The human lifespan is the longest of any warm-blooded organism.
I suspect Dr Walker made this claim because his theory depends on life expectancy correlating with the age of reproductive maturity plus the length of time required for offspring to become independent. This is very long in humans. Considering the oldest known human was 122 years old, what about the oldest known examples of these species:
Bowhead Whales (211 years old)
Macaw (111 years old)
Orca (101 years old)
Considering that almost all 7 billion humans record their age and many live in very safe conditions with no few threats, it's safe to conclude that it's many orders of magnitude more likely for a human to reach a very advanced age than an animal so it may be that many animals could indeed outlive us considerably, even those that reach reproductive age far earlier.

The above points don't disprove the theory put forward by the author, and it's probably fair to say that almost by definition a breakdown of homeostasis is what causes death from old age.

The author postulates that a breakdown in the timing of the hormonal cycles driven by the pituitary gland as part of the endocrine system are the cause of senescence and eventually death and he cites the cause of this breakdown as the developmental inertia continued from the body's rush to reach sexual maturity. This he says is allowed to happen by accident because there is no selective pressure after children have been raised and therefore evolution does not influence the changes that occur in the human body after this.


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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Broke After a Month!, 25 Jan. 2014
I really trust Amazon reviews and bought this beard trimmer because it has so many 5 star ratings.

I previously had a Philishave beard trimmer that lasted over 10 years - so I'm a careful user of my beard timmers! Unfortunately the plastic that clips the blade of this beard trimmer in place broke after about 1 month of careful (weekly) use. It still works just about but very inefficiently.

I ended up buying it on eBay before but the seller had disappeared so there was no chance of a refund. I will be buying another beard trimmer but not this one and not on eBay!


Macromedia Flash MX 2004 ActionScript 2.0 Dictionary
Macromedia Flash MX 2004 ActionScript 2.0 Dictionary
by Macromedia
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

4.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just a Reference, 18 Aug. 2006
I don't really agree with the other negative reviews. We have used this book at work for some time now, and if it's always been very helpful. If you don't like the articles, don't read them, but I have found them really helpful.

This is more than just a reference or a dictionary, it has in depth and well-written accounts of object oriented programming. In fact, it has some of the best writing on the subject I've seen.

A great book - I'm just about to buy another copy.


Rachmaninoff: Life, Works, Recordings
Rachmaninoff: Life, Works, Recordings
by Max Harrison
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Academic and reminiscent of a text book, but with some interesting passages., 17 July 2006
I've been a big fan of Rachmaninoff for many years, and read this book as more of an interested layman than a musical scholar.

It made incredibly dry reading, but had some interesting passages that offered insight about Rachmaninoff as a person.

Mainly though, this weighty volume was full of Opus numbers, dates, and the author's account of Rachmaninoff's music. Infact the majority of the text in the book appears to be the author's notes on what happens in each piece. Obviously the music is great to listen to, but this commentary isn't great to read.

If you like Rachmaninoff's music but aren't a musical scholar, I'd suggest looking elsewhere as this really isn't an enjoyable read.

I can't deny that this is a well researched book but the sentences are overly complex and designed merely to make the author sound intelligent and well-read.

It may suit professional musicians or those in serious study of Rachmaninoff, but not those who would just like to know a bit more about a man whose music they adore.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2016 11:00 PM BST


The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal
The Naked Ape: A Zoologist's Study of the Human Animal
by Desmond Morris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book about the human condition., 18 Feb. 2001
A truly enlightening account of the human condition. Using a scientific approach, refering to Darwinian theory, Desmond Morris explains many of the physiological and phsychological characteristics of human beings. This book seems to hit the nail on the head and although written over 30 years ago, still makes perfect sense.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 11, 2011 12:25 PM GMT


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