Long Life Family Study (Heinlein's 'Howard Families') Now Recruiting
The National Institute for Aging (NIA) is now recruiting families for its Long Life Family Study. The requirements: you must be a member of a family with at least two living members aged 80 years or older, with living children living nearby.
"Other studies have indicated that longevity tends to run in families," said NIA director Richard Hodes. "The planned LFFS is designed to determine the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to longevity and the ability to escape diseases normally associated with aging such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, stroke and heart disease."
The project is expected to run five years and cost an estimated $18 milion; three recruitment sites will be located in the U.S. (NYC, Pittsburg and Boston) and one in Denmark.
The NIA's project lacks only a forward-looking element to its program to live up to a famous science-fictional quest for long life. In his 1941 novel Methuselah's Children, Robert Heinlein wrote about a group he called the Howard Families, a private group funded by a man who made millions but died at an early age.
"The first offspring resulting from unions assisted by the Howard Foundation were born in 1875.
They aroused no comment, for they were in no way remarkable. The Foundation was an openly chartered non-profit corporation--"
On March 17, 1874, Ira Johnson, medical student, sat in the law offices of Deems, Wingate, Alden, & Deems and listened to an unusual proposition. At last he interrupted the senior partner. "Just a moment! Do I understand that you are trying to hire me to marry one of these women?"
The lawyer looked shocked. "Please, Mr. Johnson. Not at all"
"Well, it certainly sounded like it."
"No, no, such a contract would be void, against public policy. We are simply informing you, as administrators of a trust, that should it come about that you do marry one of the young ladies on this list it would then be our pleasant duty to endow each child of such a union according to the scale here set forth.
Ira Johnson scowled and shuffled his feet. "What's it all about? Why?"
"That is the business of the Foundation. One might put it that we approve of your grandparents..."
He felt no affection for his grandparents. A tight-fisted foursome - if any one of them had had the
grace to die at a reasonable age he would not now be worried about money enough to finish medical
The lawyer shut off further discussion and young Johnson accepted gracelessly a list of young women, all strangers, with the intention of tearing it up the moment he was outside the office. Instead, that night he wrote seven drafts before he found the right words in which to start cooling off the relation between himself and his girl back home. He was glad that he had never actually popped the question to her - it would have been deucedly awkward.
When he did marry (from the list) it seemed a curious but not too remarkable coincidence that his wife as well as himself had four living, healthy, active grandparents.
(Read more about Robert Heinlein's Methuselah's Children)
Several other real-life advances have paralleled the course of Heinlein's novel: see HetaCool - Your Personal Antifreeze? and Young Blood Found To Revive Aging Muscles. Thanks to an alert reader who found this story on livescience. If you have the necessary qualifications, sign up for possible immortality (for your descendants, that is) here.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/12/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'
Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."
Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.
ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.
When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'
Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'
'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'
Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'
Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'
Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.
Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'
Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories