Did you know that by the end of this century — maybe before — the average American’s life span will be 100 years?
And if the average life span is 100 years, this means that people who live to be fifty and sixty will have a good chance of living to be 110, or 120.
Back about 1690 when the first accurate mortality tables were put together in Europe, the life expectancy for a newborn baby was thirty-three and a half years. A hundred years ago, in this country, the average life expectancy was forty years. By the year 1900, it climbed to about forty-eight years. Today, the life expectancy of the average American is around seventy years.
In one century, we have almost doubled the life of a person.
And keep in mind that most of the really great breakthroughs in science have been made in the past twenty years. In fact, it is estimated that of all the scientists who have ever lived, ninety percent of them are alive today!
It is estimated that, by 1975, we will have raised the average lifespan to 78 years and by the end of the century to 100 years.
Now, when they talk about average life expectancy, they mean at birth. Every year you live, your life expectancy becomes greater. So, forty years from now, a person of sixty could be said to have lived only half of his life, and this is undoubtedly true of some people who are sixty today.
The first thing that has contributed to this is, of course, the really astonishing advances made in the field of medicine.
New surgical techniques, and the tremendous strides in chemistry which keep coming up with new so-called miracle drugs — the sulfas and antihistamines such as aureomycin and streptomycin. One laboratory has high hopes for a drug that will cure hypertension. Just recently a new breakthrough was made which will tremendously reduce heart disease. And, with more than ten thousand scientists constantly at work on new and better remedies and preventatives, arthritis and cancer are marked to be added to the long list of diseases which have been conquered during the past century.
It is estimated that the chemical industry will spend a billion dollars for research during the next five years. That this will result in some dramatic and spectacular new breakthroughs goes without saying. The wonderful thing about each new development is that it leads to others.
Other things that are contributing to longer life and better health are, of course, far better food, better housing, better heating, and better working conditions.
Before too long, if a person can stay alive on the highways, which is one of the trickiest things a person can tackle — the changes of seeing an entire century pass in review will be excellent.
Back during the Middle Ages, one century was pretty much like any other. A person was born and finally died in just about the same kind of world and circumstances.
But today, a single year can make a tremendous difference.
The same people who saw man’s first feeble sorties into aviation can today see him exploring the universe with deep rocket probes — and going through the sound barrier as a casual matter of course.
Children being born today will still be young in the Year 2000. Think of what they’ll see and take for granted. And what of their children? What will their life expectancy be — and how will they live?
Being a human being on the planet earth certainly has some problems. But nobody can say it isn’t interesting.