INTRODUCTION

Scientists are just beginning to unlock the mysteries of aging-and more to the point, to discover how we may be able to prevent it. For researchers studying aging-as well as for the rest of the human population, getting inexorably older and feeling none to happy about it-the rules have always been simple: organisms are born, they have a less or more prescribed number of years and they die. If you watch your weight, eat right and get plently exercise, you can pheraps nogotiate the terms a bit, squeezing out more time here and there. But tripling life-spans? Quadrupuling life-spans? Not an option. Or so it seemed. But now the rules are quietly being broken. In labratories around the world, investigators are beginning to suspect, to their growing surprise and excitement, that what works in flies and worms may work for people as well. From species to species, genus to genus, the cellular mechanisms responsible for aging appear to be the same. Armed with that knowledge, a new breed of longevity specialist are to get answers to two of the great mysteries of life: Why do we age? And even more important, What can we do about it? In some research centers, investigaters are studying an area of the tip of chromosomes that appears to shorten, fuselike, as we grow older. Exstinguish the chemical fire that consumes the fuse and you might be able to bring aging to a hault. Elsewhere, scientests are studying how the waste produced when a cell consumes food can contaminate itís inerds, a process that can lead to the body wide breakdowns we associate with aging.