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UnDisciplined: On outliving our parents

Pickup basketball may be losing out to computer games.
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Pickup basketball

In 1950 the average human lifespan was 45 years old. Today it’s 73. Part of that story is the success we’ve had as a global society in reducing infant and child mortality — but there have been improvements on the other side of life as well, such that some scientists have estimated that about half of children who have been born in the past 20 years will live to at least 100 years old. And what that means is that many of us will be having the experience of not only outliving our parents, but growing to ages they never saw, and living those years without their examples.

Thomas Beller is the director of creative writing at Tulane University and the author of a recent piece in The New Yorker called "On Outscoring My Father," as well as a new book called Lost in the Game: A Book about Basketball.

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Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling <i>Lifespan</i> with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning <i>Longevity Plan</i> with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, <i>Superlative</i>, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.<br/>