Micro Life Zone
Asked by baileymymie8 to DJ, Kyler, Mia, Mick, Peter on 3 Sep 2013. This question was also asked by louiepop.
I’m assuming this question relates to old age (rather than a disease or accident at any other time of someones life). Our bodies are very complex and things degenerate as we get older. That makes it harder for everything to keep performing correctly and it’s more difficult to fight off illnesses. It’s all part of the natural cycle of life.
We die (at least of old age) because enough parts of our bodies stop working. At the cellular level, there is something called a telomere in our DNA that is crucial for proper cell division. When cells don’t have long enough telomeres, they can’t divide properly — this may actually be a good thing, because older cells may also have more damaging mutations, so could be good for the organism if certain cells don’t reproduce anymore. But one idea (which has not yet been proven, I think) holds that when that happens to too many cells, our bodies as a whole don’t work well anymore. This process is at least linked to ageing, but what is cause and what is effect, we don’t know.
@baileymymie8: It’s a question we all think about. We die because if we all lived forever, it wouldn’t be sustainable. We’d run out of room and food and resources. Biologists generally think that if we’ve reproduced (passed on our genetic material by having babies) then we have ensured our ongoing ‘presence’ in the next generation. Our bodies get old, parts get sick or wear out and our body’s capacity to heal and regenerate broken bits starts to fail. And so we die.
Peter gave a good answer that relates to this on another ASK question – see here:
why do we need to breath and why do our hearts beat. also why can’t we live forever
From an evolutionary point of view, in a primitive society (like where we evolved) there are benefits to the young to have a FEW old people to pass on their wisdom, but not so many that they compete for food and other resources.
I am lucky that I come from a family of long-livers – both my grandmothers lived to be over 90 – so at the moment I am the old scientist passing on wisdom(?) to the young on I’m A Scientist 🙂
I’ll answer this from a slightly different point of view. Yes, dying happens when you get old as everone has already mentioned. But many people dont think much about why people die when they’re young. Not only only people die.
Young people can occasionally die for similar reasons to old people, but mostly because something has interupted their bodies ability to keep operating. Human bodies are very complicated machines with thousands of different parts that have their role to play. If something in this machine is injured or sick or interupted then the body has special ways of trying to fix itself, which usually starts with trying to stop any more damage from happening, like stopping blood from escaping, or feinting, or going into a coma.
Sometimes an interuption to a part of the body is just too much to repair and if a doctor cannot help, then the person will die. But dont be too worried, humans have taken millions of years to build a body and repair machine that is capable of dealing with all sorts of problems.
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2019