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Longevity escape velocity

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"The first 1000-year-old is probably only ~10 years younger than the first 150-year-old."–Aubrey de Grey[1]

In the life extension movement, longevity escape velocity (LEV), actuarial escape velocity[2] or biological escape velocity[3] is a hypothetical situation in which one's remaining life expectancy (not life expectancy at birth) is extended longer than the time that is passing. For example, in a given year in which longevity escape velocity would be maintained, medical advances would increase people's remaining life expectancy more than the year that just went by.

The term is meant as an analogy to the concept of escape velocity in physics, which is the minimum speed required for an object to indefinitely move away from a gravitational body despite the gravitational force pulling the object towards the body.


For many years in the past, life expectancy at each age has increased slightly every year as treatment strategies and technologies have improved. At present, more than one year of research is required for each additional year of expected life. Longevity escape velocity occurs when this ratio reverses, so that life expectancy increases faster than one year per one year of research, as long as that rate of advance is sustainable.

Mouse lifespan research has been the most contributive to conclusive evidence on the matter, since mice require only a few years before research results can be concluded.[4][5]


The term "longevity escape velocity" was coined by biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey in a 2004 paper,[4] but the concept has been present in the life extension community since at least the 1970s, such as in Robert Anton Wilson's essay Next Stop, Immortality.[6] The concept is also part of the fictional history leading to multi-century youthful lifespans in the science fiction series The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. More recent proponents include David Gobel, co-founder of the Methuselah Foundation and futurist, and technologist Ray Kurzweil,[7] who named one of his books, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, after the concept. The last two claim that by putting further pressure on science and medicine to focus research on increasing limits of aging, rather than continuing along at its current pace, more lives will be saved in the future, even if the benefit is not immediately apparent.[4]

The idea was even more popularized with the publishing of Aubrey de Grey and Michael Rae's book, Ending Aging, in 2007. de Grey has also popularized the word "Methuselarity" which describes the same concept.[8]


Kurzweil predicts that longevity escape velocity will be reached before humanity will realize it.[9][10] Back in 2018, he predicted that it will be reached in 10–12 years, meaning that the event would occur around 2028–2030.[11] Aubrey de Grey has also similarly predicted that humanity has a 50 percent chance of reaching longevity escape velocity in the mid-late 2030s.[8][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aubrey de Grey, A roadmap to end aging. In: TEDGlobal 2005.
  2. ^ "Actuarial Escape Velocity". The Futurist. 2008-03-25.
  3. ^ Palmer, Raymond D. (December 12, 2022). "Three Tiers to biological escape velocity: The quest to outwit aging". Aging Medicine. 5 (4): 281–286. doi:10.1002/agm2.12231. PMC 9805293. PMID 36606268. there are three distinct classes of longevity and anti-aging technologies that are emerging globally, and the ability of each class is clearly apparent in fending off aspects of biological decay. Tier 3, however, reigns supreme in rejuvenation therapies that may make up future pathways to reach biological escape velocity.
  4. ^ a b c de Grey, ADNJ (2004-06-15). "Escape velocity: why the prospect of extreme human life extension matters now". PLOS Biol. 2 (6): 723–726. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020187. PMC 423155.
  5. ^ Dibbell, Julian (2006-10-23), "The Fast Supper", New York Magazine
  6. ^ Wilson, Robert Anton (November 1978). "Next Stop, Immortality". Future Life (6). Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  7. ^ Birnbaum, Ben (2006), "Extension program", Boston College Magazine, archived from the original on 2009-01-16, retrieved 2014-02-08
  8. ^ a b I now think there is a 50% chance that we will reach longevity escape velocity by 2036. After that point (the "Methuselarity"), those who regularly receive the latest rejuvenation therapies will never suffer from age-related ill-health at any age - Aubrey de Grey
  9. ^ Diamandis, Peter H. (2017-11-10). "3 Dangerous Ideas From Ray Kurzweil". Singularity Hub. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  10. ^ https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9qb2Vyb2dhbmV4cC5saWJzeW4uY29tL3Jzcw/episode/NzE5YWE0MzgtZTA0Ni0xMWVlLWJkZDEtOGZkYWE2NWUwYTJm?sa=X&ved=0CCoQz4EHahgKEwjI5ZLFme-EAxUAAAAAHQAAAAAQlx0
  11. ^ Koulopoulos, Thomas (2018-01-19). "According to Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil, These Are the Most Dangerous and Disruptive Ideas". Inc.com. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  12. ^ "Defeating Aging by 2036". 9 April 2021.