If you were born in 1900, you could call yourself lucky if you’d seen a day past your 50th birthday. The XXth century, however, marked an amazing leap in longevity thanks to the advent of vaccines, increased public health awareness and medical discoveries. In time, the leading causes of death and illness have shifted from infectious and parasitic diseases to noncommunicable diseases and chronic conditions. Sure, more people die today of cancer and heart disease than ever before, but it sure beats dying of typhoid. The extra decades in lifespan sure don’t sound bad, either. Life expectancy at birth now exceeds 83 years in Japan—the current leader—and is at least 81 years in several other countries. The trend seems to be accelerating, especially for those at the extreme lifespan end. The population of adults 85 and older is projected to increase 351 percent by 2050, while those older than 100 will increase 10-fold between 2010 and 2050.
The Genographic Project aims to map historical human migration patterns through collecting and analyzing DNA samples from many people all over the world. The project has already been around for almost two years, and perhaps its main attraction resides in that everybody can find out about their own personal lineage, if they purchase the genographic project public participation kit. After