This Interactive Graphic Predicts How Many Years You Have Left to Live

No one knows for sure how long they have left, but a visualization from Flowing Data’s (prolific and ever interesting) Nathan Yau can calculate the odds in a way that’s both terrifying and totally fascinating.

As Yau writes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women in the United States have an average life expectancy of 81 years and 2 months, while men have one of 76 years and 5 months. While that alone could be used as a semi-reliable predictor of your mortality, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Yau’s graphic takes data from the Social Security Administration to simulate your possible lifetimes, in a way that feels a bit like you’re watching several parallel universe timelines play out with your fate taking the form of a falling dot.  

To start, users input their age and sex—as CityLab notes, “there are only 'male' and 'female' options, since that’s what the SSA has data for”—and from there, the simulation starts to run through possible outcomes, accumulating the data at the bottom in a handy chart.

Not surprisingly, the likelihood of death increases with age, and for someone around age 50, life expectancy becomes most uncertain. But something totally unexpected happens when you start running the program from someone 70 or older. Yau writes: “Life expectancy increases and the balls tend to drop farther past the overall life expectancy point. That is, as you shift into later years, life is like, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good at this aging game. Better than most. You’re probably going to live longer than the average person.’”

After letting the program run, the data seemed to suggest something I already sort of knew to be true: I’ll probably die in my 80s. Still, there’s a whole series of other possibilities—ranging from 30 to 110—that are the ones I’ll keep thinking about long after closing the browser tab.

[h/t Visual News]

The Unkindest Cut: The Chainsaw Was Invented to Assist With Difficult Childbirths

viafilms/iStock via Getty Images
viafilms/iStock via Getty Images

There’s always a price to be paid for innovation. Usually that amounts to some sleepless nights and lots of trial and error. But sometimes it means attempting to deliver babies with a chainsaw.

This dark chapter in agricultural history comes from Popular Science, which recently detailed how the motorized cutting tool populating Home Depot shelves came to be. In the 18th century, two Scottish surgeons named John Aitken and James Jeffray devised a solution they could employ when faced with difficult childbirths. Rather than use a knife to widen the pelvic area by slicing through cartilage and bone to extricate a stuck baby, the two developed a chainsaw to make cutting easier.

While this sounds ghastly, the doctors were actually trying to lessen the agony endured by women who needed their pelvic bone separated. The knife took a long time, while their device—a modified knife with serrated “teeth” on a chain—could cut through bone and tissue more quickly.

If circumstances warranted it, the doctor would grab the saw, which had a handle on both ends, and wrap the chain around the pelvic bone, pulling each handle so the chain would cut into the bone. Later, the device was outfitted with a hand crank. Thanks to this innovation, difficult births could be described as merely agonizing as opposed to extended torture.

The procedure was dubbed a symphysiotomy and remained in use in the medical field as surgeons noticed how efficiently it could work in other circumstances, like amputations. It lasted through much of the 19th century as part of a surgical toolbox until C-sections grew in popularity. In the 20th century, the principle was commandeered for less disturbing purposes like logging, with two-person saws weighing more than 100 pounds each. By the 1950s, those gave way to lighter models.

For all its discomfiting history, at least the chainsaw proved to be useful—which isn't something that can be said for all inventions purporting to aid in childbirth. In 1965, George and Charlotte Blonsky patented a device that acted as a human turntable, spinning so quickly it might induce the patient (or victim) into delivering their baby via centrifugal force.

[h/t Popular Science]

Kane Tanaka, World’s Oldest Living Person, Just Celebrated Her 117th Birthday

Ruletka, iStock via Getty Images
Ruletka, iStock via Getty Images

Less than a year after being named oldest living person in the world, Kane Tanaka has reached a new milestone. As Reuters reports, Tanaka celebrated her 117th birthday on January 2, 2020, extending the Guinness World Record-winning streak she set in March 2019.

Kane—the seventh of eight siblings—was born on January 2, 1903 in Fukuoka, Japan. She married Hideo Tanaka in 1922, and the couple had five children. Today, she is a grandmother to five and a great-grandmother to eight.

Tanaka celebrated her birthday at the Fukuoka nursing home where she resides, surrounded by friends and family. After taking a bite of her birthday cake, she reportedly said, “Tasty, I want some more." On a typical day, Tanaka spends her time studying math, practicing calligraphy, and beating the nursing home staff at board games.

The 117 club is an exclusive group only a handful of women has entered in recent history. In the last few years, Emma Morano of Italy, Violet Mosse Brown of Jamaica, and Nabi Tajima and Chiyo Miyako of Japan all reached age 117 and were each the oldest person alive for a brief period. If Tanaka celebrates another birthday next year, she will be the first person since the 1990s to live to 118.

[h/t Reuters]

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