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A. New Evidence that the Human Maximum Age Span is Rising

Narrator: This is Science Today. For more than a century, the oldest age at death in humans has been slowly rising. John Wilmoth, a University of California, Berkeley demographer who based his data on pristine Swedish death records, says their findings dispel previous beliefs that the maximum human life span had a set end-point of 120 years.

Wilmoth: A lot of people have been asking me, "well, does this mean we could all live to be 120"? No, you have to remember these are extremes. We're talking about the world record and how the world record is changing over time.

Narrator: Currently, the world record is 122 years for women and 115 years for men.

Wilmoth: Those records will probably be broken in the future, but what we show with Sweden is that those kinds of records are going up at a rate of about one-year every decade, in recent decades. And before that, they were going up about one year of age for every two decades. So what we're showing is that the human life span is malleable. It's not a fixed biological constant.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.