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Never Say Die Guide & Resources

What does it take to lead a vibrant life, even into old age? Scientific American Frontiers host Alan Alda asks that question of 103-year-old Catherine McCaig, who cites playing the piano, reading, dancing and learning languages as keys to her success. Will her plan work for others? Research suggests she may be onto something. In Never Say Die, learn more about how science may soon be able to prolong the human life span to surprising lengths.

Here are topics and running times of stories on this show and a brief description of related classroom activities you'll find in this online teaching guide.

  • Eat Less -- Live Longer (running time 11:59): Restricted-calorie diets high in nutrition have been shown to extend lab animals' life spans. By eating less, could we live longer? DISCUSSION AND ACTIVITIES: Measure food calories with a simple calorimeter; calculate macronutrients in your favorite foods.

  • The Clock of Life (running time 9:26): Startling new research suggests that the aging process may not be inevitable. Someday in the near future, we may be able to turn back our biological clocks at the cellular level. ACTIVITY: Visualize and demonstrate mitosis.

  • Wisdom of the Worms (running time 9:26): Research with microscopic nematode worms that live up to four times as long as normal may provide important clues to the riddle of human aging. ACTIVITY: Extract and observe DNA in the classroom.

  • How to Make a Nose (running time 9:44): Biotechnology is close to finding a way to grow human tissue for repairing and replacing organs and body parts. As a first step, scientists are already cultivating cells in the lab. DISCUSSION AND ACTIVITY: Make a model of DNA; discuss bioethical considerations.

  • Use It or Lose It (running time 10:21): Is loss of memory and cognitive functioning an inevitable part of aging? Find out what people can do to keep their brains mentally fit as they grow older. DISCUSSION AND ACTIVITY: Test your short-term memory.

  • Viewer Challenge -- After you watch Natural Born Robots, test your viewing skills with ten questions about the show!


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.