Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents -

There are some un­de­ni­able truths about grow­ing older. First, the things that don’t ex­cite me much:

I was read­ing my book in bed the other evening, and couldn’t un­der­stand why, no mat­ter how much I blinked, the words just wouldn’t be­come clearer. I put it down to tired­ness, but my near­est and dear­est tell me that soon (if not al­ready) I’ll need a pair of read­ing glasses to keep the let­ters on the page from go­ing fuzzy.

Then, my lower back doesn’t seem to like me very much these days – I blame years and years of play­ing com­pet­i­tive sport – and any small in­juries I pick up while ex­er­cis­ing seem to take a lit­tle longer to heal than they used to. And we won’t get into the protests I re­ceive from my ham­strings, hip flex­ors and knees if I sit for too long at my desk.

Then there’s also the bat­tle I’m slowly but surely los­ing with my beard – light (let’s say sil­very-white) is tri­umph­ing over dark, in no un­cer­tain terms. Shift over, Gan­dalf.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. For rea­sons I’m not specif­i­cally sure of, but can only at­tribute to the age­ing process, peo­ple seem to lis­ten to me when I speak in meet­ings these days (at least, they pre­tend to, com­pared to when I was younger). Per­haps it’s the grey, um, I mean sil­very-white beard…

Also, chil­dren now tend to call me oom, and seem to re­spect what I have to say (that, or they’re just afraid of the cranky old grey-haired guy).

Fi­nally, with age comes a de­gree of ex­pe­ri­ence, and with that, the abil­ity to make bet­ter de­ci­sions (or, if that’s not true, per­haps the older you are, the less you ought to care about what oth­ers think of your de­ci­sions, which is pretty much the same thing.)

What’s my point? Well, the un­avoid­able truth is that as time passes, our bod­ies’ sys­tems and cells de­gen­er­ate, some­times vis­i­bly, and some­times more covertly. And it’s not only age­ing that causes sys­tems and cells to mal­func­tion. Of­ten they’re caused by some de­gen­er­a­tive con­di­tions, or con­gen­i­tal dis­or­ders.

There is good news, though – some of these fail­ing sys­tems can be re­vived or re­placed by the ad­vance­ment of med­i­cal im­plant tech­nol­ogy, cy­ber­netic tech if you will. Turn to page 56 to read more about it. I joked about grow­ing older, and it’s not this that’s driv­ing the sci­ence, but it is in­ter­est­ing to me that we’re liv­ing in an era where cy­borg tech­nol­ogy is very real and be­ing used to com­bat very real prob­lems. Per­haps the most com­pelling ques­tion is to what de­gree it will ul­ti­mately af­fect the hu­man race. I hope the an­swer doesn’t lie some­where in the Ter­mi­na­tor movies.

I re­alise it’s still early days in my ten­ure as Edi­tor, but I’d love to hear some feed­back from you. Please write an email to pop­u­larme­chan­ics@ram­say­media.co.za, telling me if you’re happy with the balance of con­tent, where you’d like us to fo­cus our at­ten­tion, and where we can do a few things dif­fer­ently. Your in­put is vi­tal in the process of hon­ing and get­ting this balance right. Who knows? Your email might also win you a cool prize.

MARK SA­MUEL Edi­tor @ mark­samuel.za

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