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The Lonely One
03-01-2009, 09:21 AM
Are there factors which would make it impossible for doctors in the future to predict a date of "natural decay" of a person's body over the course of their life? Say, down to the minute they will die, barring accidents?

This is research for a soft sci-fi short story (which is already half written when I started worrying about plot holes. Smart, huh?)

Anyways, thanks for any answers.

Aschenbach
03-01-2009, 09:32 AM
[quote=The Lonely One;3342991]Are there factors which would make it impossible for doctors in the future to predict a date of "natural decay" of a person's body over the course of their life? Say, down to the minute they will die, barring accidents?
[quote]

Yes. The same factors that exist now. No one wil ever perfect the science of predicting when someone will die. There are too many random elements that can interact in totally weird ways. You will never be able to predict the exact minute of someone's death, even in the future.

Sage
03-01-2009, 09:34 AM
When you say "barring accidents," what are you including?

Like, say, they could predict that such and such a thing will cause your immune system to go on the fritz, but not when you'd be exposed to a disease that will kill you because of it. Or that the day after you got the prediction that you'd start drinking, eventually become alcoholic, and your liver will fail.

Way too many factors, I think.

The Lonely One
03-01-2009, 09:34 AM
Yes. The same factors that exist now. No one wil ever perfect the science of predicting when someone will die. There are too many random elements that can interact in totally weird ways. You will never be able to predict the exact minute of someone's death, even in the future.

Bangs head on desk. Sighs. Hits *delete.

Thanks for the answer, it's as I feared.

I guess I'll have to find another legitimate reason Jill knows she'll die that day. Or scrap this. Dunno.

Can you, if possible, give some specific factors? Diet and exercise came to mind, as well as things such as smoking. Any others you can think of?

The Lonely One
03-01-2009, 09:38 AM
Will I be forced to resort to psychics? I didn't really like Minority Report...

Sage
03-01-2009, 09:47 AM
What was the cause of death supposed to be?

The Lonely One
03-01-2009, 09:54 AM
I'm beginning to think this will be a real tough sell. The MC has an unnamed sickness which causes her to die younger than most. However, everyone gets the "natural death date" prediction when they're born. She just was unlucky enough to have to die young. She's in her twenties and with her boyfriend, who she wanted to marry but never did with the knowledge he'd lose her young.

I'm maybe afraid to associate this with a real disease because there are already so many problems with the specifics of this premise. I'm just pissed because I really love the story and characters. Maybe I just need a non-scientific type person doing the predicting.

Ms Hollands
03-01-2009, 12:07 PM
It's your world: make it up so it works the way you need it to. In The Eyre Affair, the author managed to fit in time travel, time freezing, literature-loving worms, invisible men, people who can control other people's mind, a change to Jane Eyre, a made-up recent-historical war, a serious political divide between Wales and England, and a romance!

You just need to convince the reader that people get a 'best-before' date when they're born which comes with a caveat that other factors may influence the date and that the government cannot be held responsible for any innacuracies (which obviously happen from time to time, with magazines showcasing stories about the man who expected to die at 42 but is now 47 and how his (now ex-) wife tried to kill him because she thought he'd be dieing and their relationship was pretty bad, but she thought she'd wait until he was 42, hold the funeral for him, then remarry the guy she'd been seeing on the side and fallen in love with etc.).

Deb Kinnard
03-01-2009, 11:23 PM
What about each person having a genetic blueprint made for them on their birth day, which details what hereditary susceptibilities they'll have? From that you can generate statistical probabilities of what might kill them, and when ("type I diabetes with circulatory complications: 60% before age 60")? If that'd work for your story, it's practically achievable now, though not quite.

You might also look at actuarial tables to see what life expectancies are currently calculated to be, for folks with various types of diseases.

scarletpeaches
03-01-2009, 11:32 PM
Will I be forced to resort to psychics? I didn't really like Minority Report...

I do. Colin Farrell was in it. :D

*ahem*

Diet, weight, genetic predisposition, heredity, lifestyle, previous medical history, drug abuse, drinking...

Hell, there's gotta be a way around it. You can make up a rule in your universe why this ability-to-predict-a-deathdate would be possible.

GeorgeK
03-01-2009, 11:38 PM
Hell, there's gotta be a way around it. You can make up a rule in your universe why this ability-to-predict-a-deathdate would be possible.

State mandated euthenasia on date X for organ harvesting because of genetic diagnosis of Y means there is a higher society profit by not having them excede age Z?

scarletpeaches
03-01-2009, 11:38 PM
State mandated euthenasia on date X for organ harvesting because of genetic diagnosis of Y means there is a higher society profit by not having them excede age Z?

Yeah. That's what I meant. :D

Sophia
03-01-2009, 11:44 PM
Are there factors which would make it impossible for doctors in the future to predict a date of "natural decay" of a person's body over the course of their life? Say, down to the minute they will die, barring accidents?


I think there might be a way, although I can't remember this properly and I don't think I'm Googling the correct terms. Someone more knowledgeable might be able to confirm or deny this, but I think it is something like this:

There is a limit to how often our cells can divide. When you reach that limit, then that is when that cell dies. It's a problem when you consider cloning: cells are taken from a body and a clone made from them, which is born as a baby. But the child's cells will be 'old', as they are cloned from cells that have already divided a number of times. So that child won't live as long as a non-cloned baby, barring accidents. In your story, your doctors could take a cell sample, measure how many more times it can divide, and then take another sample a month (or other period of time) later and estimate how often the person's cells divide, and thus estimate how much longer the person would live.

RJK
03-02-2009, 01:39 AM
If you can re-write it so you don't have to have a specific date, you could give her something like Huntington's Chorea, but not that specific disease. Number 13 on Fox's House is playing that character too well.

ColoradoGuy
03-02-2009, 01:54 AM
Google something we call "programmed cell death," the fancy scientific name of which is apoptosis. I could foresee a future world in which the sudden shut down of a vital organ, say the electrical conduction system in the heart, could be programmed in advance genetically.

Siddow
03-02-2009, 02:16 AM
Have you seen this:

http://www.deathclock.com/

Ms Hollands
03-02-2009, 01:00 PM
Have you seen this:

http://www.deathclock.com/

Oh, that's horrible.

I still entered my details.

Priene
03-02-2009, 03:50 PM
Have you seen this:

http://www.deathclock.com/

That site's a nonsense, as it doesn't take into account how long you've actually already lived. If you put in someone 105 years old it'll tell you you died in 1974.

The Lonely One
03-03-2009, 12:10 AM
That site's a nonsense, as it doesn't take into account how long you've actually already lived. If you put in someone 105 years old it'll tell you you died in 1974.

Interesting site--fun to play with even if it is ridiculous :). I prefer the History channel to tell me when and how I'll die.

Hey, now that's a thought...

Keyan
03-03-2009, 04:22 PM
I'm beginning to think this will be a real tough sell. The MC has an unnamed sickness which causes her to die younger than most. However, everyone gets the "natural death date" prediction when they're born. She just was unlucky enough to have to die young. She's in her twenties and with her boyfriend, who she wanted to marry but never did with the knowledge he'd lose her young.

I'm maybe afraid to associate this with a real disease because there are already so many problems with the specifics of this premise. I'm just pissed because I really love the story and characters. Maybe I just need a non-scientific type person doing the predicting.

This sounds like the true story of someone I know. The guy she loved was diagnosed with cancer, one that would progress slowly but reduce his life-span considerably. He refused to marry her for that reason. Eventually he died and many years later she married someone else.