A Lifespan is a Billion Heartbeats

Discover Magazines compiled “10 things everyone should know about time” from a recent “multidisciplinary conference on the nature of time” including the below fact that unites all creatures great and small.

A lifespan is a billion heartbeats. Complex organisms die. Sad though it is in individual cases, it’s a necessary part of the bigger picture; life pushes out the old to make way for the new. Remarkably, there exist simple scaling laws relating animal metabolism to body mass. Larger animals live longer; but they also metabolize slower, as manifested in slower heart rates. These effects cancel out, so that animals from shrews to blue whales have lifespans with just about equal number of heartbeats — about one and a half billion, if you simply must be precise. In that very real sense, all animal species experience “the same amount of time.”

This is why I don’t watch scary movies: I can’t afford to use up all my heartbeats in just two hours.

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