Monday, November 7, 2011

How much time do you have left?

Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in a race against time.

Imagine your arm is “tattooed” with a watch that shows how much time you have left to live. You can see the seconds ticking down.

That’s the premise of the new science-fiction thriller “In Time,” starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. It’s 2161 and genetic engineering stops people from aging after 25 years. One major downside of eveyone staying in their prime, of course, is over-population. So people die within a year of turning 25 unless they are strong enough to work for more minutes, or wealthy enough to literally buy more time. The poor live in a separate “time zone,” segregated from the zone of the rich, who can exist for millennia if they are sufficiently well off.

Even in the real world of today, statistics favor the wealthy for longevity.

"Here in the U.S., we have large and enduring economic inequalities in health," says Hannah Cooper, assistant professor at the Rollins School of Public Health. “People in the lower socio-economic strata tend to be two to three times more likely to die early than people who are in the highest economic strata."

Some of the factors that may play a role in how much time you have left include: whether you have health insurance, the crime rate and pollution levels near your home, your access to fresh fruits and vegetables, your mental state, and whether you are exposed to toxins or other hazards in your workplace.

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