Tag Archives: mortality

A warranty, of sorts

Did you know that the probability of your dying within the year doubles every eight years?  I’m 33, which means I have a 1 in 1500 chance of dying within the next year.  When I’m 42, it will be 1 in 750.  When I’m 50 (if I make it that long), 1 in 375.  Etc.  If I somehow limp along to 100, my chance of living to be 101 will be 1 in 2.  A warranty, of sorts.

A British fellow named Benjamin Gompertz discovered this fact.  No one understands why it is true but it has been proven so regularly it is now called the Gompertz Law of Human Mortality.  It holds across countries, time periods, even species.  Or, as illustrated in this data from the US Census Bureau:

No one makes it out of here alive.

No one makes it out of here alive.

Right in line with Average Life Expectancy, which I wrote about back in January (including the cure of the ancients, if thinking about this sort of thing bothers you).  If you’d like to know what your odds of making it through the next year, here’s a Death Probability Calculator.  If you’d like some mathematical proof, here it is:

gompertz formula

If you want someone to explain this to you, since I can’t, better go ask this guy, who caught my attention by pointing out that our bodies weren’t built to last.

It caught my attention because I do my best to remain mindful of the void that awaits.  We appear from this void, blink a few times, then return to it.  What are you going to do with your blinks, is what I ask myself daily.  To that end I have a memento mori.  More on that later.