Plan A Head

VARIOUS PARTS of the head and neck become problematic with disturbing regularity as people age. Consider the eye: the human version is an evolutionary marvel, but its complexity provides many opportunities for things to go wrong over a long lifetime.

Our vision diminishes as the protective fluid of the cornea becomes less transparent over time. The muscles that control the opening of the iris and the focusing of the lens atrophy and lose responsiveness, and the lens thickens and yellows, impairing visual acuity and color perception. Further, the retina-responsible for transmitting images to the brain-can detach fairly easily from the back of the eye, leading to blindness.

Many of those problems would be difficult to design away, but the squid eye suggests an arrangement that could have reduced the likelihood of retinal detachment. A few anatomical tweaks could also have preserved hearing in the elderly.

Suboptimal design of the upper respiratory and digestive systems makes choking another risk for older people. A simple rearrangement would have fixed that problem, albeit at the cost of severe trade-offs.

EAR WITH FRAGILE TRANSMITTERS Hair cells of the inner ear, which relay sound information to the brain, become damaged by exposure to loud noises

0 0

Post a comment