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Some of you are aware that, these last few weeks, I have been going through a health-crisis that had the potential to change my life dramatically. One minute everything was plain sailing, the next minute I was plunged into a world of anxiety, where control over my future had been placed, quite literally, into the hands of other people.

I’m glad to report that I was given some good news over the weekend. Hopefully now, I can put these events behind me, even if it means that I need to face the future somewhat more tentatively than I did in the past.

I have been overwhelmed by the goodness in people who heard about what I was going through. Friends, family members, colleagues and Internet friends all conveyed their concern in different ways. Many people, I know, felt more worried than I did myself. They reacted to my news in a way that often surprised me. I could see in their faces, their tone of voice and the words they used, that it affected them on an emotional level that I haven’t quite managed to reach myself.

How did I get through it? Simple really. I didn’t get a chance to think about it. It all happened far too quickly. Over the coming days and weeks, maybe I’ll have more time on my hands to consider how this little soupçon of mortality has affected me. I’m beginning to appreciate that my time on this incredible planet, with all its fascinating fellow travellers and its sights, sounds and stories, is very brief indeed.

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Mortality in Ireland

This table is derived from the Irish Life Tables 2001-2003. (CSO) Double-click on the image to get a full view.

It’s a logarithmic graph of your likelihood of dying at any particular age, from birth right up to the ripe old age of 105.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it fascinating. The women have us men well and truly beaten when it comes to their ability to survive. Right from the start, they seem to have a lower probability of kicking the bucket.

In addition, kids are least likely to die by an order of magnitude compared to young adults – it’s a testament to the importance of parents and guardians, I would think.

And then there’s this very subtle “bump” around the age of 25 in males. For some reason, a 31 year old man has a slightly lower probability of dying than a man ten years younger.

From age 35 in males (and age 31 in females), our probability of dying starts to increase at a faster and faster rate.

Lest anyone get too worried, we are mainly talking about very small numbers here (the above graph is logarithmic and therefore somewhat skewed). The following graph is the same, except this time it’s linear. It shows more clearly that your probability of dying in any particular year is tiny up to the age of about 80.

Mortality in Ireland2

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