Rate of Living Theory

 Human Heart Andy Warhol (1979)

At the beginning of the century, there was a theory about aging which was very popular. It was called the "Rate of Living" theory. It argued that each animal had a finite number of heartbeats, about one to two billion. So, for example, a hare, whose heart beats very fast, might live from three to five years, a victim of live fast die young. A tortoise, whose heart beats very slowly, might live for over a century.

Anyway, the theory was wrong.

There is little evidence that oxygen metabolism, heartbeat or the number of breaths determine an individual's lifespan. One of the main flaws with the rate of living theory is that any damage that was generated by metabolism could be repaired in cells. Organisms would be able to evolve life spans that respond to environmental imperatives, partly independent of their total lifetime metabolism.