PDF: Pleiotropy, Natural Selection, and the Evolution of Senescence
In 1978, at the age of 52, the great evolutionary theorist George C. Williams began to chronicle his own senescence, recording once a year how long it took to run 1,700 metres round a track in Stony Brook, New York. Williams presented the graph of his 12 years of slowing speed at his acceptance speech for the Crafoord Prize in Bioscience that he shared with Ernst Mayr and John Maynard Smith in 1999. He later published it in The Quarterly Review of Biology, with which he was involved for 32 years. The plot encapsulated his lifelong fascination: why do we decline with age?