Being myself a prime example of the aging process, I think it might be useful to recall some previous symposia on aging in which I have participated. The first of these was in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in 1956. There followed a symposium organized by the AAAS in 1960, one by the Gerontological Society in Puerto Rico, and the previous Brookhaven Symposium in 1984. In comparison with my recollections of these summations of the current state of the art, the Brookhaven Symposium of 1986 presents us with enormous advances in methodology and the advent of research on a new variety of organisms, especially Caenorhabditis elegans. Nevertheless, a few reminiscent comments may be helpful as we attempt to summarize our findings. On this occasion we miss a good number of the oldtimers in the study of aging: George Sacher, of course, to whom this symposium is dedicated: Alex Comfort, Nathan Shock, Howard Curtis, Leo Szilard, Bernard Strehler, and many others, to say nothing of such great oldtimers as H. S. Jennings, Raymond Pearl, and C. M. McCay. New insights must always be interpreted in the light of older demonstrated knowledge. Even abandoned theories of aging have their value in keeping us on the right road.
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