David Boyd Haycock can remember "crying at the tragedy of death" at the age of five or six. His mother consoled him by saying that when he grew up everyone would live to be at least 120. And now he has written a book on the subject, covering 400 years of research into prolonging life. The good news is that more of us are reaching our hundredth birthdays than ever before. The bad news is that "we still do not fully understand the processes of senescence and death".