Medicine: No Methuselahs

The death of Shirali Muslimov last year at the reported age of 168 was a blow to the village of Barzavu, in the Soviet Caucasus. It ended the role of the mountain hamlet not only as a tourist attraction but also as a gerontological mecca. For decades Soviet and Western scientists had made the pilgrimage to Barzavu to auscultate stouthearted Muslimov and inquire about his diet, life-style and sexual habits. But his death still left thousands of alleged supercentenarians in the U.S.S.R. vying for the attention of gerontologists.

Now the Methuselah syndrome that has flourished for years in the U.S.S.R. is about...

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