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Exploring Everyday Things with R and Ruby by Sau Sheong Chang

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Chapter 6. In a Heartbeat

Growing old sucks. True, you gain experience and knowledge, but in exchange you must give up a fully functional and effectively working body. Different parts of your body start to show signs of wear and tear. The most telling is the upward-creeping (or rocketing, depending on your lifestyle) numbers that show your blood pressure and cholesterol. Then goes the vision, as presbyopia sets in and you need reading glasses to make out those pesky words. And soon, the all-day, all-night hackathons you so eagerly jump into at every opportunity become a disaster of epic proportions, involving massive backaches and a creaky neck. Eventually the realization sets in that taking care of your own health is important, after all.

So what does taking care of yourself have to do with programming? There is no medicine for old age (at least not yet), and spending time programming is hardly the means to improve your health. Today’s healthcare technologies, however, have vastly improved our chances of growing old with fewer health problems. Research into genetics, stem cell transplants, advanced drugs, and information technology has enabled us to live longer and healthier. Naturally, in this book the main thing we’re interested in is the information technology bit.

We can’t explore many of these advances in information technology (there are just too many), but we’ll take a simple example and do some poking around.

My Beating Heart

What we’ll be exploring in this chapter is your ...

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