While most of us are spending our time emptying chocolate boxes and snaffling extra pudding, some are expending time and effort on strange attempts to extend healthy life. Many are based in Silicon Valley, the home of tech giants and of Calico, a Google-backed company that has spent the past seven years researching the biology of ageing.

One Silicon Valley stalwart, Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, an online shoe business that he sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion, died after being injured in a fire late last year, reportedly having spent the night in a shed with a heater that would deliberately lower the oxygen level. Until his demise he was trying a range of odd ways to stay healthy, including inhaling laughing gas and depriving himself of oxygen.

He was not alone in Silicon Valley. ‘These people are incredibly smart and driven and interested in so

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