Does Gravity Affect How Fast We Age?


| LAST UPDATE 12/21/2022

By Daria Appleby
Gravity Space Age Time
Keith Meyers/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Taking a look at Einstein's theory of gravity, we are aware of the idea that the concept is a natural result of a mass's existence in space. Of course, gravity varies depending on where we are on the planet. Though this theory was devised over a century ago, more understanding of the concept has been discovered. Although, nothing is set in stone. One of those ideas that have raised awareness is the idea that gravity can change how fast people age.

According to LiveScience, this "mind-bending phenomenon happens because the closer an object is to Earth, the stronger the impacts of gravity are." Due to the fact that gravity is a compound of time and space, time, as a result, will travel in accordance with its distance from a point on Earth where gravity differs. Taking this idea into consideration, we can question whether someone ages faster if they have reached the peak of Mount Everest as opposed to someone at sea level. James Chin-wen Choi, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, told LiveScience anything that is further from "a gravitational field," such as Earth, time moves more slowly.

Gravity Age Time Effects
Space Frontiers/Archive Photos via Getty Images
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Chou says, "Gravity makes us age slower, in a relative term... Compared to someone not near any massive object, we are aging more slowly by a very tiny amount. In fact, for that someone, the whole world around us evolves more slowly under the effect of gravity." Take Mount Everest as an example, around 29,000 feet above sea level. According to NIST, if one were to sit there for 30 minutes, this technically means you are 0.91 milliseconds ahead of time than someone who was sitting at sea level. When NIST researchers conducted an experiment with the aim of proving this point, they used one of the most accurate atomic clocks in the world. With this clock, time runs faster than 0.008 inches above the Earth's surface. A NIST physicist Tobias Bothwell explained post-experiment, "we have seen the change in the ticking of a clock at a distance roughly the width of a human hair." By recognizing the concept of space-time as a "four-dimensional tapestry," up, down, right, and left is acknowledged. When placing an object at each of the coordinates, time is distorted, resulting in "the bending of space and the dilation of time."

Overall, though nothing has been scientifically established, the experiment shows the effects are "real and measurable but negligible in everyday situations." Of course, when high up and further away from earth, the speed and gravity level at which one is traveling must be accounted for. Despite the scientific depths of the investigation, it is clear gravity does affect how fast or slow we age.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below