“To get ahead in life, spend some time on the International Space Station,” Seth Kadish writes in the most recent issue of Wired magazine.
Because according to the theory of relativity, people traveling at great speeds (such as astronauts on the space station) experience time more slowly than the rest of us — it’s called “time dilation.”
So when they return to Earth, they’re younger than they would have been had they stayed on the planet.
But, Kadish goes on to point out, the diminished gravity of outer space works in the opposite direction: It makes time move more quickly. In either case, while the effect is real, the time difference is measured only in milliseconds.
In a graphic headlined “Time Travel Is Real. Here Are the People and Spacecraft Who Have Done It,” Kadish reports that Peggy Whitson, an American who has spent more time in space than any other woman, is 0.0092 seconds younger than she would have been had she not spent 377 days in orbit.
And Russian Sergei K. Krikalov, whose 803 days in orbit make him the holder of the time-in-space record, has gained a whopping 0.02 seconds.
Kadish also calculates the effects on the age of the space station itself, as well as some long-orbiting satellites.
But since they don’t get wrinkles or arthritis, who cares?