I recently watched the movie -"interstellar" and I came through the question that how can ageing be affected by space-time? Wherever I look, I get it as a fact that it's kind of ageing slows down in space, but I don't understand why.

How can space-time affect internal cellular metabolism? And if it is related to our biological clock, then can it be a sufficient explanation for this kind of drastic ageing changes?


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  • $\begingroup$ This is a physics question related to the time dilation explained by the special theory of relativity, and is therefore off-topic in Biology. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Mar 3 '16 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ See this $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Mar 3 '16 at 5:58
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG- I was just trying to get some kind of biological explanation on the slowing down of the chemical processes occurring in our cells. I had earlier read on wiki about time dialation and there was just this that wrt earth ageing slows down. I wasn't able to get the feeling of it ... that's why I asked it here...in biology... but as "Christiaan" explained that even the rates of reactions can slow down ....even though I don't get the feeling ....I am trying to grasp this idea.... $\endgroup$ – anamika Singh Mar 3 '16 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ There is no change in mechanics as you can note in the linked Physics post and wikipedia. This is just a property of the spacetime itself. As noted by someone in the Physics post, the theory of relativity is not very intuitive. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Mar 3 '16 at 8:07

According to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, moving objects measure shorter in their direction of motion as their velocity increases until, at the speed of light, they disappear. It also tells us that moving clocks run more slowly as their velocity increases until, at the speed of light, they stop running altogether.

Hence, astronauts traveling at great speeds for long periods of time return to earth younger than had they stayed on earth.

Technology, however, limits the velocities of astronauts, the differences are hence minuscule: after 6 months on the International Space Station (ISS), the astronaut crew had indeed aged less than those on Earth, but only by about 0.005 seconds. Hence, your notion that there are drastic changes do not find solid ground in the light of current technology. The effects would be greater if the astronauts were traveling nearer to the speed of light (299,792,458 m/s).

It is the mere physics behind it. Everything slows down relative to a slower moving observer. Not just metabolism, but time itself.

  • $\begingroup$ @Christiaan- so you mean everything slows down ... like rate of any chemical reaction occurring in our cells? $\endgroup$ – anamika Singh Mar 2 '16 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ @anamikaSingh - everything slows down $\endgroup$ – AliceD Mar 2 '16 at 23:04

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