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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Time Travel - A Longer Life?

As I’ve written before, we are all time travelers in the sense we are traveling through time every moment. I’ve already established my reasons for the arrow of time being in one direction, which prevents travel back in time. My reasoning was already shaped but further solidified after reading a book by Dr Richard Mueller. To quickly recap, the direction is set because old time has expired and we are living in newly created time.

But that’s not the purpose of this post. Here I want to discuss the possibility of manipulating time to prolong our lives. Can we extend our years beyond the norm significantly, by manipulating time with gravity or relative motion?

Einstein taught us that time is relative. That’s what his Special Law of Relativity is about in part. Time is not the same for everybody but must be expressed within it’s reference frame.

Two things which influence time are gravity and relative velocity. I’ve discussed how gravity influences time in a previous post. But velocity also influences time If you could travel at the speed of light (not possible) then you would not experience time in the traditional sense. If you could travel near the speed of light, time would greatly slow down as compared to time on earth. That means if you boarded your spacecraft, accelerated to near the speed of light, then returned a thousand earth years later, it’s possible (depending on your relative speed to earth) to only be a year older even though a thousand earth years have passed on earth.

Likewise, if you could exist under extreme gravity, time would slow compared to the weaker gravitational forces of earth. If you could survive inside a black hole, time would nearly stop, just like when you approach the speed of light. But, of course you could never survive the event horizon of a black hole as you would quickly be stretched apart like spaghett the moment your big toe crossed over.

But, for a mind experiment, let’s assume we can live inside a black hole. Or assume we can travel very near the speed of light. That will prolong our lives, right? I mean if a thousand earth years pass and we are only one year older after traveling near the speed of light, then we have greatly increased our longevity, right?

Well, not really. Because time is relative it must be expressed in its reference frame. If you travel near light speed and return a thousand earth years later and only aged a year, you would never know it save for the dramatic changes you see on earth. You would come back to this planet only having experienced one year, even though a thousand passed on earth. Those thousand years are irrelevant to you because you didn’t experience them in earth’s reference frame.

So, how does that work? What is happening with time in each reference frame? Well, time is slowed on the space ship compared to earth for all things. Not just your age, but everything traveling with you. Including your metabolic processes. Your digestion slows to 1/1000 of an earthling. Your heartbeat beats only 1/1000 of an earth beat. Your very thoughts are slowed compared to an earthling because neurons are slowed by the same amount. Even the hands on a clock move only 1/1000 as much as the same one on earth. Weird, right?

You really will not experience a longer life on a fast moving spacecraft nor even in a black hole. In fact, in a black hole it would take you nearly an eternity to form a single thought because your neurons would all but stop.

The only thing that will be different after your stellar vacation, is you will come back to a bunch of deceased friends and family. But you will not have experienced any more life than they did (if you lived the same number of years in your reference frame).

I just turned 65 this past week. When I look at my past it seems to go on forever. I’ve been alive for as long as I remember! Time really is irrelevant to my past other than being a place marker of events.

As much as we might want to manipulate time to increase our longevity, the result will not be as we hope. We can’t escape the effects of time within our reference frame. We will only experience about 70 or 80 years if we’re lucky no matter what we do.

So if you get on the spacecraft, enjoy the ride, but don’t expect to cheat the system.

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells

Your thoughts on this are intriguing but like most people. I will live as long as my life expectancy trying to do the right things . I hope to eat right exercise and be a good person this may prolong my life.


Roger told me two more of our classmates passed recently. (Ronnie A and Ernie D), I wonder who will be the last to go? Me or you?

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