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Cosmic Radiation Speeds up Aging in Space?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the space-raisins dept.

218

SpaceAdmiral writes "The Theory of Relativity tells us that the faster a person travels the slower time passes for that person relative to someone left on Earth. This means that traveling at high velocities in a spacecraft should reduce one's aging. However, recent research suggests that cosmic radiation may counteract that anti-aging effect. Iron-nuclei radiation affects the aging of cells, which is possibly one of the reasons astronauts who have been to the Moon tend to get cataracts about 7 years earlier than other astronauts."

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218 comments

So... (4, Funny)

op12 (830015) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976181)

...time to put on my tinfoil suit!

Cataracts? (5, Funny)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976224)

No! I drive Rincoln-Continentar!

Re:Cataracts? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976246)

If behind dilettante approach girl scout about bodice ripper, then bodice ripper inside prays.Furthermore, support group inside power drill takes a coffee break, and eggplant about laugh and drink all night with maestro inside stovepipe.buzzard related to a big fan of swamp near tape recorder.When behind philosopher leaves, ballerina toward apartment building hides.
vicarious brindle notebook boy trytophan.

From my cold dead hands (1)

climbon321 (874929) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976298)

So does this mean Charlton Heston would have already died of old age by the time he reached the Planet of the Apes?

Re:From my cold dead hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976372)

No, but it may explain the longevity of Mole-People

Re:So... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976375)

Sure, if you're fond of Bremsstrahlung radiation...

Re:So... (1)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976391)

No, just your tinfoil goggles.

Dandy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976182)

The number of astronauts been to the moon is hardly a comparable figure to the ones who haven't, and therefore, difficult to make the hard-and-fast observation that they tend to get cataracts 7 years earlier.

Small Sample (3, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976356)

I'm all in favor of further study on a larger number of people who go at least as far as the Moon.

Not much connection between those two things (4, Insightful)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976183)

Going to the moon and back probably "slows down" time for an astronaut by a tiny fraction of a second.

Getting hit by a lot of hard radiation causes all sorts of cellular problems, not just cataracts.

How are the two connected again?

Re:Not much connection between those two things (2, Informative)

isometrick (817436) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976304)

The article (and the summary) are merely speculating that when close-to-c travel is possible, the radiation might counter the "anti-aging" effect of Einstein's paradox.

It merely provided an example of the radiation possibly causing an acceleration of aging. This does not mean the astronauts in question were majorly affected by relativity.

Re:Not much connection between those two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976787)

There's nothing paradoxical about what Einstein proved.

Re:Not much connection between those two things (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976809)

But the "Twin Paradox" is, and is clearly named as such. Many people have extended the word "paradox" to cover the entire anti-aging effect, as it TRIGGERS many paradox-scenarios.

Re:Not much connection between those two things (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976794)

Until we have some kind of exotic radiation shields, you can forget about travelling at high speeds. I don't think accelerated aging is an appropriate description of burning to a crisp.

Re:Not much connection between those two things (4, Insightful)

heatdeath (217147) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976373)

How are the two connected again?

Exactly what I thought when I read this article. The effects of relativity won't be "counteracted" by cosmic radiation any more than a diet of donuts and lard can counteract the effects of relativity.

Big surprise, radiation kills you.

Re:Not much connection between those two things (1)

RaNdOm OuTpUt (928053) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976542)

hard radiation causes all sorts of cellular problems
THAT'S why I couldn't get a signal on the moon!

Re:Not much connection between those two things (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976620)

I think you might be taking it the wrong way. The going to the mooon was just to give an example of what happend to astronauts becuase of cosmic radiation with a control of Astronauts that stay in earth orbit, it had nothing to do with the effects of relitivity making them age slower.... Thats what I read from it.

Perfect solution for clones (2, Funny)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976193)

All we have to do is bombard clones with the right kind of radiation and we can rapid grow them now.

Re:Perfect solution for clones (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976367)

...In addition to giving them all sorts of cancers, DNA and RNA transcribing errors, mutated and mutilated protiens.

If we assume that we can bombard them with x amount of quantity of y radiation to decrease maturation time by z, we must assume a disorder rate of (x*M)*z-21.

This means that x amount time M, which is the average Mutation count per quantity of y radiation. Then the decreased in maturation time, z, minus 21 which is the legally "mature"(adult) age for total bombardment time multiplied by the previous number to get total disorders.

Re:Perfect solution for clones (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976457)

Do you kill *every* joke you hear/read by picking it to death? Or is it just this one?

pkg_add sense-of-humour

Re:Perfect solution for clones (2, Funny)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976503)

Ehh, some people like dry, fake-math based jokes and some people don't...

Other health issues (1)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976195)

Doesn't low/no gravity affect bone density as well? I think I'll skip the whole outer space thing. I already look 10 years older than I am. Gotta love those CRT tanlines.

Bah! (4, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976196)

Bah! You young 'uns and your fancy schmancy "cosmic radiation". In my day, we didn't have this uppity "Iron-nuclei radiation". We got by with regular sunshine in the day, moonlight during the night and we liked it.

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976247)

Not to mention the wind burns on those days on the range looking in the far corners for calves to brand in the spring and summer.

Young.. (5, Funny)

onion2k (203094) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976201)

One way or another, NASA plans to keep their astronauts feeling young.

Miss Young was unavailable for comment.

Re:Young.. (1)

Silicon Jedi (878120) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976270)

For the love of all that is holy... Mod Parent UP!!!! +1 Teh Funny OMGWTFBBQ

Re:Young.. (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976796)

For the love of all that is holy... Mod Parent UP!

Miss Holy was unavailable for comment.

Yeah, but that won't alter time (4, Insightful)

iced_773 (857608) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976206)


The aging does not "counteract" the relativity. For example, you may look like you aged 50 years, but only 20 will actually have passed for you. Meanwhile, 50 years may actually have passed on Earth.

Cosmic radiation may age you, but it will not accelerate time.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1, Insightful)

SpaceAdmiral (869318) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976269)

Oh, come on. I said "counteract this anti-aging effect" not "counteract relativity and slow down time. " Only an idiot would require your clarification.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (2, Informative)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976424)

If I may:

This means that traveling at high velocities in a spacecraft should reduce one's aging.

No it won't. I will reduce the appearance of time's progression on a person, from everyone outside that persons sphere of perspective. They will still have lived the same amount of relative time as someone else would have.

You weren't clear, and it sent shivers up a lot of people's backs.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (2, Insightful)

SpaceAdmiral (869318) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976536)

That's a fair criticism, but I think in the context it's pretty clear. I mean, the previous sentence explicitly said it was a relative effect. I'm also assuming most /.ers have taken basic high school science. Having said that, the story isn't exactly as I wrote it (it was edited). So, um, I'll use that as my excuse for any further criticism that comes my way.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

osgeek (239988) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976665)

To be honest, I found the article summary to be a bit misleading, confusing, and aiming to be too "clever" for its own good. The topic is interesting, but you were trying too hard to be funny or something. To each his own, I guess; but don't be too surprised if the technically minded at /. didn't get the point or joke or whatever you were trying to accomplish.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

DirtEater (961683) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976376)

The author clearly meant that from the perspective of the article, the artificial aging counteracts the results of relativity. Isn't nitpicking like this just a distraction from an actual discussion?

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976580)

"The author clearly meant that from the perspective of the article, the artificial aging counteracts the results of relativity. Isn't nitpicking like this just a distraction from an actual discussion?"

Not when it is presented as if there is some mathematical connection between living cells being damaged by high energy radiation, and the special theory of relativity.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (0)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976463)

Think about it. Relativity makes great sense. If you traveled at half the speed of light (assuming time doesn't pass at warp 1): 50 years pass on earth, 25 for you. Problem is, it takes another 25 for you to get back. Now, relative to you, the earth is going back in time 25 years (provided you go the same speed back). Back to zero extra years.

Relativity is limited in its usefulness. Aging only stops/slows down for the visual perspective of the observer. You will still have aged 50 years if you speed of at light -1m/sec from earth. If they could 'see' with some sort of telescope, they would notice that you are moving very slowly, and not aging, mostly because so many of those photons carrying the information of your visual status haven't had the ability/time to reach the lenses.

If humans could only react to sound, then Einstien would likely have said that nothing goes faster than sound because we can't percieve it faster than sound. (And we'd be stupid to try, lots of things to bump into if sound can't head back faster than it got there).

MOD PARENT UP; FUNNY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976531)

Mod this up funny, it's ridiculous.

Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976551)

Relativity makes great sense

Well, it makes more sense than any of your post, at least

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

Krazy Nemesis (795036) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976579)

Did you just say 'warp 1'?
Back to zero extra years.
Ummm... but you just said that the Earth was traveling back in time. Does that mean I come back when I left, but 50 years older? So if I came back at a faster rate than I left, could I get back before I took-off?
they would notice that you are moving very slowly, and not aging
Since when was moving at the speed of light slow?

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976590)

I'll laugh my ass off if this gets modded insightful. Although I've seen it happen before...

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (2, Informative)

dougmc (70836) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976594)

Relativity makes great sense.
Obviously not, because your description shows that you're confused about how it works. Which isn't surprising -- most people are. I've got a degree in Physics, and I still find much of this stuff to be very counter-intuitive.

As for the situation of a guy travelling at 0.99999c for a while and then coming back to Earth at the same speed, the two trips do NOT cancel out. The difference is that the traveller was accelerated to that speed, then deaccelerated until he stopped relative to the Earth, and then accelerated back to 0.99999c in the opposite direction, and then deaccelerated again (we hope) when he reached the Earth. You can't just magically reach a given speed -- you have to be accelerated to that speed, and that's where the situation of the traveller is not the same as the situation of the Earth.

If you traveled at half the speed of light (assuming time doesn't pass at warp 1): 50 years pass on earth, 25 for you.
1) warp 1 is usually considered to be the speed of light, not 1/2 c.
2) time dialation [wikipedia.org] is not linear. At 0.5 c, time would be slowed by a factor of 1/sqrt(1-0.5**2) or only about 15%, not 50%.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976700)

1) warp 1 is usually considered to be the speed of light, not 1/2 c.
Scratch that -- I see what you meant. (The rest still applies, however.)

In any event, general relativity basically says that reaching 1 c is impossible. It doesn't say that you can't go faster than that (tachyons [wikipedia.org] supposedly spend their entire life above the speed of light) -- it just says that matter can't go exactly the speed of light. As for what exactly happens at warp one, you'll have to ask Gene Roddenbery for the specifics, but from what I can tell, time continues normally, but your ship goes off really fast, leaving colored trails behind it, and a commercial usually follows very quickly.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976738)

I've read the theorey of relativity in many forms. No degree, however. I've been through the formulas, and I understand them pretty well (was a math major, so I can crunch numbers). Problem is, this is still what I get out of relativity. I know that you can't just be accelerated to C or 1/2 without infinite force.

All I'm saying is that we won't know untill we try, and it makes no sense (to me) until it happens. I sure we all saw Flight of the Navigator [imdb.com] . That's when I became intrueged with relativity, when I was 6. Didn't study it for another 10 years, though...

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (3, Funny)

dougmc (70836) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976864)

I know that you can't just be accelerated to C or 1/2 without infinite force.
You can't reach 1 c, because it would require infinite amounts of energy ... that's one way of looking at it, and as accurate as any other. As for 0.5 c, you can reach that -- you'll just need massive amounts of energy to accelerate a macroscopic object to that speed, at least by our current 20th century standards.

All I'm saying is that we won't know untill we try
Until we try what? Try to accelerate Geraldo to 0.5 c out of the solar system? I'd pay a dollar to see that!

The effects of relativity have been measured experimentally. Atomic clocks put onto planes and flown around the world have been found to run very slightly slower, and subatomic particles that are known to last for X picoseconds have been found to last much longer when zipping about at 0.999c. Neat stuff -- coming up with theories like this is one thing, but actually showing the effects in the real world -- that's what's really neat.

Re:Yeah, but that won't alter time (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976629)

I'm not sure precisely what you said, but it is more than possible to go racing off into space at a high fraction of c, come racing back and arrive to find out that quite a bit less time has passed for you than for the people you left behind. Not only will you appear younger than would be expected, but you will BE younger because less time passed for you.

Isn't this already known? (4, Insightful)

caluml (551744) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976208)

Isn't this a given? Just as if you expose your skin to UV radiation on the beach all day, it'll age faster. Isn't aging (and cancer) just the decay of the DNA in your cells - aging just making them not grow back properly, and cancer making them grow wrongly?

Re:Isn't this already known? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976713)

Isn't this a given? Just as if you expose your skin to UV radiation on the beach all day, it'll age faster.
No, not really. UV is electromagnetic radiation, a.k.a. photons. Cosmic radiation is atoms travelling at relativistic velocities. The comparison might be like comparing a sonic shockwave to a bullet. They both cause damage, but they each do it in a different way. It's an apples to oranges comparison.

The article summary is basically saying this: When you accelerate to near lightspeed, relativistic time dilation means that you experience less time than things that have not been accelerated (like the rest of the universe). This means that to an outside observer, you will appear to age slowly. You might travel 100 light years and only 1 year passes for you. You experience one year, you age 1 year, while the people left back on Earth experience 100 years and age 100 years. But, space is filled with cosmic radiation, little atomic bullets that collide with you constantly, each one tearing through your cells and scrambling your DNA like eggs. If you yourself are travelling at close to lightspeed, then cosmic rays that happen to be travelling in the opposite direction from you will hit you with immensely more energy than they would if you weren't moving. More energy means more cellular mayhem, which in turn means accelerated aging. So, during 100 light-year journey, maybe you'll age several years, even though you only experience 1 year of time. Overall, you're getting screwed.

That same acceleration would doppler-shift mere UV up to a higher, more dangerous portion of the spectrum, maybe making it more like X-rays to you. However, it's much easier to shield a spacecraft from EM radiation than it is to shield it from cosmic radiation -- those little superfast atoms can tear through a lot of material.

Isn't Einstein still correct? (1)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976212)

Isn't Einstein still correct? You just need to travel faster, or get better shielding against space radiation and you'll still age slower.

Re:Isn't Einstein still correct? (1)

boldtbanan (905468) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976283)

You always age at the same rate since age is a measure of the time passed (for you) with respect to the date of your birth. Relativity does not make you age slower, it just makes it appear so to people who did were not experiencing the same flow of time as you.

As for this story, it's moronic. It's like saying 'If you sit in a microwave for 3 days, that negates the effect of the thimbleful of SPF 1 suntan lotion you put on.' Duh. Show me someone who experienced a perceived loss of 7 years time to people on earth due to relativity (preferably travelling somewhere far away from a massive source of radiation such as THE SUN) and tell me what happens then. The whole premise of the claim made here is just stupid.

It's hysterical, and the editors knew it (5, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976330)

From the very tail end of the article: "This story should not be construed to mean that Einstein's theory of Special Relativity is wrong."

Einstein was completely correct. What's wrong is the idea that you can use the time-dilation effect to get to another solar system safely if you can get close enough to light speed, since even short times in space cause health effects. Which has nothing to do with "aging" per se, and even less to do with relativity. And still less to do with NASA's immediate plans, since NASA only has solar-system travel in mind for the next few decades.

So the final tally is:
Space travel: still dangerous
Einstein: correct
Article author: dipstick

Re:It's hysterical, and the editors knew it (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976473)

> What's wrong is the idea that you can use the time-dilation effect to get to another solar system safely if you can get close enough to light speed, since even short times in space cause health effects.

What everyone's overlooking here is this:

If you've got a power source capable of accelerating a spaceship to 0.99c for years at a time, you've got also a power source capable of deflecting the induced radiation from your travels, and you're probably not so worried about ship mass that you can't afford to build in shielding materials.

Consider that you encounter hundreds of times more mosquitoes on a cross-country drive than you do on a single evening barbecuing. You both may be clawing your faces off by Monday morning, but only one of you will be doing so because of mosquito bites.

Re:It's hysterical, and the editors knew it (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976572)

you've also got a power source capable of deflecting the induced radiation from your travels

No, active shielding doesn't help much against GCR [physicamedica.com] .

Re:It's hysterical, and the editors knew it (1)

jefe7777 (411081) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976666)

agreed. the headline made it sound like some inverse relationship existed, that was previously overlooked.

Sample size (1)

tdemark (512406) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976213)

Iron-nuclei radiation affects the aging of cells, which is possibly one of the reasons astronauts who have been to the Moon tend to get cataracts about 7 years earlier than other astronauts.

I glad they can draw such conclusions given a sample size of 12 [panoramas.dk] .

Re:Sample size (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976359)

I agree, but you left out the other 6 who remained in orbit around the moon while the others went to the surface. And I'm leaving out Apollo 8,10,13 all of which ventured outside of the Earth's magnetic field.

WRONG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976216)

The Theory of Relativity tells us that the faster a person travels the slower time passes for that person relative to someone left on Earth. This means that traveling at high velocities in a spacecraft should reduce one's aging

Who let this idiot on? This does not mean that one's aging is reduced, it means that their aging occurs slower than for someone on Earth. For example, a person travels on a space craft going almost light speed and another person hangs out here for one year. The person on the space craft at the end of earth's year will have aged less than the person on earth, but only because have not lived an extra year! Once they get a year older (with time passing at a reduced rate), they will have aged the same as the person on Earth.. But by this point, the person on Eaarth would have aged much further because they would have gone through more time.

So, time slowing down does not equal aging slowing down. It only equals time slowing down. Duh.

Re:WRONG (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976441)

The solution seems obvious. We must somehow increase the earth's orbit around the sun to nearly c, since the earth provides adaquate radiation shielding for human life. We'll just have to deal with the tendancy for the earth to fly away from the sun if we increase its orbital speed. That, and sunlight might have trouble reaching the surface of the earth reliably.

Back In My Day (2, Funny)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976222)

We used to go to the moon in my front yard in a cardboard box covered in tin foil, and we never experienced any cosmic radiation or aging effects. The martians looked strangely like the neighbors golden retrievers, and the moon rocks we took home as samples smelled like dog poop, but it was all in the name of science.

Well that spoils it for me (1)

Bob3141592 (225638) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976228)

Considering the practical difficulties of accelerating to a high percentage of the speed of light, what's a little extra radiation exposure? A few extra meters of shielding ought to reduce that problem, though all that mass will take some extra energy to get up to speed.

How much would it cost to Lorentz contract my time so I can stop in the year 3006? A couple of gazillion? Would I even want to see how much more screwed up the world will be in another thousand years?

Maybe that radiation wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.

Re:Well that spoils it for me (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976445)

Your positivity is overwhelming.

Perhaps I misunderstand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976233)

I thought that the aging thing depended on frame or reference. In other words, the space traveler would only appear to age slowly to those of us still on Earth, while to the space traveler, his own aging would appear normal while the people he left on Earth would seem to age faster. TFA seems to suggest that the traveler would notice that he was aging slowly, too. Could a physicist explain this, please?

anti-aging effects? (3, Insightful)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976241)

Travelling to great speed does not have an anti aging effect... It changes the "duration" of time, but the effects on the body related to the time spend does not vary. The classical effect of the astronauts who returns to earth 70 years before having aged only 7 years is due to the fact that the astronaut has spend only 7 years in the space (from his point of view).

How many astronauts on the moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976242)

...and just how many astronauts have been on the moon to make a generalization?

Lying makes you go blind DOUBLE PROOF (3, Funny)

netsavior (627338) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976279)

which is possibly one of the reasons astronauts who have been to the Moon tend to get cataracts about 7 years earlier than other astronauts So basically this proves what my mom said Lying makes you go blind. It also proves that the moon missions were fake.

Re:Lying makes you go blind DOUBLE PROOF (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976763)

Hey! you're begging the question!

which begs the question,
why is it called "begging the question?"

Word Choice (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976295)

Are you really aging slowly? All the reactions in your body are happening at the same rates, including aging. The difference is that the rates are happening at a different speed of time. So the same rates but different times means that you aren't aging slower, your creating a time illusion of sorts. You have not aged any more than you know you should in the time that you have, but other people see that you have aged less than they know you should in the time that you(they) have. Since you are both right, I contend that you have both aged slower and normally at the same time and thus we need to call it something else.

I suggest we call it 'spooky aging.'

Cosmic Radiation can also have positive effects (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976303)

In some instances it speeds up aging but in other cases it turns you into a superhero(tm). I'll take my chances!

Re:Cosmic Radiation can also have positive effects (1)

raider_red (156642) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976386)

Hey, don't use the (tm) mark for that, and don't forget that Cory said we have to call them underwear perverts until DC and Marvell start behaving again.

SAMPLE SIZE??? !!! (1)

Suzuki_SV_rider (727803) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976331)

I mean c'mon. Is the sample size really large enough to make a call on the average number of years it takes for the onset of cataracts? How many people have walked the surface of the moon?

-sv rider

Re:SAMPLE SIZE??? !!! (3, Funny)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976416)

I mean c'mon. Is the sample size really large enough to make a call on the average number of years it takes for the onset of cataracts? How many people have walked the surface of the moon?
I did a survey at my cubicle and I conclude that 100% of the Earth's population agrees that the sample size is too small.

Relativity is not anti-aging (1)

‹berhund (27591) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976346)

Relativity will not make you live longer. It'll just get your time line out of sync with everyone else's.

Sorry to disagree, but that's a ridiculous claim. (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976361)

Space radiation helped my joints get more flexible, and all the wrinkles on my wife's face disappeared. If that wasn't enough, my brother-in-law can arrive to his job in practically no time, and my friend Ben got much stronger.

Sincerely,
Reed Richards.

It gets worse (2, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976388)

When you travel near the speed of light just think of how many more cosmic rays you collide with since you are going so fast.

Not quite correct. (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976675)

When you travel near the speed of light just think of how many more cosmic rays you collide with since you are going so fast.

The speed at which electromagnetic radiation propagates is constant, regardless of your velocity. If you are 'standing still' relative to the universe, light travels at 300,000 km/sec. If you accelerate at 1 km/sec for 300,000 seconds and measure the speed of light, it will be traveling at 300,000 km/sec (and just to be clear, you will not be traveling at 300,000 km/sec at that point, as relativistic speeds can't be added linearly). Going faster will not cause you to 'collide' with more cosmic rays.

kudos to the austronauts and cosmonauts (1)

zr (19885) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976392)

they knew then better than most of us do now the risks of going to outer space. but they went anyways, to advance science and explore farther frontiers.

i say we owe those pioneers mucho respect!

and just to make this post tad more useful, here's a link to the russian "buran" website: http://buran.ru/ [buran.ru] with tons of interesting info.

And we're surprised? (1)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976414)

Why should we be surprised that hard radiation does enough cellular damage to increase the onset of aging? Is this really a shock?

The article submitter has watched way too many Star Trek episodes if he thinks that travelling to the moon is going to have a noticable time dilation effect. Light travels at 3e8 metres/second. The distance to the moon is ~1.3 light seconds (300,000 km). Unless the moon landing astronauts made that trip in under a minute, there will be no relativistic effects.

As a physicist, I can tell you that travelling in space is not by itself enough to slow time down. You need to be moving very fast indeed.

Faster than light travel (1)

Gogogoch (663730) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976418)

Hmmm..... cosmic radiation counteracts 'that anti-aging effect' which is in turn due to relativity? So we have a way of counteracting relativistic effects? What inaccurate and imprecise physics reporting...again. Slashdot should stick to news on software if these stories can't be written with a bit more rigor. Or properly scrutinized.

This has got to be the most bizarre introduction (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976425)

... ever.

I mean who writes these things? Can you talk about the aging effect of space rediation without going off on a tangent about relativity. The two are completely unrelated you know.

Also as others have said relativistic speeds do not really extend your life. From the point of view of the person travelling at a high speed his/her life will not feel any longer.

Cataracts? (2, Funny)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976436)

I had heard the astronauts get Cadillacs earlier which, ironically, is also a sign of premature aging.

Space-aging (1)

Gilzors (933257) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976442)

So now it's going to be harder to convince others to send people to the moon.

Statistical relevance? (1)

robogun (466062) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976453)

I was wondering if the 25 or so astronauts who went to the Moon, including both lunar orbit and surface landings, was a large enough group to draw these statistical conclusions from.

This article is flawed (1)

ChowRiit (939581) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976459)

The article seems to imply that increased aging through cellular decay, forced by radation, is somehow the "opposite" to decreased aging due to time dilation effects: this is clearly nonsence. One may have the opposite EFFECT to the other, but this is a very different thing...

And so I have heard from other scientists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976464)

Cosmic radiation also gives you Superhero (TM) powers, at least thats what this group of scientists told me...

speed of travel is important? (1)

mcguyver (589810) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976481)

Using an astronaught is not a large sample and would make a highly speculative study.

Secondly, at the speed of light the aging process does not slow down. The rate at which I age is constant but you may view me as not having aged.

Lastly, would cosmic rays have a greater or lesser impact on your relative aging? If travelling at 90% instead of 50% of the speed of light increase my chances of being viewed as aging faster?

Maybe my questions are answered in the article but I tried to read it and my head exploded...

It's what you call... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976549)

... bullshit. They're basically saying that radiation is not good for you. Big surprise there.

Another idiotic title/summary (5, Insightful)

sk1tch (152715) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976484)

What's with the latest string of intensely stupid articles on slashdot? First XBox downloads of apples outpaces iTunes downloads of oranges, and now a random fact of biology overrules an accepted theory of physics? Why do people write such retarded titles and how do they get posted?

Better things to worry about then aging (1)

dshade69 (727005) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976485)

I would think if you were in a space ship going fast enough for relativity to really matter, you would hopefully have shielding on said ship otherwise you would die pretty damn quickly.

Not just the traveller ages more slowly... (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976514)

"The Theory of Relativity tells us that the faster a person travels the slower time passes for that person relative to someone left on Earth. This means that traveling at high velocities in a spacecraft should reduce one's aging."

For a limited time, we will offer you the ultimate in longevity treatments. You'll fly off at ultra high velocities in one of our specially-designed rocket ships, which use certified Space Technology®. You'll be the envy of your friends, as they watch you age 50 or 100 times more slowly than them. It works better than any anti-aging cream on the market today. Call now!

Unfortunately, since there is no preferred frame of reference, the person travelling at a high velocity away from Earth will also see the people on Earth aging slower than him/her. But they'll be light years away by the time they realize that.

The Start of Something New (2, Informative)

Quirk (36086) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976528)

Others have commented on the nonsense of the story as posted but there is another angle. Much progress in biology and more especially in medicine has come from the study of pathologies. We assume a healthy organism then study a pathology to gain some insight into the changes the pathology has wrought. Further we reason from the state of the pathology to better improve our model of a healthy organism.

The classic example in neuroscience is the case history of Phineas P. Gage [wikipedia.org] .

Space travel and Space Stations have provided us with a burgeoning catalogue of studies on the impact of extended stays in space on our and other metabolisms. The Biomedical Results From Skylab [nasa.gov] are an example of earlier studies. Space promises unique biological insights.

Think that's bad? (1)

Winlin (42941) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976552)

Just wait until the first astronaut turns into a Protector. Now that's an aging problem.

You're kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976573)

Yet another thing that geeks like to do that makes you go blind.

Send in the Robots (3, Insightful)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976587)

What a circuitous way to say that the Cosmic Ray and Solar Activity exposure of Space is bad for you. Scientific American had an in depth article on this just a month or two ago. As it turns out we have no really good ideas about how to adequately shield the human body from radiation in space and the problem only gets worse once you leave what little protection the Earth's magnetic shield provides. And before you suggest Magnetic Shielding or Material Shielding or Electrostatic Shielding, they crunched the numbers on all these things and the results were depressing. You can shield with a high enough Magnetic Field, but the Teslas involved are so high as to be worse that the radiation your trying to shield from (Earth's shield is effective because of size). Physical shielding requires a Meter or more of water all around (impractical because of weight). Etc., ect... We've made NO progress on really effective anti radiation measures in space. There are only coping strategies, so if you want to go to Mars just be prepared to give up 10-15 years off your expected life time on average or at best an early onset of senile dementia because you WILL loose quite a few neurons to radiation to realize your dreams of bounding around on Mars.

As a child I had been wildly enthusiastic about manned space flight or even becoming an astronaut myself some day. The fact that my 11th birthday coincided with the Apollo 11 Moon landing probably has something to do with this (I'll let you do the math to figure out my age). Anyway we've spent over 3 decades going basically nowhere and as it turns out space is a really hazardous place to stay for long periods of time. So while I'm still very much pro space exploration it is time to hand the baton to robots. Insisting that Man can do some things better is probably only true for the short term anyway. Better to embrace our robotic assisted lives by using the space program as a driving program to accelerate robotics instead of as a meat grinder for human flesh.

What NASA should REALLY focus on are sample return missions. That is where the real big bang for scientific buck will come.

Whoa... (2, Funny)

FusionDragon2099 (799857) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976635)

The Fantastic Four must be pretty old at this rate!

Chromosome damage is just Aging (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976641)

Error replications, and other fun things involving misfolds and fun usage of siRNAs and all, are just what aging is.

Radiation is just a way to do that faster. Most of aging's effects, other than the degredation/oblation/shortening of the telomeres, work out to the same thing.

Lightspeed reduces ageing? (2, Insightful)

Andy Gardner (850877) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976693)

Correct me if I'm wrong (and I know you will, this being slashdot :P) but a body travelling at relatavistic speeds would not experience a slower passage of time, a second would still be a second?

As far as I'm aware if your were 20 and traveled at reletavistic speeds for 10 years you would be 30 at the end of your journey. However many more years may have passed at some arbitrary fixed point (relatively).

So this article is basically saying radiation reduces lifespan?

Astronauts on the Moon (1)

daigu (111684) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976724)

How many astronauts have been to the moon? How did they isolate this population to determine that radiation was the cause? Perhaps there is a self-selection bias. Perhaps it is all the flashing bulbs from the pictures that are taken after a successful return. In other words, this causal connection is complete crap.

That sucks (1)

Mad Ogre (564694) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976750)

Sucks to be Major Tom.

Scientific Study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976775)

astronauts who have been to the Moon tend to get cataracts about 7 years earlier than other astronauts

Hhhmm. Been a while since I've been in a statistics class, but I didn't think there have been enough astronauts on the moon, in total to support such a study....

Oh, so that's why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#14976861)

Captain Kirk had to get plastic surgery!

relativity? (1)

thisislee (908426) | more than 7 years ago | (#14976910)

Relativity is just a buzz word to get people to read the article. This has no implications related to relativity except for the fact that you would probably have to be in space to go fast enough for fun relativity stuff to happen on a pereptible scale. Near speed of light travel is not anti-aging. It is forward time travel. Accelerated aging is a consequence of exposure to radiation and has nothing to do with relativity.
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