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Q & A: gravity and time

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Most recent answer: 11/24/2011
Q:
Does gravitational pull affect the aging process? For example Einstein I believe did an expirement with clocks at different altitudes, the hands of the one closer to the surface of the earth would go slower than that of the other at the higher altitude based solely on gravitational pull. My question is if gravitational pull slows time, then why would it not affect age(since the way we as humans calculate age is based off our perception of time)???
- Fletch (age 19)
A:
Einstein didn't do the experiment, and it was done with atomic clocks lacking "hands", but the effect you mention is certainly real. GPS systems would go way off if they didn't correct for it.

It does affect the rates at which all processes occur, including those involved in our lives. As a result, as measured by someone far up away from the earth, we live about 1.000000001 times longer than a similar creature would up with the observer. What that means is not really that we live longer from our own perspective but rather that we see the distant universe as running a tiny bit fast.

Mike W.

(published on 11/24/2011)

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