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The 747: The Modern Day Time Machine

By Mauricio Sabogal, Global CEO, Kinetic Worldwide

Many of you will relate to the challenges of constant business travel. For me, it is tough to keep track of my schedule, and I am on a plane at least 80% of the time, checking in on Facebook like a musician on a world concert tour. My presence on social networking sites and my emails to our company are constant: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sound familiar? Mind you, I am not complaining. I love it, in fact. And I think it is reversing the aging process!

I am often told that I look younger than my cohorts. I have been humbled by people’s comments about my exuberance and overall healthy, youthful appearance.

But during one of my recent trips around the world, after the many long hours of flying, I started thinking how and why I seem to age slower than others. Maybe it was the Bloody Mary, or the haze from watching all the movies of the month (including the ones I repeated in my native language Spanish to better understand the content).

I am 52 years old. I was born in 1963 while my brother, Daniel, was born four years later, in 1967. Usually when the two of us are together, people say that my brother looks older than me (Hopefully he isn’t reading this!).

I can say with confidence that my brother and I share health habits. Neither one of us has a special diet. We aren’t particularly athletic, but we don’t smoke or drink in excess. In fact, the main, if not only, difference in our health and lifestyle is that my brother does not travel as frequently as I do. While I essentially live on a plane.

I started doing some calculations. I had flash backs to some of the high school physics homework that I helped my daughter with recently when we happened upon the Einsteinian Theory of Relativity and his paradox of the aging twins.

Einstein used the twin paradox as a demonstration of the Theory of Relativity. It shows that time and space are not absolute variables, rather they depend on the state of motion of the observers who describe it.

The paradox is a thought experiment using a set of twins. One twin is sent on a space journey, moving nearly at the speed of light. His brother, however, remains on Earth. When the space-faring twin returns home, he will come back to an unusual situation: his brother aged more than him.

To further test this paradox two atomic clocks were calibrated, identically. One clock spent time in a city, while the other was put on a commercial airliner that went around the world. To my surprise, the airline clock was slightly delayed compared to the city clock. Now I understand by the way why my watch is delayed a few minutes after a long journey. I actually thought my watch had a defect, until I read this theory.

A thought then hit me. If this happens to clocks on a plane, why not humans?

Think about it. If you are traveling faster than the speed of light, you could theoretically go into the future by traveling in the same direction as the rotation of the earth or visit the past if you move in the opposite direction.

All of this would be easy to prove with pilots or crews, but flights aren’t all in one direction. We travel North, South, East or West.

In my life, as reported by the results of my frequent flyer programs, I have flown around 8 million miles. That is the equivalent of 200 laps around the world, 17 round trips to the moon or half the distance From Earth to Venus. Those miles equate to almost two years in the air. So those years up in the air have, in my opinion, made me look younger (by at least 4 years!).

This theory is fun to think about as potential scientific fact about travel. And maybe looking and feeling younger is an additional benefit to visiting places around the world (in addition to the points!). But if not, it sure is an enjoyable way to pass the time and learn about new cultures and ideas. Plus it provides even more stories to tell your children and grandchildren.