NASA conducts Einstein-esque paradox twin experiment

This article originally appeared on the Telegraph, April 15, 2014

NASA is to send an identical twin to space, whilst leaving their twin on earth, to see the effects of long-term space flight on the human body.

The experiment harkens back to Einstein’s “twin theory” paradox thought experiment – where one twin goes to space high speed, while their twin remains on earth.

Einstein’s theory of relativity means that the twin will return from space younger than his brother. However, as it is impossible to study the flow of time, in this experiment, NASA will instead be testing 10 research proposals to study the twins’ genetics, biochemistry, vision, cognition.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will go on a one-year mission to the International Space Station, while his twin, Mark – who is a retired astronaut – remains on earth.

“We will be taking samples and making measurements of the twins before, during, and after the one-year mission.

“For the first time, we’ll be able two individuals who are genetically identical.

“Each proposal is fascinating and could be a feature-length story of its own.

“We already know that the human immune system changes in space. It’s not as strong as it is on the ground.

“In one of the experiments, Mark and Scott will be given identical flu vaccines, and we will study how their immune systems react.”

Other tests will examine DNA ageing, the effects of space travel on vision, and the stomach’s inner bacteria.

The experiment will be conducted in March 2015


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