back to article Twin GEEKS: NASA studies identical brothers – one on Earth, one IN SPAAAACE

NASA on Friday announced a set of ten experiments designed to study the effects of spaceflight on the human body by comparing identical twins – one being up in space and the other down on Earth. Back in November 2012, astronaut Scott Kelly – a veteran of three previous space voyages – was chosen to join Russian cosmonaut …


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  1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    Are they, by any chance, telepaths?

    ...Just in case the ISS goes FTL, you know.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I wish Philip K. Dick would still write.

      1. Neoc

        Heinlein, surely?

  2. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Ideally the test subject that stays on the ground should not have been to space before at all, in order to properly test the effects. Mind you, you wouldn't want to be the one left behind.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I was wondering pretty much the same thing since the one on the ground will have already been into space and presumably have some after-effects. On the other hand, maybe the brothers will play switch and the one who's supposed to go to the ISS will stay home.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        After 6 months it becomes evident that placing the earth bound twin next door to McDonalds was not wise and there may be some bias to the test sampling...

      2. MrT

        Switch? Start planning now...

        ...because it looks like Mark's 'tache took a while to grow... or is it Scott? Or Kelly??

    2. Wzrd1

      "Mind you, you wouldn't want to be the one left behind."

      Mark won't mind being on the ground at all. He is married to Gabby Giffords, the US representative that was shot in the head.

      She attended his final launch in the space shuttle and he has since retired from the astronaut program.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Good to see life imitating art [*] keenly awaiting the news that the orbiting twin has succumbed to SPACE MADNESS PLAGUE and OVERSIZED DARK CONTACT LENSES and seizes control of Putin's well-known Secret Laser, so (in a Shocking Twist of Fate) the grounded twin Goes Over His Commander's Head to fly to the ISS (he'll break into the "USS Intrepid" and steal the "Enterprise" to do this) because He Is The Only Man Who Can Stop His Twin. And (in a SToF) he must decide to whether to Chance Everything to Give Nadia More Time to Find a Cure. Nadia? Oh, she's the Chinese part of the Love Triangle (a Russian in the first draft but the test audience surveys from Shanghai were really bad)

    [*] so crappy lazily-plotted thrillers using the wonders of science for meretricious decoration don't count as art? You patronising elitist snob!

    1. MrT

      It might happen...

      ... they did say they were going to do some "novel studies"...

  4. PhilBuk
    Thumb Up

    Long Range Foundation?

    Someone at NASA has been reading "Time For The Stars". Look out for a proposed trip to nearby stars and the formation of the LRF.


    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Long Range Foundation?

      The US dollar would deflate like a hormone chicken.

  5. Ketlan



    Turn your head to the left and cough, please.

  6. arctic_haze Silver badge

    It looks looks like a classical thought experiment about one twin flying on a relativistic spaceship and the other staying home.

    In fact in this case the effect would be inverse to what most people expect. The free falling astronaut in the Earth orbit will age slightly more than the one staying on the earth. Remember that gravity and acceleration is the same in General Relativity. Of course precise clocks are better than identical twins if you really want to measure time. And yes, the effect has been measured. The software used in the GPS system takes a correction for this.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      1. John Gamble

        Or... At Best Weakly Supporting Evidence

        This does not yet rule out their very interesting observation, and the Higgs mass measurement certainly lends weight to the asymptotic safety program (although somewhat diminished considering my above comments). Is the prediction taken seriously? Probably not that much, but only because the asymptotic safety program (maybe unfairly) does not get that much attention. It is however a growing field and the authors of the paper are certainly very well respected physicists

    2. Wzrd1

      "It looks looks like a classical thought experiment about one twin flying on a relativistic spaceship and the other staying home."

      True enough, but the effect is miniscule in comparison to the human lifespan.

      More telling would be radiation and microgravity effects upon physiology. Those effects, while understood, are still active fields of study in order to fully understand the implications of long term space missions.

  7. ratfox Silver badge

    So the one who goes to space will be younger, right?

    At least, according to relativity, that's what should happen.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: So the one who goes to space will be younger, right?

      No. Because "going to space" only is meaningful in Kerbal Universe.

  8. Toastan Buttar

    Been there, done that.

    Peter Ustinov's identical twin orbitted a black hole for a while in the 1970s.

  9. Fink-Nottle

    Not to be outdone ...

    Brit boffins to send Miliband brothers on an extended Mars mission.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not to be outdone ...

      that's the last we'll see of them.

  10. nuclearstar

    this could have been the most epic twin switcharoo in history

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    Oooh, he's got an ology!


  12. Neoc

    I assume that the earth-bound twin will live in a similar "simulated" environment? Replicated quarters, same food, same training regiment?

    Surely, the only variable (as far as possible) should be gravity or the lack of it.

    1. Wzrd1

      "Surely, the only variable (as far as possible) should be gravity or the lack of it."

      You forgot about radiation.

      So, that is two variables to consider.

      Now, add in lower atmospheric pressure in the space station, you have three variables.

      1. teebie

        ...and moustache differential makes four.

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