You can thank Albert Einstein for this fascinating fact.

By Meghan Overdeep
January 08, 2019
Credit: AleksandarNakic/Getty Images

Aging is an unavoidable fact of life—unless, of course, you're Dolly Parton. But for us mortals, the physical process of growing old and what that entails are inevitabilities we come to accept.

We don't have to tell you that it's different for everyone, and the experience of aging varies from year to year. Sometimes it feels fast, while other times it seems to crawl by painfully. And even though certain body parts feel older than others, every piece of you—from your head to your toes—ages at the same rate. Right?


According to researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), your head is actually aging faster than the rest of you. Not your brain, your head. Mind blown? You can thank Albert Einstein for that.

Before you get too upset, we're talking a matter of nanoseconds—90 billionths of a second over 79 years, to be exact. Meaning, by the time you're 79 years old, your head is 90 billionths of a second older than the rest of your body. It's a miniscule difference that would never be noticeable, but the reason it exists is fascinating.

It all comes back to Einstein's theories of relativity and the idea that the rate at which time moves depends on how fast you're moving and how close you are to a gravitational field.

In 2010, NIST scientists took this decades-old theory a bit further and set out to prove it on a smaller scale. Through some seriously fancy experimentation, they found that even one foot of elevation can speed up time. Meaning, you age faster just by standing a couple of steps higher on a staircase.

So, given its towering position relative to the rest of your body, your head earns the distinction of being your oldest part, unrelated to how much gray hair you have. Wild, right?