You may think you know how old you are. But I’m about to tell you that you’re wrong. You’re wrong. There, see? I told you. The truth is there are several ways – biologically and culturally speaking – to measure how long you’ve been farting around on this planet.
Your Cultural Age
In Korea, this is the official method of aging. It was formally abandoned in Japan, China and Vietnam a while ago, however it’s still often used informally, especially among the elderly and in rural areas. So depending on where you live in the world, you could describe yourself as being 1-2 years older (or younger) than you previously thought. This got me thinking: which system is a more accurate reflection of your true biological age?
Your Biological Age
We can all agree that your biological existence began long before you were born. Though we still debate the exact moment that life begins, let’s say, for the sake of this particular argument, it’s the moment your heart began to beat. That adds eight months to your biological age. But can we go back even further than that? How about the living sperm and egg cells that fused to form your first complete set of unique DNA? Think about your conception. Not too graphically, mind.
Males produce sperm every day – about 1,500 every second, if you’re really specific. It then takes 74 days for them to mature into little swimmers with the ability to fertilise an egg. So the winning sperm that created you adds another 2.5 months to your current age, during which time, half of you existed primarily inside your father’s testicles. Don’t expect me to draw anything for that.
How many extra months or years can we add by examining your mother’s eggs? For a long time, scientists thought that females were born with a finite set of eggs in her ovaries. Some 7 million, to be not-very-precise. They die off inside the ovaries continually, so by the time girls reach puberty they have only 700,000 eggs, or 10%, remaining. Think about that. The egg of your conception was produced inside your mother’s ovaries, when she herself was a foetus inside your grandmother’s womb. That adds another 16-50 odd years to your biological age, depending on how old your mother was when you were born. This leap of yolky logic has accelerated my age from 33 years to 64 years.
However, this may be a bit of a tease. Recent research has identified a new type of stem cell in the ovaries that suggests new eggs are formed throughout the reproductive years. So egg-me may be 64 years old, or it may be considerably younger. Either way, though, it probably does add a few years to my biological age.
But You Aren’t An Egg, You Egg.
Your Age On Other Worlds
Call me frivolous, but I decided to calculate how old I’d be if I lived on the other planets in our solar system. After all, a year is defined by how long a planet takes to revolve around its sun. So if I lived on Jupiter, I wouldn’t be counting Earth years. That would be silly. I’d be counting Jupiter years, where 1 Jovian year equals 11.86 Earth years. So, being 33 of your puny Earth years makes me:
In fact, in the seemingly unlikely event that I did live on Pluto, my next (first) birthday would be on Saturday 4th February, 2232. About 216 Earth years from now.