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Shake Off the Fear, Spread the Love!

Ellen Langer did the impossible. She sent eight 80-year-old men back in time. The year was 1979 Eight old men on a bus, sequestered away from the world. On a retreat. Created by Ellen Langer. Each man had been studied carefully. Hearing, joint pain, memory—everything had been documented. Coddled by nurses in nursing homes, they weren’t ready for the upcoming shock. As the men managed to get off the bus, they were forced to haul their suitcases to their rooms themselves. They barely made their rooms. When they looked around, they were stunned. The decorations were from 1959, when they were in their 50’s. Magazines in racks featured Nixon and Khrushchev. Rio Bravo played on an old television. Outdated clothes hung in closets.

That week, in the evenings, the men chatted about their work, and soon they spoke in the present tense about their past. “I do this, and I do that,” became the normal chatter. These men traveled back in time. At the end of the week, they went through extensive physicals. All were standing straight. IQ was 64% higher. All looked younger. All were more athletic, flexible. Memories were sharper. They were younger.

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