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Games Relativity Plays With Clocks

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Time dilation in the form of the so-called twin paradox is a popular and perennial plot element in science fiction, dating back at least to Robert Heinlein’s classic YA novels. “Star Time” First published in 1956.

In the novel, one of two twin brothers embarks on an interstellar voyage in a ship that can travel at nearly the speed of light. The other remains on Earth. When the spaceship returned and they were reunited, the star-traveling protagonist was still young and the twin brothers were old.

The underlying phenomenon, relativistic time dilation, is not only a fundamental consequence of Einstein’s theory of relativity. It has also been experimentally proven many times. US National Institute of Standards and Technology pointed out.

relative acquisition

discovery of time dilation and theory of relativity As such, it has roots that go beyond the generations of Heinlein’s novels, going back to the late 19th century.according to space dot comIn 1887, physicists and chemists – Albert Michelson and Edward Morery respectively – attempted to determine the exact motion of the Earth through space by measuring the observed speed of light in different directions. did.

Physicists at the time believed that the universe had a fixed geometric framework called the “ether” through which light flows, the earth moves through it, orbits the sun, and interstellar space passes through the sun. I assumed it was carried by my own motion.

But to Michelson and Morely’s surprise, their device measured the speed of light equally well in all directions. They checked the instruments. These worked fine, but still gave the same result. Physicists remained baffled for almost two decades until a young Albert Einstein came up with an explanation that looked completely bizarre but worked.

Einstein showed that the speed of light is actually the same for all observers, no matter where they are or how fast they are traveling. The rigid cosmic “ether” that Michelson and Morely took for granted did not exist. Instead, our measuring instruments – both rulers and clocks, and everything else in the universe – turn out to be “rubber” in a sense, so that the measured speed of light is always the same. It seemed to stretch and shrink.

In 1905, Einstein published his results and called them the Special Theory of Relativity.

What is so special about special relativity?

Einstein’s first theory was called “special” relativity because it didn’t try to cover everything. Since it dealt only with high-velocity effects on matter and set aside the implications of acceleration and gravity, it was formally applied only in special cases.

Nevertheless, much of what popular culture associates with Einstein and the theory of relativity includes the speed of light as the speed limit of the universe and the famous equation E=mc.2 — falls within the scope of special relativity. This includes the effects of time dilation at very high (relative!) velocities, including the “twin paradox” of interstellar travel at relativistic velocities.

In 1915, Einstein extended his research to include gravity and acceleration. This expanded and “generalized” version of the theory was appropriately called general relativity. For decades, however, general relativity was thought to be a bit like the Andromeda galaxy.As Universe Today The biggest claim to general relativity’s fame in popular culture is that only a handful of people in the world could understand it.

But over time, general relativity has become a little less esoteric. The discovery of a black hole was a big triumph. Black holes are so dense and massive that not even light can escape them.

black hole and time dilation

After all, general relativity also has its own meaning for time dilation. In general relativity, gravity is indistinguishable from acceleration, both of which can slow down a clock (as measured by an outside observer). If his one of the two twins orbited near the black hole’s event horizon, that person would age more slowly than his siblings who remained on Earth.

We don’t have the technology (yet!) to accomplish this. It’s the same way travelers can achieve “old-fashioned” time dilation, traveling at nearly the speed of light.but around science news, atomic clocks have reached very high levels of accuracy and can measure the time delay deviation between clocks that are 1 millimeter (about 1/25th of an inch) apart. A clock 1 mm lower (closer to Earth’s gravity) would be a little slower, as general relativity predicts.

One point for Albert Einstein!

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