From Crumb To Cosmos: Part 3 — Time Dilation: The cornerstone of relativity. The brake pedal of quantum mechanics.

In this 4-part series, we will explore some of the most universal yet misunderstood concepts in physics. These articles are not intended to create new science, but to clarify well-established scientific truths that are often misunderstood.

If there is anything in these articles that is in any way confusing or unclear, please comment or write us at Questions@WhetScience.com!

Of all the scientific achievements of the 20th century, high on the list is Einstein’s theories of relativity. Not only did that solve cosmic calculation issues Newtonian physics could not resolve, but has led to refinement of calculations and the most accurate predictions of celestial and high velocity object movement to date.

Although relativity is described as applying to a long list of effects, the whole theory revolves around one realization: Time Dilation.

Put most simply,

1. Time Dilation is the difference in the speed of light between two points in space.

Since we typically compute the relative difference between different points in space, that is why the theory is called “relativity”.

2. The source of Time Dilation is all the observable particles in the universe.

From the photons of light to the quarks and electrons in atoms, they all contribute to this effect.

Although there is currently no known direct cause for this effect, time dilation can be described as a field radiated from a particle. And like all known radiation…

3. Time Dilation propagates or “flows” away from its source at roughly the speed of light.

Verified recently by the LIGOS project, note that the effect of time dilation which impacts the speed of particles propagates itself at about the speed of light.

4. The effect of Time Dilation is additive.

Simply put, the more sources of time dilation that in close proximity, they will move slower relative to particles further apart. Also, if an object is moving at “relativistic speeds” (fast enough to make it a mathematically significant ratio of the speed of light), there is a “bow wave” accumulation of the object’s own time dilation.

Since the effect is additive, a combination of time dilation from an object’s velocity plus proximity to other particles results in the complete time dilation picture.

For example of what is considered the world’s longest running Time Dilation experiment, you need go no further than your cell phone. The clocks on the GPS satellites in orbit run about 17 seconds a day fast compared to an identical clock on the earth’s surface. Since they are at a relatively high geosynchronous orbit, the influence of gravity is less and, therefore, with reduced time dilation.

In the final segment of this series, we will bring together the scientific truths of fundamental particles, hadrons, and time dilation to provide the most straightforward Einsteinian explanation of the phenomenon of gravity.

Continue on to Part 4— Gravity

Want to discuss more about time dilation? Contact us at questions@WhetScience.com.



George J. Woolridge for WhetScience.com

The mission of WhetScience is the pursuit and dissemination of accurate scientific and technical knowledge. Feel free to contact us at questions@WhetScience.com