Time Dilation



Time. It’s a continuum of the occurrence of events from the past to the present to the future. When we think of time we do not think of much but seconds, minutes, hours, etc. But there is more to time than the average person will ever venture to know. Most people will be surprised to learn that time is not constant in one dimensional space. Also one may find it perplexing that astronauts are relatively one second older when leaving and returning back to earth than if they were to stay on earth. All of these phenomenons will be explained in the upcoming paragraphs, graphics, and videos.


Time Dilation: What is it? It’s an occurrence that can be explained by the theory of special relativity when two objects traveling at significantly different speeds have relatively different time lapses depending on reference frame. One law derived from the theory of relativity is that an object cannot travel faster than the speed of light. As the relative velocity of an object increases when compared to a stationary object it will age faster and faster when viewed from the stationary object. This is seen in Figure 1.1.

Figure 1.1
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Twin Paradox
Suppose two identical twins were born and one placed in a rocket (Baby A) and the other left on earth (Baby B). Baby A would leave earth at
99% the speed of light and would return in ten years according to his clock. When baby A returns baby B has lived a full life and has been dead for thousands of years. This happens because baby A has traveled a greater distance than baby B. Since time is equal to distance traveled over the speed of light time and distance are directly related. As distance traveled goes up time goes up. This is seen in figure 1.2.


Figure 1.2
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Sources:
http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/images/time_dilation.gif
http://www.thebigview.com/spacetime/timedilation.html