Time Dilation

The cornerstone of relativity.
The brake pedal of quantum mechanics.

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,

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

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

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

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.

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 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.

Continue on to Part 4 — Gravity
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