Einstein’s Theories About Time

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Although Albert Einstein lacked the impressive educational background that most other famous philosophers and physicists had, he is still regarded as the “Father of Physics” and a renowned genius. He was born in W├╝rttemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Among his many theories are a few related to time. We at OnlineClock.net dedicate this blog post to Einstein’s theories of time and how they were formed.

In 1905, Einstein proposed the theory of special relativity, outlined in a paper he wrote about the electrodynamics of moving bodies. One of the most well-known equations explaining the theory is well-recognized: E = mc┬▓. The equation shows that small amounts of mass may be rendered into larger amounts of energy. This theory reflects the idea that every uniform motion is relative, with no absolute resting state. Included in this concept are the laws of physics, mechanics and electrodynamics. In this theory, the speed of light is equal to all observers, regardless of the source’s motion. In a Stanford University report published by SLAC Accelerator Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, the relation of this theory is connected to time also, causing a form of “time dilation.”

Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity

Special Theory of Relativity equation: every uniform motion is relative!

In the time dilation aspect, as reported by Stanford University, the processes of particles have their own internal clock that is the determining factor of the decay half-life process. From the observer’s eye, in a moving frame the clock’s ticking rate is slower than the ticking rate of a static clock. The result of this shows that from the perspective of the observer, the half-life of moving particles seems to be increased by the gamma factor. An example demonstrated in this report uses a particle called tau, created at SLAC.

From the reference frame showing the tau particle resting, its lifetime is about 3.05 x 10-13 s. Using the distance = speed x time equation, the distance it travels before decaying can be calculated. Since it is so close to the speed of light, the equation c = 3 x 108 meters per second is used for particle speed. The result shows that the distance traveled is 9.15 x 10-5 meters, shown as d = v t, d = (3 x 108 m/sec)( 3.05 x 10-13 s) = 9.15 x 10-5 m. However, when the tau particle is measured correctly, it actually travels further than that. This contradicting result is explained by time dilation.

The tau’s decay time can be represented as a moving clock; in relativity theory, moving clocks tick slower than static clocks (!).

Time Dilation

Time Dilation: moving clocks tick slower

Used to multiply the time travel of the taus, this fact shows the moving frame by gamma, giving the measurable time. Gamma is dependent upon the tau’s energy, but SLAC reports that a regular tau particle has a gamma of 20. The measurable time multiplied by the approximate speed of tau results in the distance a high-energy tau may travel. Resulting is 20 x (9.15 x 10-5 m) = 1.8 x 10-3 m, which is approximately 1.8 millimeters, which is nearly 20 times further than expected using the perspective of classical physics. SLAC also notes that time dilation is a real effect; the time dilation effect is the reason that cosmic ray muons reach the earth’s surface before decaying.

In 1916, Einstein developed another theory stemming from special relativity. This new theory, called general relativity, stated that matter causes space to bend or curve. When space curves, it was proposed that time also could curve. This is supposed to affect the inertial motion of other matter also. General relativity is based on the Equivalence Principle, defining the equivalence between gravitational mass and inertial mass. Explained in a report published by the University of California in San Diego, the inertial mass determines the difficulty required to alter an object’s motion, also the mass in Newton’s Second Law. Gravitational mass is determined by the strength of gravitational attraction between two objects. This results in the uniformity of gravitational acceleration, stating that all objects, independent of mass, fall at the same rate.

Although others thought of this result as coincidence, Einstein was sure enough about it to consider it a solid principle. With this principle, matter in space is thought to curve. Opposing the view of Newton, who proposed that gravity is a force, this theory states that gravity is a curve or bend in space time’s fabric, resulting in an alteration of time also.

Along with the belief that time could bend, Einstein believed that time was essentially “timeless;” it could go on indefinitely.

Other theories were developed from Einstein’s relativity theories. One well-known example is the Big Bang Theory, developed by a Russian meteorologist and mathematician named Alexander Friedmann. In a publication from PBS, it is noted that Friedmann used Einstein’s theory of general relativity to show that time and space would continue indefinitely.

Since Einstein believed that time was really an illusion and was relative only to the perspective of the observer, he also contemplated the notion of time travel, but he didn’t seem to think it was absolutely possible – or impossible.

In a PBS NOVA article, the notion of time travel as contemplated by Einstein was written. The article explains the relationship between time, space and distance, the way time and distance can change with speed remaining the same. The speed of something is also different in relation to time from a person’s perspective, depending on where they are in relation to the moving object. For example, when a person views a passing train up close, it seems to travel faster than if they viewed it from a distance, even if it is actually traveling the same speed. Time and space obviously have a cohesive relationship in Einstein’s theories, which is why many people used Einstein’s relativity theories to propose the possibility of time travel. When Einstein died in 1955, as reported by Science Ray, he did not fully believe in the idea of time travel, but he was still considering his proposed idea of wormholes.

Wormholes & Time Travel

A model of how Wormholes could work to facilitate time travel

In the space time continuum, a wormhole is a proposed shortcut through it. In a picture diagram, it would be shown as a four-dimensional object with a tube-like structure in the middle, allowing a “shortcut” from one point in space time to another. In an astronomy guide published by Cornell University, it is clarified that wormholes are purely theoretical, formulated as a solution to Einstein’s general relativity field equation. Although the idea of time travel is still being tested and analyzed, nobody has discovered a verifiable wormhole in space or method of time travel, however the Philadelphia Experiment controversy remains in question as to possible time travel. If the reports from that experiment are true, time travel could be very dangerous to health. Some scientists believe that there may be a “black hole” in space that is a wormhole, but it has not been verified.

A person need not be a scientist to ponder the idea of time not existing. ( A scary thought, for all of us at OnlineClock.net – would the world need our alarm clock if time didn’t exist?!)

Consider, as Einstein did, that time is merely something humans use to measure the days and organize their activities or commitments.

If the days were simply being measured in increments, and time did not actually move forward, time would stand still and people would simply “decay” as Einstein noted in his special theory of relativity.

Science definitely proves the idea that matter deteriorates or decays. Humans, plants and animals age, die and decay. Time continues on after each generation dies and there are no certain documentations or proof of the beginning of time – much less an end to time.

So is Einstein’s theory preposterous or genius?

His I.Q. certainly ranked very high on the genius scale. If time and space continue on, then surely the idea of their cohesion together to be considered “space time” is not preposterous either.

Until future proof is discovered, some of Einstein’s theories will continue to be simply that — theories; but they definitely do provide us with an entirely different perspective of time.

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