You are here:

Physics/regarding clock slowing

Advertisement


Question
QUESTION: Hi,

Could the atomic clock slowing when it is run in higher velocity be attributed due to the slowness in the cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two energy levels of the caesium atoms (in case caesium clock)?.

regards,

ANSWER: Well yes, of course the cycles do move slower.  Time itself is slowed down in the clock relative to people who are not moving.  All quantum processes slow down at high velocity due to time dilation or cosmic muons would never make it to the Earth's surface.  They also wouldn't stick around in a muon storage ring, the device simply would never work.  This phenomenon is incredibly well studied.  It's one of the stronger proofs of special relativity, it's impossible to deny that subatomic particles have precisely predictable increases in half life as they are accelerated to high velocities.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi,

Thanks for your reply. Does science have answer why all the quantum processes slow down in higher velocity. If it is only a matter of the clock reading slow down or faster up in higher velocity or other scenarios, I am not able to understand how this opens up possibility of travelling to future or past as many people claim?

regards.

ANSWER: It doesn't really open up the possibility of time travel to the past at all, except in very very extreme circumstances like wormholes.  Time itself slows down for an object moving at high velocities, that's why the quantum processes.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi,

Is there any reason why time slows down in higher velocity? Did science find the reason? Also if an event had elapsed (past), how could ever be possibly travel to the elapsed event?

Answer
Back in graduate school, I asked a theoretical physicist who's a real expert in the subject this question in a slightly more specific format.  "Is light the arbiter of time."  His answer was pretty much what I was already thinking.  The interactions between atoms are determined by the electromagnetic force, essentially what happens to light determines how we interact with other atoms.  There are other forces inside the atomic nucleus, but they pretty much obey the same physics.  Einstein's relativity was based on thinking about light and speeds approaching the speed of light.  See here: http://plus.maths.org/content/whats-so-special-about-special-relativity about a clock made of mirrors (about 1/3 of the way down).  

Basically what happens to light determines the measurement of the timing of our interactions and therefore determines time.  This was extended via theory of the frequency-energy relationship of light and its mass equivalent (E=mc^2) to include gravity in the calculations.

Physics

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Education/Credentials
Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.