Posted in: Science

‘Time warps’ occur every day, say scientists

theory of relativity

You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind…

Scientists have freakily discovered that gravitational time dilation occurs, using super-precise atomic clocks at different altitudes. The results weren’t unexpected- people have measured time dilation in previous studies, just not over distances as minute as this particular one. Nat Geo explains the experiment and subsequent findings:

The pull of gravity on an object increases closer to the center of mass, so an object on Earth’s surface actually experiences a slightly stronger pull than one floating in the atmosphere.

Using two ultraprecise atomic clocks, (study co-author James Chin-Wen) Chou and colleagues showed that lifting one clock by only about a foot (33 centimeters) above the other creates enough of a gravitational difference that the higher clock ticks slightly faster.

In a second experiment, the team measured the effects of relativity on the time-keeping aluminum atoms inside the clocks.

By that rationale, you would age a little more slowly at the bottom of a staircase than the top. Chou says the findings have more of an impact on instrumentation than actual relativity, but he also adds it creates some interesting questions:

“People tend to just ignore relativistic effects, but relativistic effects are everywhere,” he says. “Every day, people are moving; they are doing things like climbing stairs. It’s interesting to think about — are frequent flyers getting younger [because they move so much] or aging faster [because they spend so much time in the air]?”

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