Tag Archives | Theory of Relativity

How Time Tricks Our Minds

(Photo: darrentunnicliff/Flickr)

(Photo: darrentunnicliff/Flickr)

Rick Paulas via Pacific Standard:

“Time passes slowly up here in the mountains / We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains / Catch the wild fishes that float through the stream / Time passes slowly when you’re lost in a dream”  —Bob Dylan, “Time Passes Slowly”

No, Bob. It doesn’t.

Time doesn’t pass slowly or quickly, unless you happen to be near a black hole. (Even then, it’s more time relative to other people’s experience of time, not time itself.) Time just passes, same as always, one second at a time. But there are certain instances when, despite this knowledge, it just doesn’t feel that way. Back in school, those last 20 minutes before the bell rung just seemed … to … take … forever. Or when you’re at an amazing party, and it’s over before you know it.

Last week, I experienced a subtle time shift of my own.

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NASA: There Is A Space-Time Vortex Around Earth

Doctor Who VortexAh, now we know why the Doctor visits our planet so often. Via NASA’s website:

Einstein was right again. There is a space-time vortex around Earth, and its shape precisely matches the predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravity.

Researchers confirmed these points at a press conference today at NASA headquarters where they announced the long-awaited results of Gravity Probe B (GP-B).

“The space-time around Earth appears to be distorted just as general relativity predicts,” says Stanford University physicist Francis Everitt, principal investigator of the Gravity Probe B mission.

“This is an epic result,” adds Clifford Will of Washington University in St. Louis. An expert in Einstein’s theories, Will chairs an independent panel of the National Research Council set up by NASA in 1998 to monitor and review the results of Gravity Probe B. “One day,” he predicts, “this will be written up in textbooks as one of the classic experiments in the history of physics.”

Time and space, according to Einstein’s theories of relativity, are woven together, forming a four-dimensional fabric called “space-time.” The mass of Earth dimples this fabric, much like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline.

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Laser War In Space To Prove Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity

This is pretty cool science! From PopSci:

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is currently the biggest science experiment in operation, but it may have to pass that mantle on soon enough. A collaboration between NASA and the ESA plans to launch three spacecraft into orbit around the sun 3 million miles apart, then have them shoot lasers at each other, all in the name of proving the existence of gravitational waves, the last piece of Einstein’s relativity theory that is as yet unproved.


Einstein’s general relativity predicts several things, such as gravity’s ability to bend time light and the constant speed at which gravity travels. But a means to prove the existence of gravitational waves — huge ripples in time and space that flow outwards from the collision of huge celestial bodies like black holes — has eluded scientists for years.

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, aims to do just that.

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Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity On Show

By Anne Barker for ABC News Australia:

The original manuscript of Albert Einstein’s famous theory of relativity is going on display in its entirety for the first time, almost 100 years after it was written.

Einstein’s groundbreaking theory helped explain a raft of scientific questions, from black holes to the big bang.

The former Nobel prize winner donated the manuscript to Israel’s Hebrew University in 1925.

Now, Israel’s Academy of Sciences and Humanities is putting it on show, in time for the 131st anniversary of Einstein’s birth…

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The First Test That Proves General Theory of Relativity Wrong

Vlad Tarko writes on Softpedia:
Relativity Is Wrong?According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, a moving mass should create another field, called gravitomagnetic field, besides its static gravitational field. This field has now been measured for the first time and to the scientists’ astonishment, it proved to be no less than one hundred million trillion times larger than Einstein’s General Relativity predicts.

This gravitomagnetic field is similar to the magnetic field produced by a moving electric charge (hence the name “gravitomagnetic” analogous to “electromagnetic”). For example, the electric charges moving in a coil produce a magnetic field — such a coil behaves like a magnet. Similarly, the gravitomagnetic field can be produced to be a mass moving in a circle. What the electric charge is for electromagnetism, mass is for gravitation theory (the general theory of relativity).

A spinning top weights more than the same top standing still. However, according to Einstein’s theory, the difference is negligible.

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Rethinking Relativity: Is Time Out of Joint?

Rachel Courtland asks a deep question in New Scientist:

Ever since Arthur Eddington travelled to the island of Príncipe off Africa to measure starlight bending around the sun during a 1919 eclipse, evidence for Einstein’s theory of general relativity has only become stronger. Could it now be that starlight from distant galaxies is illuminating cracks in the theory’s foundation?

Everything from the concept of the black hole to GPS timing owes a debt to the theory of general relativity, which describes how gravity arises from the geometry of space and time. The sun’s gravitational field, for instance, bends starlight passing nearby because its mass is warping the surrounding space-time. This theory has held up to precision tests in the solar system and beyond, and has explained everything from the odd orbit of Mercury to the way pairs of neutron stars perform their pas de deux.

Yet it is still not clear how well general relativity holds up over cosmic scales, at distances much larger than the span of single galaxies.

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