# No definite viewpoint for the accelerating traveler?

by Alain2.7183
Tags: accelerating, definite, traveler, viewpoint
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 P: 24 If an accelerating traveler, at some given instant in his travels, is told that his question "How old is my home twin right now?" has no unique, definite answer, then wouldn't he have to regard that statement as implying that she must not really EXIST at that instant at all? If she DOES exist right then, wouldn't he have to believe that she must be DOING something definite right then?
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 Quote by Alain2.7183 If an accelerating traveler, at some given instant in his travels, is told that his question "How old is my home twin right now?" has no unique, definite answer, then wouldn't he have to regard that statement as implying that she must not really EXIST [b'at that instant[/B] at all? If she DOES exist right then, wouldn't he have to believe that she must be DOING something definite right then?
She is doing something definite at every instant, no questions or doubt there. We can even label each of those instants with the time that herr wristwatch reads at that instant, say things like "When her wristwatch read 3:00 she sneezed; when it read 3:01 she wiped her eyes, ...." and so forth.

But when the accelerated traveler speaks of what she's doing "right now", we have to ask him what "right now" means. Which time on her wristwatch is the accelerated traveler talking about when he says "right now"? That question has no unique definite answer; so "right now" has no unique definite meaning, and therefore the question "What is she doing right now?" also has no unique definite answer.
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 Quote by Alain2.7183 If an accelerating traveler, at some given instant in his travels, is told that his question "How old is my home twin right now?" has no unique, definite answer, then wouldn't he have to regard that statement as implying that she must not really EXIST at that instant at all? If she DOES exist right then, wouldn't he have to believe that she must be DOING something definite right then?
In addition to everything Nugatory said about the traveler's inability to assign a "right now" to the home twin, the home twin also cannot assign a "right now" to the accelerating traveler. And it's not because the traveler is accelerating. Even if he stops accelerating, the problem still exists. And even if he stops at a point distant from the home twin such that he is stationary with respect to the home twin the problem still exists.

But Special Relativity provides a way to deal with the problem by defining an Inertial Reference Frame (IRF). You can pick any IRF you want and then you can talk about "right now" in a meaningful way. But you can pick another IRF and have a different meaning to "right now" that is just as valid as the first one.

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No definite viewpoint for the accelerating traveler?

 Quote by Alain2.7183 If an accelerating traveler, at some given instant in his travels, is told that his question "How old is my home twin right now?" has no unique, definite answer, then wouldn't he have to regard that statement as implying that she must not really EXIST at that instant at all? If she DOES exist right then, wouldn't he have to believe that she must be DOING something definite right then?
As Nugatory mentioned, the phrases "right now", "at that instant", "right then", etc. have no unique meaning. So no question with any such phrase has a unique answer. Whether the rest of the question is about their age, what they are doing, or their existence doesn't remove the ambiguity in the question.

Now, once you specify a coordinate system then the questions become uniquely defined. Frame variant quantities are perfectly legitimate things to ask questions about, you just have to be clear what frame they refer to.
 P: 297 Once we're in GR, and we're comparing a "Far out in space" twin with a "surface of the earth" twin, do we still have these same ambiguities?
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 Quote by 1977ub Once we're in GR, and we're comparing a "Far out in space" twin with a "surface of the earth" twin, do we still have these same ambiguities?
Even more so. You can't compare vectors at a distance in GR; you can in SR.
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 Quote by PAllen Even more so. You can't compare vectors at a distance in GR; you can in SR.
People speak with confidence about the rate of clocks in orbit vs on Earth.

But they can do so without having a definite opinion about which tick of a satellite is simultaneous with a particular time EST, I take it.
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 Quote by 1977ub People speak with confidence about the rate of clocks in orbit vs on Earth. But they can do so without having a definite opinion about which tick of a satellite is simultaneous with a particular time EST, I take it.
Correct. You are using a family of clocks to establish a particular coordinate system to great precision. To make this coordinate system work, you find that precise adjustments are needed to the rate of orbiting clocks. The direct observables in this situation are sequences of signals sent from one 'clock' to another. This direct observable is invariant. It would be 'explained' differently in different coordinate systems, but the result of the observation would always be predicted to be the same.
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 Quote by 1977ub People speak with confidence about the rate of clocks in orbit vs on Earth. But they can do so without having a definite opinion about which tick of a satellite is simultaneous with a particular time EST, I take it.
Yes. One way of thinking about it: When EST changes over to EDT, we all reset our clocks but that doesn't change the rate at which the clocks tick.

If I want to compare the rate at which someone else's clock is ticking relative to my own, I don't need to worry about what time the other guy thinks it is, nor how much time he thinks has passed since some event in his past. All I need to do is count how many times my clock ticks in a given interval, count how many times his clock ticks in the same interval, and compare. The trick, and the place where the simultaneity convention comes into play, is in deciding what "the same interval" means (and I hope that alarm bells went off in your mind when you saw those words).
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 Quote by Nugatory All I need to do is count how many times my clock ticks in a given interval, count how many times his clock ticks in the same interval, and compare.
Yes the point observer rec'vs tick-pulses but these don't translate into an origination time without confidence on how far the pulses traveled.

Does the GR earth-surface observer experience the same ambiguity deciding the distance to an orbiting satellite that the AO SR observer does an RF source?
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 Quote by 1977ub Yes the point observer rec'vs tick-pulses but these don't translate into an origination time without confidence on how far the pulses traveled. Does the GR earth-surface observer experience the same ambiguity deciding the distance to an orbiting satellite that the AO SR observer does an RF source?
Distance in SR or GR is defined by integrating invariant interval along spaceilike path, i.e. along a curve of a simultaneity convention. Thus, within these theories, distance has no possible meaning without a simultaneity convention.
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 Quote by 1977ub Once we're in GR, and we're comparing a "Far out in space" twin with a "surface of the earth" twin, do we still have these same ambiguities?
In the case of the traditional "Twin Paradox", to make the GR explanation analogous to the SR explanation (via the equivalence principle), the inertial home twin needs to be considered to be floating in space, with no real gravitational fields anywhere.

In the several descriptions I've seen that use a fictitious gravitational field to resolve the twin paradox from the traveler's perspective, there was no ambiguity anywhere ... the procedure always gave a specific (unique) answer to the question of how much the home twin ages during the traveler's turnaround (according to the traveler). And that answer was always the same answer that is given by the SR analysis that uses the momentarily co-moving inertial reference frames. See, for example, the Wikipedia page on the twin paradox, and in particular, their section on the traveler's perspective.
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 Quote by Alain2.7183 In the case of the traditional "Twin Paradox", to make the GR explanation analogous to the SR explanation (via the equivalence principle), the inertial home twin needs to be considered to be floating in space, with no real gravitational fields anywhere. In the several descriptions I've seen that use a fictitious gravitational field to resolve the twin paradox from the traveler's perspective, there was no ambiguity anywhere ... the procedure always gave a specific (unique) answer to the question of how much the home twin ages during the traveler's turnaround (according to the traveler). And that answer was always the same answer that is given by the SR analysis that uses the momentarily co-moving inertial reference frames. See, for example, the Wikipedia page on the twin paradox, and in particular, their section on the traveler's perspective.
As has been pointed out to you in another thread, any specific method will give a specific answer. In no way does that mean there is a unique answer to the amount the distant twin ages during turnaround. The two methods you mention agree because pseudo-gravity is dependent on (metric expressed in) coordinates. The specific method you refer to uses coordinates based on the simultaneity of instantly comoving observers (even if this is not made explicit by the writer). Since they are both based on the same simultaneity convention, it is no surprise they agree. However, if a different simultaneity convention were used, you would get a different metric, and a different answer for distant twin age as function of traveling twin's clock; what must agree is the total differential aging. You should also be aware that for a somewhat more complex twin trajectory, you can't use either of these methods - because the lines of simultaneity intersect. No problem, just use a different convention.

The idea that 'one method is presented' implies there is a unique preferred answer, is your (invalid) inference. It is not stated in explanations using this simplest approach to pseudo-gravity.
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 Quote by PAllen You should also be aware that for a somewhat more complex twin trajectory, you can't use either of these methods - because the lines of simultaneity intersect.
I don't think that the intersections of the traveler's lines of simultaneity affect the usefulness or legitimacy of that coordinate system, FOR HIM. I think that the ONLY thing that is important to the traveler, is that at each instant in his life, his coordinate system tells him the current position and the current age of every object in the entire (assumed flat) universe. In particular, his coordinate system has no need to be a GR "chart" (as defined by Wald): GR charts DO need to be invertible, because they must be capable of knitting together the multiple charts that are necessary to cover the entire (curved) universe. There is no such requirement for the traveler in SR, because his single coordinate system covers the entire flat universe ... no "knitting" is required. And the fact that a spacetime point may not determine a unique age of the traveler is of no importance to the traveler at all: he would just say "That's strange, but it's just the way nature works, like it or not".
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 Quote by Alain2.7183 I don't think that the intersections of the traveler's lines of simultaneity affect the usefulness or legitimacy of that coordinate system, FOR HIM. I think that the ONLY thing that is important to the traveler, is that at each instant in his life, his coordinate system tells him the current position and the current age of every object in the entire (assumed flat) universe. In particular, his coordinate system has no need to be a GR "chart" (as defined by Wald): GR charts DO need to be invertible, because they must be capable of knitting together the multiple charts that are necessary to cover the entire (curved) universe. There is no such requirement for the traveler in SR, because his single coordinate system covers the entire flat universe ... no "knitting" is required. And the fact that a spacetime point may not determine a unique age of the traveler is of no importance to the traveler at all: he would just say "That's strange, but it's just the way nature works, like it or not".
Any coordinates system has the requirement that it doesn't give two labels to the same point. That's got nothing to do with GR. As to physics, what meaning do you think there is to the statement:

Both at 3pm on my watch and at 4pm on my watch, an earth home clock read 7pm ? (in between, it advanced to 8pm).

That is, can you describe any way at all to correlate this statement with any observation you could make? (You cannot; not only that, all direct observation contradicts such a description - the earth clock is seen to move monotonically forward, throughout any traveler journey). Given that no observation correlates to this, why should a sane person believe it? It NOT a required implication of SR; in fact I recently researched that Einstein, for example, never used such lines of simultaneity in any of his SR or GR work. So you would posit that Einstein never understood SR?
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 Quote by Alain2.7183 I think that the ONLY thing that is important to the traveler, is that at each instant in his life, his coordinate system tells him the current position and the current age of every object in the entire (assumed flat) universe.
Which is something that a "coordinate system" in which the lines of simultaneity intersect fails to do, right?
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 Quote by Nugatory Which is something that a "coordinate system" in which the lines of simultaneity intersect fails to do, right?
I may have lost context here. As I understand it we are trying to imagine a coordinate system attached to the traveller which assigns a time coordinate to remote events by waiting until the traveller's hyper-plane of simultanity crosses the remote event and then using the traveller's "time now" as the time coordinate for the remote event.

So it seems to me that if lines of simultaneity intersect, that is not a "hole" in space time that is unmapped by the traveller's coordinate system. Rather it is an area of space time that is multiply mapped; assigned more than one time coordinate.
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 Quote by jbriggs444 I may have lost context here. As I understand it we are trying to imagine a coordinate system attached to the traveller which assigns a time coordinate to remote events by waiting until the traveller's hyper-plane of simultanity crosses the remote event and then using the traveller's "time now" as the time coordinate for the remote event. So it seems to me that if lines of simultaneity intersect, that is not a "hole" in space time that is unmapped by the traveller's coordinate system. Rather it is an area of space time that is multiply mapped; assigned more than one time coordinate.
Multiple mapping is prohibited for coordinates by definition. Do you really think it makes sense to say that NYC exploded at 3pm on my watch and also at 4PM on my watch, even though I only see it explode once, and no observation I can make is consistent with it being simultaneous to two points on my world line? Instead, don't you think it is better to say that these completely unobservable lines of simultaneity that Einstein never used have limits on their applicability. They are useful (as are other simultaneity conventions) when they don't lead to absurdities.

(It would be different if there was some observation consistent with multiple simultaneity. But there is none.)

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