Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

A question about general relativity ?

  1. Apr 17, 2007 #1
    In general relativity , gravity and acceleration can cause time dilation and curvature of spacetime . But I only read about the gravity in the general relativity , so I wondered is it every force can also cause time dilation and curvature of spacetime since every force also has an acceleration
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    If you work a physics problem wholly in an inertial frame, there will be no time dilation or space-time curvature ever.

    Note also that the space-time in Einstein's "elevator experiment" is not really curved, at least not in the sense of having a non-zero curvature tensor. One basically has a flat space-time, which is the inertial frame in which the elevator takes place, using non-linear coordinates.

    The issue is a bit like using polar coordinates on a flat sheet of paper. The paper is not actually curved by the usage of a different coordinate system- it's still flat. In some sense, though, one can losely call the polar coordinates "curved" (technically speaking, for instance, they have non-zero Christoffel symbols).

    Note that the actual gravity of a mass cannot be described exactly in an inertial frame. (In some instances, it's an acceptable approximation, however).
  4. Apr 19, 2007 #3
    another view

    SR concerns constant motion relative to a light source which produces
    a real time dilation. Real in the sense that the physical system in motion,
    space ship, clock, observer, any part that depends on the exchange of light
    signals, functions at a slower rate.
    Because the observers biological clock is also running slower
    there is no awareness of the effect.
    This causes the observer to interpret the arrival time at known distances
    along the path as earlier than predicted.The perception of the observer is:
    space in the direction of motion has contracted. In other words,
    events are occurring faster in the world passing in the opposite direction.
    than if the motion had not been initiated.
    Every system has its own local frame of reference for space and time.

    Acceleration can be viewed as a sequence of transfers to frames with
    increasing speeds.
    Even though GR proposes the equivalence of inertial acceleration and
    gravitational force in a small region of space, the slowing of a clock at rest
    on the surface of a massive object cannot be explained in terms of relative
    motion since there is none (excluding rotation). I cannot offer any insight
    regarding this, it is one of my own questions.

    Specific to your question, any force that causes a change in speed
    will alter the frame of reference.
  5. Apr 19, 2007 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Electromagnetism can be combined with GR in a 5D space-time ( Kaluza-Klein) in which case the EM forces are also geometrized.
  6. Apr 23, 2007 #5
    The amount of (proper) time an inertial observer accumulates between two events depends on the geodesic he travels on. When he applies a (non gravitational) force, he "kicks" himself out of this geodesic and continues to travel on a different one. It is hypothesized that the "kicking" part, by itself, does not influence the accumulation of proper time. This is often called the "clock hypothesis". No experiment has, as of yet, contradicted this hypothesis.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2007
  7. Apr 23, 2007 #6
    Why not? The first calculation of time dilation was in Einstein's 1905 paper on sr.

    Best wishes

  8. Apr 23, 2007 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Ooops - a thinko. There will never be any space-time curvature, but you can have ordinary SR time dilation.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?