A question about the equivalency principle

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In summary: The clocks will not be synchronized when they return to Earth, as one will be traveling at 1g and the other will be at rest.
  • #1
If you had two synchronized clocks in two side by side elevators, and one sat on the surface of the Earth in 1 g for ten years, while the other one accelerated out into space, turned around, and then came back (all at one g, aside from escaping and reentering the Earth's gravity), would the clocks still be synchronized?
 
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  • #2
ryan albery said:
If you had two synchronized clocks in two side by side elevators, and one sat on the surface of the Earth in 1 g for ten years, while the other one accelerated out into space, turned around, and then came back (all at one g, aside from escaping and reentering the Earth's gravity), would the clocks still be synchronized?

How are you slowing down the traveling spaceship at the end of its journey? I'm assuming that you mean that the spaceship accelerates outbound for 2.5 years at 1g, then reverses its thrust so that it is experiencing 1g in the inbound direction and takes 2.5 years to slow to zero speed at the turnaround point then 2.5 years accelerating at 1g back towards Earth before reversing thrust again to spend the last 2.5 years of the 10 year journey decelerating at 1g to end up at rest at the end of the journey.

And with that said: The traveling clock will be behind the stay-at-home clock. However, any experiment performed by an observer sitting in either elevator will produce the same result, so there is no way of telling them apart and the equivalency principle is not violated. The discrepancy in the clock readings will only be apparent when the two clocks are compared at the end of the journey.

(BTW, you might want to try calculating just how much energy it would take to accelerate an elevator at 1g for 2.5 years. It's pretty impressive).
 
  • #3
To add one more point to Nugatory's analysis, the traveling 'elevator' knows (locally - by change in direction of apparent gravity) it has changed directions, and is thus not equivalent over the whole time. In any case, the equivalence principle is local, and not quite rigorous or exact (there are issues with charged particles and with some special (conceptual) detectors that are sensitive to tidal gravity in an arbitrarily small volume; effectively measuring curvature at a point).
 
  • #4
Say the elevator turns around basically by v^2/r=g, such that it doesn't 'feel' a change in direction. A cool historic video about 1 g:

 
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  • #5
ryan albery said:
Say the elevator turns around basically by v^2/r=g, such that it doesn't 'feel' a change in direction.

Impossible.
 
  • #6
V, please explain...
 
  • #7
ryan albery said:
V, please explain...

Drop an object. It will follow a curved trajectory. Or use a pendulum.
 
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  • #8
ryan albery said:
If you had two synchronized clocks in two side by side elevators, and one sat on the surface of the Earth in 1 g for ten years, while the other one accelerated out into space, turned around, and then came back (all at one g, aside from escaping and reentering the Earth's gravity), would the clocks still be synchronized?
Not in general, no.
 
  • #9
ryan albery said:
Say the elevator turns around basically by v^2/r=g, such that it doesn't 'feel' a change in direction.

You can arrange to make the turnaround and keep the acceleration at a constant 1g in the same direction by doing a tight hairpin orbit around a sufficiently massive object at the turnaround point. However, if you do that, you're still accelerating as you turn back towards earth, and if you keep up the 1g all the way back to the Earth you'll be moving seriously fast when you get there, you won't be stopping to shake hands with your stay-at-home twin and compare clock readings.

Of course you can report your clock reading by radio as you go zooming by past the Earth on the return leg. The earth-bound observers can receive your message and compare the clock time you report with the time on their earth-bound clock. The time you report will be behind the time on the earth-bound clock.
 
  • #10
ryan albery said:
V, please explain...

Forget General Relativity.
Forget Special Relativity.
Go back to freshman physics.

You are asking two objects to experience the same acceleration profile, and yet traverse two different paths. That's impossible.
 
  • #11
Vanadium 50 said:
Forget General Relativity.
Forget Special Relativity.
Go back to freshman physics.

You are asking two objects to experience the same acceleration profile, and yet traverse two different paths. That's impossible.

Not with gravity. Every orbit has the same "acceleration profile", which is no acceleration.
 
  • #12
stevendaryl said:
Not with gravity. Every orbit has the same "acceleration profile", which is no acceleration.

The OP had the object's start at rest colocated. That means Vanadium 50 is correct. When orbits intersect (colocation) they have different velocity vectors.
 
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  • #13
ryan albery said:
If you had two synchronized clocks in two side by side elevators, and one sat on the surface of the Earth in 1 g for ten years, while the other one accelerated out into space, turned around, and then came back (all at one g, aside from escaping and reentering the Earth's gravity), would the clocks still be synchronized?

The exact details aren't necesssary to say "no, they won't".
 
  • #14
PAllen said:
The OP had the object's start at rest colocated. That means Vanadium 50 is correct. When orbits intersect (colocation) they have different velocity vectors.

But not different accelerations. The acceleration is zero for an orbit.
 
  • #15
stevendaryl said:
But not different accelerations. The acceleration is zero for an orbit.

We may be derailing this thread...

Pervect made the important point in #13: Despite the more than usually complicated trajectories through spacetime, this is just a routine Twin Paradox question.
 

1. What is the Equivalency Principle?

The Equivalency Principle is a fundamental principle in physics that states that the effects of gravity are indistinguishable from the effects of acceleration. In other words, an observer in a uniform gravitational field cannot distinguish between being at rest in that field and being in an accelerating reference frame.

2. Who first proposed the Equivalency Principle?

The Equivalency Principle was first proposed by the famous physicist Albert Einstein in his Theory of General Relativity in 1907.

3. How does the Equivalency Principle relate to the concept of free fall?

The Equivalency Principle explains that an object in a state of free fall will experience the same effects of gravity as an object at rest in a uniform gravitational field. This is because both scenarios can be considered as being in an accelerating reference frame.

4. Is the Equivalency Principle applicable to all objects?

Yes, the Equivalency Principle applies to all objects, regardless of their mass or composition. This means that all objects will experience the same acceleration due to gravity in a given gravitational field.

5. How is the Equivalency Principle used in modern physics?

The Equivalency Principle is a key concept in modern physics, particularly in the field of General Relativity. It is used to explain the behavior of objects in gravitational fields, such as the motion of planets and stars, and has also been tested and confirmed through various experiments.

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