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Clocks falling into gravity wells

  1. Sep 13, 2010 #1
    As I understand it, clocks run relatively slower the closer they are to the center of a "gravity well" and also each other clock for a pair of observers moving relatively to each other appears to be running slower, relative to each frame of reference.

    So, start with a pair of highly accurate instrumented clocks at rest relative to each other within a gravity well, one higher and one lower. The lower one is on the ground, the higher one is suspended from a helicopter. At this point, the clock on the ground runs slower than the one in the helicopter. (Both clocks agree on this.) Now let the suspended clock drop from the helicopter (and ignore the friction effects from the air.)

    Just before the falling clock smashes into the ground, it still reads the clock on the ground as running slower, now because of relative velocity rather than any difference in the gravity well potential.

    The question is this: What variation, if any, does the falling clock observe in the ground clock? It always runs slower, but how does it change as the clock falls? Does the variation depend on the mass of the underlying ground?
  2. jcsd
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