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Temperature and speed of clocks

  1. Apr 23, 2007 #1
    Does temperature affect all clocks - do clocks become slower at higher temperatures (an oscillating inductor -capacitor circuit would slow down because of higher electrical resistance in the wires)? Is high temperature the reason why time stops at the time of the Big Bang?
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  3. Apr 23, 2007 #2

    Chris Hillman

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    "When did time stop?"

    Well, questions about non-ideal clocks can involve a variety of physics and engineering issues, and given the variety of possible designs I hesitate to make general statements beyond the obvious: in general, any engineered device's designed function will be affected by a variety of physical conditions. But it seems worthwhile to add that in this subforum, reference to a "clock" without qualification is likely to denote an ideal clock, which by definition is unaffected by environmental conditions (e.g. temperature), state of motion (e.g. accelerations), and so on.

    The best short answer is "no", although I'd add that " time stops at the time of the Big Bang" is not really what the Big Bang theory (as used in modern cosmology) says; rather, this deals with progressively extrapolating "backwards in time" to earlier and earlier "cosmological epochs", i.e. to states when the universe was much denser and hotter than it is now.

    You can also search for PF threads or (even better) arXiv papers on theoretical speculations about possible "pre-BB cosmologies", but note that these must be regarded as very speculative compared with the standard BB theory, which is very solidly established by an extremely complex but robust set of interlocking observational evidence.

    From time to time I like to point out that the "overnight" acceptance some years ago that the expansion is accelerating (not deccelerating, as previously believed) was a revolution in interpretation of the evidence, but followed from a further enrichment of this evidence, not an overturning of previously accepted evidence. Unfortunately, such subtleties tend to be lost in the popular press. For more information try the textbooks listed at http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/RelWWW/HTML/reading.html#cosmolback [Broken]
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  4. Apr 23, 2007 #3


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    Where did you get the idea that temperature affected the speed of clocks?

    One example that comes to mind is that if you consider individual cesium atoms as clocks, the temperature of the cesium gas controls the speed of each individual atom, which could be considered to keep a different rate of time due to "time dilation".

    But it's really the speed of each atom that causes the effects on timekeeping, not the temperature. It's just that the temperature controls the average speed.

    Since I'm not sure where you got the idea that temperature affected speed, I'm not sure if this example is of any help.
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