# Thought Experiment: Exploring Time in Cylinders A, B & C

• pmurphy4
In summary, in this scenario, there are three cylinders (A, B, and C) in space with mirror-laser clocks inside keeping time by bouncing light back and forth across their diameters. Cylinder B and Cylinder C are both moving relative to Cylinder A at .9999 the speed of light. Cylinder B has evenly spaced holes like windows and also has laser clocks placed opposite the windows and mirrors. Cylinder C is slightly smaller in
pmurphy4
There is a hollow cylinder out in space (Cylinder A), shaped like a giant soda straw. Inside the cylinder are mirror-laser clocks keeping time by bouncing light back and forth across the Cylinder A's diameter.

A similar cylinder of slightly smaller diameter (Cylinder B) is traveling at .9999 of the speed of light relative to Cylinder A. In addition to the mirror clocks, it has several evenly spaced holes along its sides, like the windows of an airliner. From a relatively stationary point outside of Cylinder A, Cylinder B appears to be traveling from right to left. Cylinder B also has a series of laser clocks, some placed opposite windows and some placed opposite mirrors within the cylinder, so its lasers can point at a mirror inside itself or shoot a laser out of a window.

Cylinder C is similar to Cylinder B, except it is slightly smaller in diameter. Cylinder C is traveling at .9999 of the speed of light from left to right relative to Cylinder A.

Cylinder B passes through Cylinder A and Cylinder C passes through Cylinder B, which is also inside of Cylinder A, so that all three cylinders appear to line up perfectly for an instant for an observer standing relatively stationary outside of Cylinder A.

If the light from a laser clock in Cylinder A travels through the windows of the other nested cylinders' walls, ABCCBABCCBA, will the time recorded be different than when light just bounces back and forth through the diameter of an empty Cylinder A?

If "No", because only the space actually occupied by the material moving with B and C (the cylinder walls) is in a different frame of reference than A, then what if Cylinder C held a plasma in a magnetic field that A's light passed through?

I'm sure you can think of many more variations of this scenario, like half-silvered mirrors bouncing light off different combinations of mirrors in different cylinders and making the light zig zag left and right down the length of the B and C cylinders before returning to a clock in A.

-Paul Murphy

Welcome to PF!

Hi Paul! Welcome to PF!
pmurphy4 said:
If the light from a laser clock in Cylinder A travels through the windows of the other nested cylinders' walls, ABCCBABCCBA, will the time recorded be different than when light just bounces back and forth through the diameter of an empty Cylinder A?

If "No", because only the space actually occupied by the material moving with B and C (the cylinder walls) is in a different frame of reference than A …

"the space actually occupied … is in a different frame of reference than A" …

nooo … space is in all reference frames …

a reference frame isn't a physical object, it's just a way of measuring … it measures anything, at any speed, and in any combinations.

light passing through space in cylinder B (or C) isn't like light passing through air … the air will be moving at the same speed as B, and the speed of light through that air will depend on that speed … but the speed of light through (empty) space is c anyway.
, then what if Cylinder C held a plasma in a magnetic field that A's light passed through?

plasma slows light, just like air (not sure about the magnetic field, though )

## 1. What is a thought experiment?

A thought experiment is a mental exercise that allows scientists to explore and test ideas or theories without physically conducting an experiment. It involves imagining a hypothetical scenario and reasoning through its implications.

## 2. What is the purpose of exploring time in cylinders A, B & C?

The purpose of exploring time in cylinders A, B & C is to better understand the concept of time and its relationship to space. It allows us to think creatively and critically about the nature of time and its potential effects on different objects and environments.

## 3. How do cylinders A, B & C differ from each other in terms of time?

Cylinder A represents a stationary object, where time passes at a constant rate. Cylinder B is rotating, causing time to pass differently at various points on its surface. Cylinder C is moving at a high velocity, which results in time dilation, or the slowing down of time.

## 4. What can we learn from this thought experiment?

This thought experiment can help us understand the concept of time as a relative and dynamic quantity. It can also illustrate the effects of motion and gravity on time, and how they can differ based on an observer's perspective.

## 5. Can thought experiments lead to new scientific discoveries?

Yes, thought experiments have played a crucial role in scientific breakthroughs throughout history. They allow scientists to explore and test ideas that may not be feasible to experiment on in the physical world. Many famous scientists, such as Albert Einstein, have used thought experiments to develop and refine their theories.

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