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

Time Dialation and Biological systems

  1. Jul 25, 2012 #1
    Can anyone prove that Time Dialation affects biological systems?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 25, 2012 #2

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    How would you like it proven?
     
  4. Jul 25, 2012 #3

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Why wouldn't it apply to biology?
     
  5. Jul 25, 2012 #4
    Beyond reasonable doubt
     
  6. Jul 25, 2012 #5
    Biological systems work differently
     
  7. Jul 25, 2012 #6

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    To what and in what way?
     
  8. Jul 25, 2012 #7

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Biological systems function based on the EM force, EM time dilates, therefore biological systems time dilate. QED.
     
  9. Jul 25, 2012 #8
    The beam of say a light clock is affected by acceleration and thus the measurement of time is affected but is time itself affected?? I think not IMHO
     
  10. Jul 25, 2012 #9

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    So you deny that relativity is true?
     
  11. Jul 25, 2012 #10
    Perhaps as true as Quantum Mechanics is compatible with Relativity.
     
  12. Jul 25, 2012 #11

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    You're not making much sense. Could you articulate exactly why you think that biological systems would be exempt from the effects of time dilation?
     
  13. Jul 25, 2012 #12
    I am no scientist. The beam of a light clock measuring time is affected by motion and the time measured slows down. How does biological time slow down when the principles of biology are totally different?
     
  14. Jul 25, 2012 #13

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    What principles are you talking about? What is "biological time"?
     
  15. Jul 25, 2012 #14
    A biological system works presumably to its own time within certain parameters - say 60 beats of a human heart per minute for homo sapiens. How is biological metabolism affected by velocity since excessive velocity would result in blackouts and eventually death. Surely this makes time travel impossible?

    I also fear that whilst the measurement of time devices are affected by velocity, time itself isnt.
     
  16. Jul 25, 2012 #15

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    No, the principles are not totally different. In fact, they are exactly the same. Both are based entirely on EM. See post 7.
     
  17. Jul 25, 2012 #16

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    From the point of view of the traveller their heart still beats at ~1 beat per second. From the point of view of someone in a different frame of reference it may be beating at a far slower rate.
     
  18. Jul 25, 2012 #17
    How does the EM force affect our bodily functions? I can see it changing the environment but with change of environment a bioligical system will live or die...... not slow down surely?
     
  19. Jul 25, 2012 #18

    HallsofIvy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    All you are telling us so far is that you refuse to accept the "Theory of Relativity". And, since there are few theories that have been confirmed by experimental evidence, that makes me suspect that you do not understand what the "Theory of Relativity" says. In particular, the theory says that if you observe a system moving at close to light speed, relative to you, you will observe that time has slowed in that system, relative to you. All processes, biological and non-biological, will have slowed down becasuse time itself has slowed down for that system. It is NOT a matter of "EM forces" causing processes to slow down- it is time itself that has slowed down.
     
  20. Jul 25, 2012 #19

    BruceW

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Your response is very natural. I think most people have the same reaction to relativity when they first learn about it. The fact is that every clock that has been tested, has acted in accordance with relativity. So with all the evidence we have so far, we can indeed say that time itself is affected.

    Now if we did some experiment where we would expect to see time dilation in biological processes, and we did not see such time dilation, then relativity would be disproven. Relativity is just a theory, so we cannot rule out such a possibility. But it is highly unlikely, since relativity has had such success so far, and because its theoretical basis is so compellingly simple. (The most likely explanation is the most simple, remember).
     
  21. Jul 25, 2012 #20
    Surely a biological system moving at nearly the speed of light relative to oneself wouldn't survive the slowing down process? Everything would have to operate at a virtual standstill! This is why I cant see how one can reconcile biology with time travel and relativity.

    I will have to adjourn for a while, thank you.
     
  22. Jul 25, 2012 #21

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Every bodily function is entirely governed exclusively by the EM force. All chemical reactions are based on EM attractions and repulsions between nearby molecules. As EM slows down so do all chemical reactions. All of the enzymes, chemical reactions, ion channels, mass transport, and other biological phenomena are fundamentally EM interactions.

    Your example of the heart beat is a perfect example. A heart beat is triggered by a depolarization wave of the cardiomyocytes. The depolarization wave itself is obviously an EM phenomenon, and the cardiomyocyte membrane is obviously an EM capacitor, but less obviously the chemical reactions and the ion channels which maintain the transmembrane potentials are also EM phenomena at the molecular level.

    If you accept that EM slows down then you must accept that biological functions slow down, since biological functions are entirely goverened by EM.
     
  23. Jul 25, 2012 #22
    In the frame of reference where the biological system is at rest, there is no 'slowing down process'. A clock slows down only from the point of view of an observer moving relative to the clock itself.
     
  24. Jul 25, 2012 #23
    Ryan mb and Jimmy both explained to you that, as reckoned by observers at rest within a biological species' reference frame, biological processes are not affected by time dilation. The speed of biological processes are only reckoned to be affected by time dilation by observers traveling in reference frames that are moving relative to the biological species. Time dilation is in many respects purely a geometric/kinematic effect in 4D hyperspace.
     
  25. Jul 25, 2012 #24
    I don't think you understand special relativity. Different observers disagree on the passage of time and length of objects in order to preserve a constant speed of light. You always see the clocks in your frame of reference as ticking normally, and measure objects as having the same length as in the rest frame. However, observers in a slower frame of reference see your clock ticking slower. Hence, they see your body processes occurring slower. There is no contradiction.
     
  26. Jul 25, 2012 #25

    ghwellsjr

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    True, but it is also true that if the biological system is not at rest, then there is a 'slowing down process'.
    If, in the frame of reference, the clock remains at rest and the observer is moving, then the observer's time is the one that has the 'slowing down process'.

    If an observer is moving in a circle relative to a stationary clock so that he revisits the clock every time he makes a loop around the circle, then from the observer's point of view, the clock will not slow down but will be going fast.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook