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Time dilation and radioactive decay

  1. May 11, 2005 #1
    Does time dilation effect radioactive decay rates? A quick search on google seems to say no. This would imply that if the twins paradox was executed, that when the traveling twin returned home, after say 2000 earth years have passed, we would carbon date him at 2000+ years old.

    What would this traveling twin observe from a container of say carbon14 from his reference frame traveling with him? Would he see it decay at an accelerated rate? I ask this because if he saw it decay at a "normal to him" rate then the container would contain more C-14 than we are expecting when he returns.

    Please don't post tons of complicated math if at all possible as it probably won't make much sense to me.

    Every time I think I'm starting to understand this stuff I find out how wrong I am :frown:
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2005 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, it does. Just remember: time dilation depends most on who is holding the clock....

    http://van.hep.uiuc.edu/van/qa/section/New_and_Exciting_Physics/Relativity/20021019150128.htm [Broken]

    Also, as a rule of thumb, the answer to a "Does time dilation affect...?" question is always YES!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. May 11, 2005 #3

    Thats one of the links I read also, only I got from it that there is no difference in decay rates. Posibly I am just reading it wrong, but this line is what makes me think they are saying no;

    Quote from link: The acceleration of the muons around the ring in the 1966 experiment I have access to in this context was 5x10**20 cm/sec**2, or 5x10^17 times that of gravity (a trillion times more than you suggest)! No effect was seen (Farley, 1966).

    What does he mean no effect was seen?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  5. May 11, 2005 #4


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    The question in that link is about whether, apart from the time dilation based on velocity, there might be additional effects due to acceleration. As they say in the answer, "They have measured the time dilation factor due to the fact that the muons are moving to a few parts per million, with no evidence for any additional effect from the acceleration. An effect seen would have violated general relativity. "
  6. May 11, 2005 #5
    Thanks it makes sense now.
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