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

Time dilation before einstein

  1. Sep 2, 2009 #1
    didn't time dilation concept known before einstein relativity theory???

    there were ancient story saying that time runs differently on different planes of existence.

    i will relate one of ancient hindu mythology in which time dilation was referred.
    Story of King Kakudmi and his lovely daughter Revathi.
    Revati was the only daughter of King Kakudmi. Feeling that no human could prove to be good enough to marry his lovely and talented daughter, King Kakudmi took Revati with him to Lord Brahma place to ask Lord Brahma's advice about finding a suitable husband for Revati.
    When they arrived, Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma laughed loudly, and explained that time runs differently on different planes of existence,and that during the short time many generation had passed on Earth.

    There were other time dilation story in other cultures also referred in the same site.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Yes, but not to the degree of which you are suggesting, only a few years. Lorentz developed his coordinate transformations and other physicists like Larmor and Poincare also contributed to this problem. But it was Einstein who ran with the idea of a constant speed of light to its full consequences, rederiving the Lorentz transformations, time dilation, and discussed the various physical consequences that would result from this. If there are other mentions of time dilation before the 1890's then they are not grounded in any physical science that I am aware of but rather are the product of creative imaginations (don't take this last comment to be directed at the theological origins of these stories)..
  4. Sep 2, 2009 #3
    I mean that time runs differently on different planes of existence were mentioned/known to people in stories or whatever it is thousands of years ago in Hindu mythology. I'm not talking about other factors like the constant speed of light etc...
  5. Sep 2, 2009 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Just because something "resembles" something, it doesn't mean that it is the same thing.

    Time dilation in SR has nothing to do with "different plane of existence", as if that has a clear meaning in the first place. Furthermore, time dilation in SR is a QUANTIFIABLE and measurable property, not simply a handwaving description. It just doesn't tell you that everything that goes up must come down, but it also tells you when and where it comes down.

    People have tried to "justify" many things based on vague similarities with current principles of physics. Pick any religion, belief, pseudoscience, etc.. and you'll find people making similar comparison. That means nothing.

  6. Sep 2, 2009 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That is what I meant. The concept of time dilation prior to the papers by Lorentz and others in the late 1800's and early 1900's are purely the result of creative storytelling and imaginations. I do not know of any prior references that would be of a serious scientific nature. If your intention is to ask whether or not time dilation existed in concept in the heads of people prior to Einstein, then it would seem that you have concretely shown that it was. If your intention was to ask if this idea was come upon in connection with a serious attempt of science then to the best of my knowledge it only precedes Einstein's publications by around two decades.

    In another thread on Fermat I mentioned that Fermat's principle can be reproduced using Feynman's path integrals. The idea that a modern and complex physical theory can be shown to have parallels and results that match older theory is not only common but essential. Modern theories still need to reproduce the valid results of older theories. But with relativity, I do not know of any previous experiments or observations that would have warranted the Lorentz transformations. The specific consequences of special relativity never came up before the advancement of classical electromagnetics and so I am not aware of any previous theory that would have predicted something similar to the Lorentz transformations specifically.
  7. Sep 2, 2009 #6
    yes, thanks.
    i just wanted to say time dilation concept existed in the heads of people thousands of years ago before and not entirely the special relativity and the constant speed of light.
    yes creative thinking do exist in the ancient or religion but it is totally different implying into practical/proving.
  8. Sep 2, 2009 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    You can't call it "time dilation", because it isn't the same beast. Maybe some form of a different time scale, sure. But calling it time dilation implies that it is identical to that formulated in SR. That's a gross misrepresentation.

    Ancient religions have many "creative thinking". It would be inaccurate to bring out ONE coincidence of apparent similarities and ignore others that aren't. That's like psychics highlighting only those predictions that they made that were somewhat "accurate", and ignoring tons of others that were dead wrong.

  9. Sep 2, 2009 #8
    More accurate statement would be, creative thinking do exist in homo sapiens.
  10. Sep 2, 2009 #9
    Rajeshmarndi, Hindu stories contain a lot of great lessons. They don't tell us anything about modern physics. I'm not saying that the story of King Kakudmi doesn't have great value, but it has absolutely nothing to do with relativistic time dilation. Unless you believe that I move into a different plane of existence every time I move at a non-zero velocity with respect to my earlier frame of reference. And I didn't feel like I was on another plane of existence when I got on the bus today.
  11. Sep 2, 2009 #10
    The story you quoted up there doesn't even remotely remind me of time dialation.

    As well it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that if you move into an area where time moved slower then you age less. This isn't time dilation though and I'm sure a plethora of stories exist where people thought about it. Whether it was different planes or special temples or jungles or parts of the sea or out in the desert. It's not time dilation.
  12. Sep 2, 2009 #11
    And the people who wrote the Bible knew about baseball.

    "In the big inning, Eve stole first, Adam stole second. Cain struck out Abel, and the Prodigal Son came home. The Giants and the Angels were rained out."
  13. Sep 2, 2009 #12
    what i mean is that the idea "that time runs differently on different planes of existence" isn't new, as it has been mentioned thousand of years ago.
    which i think is a part of idea that time is not same to all observer.
  14. Sep 2, 2009 #13
    Which I think means time travel is possible and I can ride a T-Rex.
  15. Sep 2, 2009 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Can you cite which part of Special Relativity this applies to? SR has nothing on "different planes of existence".

    Nope. Your thinking is wrong. Being able to do a rather straightforward Lorentz transformation from one reference frame to another doesn't mean that these things are in "different planes of existence". Am I in a different planes of existence from you just because I'm moving in an airplane?

  16. Sep 2, 2009 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    "[Wasn't] time dilation concept known before [Einstein's] relativity theory?"

    "Half dead" must have existed as a concept since language was invented. Does that mean our earliest ancestors were on to Quantum Mechanics?

    How about the wish "if only I could go back in time"? Did someone discover time inversion before Feynman?
  17. Sep 2, 2009 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    That's fine, but it doesn't have anything to do with Relativity. Relativity isn't about "different planes of existence."
    "A watched pot never boils." Time dilation?
  18. Sep 2, 2009 #17
  19. Sep 2, 2009 #18
  20. Apr 13, 2011 #19
    Its nice to know that even people in ancient age could imagine of time and the universe as in the imagination governed by modern theories of physics. even I heard off little part of the same story in childhood from a guy who did not even know Newtons laws. But at that time I imagined it as measured in different time scale which is clearly not so in the story.
  21. May 23, 2013 #20
    I must be wrong in describing it as time dilation. To understand this, one would have understand relativity clearly.

    But doesn't such stories say anything about Einstein Relativity idea?

    Or did physicist really knew before einstein, that time could run differently at other places/planets other than earth.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Time dilation before einstein
  1. Nothing before time (Replies: 30)