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Time dilation in a non-inertial reference frame

  1. Oct 12, 2011 #1
    Hi! :smile: Need some help here. Can we perceive time dilation and length contraction in a non-inertial reference frame? If we observe a reference frame experiencing acceleration close to c, do we see the same effects as in an inertial reference frame?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2011 #2


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    There's lots of ways to perceive time dilation and length contraction in non-inertial reference frames but no standard way like there is for inertial frames and using the Lorentz Transform. Personally, I think they are a waste of time and don't solve any problem but rather create more problems.

    Also, what do you mean by acceleration close to c? No matter how much you have accelerated in the past, you're still just as far away from c as you were before you started accelerating. If you mean a constant acceleration maintained for a very long time, you're also getting no closer to c.

    Maybe I should ask: what is the problem you are trying to solve?
  4. Oct 13, 2011 #3
    What I was wondering is if time dilation and length contraction are perceived at constant speed in the same way it is perceived at accelerating speeds?
  5. Oct 14, 2011 #4


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    For an inertial observer studying an accelerating object, the time dilation is determined only by the momentary speed of the object. Thus, for a rocket undergoing steady one g acceleration, the inertial observer will see ever increasing time dilation as the speed gets ever closer to c (but never reaches it).

    As for what the rocket sees, it is more complex. If the acceleration continues eternally, more and more of the universe becomes invisible as no light from it can catch up with the rocket. This is called a Rindler Horizon.
  6. Oct 14, 2011 #5
    Thanks for the help! :smile:
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