Time Dilation or Mass Dilation

  • Thread starter Suzina
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Hi, I'm a first time poster and wanted to share a thought I had concerning disproving time dilation.

It is said that time is relative depending on the observer's speed because speed = distance/time and because light's speed appears the same no matter who measures it, therefore either time or distance must be relative to the person measuring it. We think it's time that changes based on the relevant speed of the observer. But what if it's distance that's relative to the observer? Let me explain...

My understanding is that quarks bounce around inside their shells at a speed near that of light. When we measure a proton that has gone a distance, say 300,000 meters, it can be said that the two up-quarks and one down-quark inside that proton have traveled a much much greater distance because we must also include all that tiny bouncing around. If so, then as we approach light-speed, those quarks must do less and less wiggling around to avoid traveling a distance greater than 300k m/s.

The current thought I think would be to say, "Yes, they wiggle less because time slows down for those quarks. They still wiggle, but slower."

Instead, I think a more accurate (and I hope falsifiable) way to view this event would be mass dilation. As you accelerate the proton, the quarks have to devote more and more of their constant speed to keeping up until you reach light speed and the quarks would be perfectly still, relative to their shell, but still traveling across the universe at light speed.

Time will still be passing for these quarks, and it would be passing at the same rate as everywhere else. However, if these quarks were part of an atomic wrist-watch, their resonance frequencies would slow down as you approached light-speed so as to avoid traveling faster than light. All your time-measuring instruments would be compromised due to limitations of the equipment to operate at such a speed, but this wouldn't mean time itself slowed down or stopped. Our proton traveling at nearly 300k m/s won't have been a time traveler, but rather just well preserved.

But a concept you can't prove false is just philosophy, not science. My question is, if we had mass dilation instead of time dilation, how would things differ?
How would we falsify this view?

Thanks!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Welcome to PF Suzina!

We think it's time that changes based on the relevant speed of the observer. But what if it's distance that's relative to the observer?
Its both, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_relativity#Time_dilation_and_length_contraction. But you seem to be saying (towards the end) thats it not time-dilation but "mass dilation" ?

My understanding is that quarks bounce around inside their shells at a speed near that of light. When we measure a proton that has gone a distance, say 300,000 meters, it can be said that the two up-quarks and one down-quark inside that proton have traveled a much much greater distance
Because of quantum mechanical (QM) effects it doesn't work out quite so smoothly. In quantum field theory (QFT) you can't attribute such a clear, definite, entirely observable path to quarks.

My question is, if we had mass dilation instead of time dilation, how would things differ?
How would we falsify this view?
'Mass' does behave in the way you are describing, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativistic_mass
It does increase at high velocities, approaching infinity as the object approaches the speed of light.
There are many cases of time-dilation/length contraction which occur without reference to the 'mass' of the system, and thus it cannot compensate/account-for these effects.

All three of the processes you discuss do occur, on an observable macroscopic scale---time dilation, length contraction, and mass enhancement. They have all been thoroughly observed (see the aforementioned articles).

Special relativity is very well established theoretically and empirically. It is fundamentally implicit in maxwell's formulation of electricity and magnetism, and explicitly fundamental to quantum field theory, string theory, etc.

Why do you believe its untrue?
 
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What I don't understand, is how can we say time itself has slowed for an object moving near-light if the clock requires movement, even on an atomic level, and nothing can move faster than light? Effectively, all of the seeming time differences between a body at rest and a body in motion can be attributed to the inability of our instruments to to accurately measure time while moving. Even atomic clocks requires resonance frequencies of atoms to work, and that tiny movement can't happen if you're traveling too fast.

Right?
 
  • #4
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What I don't understand, is how can we say time itself has slowed for an object moving near-light if the clock requires movement, even on an atomic level, and nothing can move faster than light? Effectively, all of the seeming time differences between a body at rest and a body in motion can be attributed to the inability of our instruments to to accurately measure time while moving. Even atomic clocks requires resonance frequencies of atoms to work, and that tiny movement can't happen if you're traveling too fast.

Right?
Not quite. You're using your conclusions to validate your assumptions.

The parts of a clock on a spaceship traveling near the speed of light will never exceed the speed of light, from any inertial reference frame. A gear-driven pocket-watch moves very slowly relative to the speed of the spaceship; also, the vibrations of atoms in atomic clocks---no matter their speed---are modulated in such a way that the net velocity is always lower than the speed of light.

The physical processes and principles which govern the working of a time keeping device (clock, atom, computer, etc) are the same as those which govern the workings of everything else. Consider the classical Einsteinian thought experiment:

There is a box car traveling at close to the speed of light horizontally. A laser is shot from the floor of the boxcar to a mirror on the ceiling, and then bounces back to the ground (still vertically). From an observer in the car, the laser goes straight up and down, at the speed of light, and thus covers a given distance in a given amount of time. From an outside observer, the path of light is a triangle: when the laser is first emitted it is on the floor, at some horizontal position. Once it bounces off the ceiling, the whole car is much farther horizontally---thus the net distance traversed is much longer. Still the speed of light is the same, thus time must be different.

Similar arguments can be used to show that lengths are different. None of these arguments preface the need of computational devices (clocks, atoms, etc), nor do they require any mass.

Similarly a laser beam traveling through space, observed by two different reference frames (with a velocity relative to eachother) will exhibit the same differences.

These effects have been confirmed to high accuracy with astronomical obserations, GPS, radioactive particle decays in the atmosphere, and particle collisions in the laboratory. The speed of light, initially shown constant by the famous Michelson and Morley experiments, has been repeatedly confirmed as invariant by earth and space based experiments, and similar observations as aforementioned.

Edit: let me also say, you're asking good questions and thinking about great things. Have you taken a class or ready any texts on special relativity?
 
  • #5
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But what if it's distance that's relative to the observer?
Distance is relative too.

Instead, I think a more accurate (and I hope falsifiable) way to view this event would be mass dilation. ...

But a concept you can't prove false is just philosophy, not science.
Sure, but special relativity is imminently falsifiable, so this comment doesn't apply here.

My question is, if we had mass dilation instead of time dilation, how would things differ?
Relativistic mass does dilate also, it is a rather common topic of conversation on this forum.
 

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