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Q & A: time dilation and signal times

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Most recent answer: 01/05/2013
Q:
is time dilation that information from the moving object comes later to the object at rest as the moving object goes further?
- Samira Shahrin (age 17)
Chittagong, Bangladesh
A:
No. The time dilation effect is that processes including clocks run slow on objects which are in motion with respect to the observer. The slowing factor is sqrt(1-v2/c2) where v is the speed of the motion and c is the speed of light. Notice that this is the same factor regardless of whether the object is getting farther from you (the situation you consider) or approaching you (the opposite situation).

These relativistic effects really involve a very different behavior of space and time under changes of viewpoint from the one we instinctively believe, not just common-sense adjustments for signal transmission times.. Any good beginning special relativity text will have an explanation of how this works.

Mike W.

(published on 01/05/2013)

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