# Thread: Time Dilation (hey, it's the bomb!) affecting the Here and Now continuously?

1. ## Time Dilation (hey, it's the bomb!) affecting the Here and Now continuously?

Disclaimer: it's 2:14 AM here and I should be in bed... But I found myself wondering about the following... And maybe I'm messing up things, or, 180 degrees opposed to that, this is a wide open door...

I recently read somewhere, and I'm rather sure it was in Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos that all things move through both time and space, with a cmbined speed that is always the same. So, if an object moves faster through space, it moves slower through time. The combined "speed through space" and "speed through time" is always the same.

This matches with how I understand the time dilation thing. Yet, whenever I've read something about time dilation it is always as if it is something that happens under exceptional, extreme circumstances. But isn't it rather happening all the time, at a small scale? Here and now, in my typing fingers?

Most 'things', e.g. the quarks my fingers are made off, have no fixed speed at all; they change speed all the time. So there must be an awful lot of time stretching going on, in the more dense parts of the universe (the more interaction, i.e. chemistry, the more time stretching...) On a very small scale, of course.

With my layman's reasoning, I would guess that this would somehow compromise the predictabiliy of the universe. If we think of spacetime as the surface of a lake, predictability would require a smooth surface, but because particles are changing speed all the time, time dilation sort of ripples the surface, on a small scale...

Now I am wondering if the Uncertainty Princple of Heisenberg could somehow be related to this? Being the "determinism is dead"-proclamation, I mean...

The fundamental forces of nature would be working on a rather rippled surface. Their 'processing rate' would be vibrating, as local time for the involved individual particles would be changing continously, and this somehow makes we cannot know both the speed and location of a given particle...

Or am I just messing a bunch of ill-understood (by me) concepts together in a crack-pot pseudo-physicism? (And if so, could I earn a buck with it by selling it to a New Age publishing house? )

Yet, whenever I've read something about time dilation it is always as if it is something that happens under exceptional, extreme circumstances. But isn't it rather happening all the time, at a small scale? Here and now, in my typing fingers?
In some sense, yes, but the reason you only hear about it in extreme situations is that the scale of the effect is otherwise so minute it can't even be measured. For example, if your fingers are moving at 1 m/s at most, that means the time dilation relative to your brain is less than 1 part in 100 billion. Nevertheless, GPS satellites move fast enough and in a different enough gravitational well that relativistic effects do need to be included or they wouldn't work as well as they do.
Most 'things', e.g. the quarks my fingers are made off, have no fixed speed at all; yhey change speed all the time.
Here one must be very careful-- time dilation isn't really something that "happens to matter", it happens between reference frames observing the matter-- the matter doesn't care. Personally, I don't think of relativity as physics at all, I think of it as the rules that translate between the rules of physics of different observers, such that they can use the same physics. So it is very much like translating a poem between languages-- it isn't the poetry, it's the way to allow the poem to be the same for people who speak different languages (and rarely is anything lost in translation in physics).

If we think of spacetime as the surface of a lake, predictability would require a smooth surface, but because particles are changing speed all the time, time dilation sort of ripples the surface, on a small scale...
The changes are actually all part of the predictability-- they are part of the rate of the process as seen from the reference frame of the process, the reference frame from which we built the physics that describes the process.
Now I am wondering if the Uncertainty Princple of Heisenberg could somehow be related to this?
Could be-- it was Dirac that built special relativity into quantum mechanics, so you'd have to look at what he did to see those connections. Maybe that is the kind of thing he had to think about.

3. The confusion may come from the term time "dilation", which makes it sound like an active process that only occurs under special conditions. It's just a property of motion-- all motion-- that's usually too minor for us to notice with the naked eye.

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Whether time dilation happens all the time or not is a mute point. You're going to die at the age mother nature picked for you, regardless of how you get there.

Just like KenG said, the effect of time dilation on the wind around me compared to the air that resides in my lungs is such a small effect so as not to be measuable.

The only part of time dilation that boggles my mind is the fact that as you approach the speed of light compared to your destination, you don't even have to go as far. When we say the nearest star is 4 light years away, that's only true for drawing a map. The space explorers would determine the distance to travel based on their speed. "0.999c ensign!"... "aye sir, ETA is 30 minutes".

edit: what's the deal with all these time dilation threads? Either there's more than we need, or time is going really slowly between each successive thread.

5. Originally Posted by Ken G
Here one must be very careful-- time dilation isn't really something that "happens to matter", it happens between reference frames observing the matter-- the matter doesn't care. Personally, I don't think of relativity as physics at all, I think of it as the rules that translate between the rules of physics of different observers, such that they can use the same physics. So it is very much like translating a poem between languages-- it isn't the poetry, it's the way to allow the poem to be the same for people who speak different languages (and rarely is anything lost in translation in physics).
That's a very interesting way to look at it, and a very clearifying statement!

Somehow I think I already understood this in way, but it was just beyond the horizon of my conscious thinking, if you know what I mean... So thanks to lift me up a bit to look over that horizon!

Might take me some time to fully implement it in my reasoning...

Originally Posted by Ken G
The changes are actually all part of the predictability-- they are part of the rate of the process as seen from the reference frame of the process, the reference frame from which we built the physics that describes the process.
Yes I was realizing that too... Actually I was thinking of what I read years (maybe decades, sigh) ago in Chaos by James Gleick. I don't know if he or that book are considered main stream science, but I was under that impression when I was reading it. Anyway, the passage I was thinking of dealt with inpredictability as a fundamental ingredient of the universe, and it was my personal departure from, what I would now call, Newtonian predictability.

Somehow the ideas that were discussed in that book, surfaced in my mind and I wondered how they could be connected to what I am now learning about physics.

Originally Posted by Ken G
Could be-- it was Dirac that built special relativity into quantum mechanics, so you'd have to look at what he did to see those connections. Maybe that is the kind of thing he had to think about.
Cool, I'll wiki Dirac. And hope the articles aren't too specialized.
But I first have some sleep and spend the day at my job...

6. Originally Posted by alainprice
Whether time dilation happens all the time or not is a mute point. You're going to die at the age mother nature picked for you, regardless of how you get there.

Just like KenG said, the effect of time dilation on the wind around me compared to the air that resides in my lungs is such a small effect so as not to be measuable.
Measurability and effects noticeable in our (daily) life were not at all what I was aiming at with my questions. I was thinking on far smaller scales.

I wondered

1. if an admittedly very small and practically immeasurable time dilation is taking place at every place and every moment (or more precisely, for every individual particle), and

2. if so, how it would be related to how particles behave.

I'm happy with Ken G.'s answers.

Originally Posted by alainprice
edit: what's the deal with all these time dilation threads? Either there's more than we need, or time is going really slowly between each successive thread.

I didn't want to hijack an existing thread. Maybe there should be a time dilation subforum...

Btw as a url, it has already been taken

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Originally Posted by alainprice
edit: what's the deal with all these time dilation threads? Either there's more than we need, or time is going really slowly between each successive thread.
The internet is moving faster than your computer. Wait, or is it the other way around?

This is all very informative info. Thanks folks.

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## Oh Yes !

Originally Posted by Ken G

Here one must be very careful-- time dilation isn't really something that "happens to matter", it happens between reference frames observing the matter-- the matter doesn't care. Personally, I don't think of relativity as physics at all, I think of it as the rules that translate between the rules of physics of different observers, such that they can use the same physics. So it is very much like translating a poem between languages-- it isn't the poetry, it's the way to allow the poem to be the same for people who speak different languages (and rarely is anything lost in translation in physics).
Neat, complete.

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