# Thread: Duration of a duration

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## Duration of a duration

As we know of GR, space and time are dependant on the frame of reference. In order to find an answer as to why this might be the case, I introduced the concept of variable durations in my ATM theory. What I'd like to know is if this concept is possible within the framework of GR.

This would mean that the amount of time that is measured by a second is not necessarily equal to the amount of time measured by another second. Obviously, it also means that the "amount of time" cannot be measured in seconds themselves, but rather in a number / second. I call this the concept of "stretcheable time" or "stretcheable seconds".

Again, just to clarify I'll repeat once more: the seconds themselves don't change, but rather the amount of time that "fits" in a second changes. This means that one second has a longer duration than another in a gravitational field and that changing from frame by switching to a different gravitational potential causes your seconds to become longer or shorter relative to the frames around it. You will still measure one second as a second in all frames of reference though, since that never changes.

In this sense, time dilation would be used to measure the ratio between two rates of time, but there would still be no way of measuring the actual "amount of time" that goes in a second. As you can see, I'm using "amount of time" in a context so that it becomes completely unrelated to the number of seconds though.

My apologies if this question is too ATM, but I'd really like to know if mainstream allows variable durations or not.
Last edited by Seiryuu; 2008-Oct-17 at 08:09 AM.

2. Our perception of a period of time is defined by the standard time units of hours minutes seconds and parts there of. If you think that time itself has a different rate of passage some place else in this universe you are wrong. Being clear that the perception of time might be distorted by strong gravity forces ie; as found at the event horizon of the black hole. Remembering that only man measures time as he has so little of it. The universe does not bother with time. Only distance and movement and mass.

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
This would mean that the amount of time that is measured by a second is not necessarily equal to the amount of time measured by another second. Obviously, it also means that the "amount of time" cannot be measured in seconds themselves, but rather in a number / second. I call this the concept of "stretcheable time" or "stretcheable seconds".
So how does this stretchy time differ from real time, apart from allowing you to stuff more of it into a second? Our understanding of physics works according to good old conventional time, measured in seconds. How could we access and measure your stretchy stuff, given that it's standing outside physical laws?

Grant Hutchison

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Originally Posted by astromark
Our perception of a period of time is defined by the standard time units of hours minutes seconds and parts there of. If you think that time itself has a different rate of passage some place else in this universe you are wrong. Being clear that the perception of time might be distorted by strong gravity forces ie; as found at the event horizon of the black hole. Remembering that only man measures time as he has so little of it. The universe does not bother with time. Only distance and movement and mass.
I do NOT claim that the seconds themselves pass any faster or slower in an other frame of reference. I am wondering if it is possible that the "amount of time" (really, for lack of a better word, I cannot call it anything else) in a second can be different to the "amount of time" in another second. This "amount of time" is not defined by our normal time units, as it's not being measured at all.

I do reckon that it might correspond with what you call "the perception of time can be distorted", since it's probably this distortion that I'm talking about and that I'm also calling time. So in this case, it might be possible?

So how does this stretchy time differ from real time, apart from allowing you to stuff more of it into a second? Our understanding of physics works according to good old conventional time, measured in seconds. How could we access and measure your stretchy stuff, given that it's standing outside physical laws?

Grant Hutchison
We can discuss that in the ATM forum I guess, but since I'm in Q&A, I'd like to keep it to the question: "assuming, for the sake of argument, that it exists, is it possible in GR, or is there something that would prevent this?"

5. Aren't you just stating what is already well known and described by Einstein?

A person traveling near the speed of light will see his clock ticking a second at a time just like the outside observer sees his own clock ticking a second at a time. But since the person who is traveling has less 'time' in each second he can travel a lot of light years and come back and be nearly the same age, while the other person who was on earth is long dead, or something to that affect.

To me, this means that while both observers saw seconds ticking at the same rate by their own clocks, there was actually more 'time' packed into each second that person on earth observed.

6. Seiryuu,
GR talks about simultaneity and has nothing to say about duration. The only person I know of who has tried to incorporate duration into GR is Julian Barbour. He discusses it at length in his book "The End of Time" and in technical papers like "Relativity Without Relativity" and his studies on the "Machian" underpinnings of GR. He argues cogently against such schemes as yours where a rate of time is compared to a deeper or more fundamental rate of time.

Barbour's work isn't quite mainstream, but he is a published physicist attempting to derive a workable form GR using just his concept of duration, a type of action, and 3D space and some quantum theory. Last time I looked at his work there hadn't been a lot of progress in recent years.

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Originally Posted by Arcane
To me, this means that while both observers saw seconds ticking at the same rate by their own clocks, there was actually more 'time' packed into each second that person on earth observed.
Yeah, this is what I'm trying to bring up, but I'm using this concept to turn it upside down in a larger theory, in which I start from the idea that if this 'time' does not pass, but we masses move through 'it', this would correspond with a motion in a fifth dimension that is not being measured at all. If one expresses it as "stretched time / normal time", we would get an indication of it's "speed".

Originally Posted by loglo
Seiryuu,
GR talks about simultaneity and has nothing to say about duration. The only person I know of who has tried to incorporate duration into GR is Julian Barbour. He discusses it at length in his book "The End of Time" and in technical papers like "Relativity Without Relativity" and his studies on the "Machian" underpinnings of GR.
Thanks for pointing this out. Maybe I should do some searches on his work.

Originally Posted by loglo
He argues cogently against such schemes as yours where a rate of time is compared to a deeper or more fundamental rate of time.
This would indeed be a good way of describing it, as I am indeed considering a two dimensional time concept, of which one rate is compared to another rate.

Originally Posted by loglo
Barbour's work isn't quite mainstream, but he is a published physicist attempting to derive a workable form GR using just his concept of duration, a type of action, and 3D space and some quantum theory. Last time I looked at his work there hadn't been a lot of progress in recent years.
Well, at least he has a better background than myself. Maybe I can learn a few things from him

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
Yeah, this is what I'm trying to bring up, but I'm using this concept to turn it upside down in a larger theory, in which I start from the idea that if this 'time' does not pass, but we masses move through 'it', this would correspond with a motion in a fifth dimension that is not being measured at all. If one expresses it as "stretched time / normal time", we would get an indication of it's "speed".
Holy Vulgarity Batman!!!

I get what You're Saying Now!!
You're saying that time is not passing- you're saying we're passing through it.

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The sad thing is I cannot tell if you're being sarcastic or not :s

10. Originally Posted by Neverfly
Holy Vulgarity Batman!!!

I get what You're Saying Now!!
You're saying that time is not passing- you're saying we're passing through it.

Wouldn't that mean that the faster you travel the faster you would age, instead of the other way around?

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
The sad thing is I cannot tell if you're being sarcastic or not :s
I wasn't.
Had no idea that's what you were describing.
Novel idea... But I still don't see how it works. But I gotta go away now, anyway...

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At risk of having this thread moved to ATM and having to defend it once more (which I may not be willing to do after having already opened one that is running near it's end)

Originally Posted by Arcane
Wouldn't that mean that the faster you travel the faster you would age, instead of the other way around?
Well, it depends on what makes us age. If we assume that it's our measured rate of time, then counter intuitively not, because the speed is the amount of 'time' in a second.

So the faster you travel, the more 'time' you can fit in a second, just like the faster you travel in space, the more distance you cross in less seconds. This would mean that theoretically you could live for centuries expressed in 'time' that corresponds with 1 second in our measured time, of which the latter would be the same in all frames of reference, but the first not.

But please, keep in mind that I was asking a question in Q&A if the concept was possible and that I cannot discuss my ATM ideas in this forum any further, as much as I would like to elaborate

Originally Posted by Neverfly
Had no idea that's what you were describing.
There's a reason why I orignally titled my "goofy six-legged cat thought experiment", which was full of misconceptions: "Are we all time travellers?"

13. I study science history so I have no authority here. But, I always understood the twin paradox as a frame of reference concept describing time dilation; i. e. time flows differently in different frames. Also, I understood that it takes one more dimension to describe this so as to be "outside" the events, or something like that. So, if those of you that understand this could delve into it somewhat and in a manner that I could understand I would appreciate it.

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
We can discuss that in the ATM forum I guess, but since I'm in Q&A, I'd like to keep it to the question: "assuming, for the sake of argument, that it exists, is it possible in GR, or is there something that would prevent this?"
Unfortunately, with your "more time per second" statement, you're saying something analogous to "assuming, for the sake of argument, that black is white, what colour would it be?"
You're invoking a measure of time that doesn't coincide with the standard measure of time.

Grant Hutchison

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Originally Posted by jlhredshift
I study science history so I have no authority here. But, I always understood the twin paradox as a frame of reference concept describing time dilation; i. e. time flows differently in different frames. Also, I understood that it takes one more dimension to describe this so as to be "outside" the events, or something like that. So, if those of you that understand this could delve into it somewhat and in a manner that I could understand I would appreciate it.
Aye, my purpose of invoking two dimensions of time would be to explain both the existence of time dilation and spacetime curvature. I would love to hear more about it as well from the experts on this forum.

Originally Posted by grant hutchison
Unfortunately, with your "more time per second" statement, you're saying something analogous to "assuming, for the sake of argument, that black is white, what colour would it be?"
You're invoking a measure of time that doesn't coincide with the standard measure of time.

Grant Hutchison
The correct analogy would be that "assuming purple isn't just purple, but a mixture of both red and blue, is it possible that we're only seeing red and call it purple?".

The same thing for time. I don't deny there is a red, I'm just arguing there also has to exist a blue in order for time dilation as a phenomenon in nature to exist. Of course, this is based upon my understanding of GR and may be wrong, hence the reason I'm asking in this forum.

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
The correct analogy would be that "assuming purple isn't just purple, but a mixture of both red and blue, is it possible that we're only seeing red and call it purple?".

The same thing for time. I don't deny there is a red, I'm just arguing there also has to exist a blue in order for time dilation as a phenomenon in nature to exist. Of course, this is based upon my understanding of GR and may be wrong, hence the reason I'm asking in this forum.
If you have understood from GR that there are two different types of time, then you are mistaken in your understanding.
From your PMs, I think I see the problem. You seem to be looking for a universal "correct" time, which lets us know how fast or slow the measured times in various reference frames is going. But under relativity there is no such thing: everyone's time is equally correct. We can find routes through spacetime which alter the elapsed time we measure between two events, just as we can alter the distance we travel between the two events.

(By the way, just read through your red/blue analogy again and think about it: it's a good analogy, because it fails to make sense in exactly the way your stretchy time fails to make sense. )

Grant Hutchison

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Originally Posted by Neverfly
I wasn't.
Had no idea that's what you were describing.
Novel idea... But I still don't see how it works. But I gotta go away now, anyway...
It's interesting that you haven't consciously encountered this idea of observers moving through time (rather than time flowing past observers). Both metaphors are deeply embedded in our language and thought about time. Steven Pinker calls the two views "Time Is A Procession" and "Time Is A Landscape". In the first, we think of event marching inexorably past us, from the future to the past; in the second, we imagine ourselves moving through a landscape studded with events.
So we get confused when people say things like "the meeting has been moved forward an hour": is that "forward" relative to the procession of time that is passing us, or "forward" relative to our movement across time's landscape? If our current mental metaphor doesn't match that of the speaker, we end up arriving at the wrong time.
Pinker talks about the linguistic and cultural aspects of this in fascinating detail, in his book The Stuff of Thought.

Michael Lockwood goes through the philosophical implications of these two views of time in the first chapter of his book The Labyrinth of Time. (The last chapter deals with our conscious perception of time, which is something else Seiryuu seems to be interested in. In fact, Seiryuu, consider that to be a book recommendation: I can't think of another that covers all the different aspects of time that you're thinking about. )

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Originally Posted by grant hutchison
So we get confused when people say things like "the meeting has been moved forward an hour"
Well, that's quite interesting: I was wondering why people would get confused (my association was FORWARD=LATER). Only after reading the following sentences it became clear to me that some people indeed may think FORWARD=EARLIER. Never crossed my mind before. Shows (again) how easy it is for people to not understand each other.

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Originally Posted by SagoSans
Well, that's quite interesting: I was wondering why people would get confused (my association was FORWARD=LATER). Only after reading the following sentences it became clear to me that some people indeed may think FORWARD=EARLIER. Never crossed my mind before. Shows (again) how easy it is for people to not understand each other.
Yep, I'm an intuitive "FORWARD=EARLIER" thinker: the meeting has moved up along Pinker's Procession of Time so that it's closer to me.

Grant Hutchison

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Originally Posted by grant hutchison
If you have understood from GR that there are two different types of time, then you are mistaken in your understanding.
Nope, the idea was not born from GR. This isn't something I understood of GR, I was just wondering if GR said anything about it and if the idea can fit into GR. Based on what you have told me, I still think it can.

Originally Posted by grant hutchison
From your PMs, I think I see the problem. You seem to be looking for a universal "correct" time, which lets us know how fast or slow the measured times in various reference frames is going. But under relativity there is no such thing: everyone's time is equally correct. We can find routes through spacetime which alter the elapsed time we measure between two events, just as we can alter the distance we travel between the two events.
I hadn't answered that one yet, but the time doesn't have to be "correct". Of course it would be relative to another, but I am however looking for a measurement of time that accurately reflects the change in time rates in various reference frames, something that a second does not, since a second remains a second, no matter in which frame you are.

Originally Posted by grant hutchison
(By the way, just read through your red/blue analogy again and think about it: it's a good analogy, because it fails to make sense in exactly the way your stretchy time fails to make sense. )
I think I'm confused, but er... will ponder on it

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
Nope, the idea was not born from GR. This isn't something I understood of GR ...
See, that's confusing, because you seemed to say that you based this on your understanding of GR:
Originally Posted by Seiryuu
The same thing for time. I don't deny there is a red, I'm just arguing there also has to exist a blue in order for time dilation as a phenomenon in nature to exist. Of course, this is based upon my understanding of GR and may be wrong, hence the reason I'm asking in this forum.

(my bold)
Originally Posted by Seiryuu
I hadn't answered that one yet, but the time doesn't have to be "correct". Of course it would be relative to another, but I am however looking for a measurement of time that accurately reflects the change in time rates in various reference frames, something that a second does not, since a second remains a second, no matter in which frame you are.
By looking for a more fundamental time measurement, you seem to be seeking a "preferred" reference frame, one from which we get a better view of the laws of physics than from other frames. And that is specifically excluded in the theory of relativity.

Originally Posted by Seiryuu
Originally Posted by grant hutchison
(By the way, just read through your red/blue analogy again and think about it: it's a good analogy, because it fails to make sense in exactly the way your stretchy time fails to make sense. )
I think I'm confused, but er... will ponder on it
You changed the definition of "purple" during the course of your analogy: first it was red+blue, then it was red+nothing. We can only deduce that, in your argument, blue is equivalent to nothing: that it's irrelevant. The same seems to apply to your additional, stretchy kind of time.

Grant Hutchison

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Originally Posted by grant hutchison
See, that's confusing, because you seemed to say that you based this on your understanding of GR
Ah, I see. I have to be more carful with my words. Let me clarify: the idea of two different times came from a thought experiment. When I read up on GR however, I couldn't help but wonder that if time passes at different rates in different reference frames and our system that measures it remains the same, it could be explained due to the idea that the amount of time in seconds, or the duration of a duration is variable, instead of fixed. Relative duration so to speak. But since we'd need to differentiate between the two rates, an extra dimension is required.

Originally Posted by grant hutchison
By looking for a more fundamental time measurement, you seem to be seeking a "preferred" reference frame, one from which we get a better view of the laws of physics than from other frames. And that is specifically excluded in the theory of relativity.
Relativity states that the laws of physics are the same everywhere yes. I reckon an extra dimension does not violate this principle, as it would just mean that this time passes at different rates in different frames, which would be true for all of them, just like the fact that a second would be measured as a second in all frames. It would mean though that we have no way of measuring the additional time parameter in one frame of reference.

Moreover, adding an extra dimension for a variable 'time' rate in a reference frame, means the rate can also change within the frame. This would still be true for all frames, so I don't see why you would have to seek a preferred frame that somehow has different laws. They'd all have the same laws.

Originally Posted by grant hutchison
You changed the definition of "purple" during the course of your analogy: first it was red+blue, then it was red+nothing. We can only deduce that, in your argument, blue is equivalent to nothing: that it's irrelevant. The same seems to apply to your additional, stretchy kind of time.
Well, for everyday use, it would be irrelevant, unless it has a detectable effect. I reckon it is the cause of time dilation, meaning that if this is true, it would not be irrelevant

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
Relativity states that the laws of physics are the same everywhere yes. I reckon an extra dimension does not violate this principle, as it would just mean that this time passes at different rates in different frames, which would be true for all of them, just like the fact that a second would be measured as a second in all frames. It would mean though that we have no way of measuring the additional time parameter in one frame of reference.
Yes, we already know that time passes at different rates in different frames, as observed from other frames, and that a second is always a second when observed within any given frame. So there seems to be no need for your additional stretchy time.

Originally Posted by Seiryuu
Moreover, adding an extra dimension for a variable 'time' rate in a reference frame, means the rate can also change within the frame.
Although this is something we can't actually observe, you say. So there seems to be no need for it.

Originally Posted by Seiryuu
Well, for everyday use, it would be irrelevant, unless it has a detectable effect. I reckon it is the cause of time dilation, meaning that if this is true, it would not be irrelevant
It would achieve relevance when (and only when) it made some useful prediction beyond what we already understand.
In the meantime, I simply counter your claim with my own claim that Van Rijn's invisible elf is the cause of time dilation.
Prove me wrong.

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Originally Posted by grant hutchison
It would achieve relevance when (and only when) it made some useful prediction beyond what we already understand.
In the meantime, I simply counter your claim with my own claim that Van Rijn's invisible elf is the cause of time dilation.
Prove me wrong.
Why should I? My question was if it is possible or if it conflicted with GR. Making it possible doesn't make my idea right, but at least I know it isn't necessarily wrong either. In the same way, your idea is also possible! Who knows, we can't know for sure

But yeah, as previously mentioned, the idea would be used in context, along with the idea that the 'rate of time passing' in a second would be reversed to, the 'rate of masses moving through time' in a second, which would have an effect on it's surroundings.

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
Why should I? My question was if it is possible or if it conflicted with GR. Making it possible doesn't make my idea right. In the same way, your idea is also possible! Who knows, we can't know for sure
You're missing my point, I think.
So long as you hide your stretchy time from GR, by claiming that it is not a preferred time reference, and stating that it is not detectable, then of course it can't conflict with GR, and more than Van Rijn's notoriously undetectable elf conflicts with GR.
But as soon as you wheel it out to say it explains some part of GR, then you have a burden of proof: you need to make testable claims.

So saying your stretchy time is causal but undetectable is a contentless claim, in the same way Van Rijn's claim about his invisible elf is contentless. (Which, in case you haven't encountered Van Rijn's sig, is the point he's making with his invisible elf in the first place.)

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I understand that, but as far as I know, this is not the place for making testeable claims, so I won't do that as I'd like to keep this topic for the question on it's own, without going deeper into what I would use it for. I already have presented more than what is allowed from the rules I think.

I can give you the link if you're interested, but even then it's far from complete as it's conceptual and I would definitely need help in making it a scientific theory.

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Originally Posted by Seiryuu
I understand that, but as far as I know, this is not the place for making testeable claims, so I won't do that as I'd like to keep this topic for the question on it's own, without going deeper into what I would use it for. I already have presented more than what is allowed from the rules I think.
See, there's your problem.
So long as you make no testable claims and keep your stretchy time invisible to GR, then of course it's compatible with GR. But that doesn't mean it's acceptable within GR; just that you're managing to hide it outside GR.

If you have testable claims, then take them to ATM and see how they stand up.

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I'll repeat what I said privately here. The second is always a second. There's never additional time squeezed into it. But you can treat it somewhat in the way you would treat a perspective drawing. If you view a building straight on you see certain proportions. If you stand at the corner, you see different proportions though none of the dimensions have actually changed. There's no gain or loss of length, there's only point of view. That's what's happening with time dilation. You will always experience a second as a second (as you have acknowledged), and 1 second events will always occur within and fill that second regardless of your viewpoint, but someone in a different relativistic frame will see the second stretched, and the events therein stretched as well. (edit) It's always dangerous to think in terms of different rates of time in different frames. That isn't really what's happening, even though we compare our perspectives with the number of ticks of identical clocks. That fact that the ticks don't match is a consequence of the difference in perspective, not differences in rates of time elapse. (end edit)
Last edited by thorkil2; 2008-Oct-17 at 08:39 PM. Reason: additional comment.

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Originally Posted by grant hutchison
See, there's your problem.
So long as you make no testable claims and keep your stretchy time invisible to GR, then of course it's compatible with GR. But that doesn't mean it's acceptable within GR; just that you're managing to hide it outside GR.

If you have testable claims, then take them to ATM and see how they stand up.

Grant Hutchison
*Cough*

At risk of having this thread moved to ATM and having to defend it once more (which I may not be willing to do after having already opened one that is running near it's end)
The actual theory I submitted started out totally different, with a whole bunch of misconceptions that I have attempted to revise to the best of my abilities. But due to my lack of background, I doubt I can make it into anything more than that.

You see, I have a model based upon concepts, but I don't know how all of it translates in the actual physics, as I'm a layman when it comes to that. I can understand the concepts behind GR for example, but I just don't know what's possible and what isn't. I have to look al that stuff up or ask questions about them.

One of the reasons for this thread is an argument in that topic in that in order to describe the motion through time as I explained it, I don't need five coordinates at all and that all what I was doing was indeed simply using preferred reference frames. I strongly disagree with that, but wanted to be sure by asking in this topic. Now I'm confused again though, since I really don't see how the motion I'm describing could involve a preferred reference frame at all. Can you help me out on this one?

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Originally Posted by thorkil2
(edit) It's always dangerous to think in terms of different rates of time in different frames. That isn't really what's happening, even though we compare our perspectives with the number of ticks of identical clocks. That fact that the ticks don't match is a consequence of the difference in perspective, not differences in rates of time elapse. (end edit)
But if it was only a matter of perspective, how is then that clocks who were in a different frame can run slow or fast when they change back to the reference frame?

In the analogy with the building, if you change your position, you'll get to see the different sides accordingly. But if you change back, the building is still the same, no matter from which point you look at it.

For a clock this doesn't seem true. If it changes frame, it actually has undergone a change when it returns, in the sense that the time suddenly doesn't match anymore with a reference clock. How can this be explained in terms of perspective only?

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