Thursday, April 22, 2010

Confirmed!

I had a hunch about something just from my intuition, and not from reading about physics before, because I never encountered this issue in the past.

But as briefly as possible, just knowing the little I understand about how time and acceleration work; one of the aspects being that time and acceleration (like time and space) are really part of the same entity, and therefore if you are really active in one, you kind of borrow from the other.  So it's like if you are completely inactive in acceleration, you get 100% of "normal" time.  And if you go through some acceleration, you start borrowing (elongating, or drawing from) time.

An example of course would be if you and I were in rocket ships in space sitting side by side, and then one of us (me) took off at close to the speed of light for like an hour (my time), and then turned around and did the same thing back to end up next to you, both of our times in relation to one-another would be different.  Our watches (or calendars for that matter), which started out the same (1pm on Thursday April 22nd), upon my return now say 2pm on Thursday April 22nd for me, and 10:16am on May 14th for you.  The discrepancy between our clocks and calendars would be precisely in relation to how fast my various accelerations got me to.

So at some point you have to wonder, if there's really no reference point in space, why it is that one of us experienced a shorter time between our meetings, and not the other (like why was it an hour for me, and 24 days for you, and not vice-versa?).   Because if you think about it, if it were totally black space and no stars or anything for reference, you could fix a camera to your rocket and see me take off at near the speed of light.  But then again, I could fix a camera to my rocket, and when I took off, my camera would record your ship zooming out of frame at near the speed of light.

I had this question as far back as when i was at USC if you can believe it, even before I started reading books.  But my answer eventually came from books.  It wasn't an answer that just dawned on me.
The answer is that it's precisely because I went through acceleration that I had my time slowed (my acceleration drew on the time portion of what I called the "entity" earlier....my own words).  You didn't experience any acceleration.  Just me.

So here's the thing that got confirmed the other night as I was reading.  It made me feel the way great scientists must have felt when he came up with large notions on their own that others hadn't yet thought of.  Mine of course being a tiny thing, but never the less, it showed me that I really do have some intuitive sense of physics related things without much mathematical experience.

A while back, like maybe out 5 years ago, it occurred to me that when you and I are standing on our planet, we are accelerating.  I don't mean because the world is spinning, or because the earth is in orbit around anything.  The earth could be totally still in space, and yet you and I are accelerating.  And that means that when we stand at the surface of the earth, versus floating somewhere in space, that our time is experiencing a very slight time dilation on Earth.

This is how I figured this.  Non-acceleration is just floating and not having any forces acting on you.  This would include if you were floating in space and you started to drift into the gravitational field of some planet.  What would happen would be that you would slowly start to gravitate to the planet, still floating like David Bowie gently towards a planet-blue.  Again, no acceleration because even though you are starting to drift towards the planet, you are not feeling any forces on you.  In fact, you could start to drift (without any eventual interference with atmosphere) faster and faster, like up to several hundred miles per hour, and you would still not be accelerating in the way of feeling any forces.  And in that way, gravity is a curvature of space-time.

So what would happen when you eventually hit the surface of the planet, aside from being splatted, is that you would suddenly go through an enormous amount of acceleration.  Enough to kill you in fact.  But the point is that suddenly you would have a force acting on you.  I intuitively felt that free falling (again without wind or air resistance) is a natural state just like floating around in space would be.

Now this is the point I've been getting to, and maybe now you got there too already.  I realized, again by myself (kudos to me) that when I am laying on my bed, or standing outdoors, I am actually accelerating because the force of gravity from this big planet wants me to free fall in a natural state, but the surface of the earth happens to be a force that is in the way and is acting against me (against my feet) and blocking me from the natural floating-free falling state.  Therefore, I am accelerating and experiencing a slight time dilation compared to if I were allowed to free fall, or if I were just floating around in space.

So the other night, I get to this chapter that explains exactly that, nothing less, nothing more.  It was one of the few times in my life where i really realized that all of my pondering has been insightful and even gifted in some small way.