Empirical Data Does Not Match Special Relativity Time Dilation
Introduction: As reviewed in my prior blog entry, the Twin Paradox debate showed that Special Relativity’s time dilation equation could not logically be discussing “proper time” – i.e., it could not logically be directly describing what was happening physically. To repeat, as Dingle, and not a few other prominent physicists, have argued, “the theory [Special Relativity] unavoidably requires that A works more slowly than B and B more slowly than A –which it requires no super-intelligence to see is impossible.” However, Dingle’s (and others’) irrefutable logic has had no impact on the relativists. But now a hopefully inescapable avalanche of empirical data will open some minds. This blog entry summarizes the mismatch between Special Relativity and empirical data from GPS and other sources
Historical background: Before Einstein wrote his 1905 paper deriving time dilation, Lorentz derived his clock retardation equation which can be written as T = To/(1 – v2/c2)1/2 and which said that as absolute velocity (velocity with respect to a unique frame) increased, clock rates would decrease. This was an asymmetric equation based on absolute velocity and addressed clocks that were in inertial and non-inertial (e.g., accelerating, rotating) frames. If one wants to compare the rates of two clocks that are not at rest in the preferred frame using the Lorentz formula, one uses the velocity of each clock relative to the preferred frame to determine how much each clock has slowed relative to a clock at rest in the preferred frame and then computes the ratio of those rates to compare the two clocks that are NOT at rest in the preferred frame.
Subsequently, Einstein derived his time dilation equation which looked very much like Lorentz’s clock retardation equation except that absolute velocity was replaced by the relative velocity between the two clocks being compared. Hence, Einstein’s time dilation equation was inherently symmetric as it was based on relative velocity. Also, Einstein’s time dilation equation was said to be limited to comparing clocks at rest in inertial frames. Since Special Relativity’s version of the formula is symmetric, clock A “measures” clock B to be slow AND clock B “measures” clock A to be slow, so that would presumably indicate that Special Relativity’s time dilation is NOT describing (asymmetric) physical clock slowing.
In Special Relativity’s version of the formula referenced at the start of this section, T represents the amount of proper time accumulated by the observer’s clock. And To represents the amount of accumulated time in the observed’s frame – at least from the observer’s perspective. So in Special Relativity, clock A “measures” clock B to be slow AND B “measures” clock A to be slow.
Special Relativity describes how each observer “measures” the world and each observer, using Special Relativity, “measures” his own clock as the fastest (and his own meter stick as the longest). Special Relativity time dilation uses relative velocity between A and B to compute how much clock A will “measure” clock B as running slow and how much clock B will “measure” clock A as running slow. It was NOT derived to be used by a 3rd party to compare clock A and B as the results will vary widely depending on the state of the 3rd party. For example, if one has observer C at rest in the ECI (Earth Centered Inertial) frame at the origin of some arbitrarily selected axes and one has A going along the positive x-axis at velocity u with respect to C (and the ECI) and B going in the opposite direction along the x-axis at velocity -u with respect to C, then, using Special Relativity, C will compute that A and B have slowed equally with respect to C’s own clock and, hence, will compute that they are running at the same rate. In contrast, when either A or B use Special Relativity to compute time dilation using their relative velocity, each computes the other as having the slower clock and, hence, both are in sharp disagreement with the preferred frame clock retardation methodology and with computation done by a 3rd party at rest in a 3rd frame.[Note: For more that 100 years, relativists have been consistently inconsistent on how they interpret Special Relativity’s time dilation equation. Sometimes they interpret it as just describing how the observer “just” observes clock rates in the observed’s frame. Conversely, they also interpret it, explicitly or implicitly, as describing the observed’s clock rate as physically slowing down. So the term “measures” has been used above to try to be neutral when describing Special Relativity’s time dilation equation.]
The Empirical Data: The empirical data shows that absolute velocity causes a change in the proper time accumulation rate of clocks. This is a physical, asymmetric, absolute effect and affects clocks in inertial and non-inertial (e.g., accelerating, rotating) frames. Special Relativity’s time dilation equation is a function of relative velocity and, as such, is inherently symmetric and observer dependent and cannot be the cause of asymmetric decreasing of proper time accumulation rates. Relative velocity which is inherently symmetric does not cause asymmetric effects.
Special Relativity’s time dilation is a function of relative velocity squared. Hence, whatever it says about clock A compared to clock B, it says the exact same thing about clock B compared to clock A. In other words, if Special Relativity predicts that A will observe clock B to be 37% slower than his own clock A, then it also predicts that B will observe clock A to be 37% slower than his own clock B. Some relativists contend that the meaning of Special Relativity’s time dilation is not just that both clocks will be observed to be slower than the other, but that both clocks will actually run slower than each other. This seems like a rather bizarre claim: however, whichever interpretation the relativist chooses, the equation predicts symmetric results whereas the data is asymmetric.
The earliest data on time dilation just measured that A observed “clock” B rates to be slower than his “clock” A rates – however, what B would observe was NOT measured. These one way measurements were consistent with Special Relativity and were interpreted as confirming Special Relativity. However, subsequent data that directly measured both the A and B perspectives has shown that clock rate differences as a function of velocity are NOT symmetric as Special Relativity predicts, but rather are asymmetric. The data shows that when clock rate B is observed to be slower than clock rate A due to velocity, then clock rate A is observed to be faster than clock rate B and clock A is not only observed to be faster, but clock A actually is faster (i.e., clock A accumulates proper time at a faster rate than clock B). Furthermore, this difference in clock rate due to velocity is not a function of relative velocity, but is a function of velocity with respect to a unique frame.
The Details – GPS: GPS uses a physical model built on physical asymmetric clock retardation as a function of velocity with respect to a unique frame, namely, the ECI (Earth Centered Inertial) frame. As described above when discussing Lorentz clock retardation, GPS uses the velocity of the satellite clocks with respect to the ECI frame and the velocity of the earthbound clocks with respect to the ECI frame to determine how much each clock has slowed relative to a clock at rest in the ECI frame and then computes the ratio of those rates to compare the expected satellite clocks rates to the earth clock rates.1 As discussed above, even though one is using an equation that looks like Special Relativity time dilation and one is using velocity “relative” to the ECI frame, one is NOT actually using Special Relativity time dilation. If one actually just used Special Relativity and measured the relative velocities of the GPS clocks, one would NOT get the same output as GPS gives. Furthermore, if all available, relevant, relative velocities were used, one would get multiple conflicting estimates. Data on “time dilation” from GPS that is a function of velocity with respect to the ECI frame has shown:
- if one looks at the data from the perspective of the satellite clock, then one sees that the effect of velocity is that the earth clock accumulates proper time FASTER (NOT SLOWER as one would expect if one used Special Relativity’s time dilation equation and relative velocity). While the prior point is sufficient to show that Special Relativity does not explain the data, note that even if one wanted to ignore that part of the data and just look at the data from the perspective of the earthbound clock, it’s clear that the effect is about asymmetric clock rate changes and, hence, cannot be explained by the inherently symmetric (“just observed”) Special Relativity time dilation effect.
- such “time rate differences” have been unambiguously shown to be physical, asymmetric clock retardation and to definitely NOT be symmetric special relativistic time dilation – in other words, the earth clock/instruments observe the satellite clocks to be slow due to the velocity effect and the satellite clock/instruments observe the earth clocks to be fast due to the velocity effect
- to compute the velocity effect on clock rate, GPS uses the Lorentz Relativity method and not the Special Relativity method. The two methods give different answers. If GPS used the Special Relativity method, it would produce significantly less accurate results.
Hence, trying to use Special Relativity would not only, in general, give the wrong answer for GPS, but it would also give multiple, contradictory answers depending on what set of clocks and relative velocities one chose to use. Note that GPS synchronizes all the clocks on the earth’s surface and then adjusts the satellite clock rates so that they all have the same proper time accumulation rate as the set of earth bound clocks. However, as the satellite clocks orbit the earth, their relative velocity for the various individual earthbound clocks varies depending where they are in orbit and varies differently for different earthbound clocks. If Special Relativity was the correct model for velocity dependent effects, then these variations in relative velocity should show up in the GPS data. They don’t. All of this is straightforward and readily understandable to anyone not wedded to Special Relativity, yet it goes unheeded. As is the case with many new ideas in physics, it can take a very long time to accept. GPS does not use Special Relativity, but instead uses the construct of velocity with respect to a single, preferred frame.
Confirmations: This is NOT just the idiosyncratic view of this author. The following are in agreement with the above assessment of GPS. The conclusions of those below and of the author were all derived independently of one another:
o Ron Hatch (30 GPS patents) knows the GPS design, algorithms and data in great detail. He has reviewed and agrees with the comments above regarding GPS and Special Relativity.
o Tom Van Flandern was a technical consultant on GPS. He wrote that GPS does not use the Special Relativity model for velocity effects, but instead uses the Lorentz Relativity model.
o Tom Phipps, in his book about Special Relativity said:
– “For anyone who respects experience, experience with the GPS can have a decisive bearing on the fundamental issues of relativism. Empirical data from multiple sources are now available showing timekeeping asymmetry to be an objective physical fact.”
– “Hence it is in direct disagreement with fact to assert reciprocity, as Special RelativityT [Special Relativity] does, such that symmetry prevails between the earth clock which “sees” the satellite clock slowed and the satellite clock which “sees” the earth clock slowed. [Instead] The satellite clock must see and measure the earth clock not as slowed but as continuing to run fast. … To repeat there is an objective realasymmetry ..”
– “In summary, the Special RelativityT tale of seeing or measuring time keeping symmetry is a myth. Manifestly, there is a real, measurable asymmetry of physical clock rates.”
The Details – The Hafele-Keating Experiment: Like GPS, the Hafele-Keating experiment used a physical model built on physical asymmetric clock retardation as a function of velocity with respect to a unique frame, namely, the ECI (Earth Centered Inertial) frame. As described above when discussing Lorentz clock retardation, the Hafele-Keating experiment use the velocity of the airborne clocks with respect to the ECI frame and the velocity of the earthbound clocks with respect to the ECI frame to determine how much each clock has slowed relative to a clock at rest in the ECI frame and then computes the ratio of those rates to compare the expected airborne clocks rates to the earthbound clock rates. As discussed above, even though one is using an equation that looks like Special Relativity time dilation and one is using velocity “relative” to the ECI frame, one is NOT actually using Special Relativity time dilation. If one actually just used Special Relativity and measured the relative velocities of the airborne clocks, one would NOT compute what the data results were.
Some allege that the Hafele-Keating data was fudged. If that’s true, then the experiment does not confirm Special Relativity. On the other hand, if the Hafele-Keating data is valid, it confirms Lorentz clock retardation and refutes Special Relativity time dilation.
The Details – Particle Accelerator Data: Early particle accelerator time dilation data was looked at from the perspective of “Did it confirm Special Relativity?” – it was generally ignored that the data was also consistent with preferred frame theory and it did NOT specifically validate Special Relativity’s symmetric time dilation – there was no data supporting the assumption that an observer traveling with the accelerated particle would OBSERVE time dilation for the accelerator frame. Nevertheless, the physics community interpreted the (partial) data as showing that Special Relativity was confirmed to high precision (e.g., “to nine decimal places”) This may help explain why when future asymmetric data showed a glaring inconsistency with symmetric time dilation, relativists chose to ignore the portion of the data that was inconsistent with their strongly held belief system
The Details – Muon Decay In The Atmosphere: The earthbound observer sees muons created in the upper atmosphere as byproducts of high energy cosmic ray proton impacts with atomic nuclei. Due to the thickness of the atmosphere and the very short half-life of the muon, very few such muons would be expected to reach the earth’s surface (only 1 in every 10138). However, a great quantity of muons do reach the earth and even penetrate 100s of meters into the earth. This experimental result is interpreted as proof of Special Relativity’s (symmetric) time dilation, but this is not a logically consistent interpretation. It’s claimed that time dilation, in effect, gives the muon’s “clock” much more time for the “high speed” muon to decay and that gives the muon more time to traverse the depth of the earth’s atmosphere.
Either the muons are traveling at greater than the speed of light in the earth frame, which is not consistent with Special Relativity, or their half-life has been physically and asymmetrically extended between the event of being created in the upper atmosphere and the event of reaching the earth.
All Clocks At Rest In A Specific Inertial Frame Have The Same Clock Rate: The data shows that for each specific frame, all identical clocks at rest in that frame (other things like gravitational potential being equal) have the same clock rate. The data, for example from GPS, also tells us that different frames have different clock rates. Hence, there must be a hierarchy of frames which is ordered by clock rates. Further, the data from GPS (and possibly Hafele-Keating) and other sources, indicate that that hierarchy of frames ordered by clock rate are also ordered by velocity with respect to a unique “preferred frame”. Special Relativity is not a preferred frame theory and, hence, is at odds with the data.
Summary: Special Relativity time dilation requires that the data be symmetric between the two frames being observed. Lorentz clock retardation requires that the data show asymmetric, physical clock retardation as a function of velocity with respect to a unique frame. Empirical data from GPS, Hafele-Keating, muon creation in the atmosphere and half life data from accelerator experiments show that the data is consistent with Lorentz clock retardation, but not with Special Relativity. Other data from particle accelerators, which only show the data as observed in a single frame, can be thought of as consistent with both Special Relativity and Lorentz clock retardation.
Much of the material in this entry is from the author’s web site at http://twinparadox.net/ and additional info on this topic and all the references can be found on the home page of that website.