ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Understanding Temporal Dilation: The Time Vs. Velocity Equation

Updated on September 25, 2009

Science fiction has long delved into the mysterious world of time travel. Movies, books, television, and other stories have been warping captivated audiences into the future as well as transporting them to long forgotten civilizations of the past. Children daydream of traveling into the future or exploring the mysterious past, and there is always the new magazine article being written on where we will be in the next ten, fifty, or hundred years from now.

With Einstein's revolutionary special theory of relativity, he redefined the notion of space and time, drawing remarkable conclusions that in certain ways, would allow people to move forward in time. Now, with new experiments that are being conducted, that dream of accessing the past may now become a possibility, held up only by the advances that are needed in science.

In 1905 a Swiss patent clerk named Albert Einstein published a scientific paper that would soon shake up the world of physics and establish himself as the new great thinker of the twentieth century. The new theory that he developed would later be named the special theory of relativity. It completely overturned the established concept of a firm and rigid structure to space and time. Instead it portrayed Einstein's new space-time as a linked entity that was shifting and fluid. As a person moved through space, they would also be moving through time. The results showed that time was not a firmly established system, but, in fact, it was perceived differently by everybody depending on the speed that they were traveling.

The whole theory that Einstein developed is based on two postulates, which are things that must be accepted as true in order for the theory to work. The first postulate states: all the laws of physics are the same in any inertial frames of reference. This is a relatively straightforward statement. The only confusing part is "inertial frame of reference." Basically, an "inertial frame" is one that is either moving at a constant speed or not moving at all. In other words the laws that govern how objects behave are the same in every location that is neither accelerating nor decelerating. If a person throws a baseball in their backyard, on the twentieth floor of a New York skyscraper, or on an airplane going a constant speed of 300 miles per hour, the ball will behave in the same fashion. The physical laws that govern the world will not change because of the location. This is a perfectly reasonable assumption, but in conjunction with the second postulate, it will later lead to amazing consequences.

The second postulate states: the speed of light is constant for all observers. Light always travels at a constant 186,000 miles per second. This may seem like a logical thing to say, but if it is compared to something more ordinary, the strangeness of the statement will become more apparent.

For instance, Johnny is late for work and has just missed the bus. As the bus moves down the street at a steady 25 miles per hour (mph), Johnny chases after it at 10 mph. Jenny, an observer, sits on a bench laughing hysterically at the situation. From Jenny's point of view the bus is moving 25 mph, but from the point of view of Johnny, the bus is only moving 15 mph, since the bus is moving at 25 mph and he is chasing after it at 10 mph. The bus is moving away from Johnny at (25mph - 10mph) 15 mph. The speed of the object is all relative to the observer. Relative to Jenny the bus is going 25mph, but relative to Johnny the bus is only going 15 mph. That is why it is called the theory of relativity.

Continued In: Understanding Temporal Dilation: The Time Vs. Velocity Equation - Part 2


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)