Meeting in Andromeda: How Time Dilation Can Get Weird | Summary and Q&A

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August 5, 2015
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World Science Festival
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Meeting in Andromeda: How Time Dilation Can Get Weird

TL;DR

Traveling at the speed of light or in strong gravitational fields can significantly slow down the aging process due to the effects of time dilation.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does traveling at the speed of light affect time?

Traveling at the speed of light causes time dilation, where time passes much slower for the traveler compared to those remaining stationary. This effect has been confirmed through observations.

Q: Can time dilation occur with small speeds and short distances?

Time dilation exists even at small speeds, but the effects are very tiny and difficult to measure. It becomes more noticeable with higher speeds and larger distances.

Q: Why would two observers on the Andromeda galaxy observe different events happening on Earth?

The different observers' relative speeds and positions cause them to have different perceptions of simultaneity. As one of them moves towards Earth, their concept of simultaneous events on Earth would be later.

Q: Why can't signals be sent instantaneously according to Einstein's theory?

In Einstein's theory of relativity, signals cannot be sent instantaneously because they must travel at the speed of light. Any communication would experience a delay proportional to the distance it needs to cover.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Time dilation occurs when an object travels at high speeds or experiences strong gravitational fields, causing time to pass slower for that object.

  • According to special relativity, if one were to travel close to the speed of light, time would pass much slower for them compared to someone on Earth.

  • Time dilation is not only applicable to high speeds but also to large distances, where events can be observed differently on different objects.

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