Thread: Summit Clock Experiment 2.0: Time is Absolute

One previous poster had some insight into the flaw in the 'thought experiment'.

Although badly worded, the basic point is this:

(1) Either you allow the clocks to 'tick' independantly, or else you tie them to the earth's orbit, correcting them when they stray. You can't have it both ways. If they tick freely, without correction, then both clocks will eventually be out of sync with the sunrise, and also each other.

This has little to do with testing 'time dilation', and everything to do with composing an experiment with a clear coherent purpose and method.

(2) The poor timekeeping qualities of the clocks will have no discernable effect on the delivery of your newspaper, that I can see. The newspapers that must be delivered will arrive early or late according to the method of transport and distance, and will have dates reflecting the way newspapers keep time, not based how either clock keeps time.

This has little to do with 'time dilation', and everything to do with how newspaper publishers use the earth's orbit (suitably adjusted by leapyears) to keep time.

(3) The most accurate measure of time/distance that we have are by the use of light signals carried by light quanta (quantized packets of energy), which have no mass and a 'fixed' speed or rather a calibration speed expressed in distance/time units (186,000 mps).

As Einstein would say, echoing his mentor Mach, times and distances and speeds are all measured RELATIVELY. That is, we can't speak of 'absolute speed'. All motion is measured relative to other objects in space. We measure motion using LIGHT as the final calibrating arbiter, because according to Special Relativity, Light behaves predictably as per the equations of Special relativity, which describe and 'predict' the expected numbers.

In Classical Newtonian Theory, all velocities are expressed RELATIVE to an 'inertial frame', which for practical purposes, we assume is not accelerating relative to Newtonian Absolute Space. This results in the famous F = mA type equations of motion, which work well at low "velocities".

When we do this at high speeds (e.g. light-speeds), we find that light and all other moving particles obey the Laws of Motion described by Special Relativity, and so we modify our description and understanding to give something like a "Special Relativity Space/Time".

This also is not a 'true' description of space/time, but rather a convenient approximation to "local" space/time behaviour, regarding the equations of motion.

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In the above discussion, please notice two very strange 'limitations':

(1) "low velocities" which mathematically imply some kind of 'absolute' scale of velocity independant of relative measurement of velocity (once suitable units of measurement are chosen), because these units are 'arbitrary' but the absolute "pure" numbers are NOT.

To explain the mathematical problem further, we can say that although numbers are arbitrary and abstract, the ALGEBRAS they represent are NOT. We can clearly distinguish the difference in behaviour between a number between 0 and 1, and a number greater than 1 for instance.

Or we can distinguish between 'operators' such as multiplication and division, because although we say the 'order of operations' of these two are equal, they are in fact NOT.

a x b = b x a, but a/b is not = b/a.

These are analogies, but the point is that certain numbers in the universe are NOT arbitrary in the sense that we can put 'anything' in there. Similarly, the various constants (Plank's constant,the Gravitational Constant etc.) appear to have a Platonic reality beyond the arbitrary selection of a 'number' to represent them.

Other 'constants' are just secondary phenomenae that reflect a choice of units or a relationship, but not a real 'constant'.

How can one speak of "low velocities" in the discussion of Special Relativity, which tries to presume that all motion is relative, and that there are no real 'inertial frames' at all? (I speak now of the theoretical underpinnings and discussion surrounding the historical acceptance of the theory, such as the exchange between Einstein and Mach).

There is a real philsophical and physical dilemma posed here. The actual numbers for Special Relativity (SR) are not arbitrary.

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(2) "Local Spacetimes" again pose a strange 'sizing' problem. We say in General Relativity (GR) that "locally" spacetime conforms to "special relativity", but in the 'big picture' we have to fit all these local spacetimes together in a rather more complex manner than simply stacking them like 'Lego blocks'.

At a larger 'sizing', we connect all these local spacetimes via the adjustments caused by the 'warping of spacetime' by the presence of MASS. This allows for larger-scale 'bending' of spacetime over distances that dwarf the local measurement of spacetime that seems to reflect SR.

How small is "local", and how big is "larger, (GR - style) spacetime"? This also is not an arbitrary 'sizing' dictated by choice of units, but a real physical entity, a 'constant' of some kind, that is intimately tied to the 'size' of atoms and molecules and their density.

Both of these factors (quite without quantum considerations) hint at a kind of 'Absoluteness' of Spacetime that Newton himself would have recognized as supporting Newtonian 'absolute space' far better than Machian 'absolutely relative motion'.

Although Einstein attempted to 'prove' Mach's program of a purely 'relative' physics, he ended up creating a new "absolute spacetime monster", General Relativity, which postulates a 'gravitational field' as real as Newton's "absolute space" and a perhaps more accurate one.

2. Originally Posted by Nazaroo
One previous poster had some insight into the flaw in the 'thought experiment'.

Although badly worded, the basic point is this:

(1) Either you allow the clocks to 'tick' independantly, or else you tie them to the earth's orbit, correcting them when they stray. You can't have it both ways. If they tick freely, without correction, then both clocks will eventually be out of sync with the sunrise, and also each other.

This has little to do with testing 'time dilation', and everything to do with composing an experiment with a clear coherent purpose and method.

(2) The poor timekeeping qualities of the clocks will have no discernable effect on the delivery of your newspaper, that I can see. The newspapers that must be delivered will arrive early or late according to the method of transport and distance, and will have dates reflecting the way newspapers keep time, not based how either clock keeps time.

This has little to do with 'time dilation', and everything to do with how newspaper publishers use the earth's orbit (suitably adjusted by leapyears) to keep time.

(3) The most accurate measure of time/distance that we have are by the use of light signals carried by light quanta (quantized packets of energy), which have no mass and a 'fixed' speed or rather a calibration speed expressed in distance/time units (186,000 mps).

As Einstein would say, echoing his mentor Mach, times and distances and speeds are all measured RELATIVELY. That is, we can't speak of 'absolute speed'. All motion is measured relative to other objects in space. We measure motion using LIGHT as the final calibrating arbiter, because according to Special Relativity, Light behaves predictably as per the equations of Special relativity, which describe and 'predict' the expected numbers.

In Classical Newtonian Theory, all velocities are expressed RELATIVE to an 'inertial frame', which for practical purposes, we assume is not accelerating relative to Newtonian Absolute Space. This results in the famous F = mA type equations of motion, which work well at low "velocities".

When we do this at high speeds (e.g. light-speeds), we find that light and all other moving particles obey the Laws of Motion described by Special Relativity, and so we modify our description and understanding to give something like a "Special Relativity Space/Time".

This also is not a 'true' description of space/time, but rather a convenient approximation to "local" space/time behaviour, regarding the equations of motion.

----------------------------------------------------------------

In the above discussion, please notice two very strange 'limitations':

(1) "low velocities" which mathematically imply some kind of 'absolute' scale of velocity independant of relative measurement of velocity (once suitable units of measurement are chosen), because these units are 'arbitrary' but the absolute "pure" numbers are NOT.

To explain the mathematical problem further, we can say that although numbers are arbitrary and abstract, the ALGEBRAS they represent are NOT. We can clearly distinguish the difference in behaviour between a number between 0 and 1, and a number greater than 1 for instance.

Or we can distinguish between 'operators' such as multiplication and division, because although we say the 'order of operations' of these two are equal, they are in fact NOT.

a x b = b x a, but a/b is not = b/a.

These are analogies, but the point is that certain numbers in the universe are NOT arbitrary in the sense that we can put 'anything' in there. Similarly, the various constants (Plank's constant,the Gravitational Constant etc.) appear to have a Platonic reality beyond the arbitrary selection of a 'number' to represent them.

Other 'constants' are just secondary phenomenae that reflect a choice of units or a relationship, but not a real 'constant'.

How can one speak of "low velocities" in the discussion of Special Relativity, which tries to presume that all motion is relative, and that there are no real 'inertial frames' at all? (I speak now of the theoretical underpinnings and discussion surrounding the historical acceptance of the theory, such as the exchange between Einstein and Mach).

There is a real philsophical and physical dilemma posed here. The actual numbers for Special Relativity (SR) are not arbitrary.

----------------------------------------------

(2) "Local Spacetimes" again pose a strange 'sizing' problem. We say in General Relativity (GR) that "locally" spacetime conforms to "special relativity", but in the 'big picture' we have to fit all these local spacetimes together in a rather more complex manner than simply stacking them like 'Lego blocks'.

At a larger 'sizing', we connect all these local spacetimes via the adjustments caused by the 'warping of spacetime' by the presence of MASS. This allows for larger-scale 'bending' of spacetime over distances that dwarf the local measurement of spacetime that seems to reflect SR.

How small is "local", and how big is "larger, (GR - style) spacetime"? This also is not an arbitrary 'sizing' dictated by choice of units, but a real physical entity, a 'constant' of some kind, that is intimately tied to the 'size' of atoms and molecules and their density.

Both of these factors (quite without quantum considerations) hint at a kind of 'Absoluteness' of Spacetime that Newton himself would have recognized as supporting Newtonian 'absolute space' far better than Machian 'absolutely relative motion'.

Although Einstein attempted to 'prove' Mach's program of a purely 'relative' physics, he ended up creating a new "absolute spacetime monster", General Relativity, which postulates a 'gravitational field' as real as Newton's "absolute space" and a perhaps more accurate one.
Nazaroo,

While your post clearly shows your expertise in the field of Physics, it doesn't do a thing to rebut the argument made in the opening post. The closest it came to doing so was to make two points that sound like they are on the same subject and then a third which seems to me to be a rabbit trail.

(1) Either you allow the clocks to 'tick' independantly, or else you tie them to the earth's orbit, correcting them when they stray. You can't have it both ways. If they tick freely, without correction, then both clocks will eventually be out of sync with the sunrise, and also each other.

This has little to do with testing 'time dilation', and everything to do with composing an experiment with a clear coherent purpose and method.
So what? In what way does what you've said here refute anything that was said in the opening post? Maybe I'm stupid or having a stroke or something but I just don't see how what you've said here does anything to argue against Bob's opening post. Spell it out for me.

(2) The poor timekeeping qualities of the clocks will have no discernable effect on the delivery of your newspaper, that I can see. The newspapers that must be delivered will arrive early or late according to the method of transport and distance, and will have dates reflecting the way newspapers keep time, not based how either clock keeps time.

This has little to do with 'time dilation', and everything to do with how newspaper publishers use the earth's orbit (suitably adjusted by leapyears) to keep time.
Well first of all the sunrise has nothing to do with leap-years and morning deliveries of one sort or another had been going on for thousands of years before anyone had even invented a clock, never mind discovered the need for leap-years.

I ask again: How does anything you've said here refute Bob's opening post?

Point three, along with the balance of your post seems entirely off the topic. I mean, its clearly about Physics and Einstein's theories and how they relate to Newtonian Physics but none of it seems to address Bob's argument in the slightest.

Perhaps it will help if I ask a direct question...

If the clock watcher at the summit is going through time faster than the watcher at the base to the extent that the watcher at the summit is a full day ahead of the watcher at the base, then why have they both seen the same number of sunrises and received a newspaper dated Monday September 17th, 2007?

Resting in Him,
Clete

3. A Different approach...

If you want a serious physical analysis of the original post, lets start here:

Two atomic clocks have been running on Earth for billions of years, one at the base of Cheyenne Mountain, and the other at the summit, sitting inside of a well-maintained Chinook cargo helicopter. The clock on the peak has been running faster by a few nanoseconds per year, but over the eons, it has advanced to twenty-four hours ahead of the clock far below, and it’s readout, in year, month, day, hour, minute, second, and nanosecond, is just now turning over to indicate exactly twenty-four hours ahead of the other clock, on a Friday at exactly high noon.
This is the important bit. The discussion that follows this paragraph is all crap, for a simple reason. You left too many questions open about the experiment, so lets close some loopholes and tighten this mess up.

(1) What does the poster mean by Clocks?

There are two different physical machines possible here, and although your intent is probably clear, your terminology isn't, so we are going to describe both types of machine.

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a) "Clock type A". This clock attempts to measure 'absolute time' by using a reliable and constant physical process that under controlled conditions proceeds at a constant rate when undisturbed. Its byproducts can be measured with an amount of interference reducable to a negligible quantity for the purposes and duration of the experiment.

Hence, this device measures "time", based on the premise that the process is sufficiently isolated from outside disturbances to prevent a change in its rate of reaction or motion. The only thing presumed able to penetrate the Clock and breach its isolation is a gravitational field.

The immediate purpose of this 'clock' would be to measure any changes in the rate of its processes by comparison (at the end of the experiment) to a different identical machine synchronized to it at the start.

For simple control purposes, the other calibrating 'clock' would be kept in a DIFFERENT location and strength of gravitational field for the duration of the experiment.

The design of the overall experiment would be to test the predictions of General Relativity (GR), which predicts that the clock in the higher gravity field (nearer a large mass like the earth or sun) will drift out of sync with the other control 'clock' because its internal processes would be slowed down in the higher gravity field.

Although the 'read-outs' for each clock could be designed to physically read Year-Month-Week-Day-Hour-Minuite-Second-etc., this would be stupid and pointless, since the meanings of these names would not apply to the time-periods these "clocks" would actually measure.

These "Clocks" are specificially designed to be UNAFFECTED by outside conditions, such as the position of the Sun or the rotation of the earth, and hence CANNOT be synchronized to REAL DAYS or YEARS etc.

The most logical design for this type of 'Clock' would be a simple counter, which would keep track of the speed of the internal processes in both 'Clocks' in an identical manner for calibration and synchronization purposes.

Since both clocks are going to be allowed to run independantly of each other, and of necessity independantly from the rotations and revolutions of the earth on its axis and around the Sun, it will be confidently predicted that even if one clock manages to stay in synchronization with the 'days' on earth by accident or design, the other 'Clock' will not synchronise, but will "precess", meaning the "DAYS" on at least one "clock" will drift periodically in and out of sync with "Earth-Days".

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b) "Clock Type B" This type of 'Clock' will be a device that measures and records "REAL" days, namely revolutions of the earth on its axis relative to the position of the Sun.

This clock can be mounted on the North Pole at any altitude, and will consist of a ring of light-sensitive photoelectric cells facing outward toward all points of the compass (oriented to the surface at the pole), and a suitable recording machine that measures the light from each direction as the 'clock' turns along with the earth.

This device will measure the passing of "Days" as exactly as one may wish, through a refinement of external 'slits' that allow light from the sun to strike the photocells.

This clock can also have a special "readout screen" that displays "Year-Month-DAY-hour-minute-sec-etc." However, since this device is an entirely different type of machine than "Clock Type A", it can measure real "Days" (meaning earth rotations) with exact precision, and in fact, it can't measure anything else, such as the passage of time or the speed of any process.

If the earth slows down, the days slow down. If the earth speeds up, or changes its rotation around the Sun, the clock will stay synchronized to the earth's motion exactly.

However, Clock Type B cannot be used to test the passing of 'time' or the speed of any process. Nor can it be used to test General Relativity either by itself or in conjunction with another copy of itself.

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Note please that these are two different machines. They can both be called 'clocks', and they can both have read-out displays that show "Year-Month-Day-Hour-Minute-Sec-etc."

But only one of them can be used in a GR experiment, "Clock Type A".

And because we choose this machine and not the other, we cannot expect our "clock's" readouts to indicate REAL "DAYS", if we mean rotations of the earth. At best these machine readouts can APPROXIMATE earth days, by lucky synchronization for a limited period of time, since they are "ticking" independantly of the earth's rotations.

-----------------------------------

Now that we understand what the devices actually are that we are going to use for "clocks", we can see the logical fallacy inherent in some of the original poster's absurd statements:

Now, back to the clock on the peak. The operator has kept an eye on that clock from it’s installation until today (he’s now near retirement age), and with a telescope, he’s been able to watch the nanoseconds ticking more quickly than those of his clock.
So far so good. This is perfectly possible.

Now, it seems to me that the operator is confused, and that physicists must actually be referring to some other effect when they say or imply that gravity actually affects time as compared to other frames of reference.

...

The seventh site found by a web search on the topic, (Google 7), states: “Gravitational time dilation is the slowing down of the passage of time.” Seemingly implying that time flows at different rates for the two clocks.
The flakeyness is beginning to build... here it comes:

If that were literally true, then it seems the two clocks would exist in two different time frames, now separated by twenty-four hours, and the operator at the base shouldn’t even be able to see the clock at the summit, since it is 24 hours ahead of him in time.
This is a nonsensical statement, and has no meaning from the point of view of physics.

The poster began by accepting General Relativity and Special Relativity (we gave him the benefit of the doubt), but now jumps to a concept of Newtonian Absolute Time.

However, in GR and SR, there is no such concept of an absolute "simultaneity".

The 'planes' of simultaneous events in Spacetime are 'tiltable' and depend upon the velocity of the observer. The theory denies even the existance of a notion of Absolute Time, as implied in the attempt to "order" the two events in "time".

Sorry, but its as simple (and as difficult) as that. You need to understand GR and SR before attempting to construct a sentence that would be meaningless from the point of view of the theory.

2. What can the Experiment Test?

A well designed experiment tests something tangible.

The experiment so described cannot test the 'time dilation' predicted by GR.

The Original Poster rightly notes that the experiment will only result in one clock becoming out of sync with the other. But this neither proves nor disproves anything regarding the question of the theoretical underpinnings and assumptions of Gen Rel.

For that you would need to design a much more sophisticated experiment, likely far beyond the abilities of someone who doesn't even understand what the theory is saying, let alone how it might be tested.

4. Originally Posted by Clete
If the clock watcher at the summit is going through time faster than the watcher at the base to the extent that the watcher at the summit is a full day ahead of the watcher at the base, then why have they both seen the same number of sunrises and received a newspaper dated Monday September 17th, 2007?
The rising and setting of the sun and the newspaper arriving are clocks (you're using them to measure an interval) outside of either inertial frame. This means that they will always agree on those clocks. They will not agree on the interval that elapsed between sunrise and sunset, though. Nor will they agree on how many heartbeats occurred (assuming they have the same heart "rate"), how much they aged, etc., etc.

The question is "By what method could you determine whose clock is actually right"?

5. You're trying to have it both ways Johnny.

The same number of days have passed or they haven't.

In effect you and Nazaroo have both only conceded Bob's point. That point being that Relativity effects clocks, not time.

Resting in Him,
Clete

6. Originally Posted by Clete
You're trying to have it both ways Johnny.

The same number of days have passed or they haven't.
Right, if you define a day as "sunrise to sunset" then by definition they will count the same number of days. But they won't agree on how many hours are in each day.

This whole thought experiment Bob came up with is an extremely elaborate and belabored way of conveying an ultimately simple statement that is not only implied but directly stated by special relativity:

Two observers in different inertial frames will only agree on the ticking of clocks outside of either observer's inertial frame.

Originally Posted by Clete
In effect you and Nazaroo have both only conceded Bob's point. That point being that Relativity effects clocks, not time.
But the problem is that you can never separate the measurement from the physical entity we call time without assuming an absolute clock.

7. Johnny,

Look, I don't know how else to say this. Either the same number of days have passed or they haven't. That is to say that either the same amount of time has passed or it hasn't. The Earth only spins one time per day. If the guy at the base of the mountain has experienced 365*Y (Y being the number of years) spins of the Earth and his clock tells him that there should have been 365 fewer spins than that then his clock is wrong. You cannot have it both ways. Either the same amount of time has passed for both clock watchers or it hasn't regardless of what their clocks say.

Notice also that neither of them have ever left the other's present moment. The entire time the experiment ran they could have talked to each other on the telephone without any problem whatsoever, which, of course, is only another way of making the same point the open post makes by pointing out how many newspapers are delivered but the point I am making is that what is going on with the clocks doesn't have anything to do with time, it has to do with clocks. Whatever effect the gravity well is having on the clock watcher at the base of the mountain, it is effecting his clock, not time. If it were effecting time itself then he would have gotten a number of newspapers consistent with his very precise and well maintained clock.

Finally, an absolute clock is not necessary, just a reliable one. As Bob stated in the opening post...

"Genesis says that God gave us the Sun (and other astronomic bodies) for “seasons, and for days and years.” It turns out that God gave mankind great timekeepers (and less misleading ones than our atomic clocks as interpreted by theorists)! The movements within our solar system give us a more correct understanding of the absolute nature of time than do the ticks of atomic clocks. So, whatever cosmologists are actually trying to say when they speak of time dilation, here is the truth. Gravity does not affect time. Gravity affects clocks."

Resting in Him,
Clete

8. An aberration of this principle was made in the popular Disney family movie from the 1980s, "Flight of the Navigator". The little boy was abducted by aliens and was brought back 8 years later to the same spot where he was abducted, but only aged a few hours while his family had aged years. What a mess!

9. I'll make a video to respond, maybe it'll help me communicate better.

Originally Posted by Clete
It turns out that God gave mankind great timekeepers (and less misleading ones than our atomic clocks as interpreted by theorists)!
I have to disagree with this. The sun may have been adequate in times past, but the Earth's rotation is slowing at 0.005 seconds per year. I can already hear you saying something about atomic clocks being used to measure that slowing, but actually no clocks are necessary to calculate that. The moon is sucking away Earth's rotational energy, so it has to be slowing.

Would you say, then, that time is slowing down because the sun is taking longer and longer to rise each day? (This would be required by your argument)

10. Originally Posted by Johnny
The only way you can arrive at the conclusion that one clock should be 24 hours into the future is if you assume that time is static for all observers -- i.e. one 24 hour period for the observer at the peak is exactly another 24 hour period for the other observer at the base. Stated another way, you are exchanging their hours 1 for 1, i.e. a 24 hour period for the peak observer is 24 hours for the summit observer. Following this line of thought, one could rationally conclude that the peak observer should be 24 hours in time ahead of the base observer. And you did just that. But this is a fatal misunderstanding of what relativity teaches, and so naturally you arrive at the wrong conclusion.
I think that is the point. The earth did not really slow down in its day for one person, and not the other, while standing on the same sphere. It is absolute.

Relative time means that in the same number of sunrises and sunsets, each observer actually experiences a different interval of time as measured by whatever clock you chose
The Earth spinning is the refrence.

11. Whoa! Talk about time dilation!

12. I thought it was time to restart the thread.

13. I wonder how much time has passed for the others who were here...?

14. Somebody should tell them it is time to come back.

15. I just go through reading this. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that gravity affect clocks, not time. Pretty astute post.

Scientists over scientificate ( a word I made up but sounds good) things when the simple truth is right in front of them.

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