Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Einsteins` "Twin Paradox"

"...for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one."Albert Einstein

Einstein wrote this statement in a personal letter to the Besso family after his long time friend Besso had died. The idea of "time" being an illusion has been kicked around for thousands of years.  This is a deeply complicated but exciting subject, a short blog can not do it justice. Hopefully, it will spark interest. 
First we look at Einsteins famous theory of relativity; where he famously proved that time was indeed "relative." Here is Einsteins famous "Baby and Train" analogy. 

A train is moving at 'x' velocity past a train station. On the train, a baby is crawling in the direction of the train. Observers in the train see the baby crawling at 'y' speed. As the train passes the train station, observers standing still see the baby moving at the speed of x + y. Ok lets break this down into super simple levels. Lets say the train is moving at 10mph(X); the baby is crawling at 5mph(y). If you are traveling on the train; to you, the baby is crawling at 5mph. However; if you are standing as an observer outside of the train, the baby seems to be moving at x+y or in our case 15mph. So this is one of the main points of relativity, observers of the same event will observe the baby at different speeds. 

The twin paradox is another famous example of Relativity in action:
There are two brothers that are twins. At the age of 30, one of the twins takes a cruise on a rocket that is traveling 99% the speed of light. He does this for a straight year, returning to Earth on his 31st birthday. To his surprise, his brother is 7 years older.

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