There’s a lot of confusion about Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, especially amongst those relatively new to the subject and those who are not easily seduced by their betters. Its application to the real universe is a subject that has preoccupied minds small and large alike.

The theory assumes that there are dimensions that collectively form a *space-time* continuum, in rectangular coordinates measurable using three of distance and one of time, say x, y, z and t. It further assumes that the speed of light is constant and that the Lorentz transformation equations determine the translation of dimensional quantities between *space-time* coordinate systems in *uniform* or un-accelerated relative motion. *Uniform* is very important even in non-military applications. Oh and accurate clocks are unmissable if one wants to measure anything useful.

__Time for thought __

Time seems to me to be just man’s way of measuring change in form or motion as detected by the senses. It is a particular source of confusion especially amongst those who still rely on the accuracy of timetables.

There is the infamous (I almost said “famous”) twin paradox of Einstein, which states that twins age at different rates due to their differing relative uniform motions. I have come up with an example which, though perhaps rather involved, is I believe a more graphic disproof of this premise.

Consider if you will (and even if you wouldn’t if you weren’t reading this) the following thought experiment.

There are three spaceships A, B and C (there is military censorship on their real names) from the same home planet somewhere in *space-time*. A and B are doing their best to move in a circular orbit, maintaining a constant distant between themselves, around a common centre where C is situated. All three have all been instructed that no relative accelerations are to be made between their vessels under pain of reduced rations or worse. They are thus in perfect relative *uniform* motion.

Specially trained observers (STO’s) on board have accurate clocks for the measurement of time that also wake one up with military precision to alien ditties. These devices have been calibrated based on some measurement made on their home world – the vibrations of something vibrant, the orbit of something orbiting, whatever. The source is immaterial providing the intervals measured do not vary within the apparatus itself. We shall call a unit of time which the clock records a *tock *(as *tick* is an unacceptable word in the language of this system)*. *The STO’s on A, B and C have received instructions to grab their synchronized clocks and at a certain prearranged moment their space ships are to accelerate at a prearranged rate towards a prearranged star S. They are all to take time measurements of a sister ship O as it moves at the same moment from a nearby moving space station X to another moving station Y in

*non-uniform*motion.

Two bridge officers who questioned the whole idea as being a waste of time and resources (as you might do) were immediately replaced and sent to BigDig 5 where they now gouge for something only slightly precious.

Now let us assume that when O reaches Y, STO A’s clock has measured five hundred

*tocks.*

Are you still with me? Only just. Well hang on, here comes the crunch. The observers on B and C will measure the same time interval. Yes, it’s unbelievable but true.

__Note that the only constant factors here are the tocks of the identical clocks and the uniform relative motion of A, B and C.__*All other distances, velocity- and acceleration vectors and, for example, ideas on space hygiene are variables.*

To reiterate, under the given conditions the measured times of the three STO’s

*will*be the equal.

I believe that anyone using a modicum of pure or slightly soiled thought and who knows how to handle coordinates like x, y, z and t, must arrive at the same conclusion, eventually.

I know what you’re thinking. Where’s the mathematical proof?

Well although such a thing is possible, one of this nature is extremely tiresome and time consuming, not to say difficult. Its formulation can easily lead to enormously irritating errors which can multiply exponentially. One I concocted some time ago automatically incinerated, probably due to an overheated pencil, before I could make a copy, so I’d just take my word for it if I were you.

Many students do that even with the oversimplified examples one comes across in textbooks. A professor of mathematics, where I buy eggs and who prefers to remain anonymous, has assured me that my reasoning is at least 95% valid, which is enough agreement for me anyway.

Nevertheless, I would welcome any mathematical proofs especially if they agree with my conclusions, but please note that these should be checked and checked again before being sent, because at the first sign of an error or confusion they will be duly cast into a three dimensional cylindrical container with gently sloping sides and a flat bottom.

I would therefore state that the measurement of time is just that and no more. It can have influence on real physical processes.

If there are any extremely rich, preferably uniform, twins out there who would like too spend some time orbiting Earth at great speed to prove or disprove the theory, then they should approach the NASA via the portal http://www.nasaguineapigs.org where one can sign up. Rewards can be quite prestigious.

Of course uniform motion is something alien to the universe anyway, which has decided that non circular curves are the real McCoy and still smiles at man’s attempts to give all sorts of strange forces the blame for the lack of straight lines and circles.

__The Photon Puzzle (shedding light on light)__

The photon is considered theoretically as being both a particle and a wave. It zips around in a vacuum of nothingness (which doesn’t exist in reality) at an enormous speed which is called, perhaps not surprisingly, the speed of light (TSOL).

The Theory of Relativity tells us, adamantly, that no object can travel at or exceed TSOL because if it did then its mass would become infinite or worse, and that tends to fill up the known and perhaps the unknown portions of the universe rather quickly. Precisely how quickly the theory doesn’t say.

Hey, wait a minute! Stop me if I’m wrong! Doesn’t that apply to the photon itself which means it also would have infinite mass? Scientists who don’t like this sort of feedback and after an excruciating moment’s thought will explain this seeming paradox by stating that the rest mass (the mass when stationary) of the photon is zero.

Uh, what!

Now as every serious science student knows, the photon is never at rest but always on the go. So saying it has a zero or even negative rest mass is just a ploy to fool the innocent, absolve the guilty, or silence any who might just dare to question authority.

How dare you suggest…

Oh shut up!

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