An adventure in relative time-keeping

An adventure in relative time-keeping

Tom sent in this letter to Physics Today, he used an atomic clocks to show his kids they’d get an extra 22 nanosecond from relativistic time dilation… I’m a little skeptical since the difference would be super tiny, but have a gander – it’s pretty neat –

I enjoyed Daniel Kleppner’s Reference Frame about the relativistic effects of elevation on precise clocks (PHYSICS TODAY, March 2006, page 10). He would be amused with an experiment I did with my kids last year.

The year 2005 was the widely publicized 100th anniversary of Einstein’s first paper on relativity and the lesser-known 50th anniversary of Louis Essen’s first cesium clock. To celebrate, I created Project GREAT (General Relativity Einstein/Essen Anniversary Test), perhaps the first “kitchen science” relativity experiment.

As a collector of vintage and modern atomic clocks, I discovered it was possible, using gear found at home, to convert our family minivan into a mobile high-precision time laboratory, complete with batteries, power converters, time interval counters, three children, and three cesium clocks (see photograph). We drove as high as we could up Mount Rainier, the volcano near Seattle, Washington, and parked there for two days. The trip was continuously logged with the global positioning system; the net altitude gain was +1340 meters.

An adventure in relative time-keeping – Physics Today March 2007 – [via] Link.

Project GREAT – General Relativity Einstein / Essen Anniversary Test – 3 kids, 3 cesium clocks, a family road trip to measure relativistic time dilation – Link.

4 thoughts on “An adventure in relative time-keeping

  1. lentilinux says:

    yea, except any time gain/loss would only be relative (duh) and your brain would be working at the relatively slower/faster so to you, exactly the same amount of time would have passed. To others, you would only appear to be slightly more dumb in having thunk what you thought yet appear to live a slightly longer time, or appear to be a little more sharp and only burn out so much more quickly. Perhaps Mozart, Hendrix, Cobain and the like really were just floating around their heads in the air immersed in a slighly lower gravitational field, and thus the appearance of quick burnout. (maybe they used Evian for their secret wrinkles?) But how does that explain Frank Lloyd Wright, the old grumpy genius?

  2. tomaco59 says:

    I also like this one from
    First Atomic Clock Wristwatch. This page also has a good explanation of why some other watches that are advertised as ‘atomic clocks’ are not true atomic clocks.


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