Now, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have measured this effect at a more down-to-earth scale of 33 centimeters, or about 1 foot, demonstrating, for instance, that you age faster when you stand a couple of steps higher on a staircase.
Described in the Sept. 24 issue of Science,* the difference is much too small for humans to perceive directly—adding up to approximately 90 billionths of a second over a 79-year lifetime—but may provide practical applications in geophysics and other fields.
The NIST researchers also observed another aspect of relativity—that time passes more slowly when you move faster—at speeds comparable to a car travelling about 20 miles per hour, a more comprehensible scale than previous measurements made using jet aircraft.
NIST scientists performed the new “time dilation” experiments by comparing operations of a pair of the world’s best experimental atomic clocks. The nearly identical clocks are each based on the “ticking” of a single aluminum ion as it vibrates between two energy levels over a million billion times per second. One clock keeps time to within 1 second in about 3.7 billion years (see NIST announcement from Feb. 4, 2010, “NIST’s Second ‘Quantum Logic Clock’ Based on Aluminum Ion is Now World’s Most Precise Clock” at http://www.nist.gov/physlab/div847/logicclock_020410.cfm) and the other is close behind in performance. The clocks are precise and stable enough to reveal slight differences that could not be seen until now.
The NIST experiments test two predictions of Einstein’s theories of relativity. First, when two clocks are subjected to unequal gravitational forces due to their different elevations above the surface of the Earth, the higher clock—experiencing a smaller gravitational force—runs faster. Second, when an observer is moving, a stationary clock’s tick appears to last longer, so the clock appears to run slow. Scientists refer to this as the “twin paradox,” in which a twin sibling who travels on a fast-moving rocket ship would return home younger than the other twin.
In one set of experiments, scientists raised one of the clocks by jacking up the laser table to a height one-third of a meter (about a foot) above the second clock. Sure enough, the higher clock ran at a slightly faster rate than the lower clock, exactly as predicted.
The second set of experiments examined the effects of altering the physical motion of the ion in one clock. The ions are almost completely motionless during normal clock operations. NIST scientists tweaked the one ion so that it gyrated back and forth at speeds equivalent to several meters per second. That clock ticked at a slightly slower rate than the second clock, as predicted by relativity.
Such comparisons of super-precise clocks eventually may be useful in geodesy, the science of measuring the Earth and its gravitational field, with applications in geophysics and hydrology, and possibly in space-based tests of fundamental physics theories, suggests physicist Till Rosenband, leader of NIST’s aluminum ion clock team.
The research was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research. For more details, see the NIST Sept. 23, 2010, announcement, “NIST Pair of Aluminum Atomic Clocks Reveal Einstein’s Relativity at a Personal Scale” at http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/aluminum-atomic-clock_092310.cfm.
* C.W. Chou, D.B. Hume, T. Rosenband and D.J. Wineland. Optical clocks and relativity. Science. Sept. 24, 2010
Laura Ost | Newswise Science News
Two dimensional circuit with magnetic quasi-particles
22.01.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern
Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation
19.01.2018 | Carnegie Institution for Science
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences