Friday, September 24, 2010

Time Moves Faster Upstairs, Confirming Einstein's Relativity

By Devin Powell

It's 2 a.m., and the noise from your upstairs neighbor is keeping you awake again. Take solace in the fact that by living above you he may be shortening his life, even if only by a tiny fraction of a second.

Nearly a century ago, Albert Einstein suggested that time should move faster the farther away you are from the surface of the Earth. Now scientists have tested this theory at the small distances we travel up and down every day. Using the world's most precise clocks, they confirmed that our wristwatches tick at a slightly different speed when we ride an elevator, climb a flight of stairs, or even sit upright in bed.

According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, big objects with lots of gravity -- planets or stars -- bend the fabric of time and space, like bowling balls on a trampoline. The closer you get to these objects, the stronger the pull of gravity and the slower time moves. An astronaut watching a clock fall into a black hole, for example, would see its hands gradually slow down as the pull of gravity increases. The second hand would move tick once every hour, then once every decade, and finally appear to stop altogether...

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