# How do 'moving rulers shrink'? The strange physics behind special relativity

#### Patrice Ayme

Einstein published a rebuttal:

The author unjustifiably stated a difference of Lorentz's view and that of mine concerning the physical facts. The question as to whether length contraction really exists or not is misleading. It doesn't "really" exist, in so far as it doesn't exist for a comoving observer; though it "really" exists, i.e. in such a way that it could be demonstrated in principle by physical means by a non-comoving observer.

— Albert Einstein, 1911... "Zum Ehrenfestschen Paradoxon. Eine Bemerkung zu V. Variĉaks Aufsatz". Physikalische Zeitschrift. 12: 509–510.

This being said, the situation is not as simple as it was long thought to be. The so-called "Bell Paradox" of 1976, basically published by Dewan and Beran first in 1959 (American Journal of Physics, 27, p 517) shows that length contraction, like time dilation, has a sort of absolute character which brings deeper questions as it seems to violate Galileo's Principle of Relativity at some extreme speeds (the basis of modern Relativity).

#### Sandpoint

A nice conventional summary of the ruler shrinking. It however is not correct. Consider 2 points separated in distance by a foot. Now accelerate them at the same rate and for the same time. In the non accelerated frame they are still a foot apart. Now if you ask the two points in their rest frame how far apart they are, and to do this using light, they will tell you they are more than a foot away. Now if those two points were materially connected they would think they had been stretched, and they will shrink until they appear to each other to be separated by a foot. At this point, in the unaccelerated coordinate system, they will appear to have shrunk. And the shrinkage would be precisely the amount that Einstein equations would have predicted.

#### Questioner

I believe,
Light traversing a mass field has less phase oscillations [by count] than it would have without it.

Because time is slower for an external viewer And the space is reduced in a mass field the light gets from point A to point B in the expected extrrnal time (although it may be redirected),
but it's a slightly 'younger', 'fresher' photon than otherwise.

#### Questioner

When space is relatively contracted or expanded,
time slows or speeds up respectively to make space seem to be uniformly distributed per light's/EM's traversal of it.

#### George²

I believe,
Light traversing a mass field has less phase oscillations [by count] than it would have without it.

Because time is slower for an external viewer And the space is reduced in a mass field the light gets from point A to point B in the expected extrrnal time (although it may be redirected),
but it's a slightly 'younger', 'fresher' photon than otherwise.
So, in fact, distant galaxies are mistakenly thought to be moving away at enormous speeds. In fact, the light from them is shifted to the red sector due to the fatigue of passing through the gravitational and other fields along the way until it reaches us.

#### billslugg

When these photons get tired and assume lower energy levels, where does the excess energy go?

#### AboveAndBeyond

When these photons get tired and assume lower energy levels, where does the excess energy go?
Into the expansion of space?

#### billslugg

There is no preferred direction in space. Such re-radiated energy would be in all directions and we would receive some of it. Then we would see these photons in addition to the red shifted tired photons that we see. But we don't see anything in addition to them.

In classical theory, the photons shift downward towards the red, but since space is expanding, there is room for more of them. The total amount of energy does not change.

#### Atlan0001

Since when does the man standing next to the railroad track at rest on an Earth spinning at speed, orbiting the sun at speed, the solar system moving through galaxy and universe at speed, establish [Earthman at rest] observations of speed, including observations of length to be all length on the spot at a distance, for all the universe in and at every single point of it?! What he observes at a distance being exactly what is local at the distance . . . the reality on the very spot at the distance , , . and at the very velocity he measures from his stand next to the railroad on the Earth at a distance?!

Throw the principle of uncertainty, the principle of growing uncertainty in a growing complexity of chaos at distance, in a macrocosmic trash can! Throw relativity's prediction of its own breakdown at distance in a growing complexity of chaos in the trash can!

"The map is NOT the territory!" Well, apparently it is the territory according to far too many Earth bound 1-dimensional seeing and thinking observers standing at rest by railroad tracks on Earth looking out through telescopes that resolve only the light-information in the light that arrives to them!

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#### william.walker39

The speed of light is not a constant as once thought, and this has now been proved by Electrodynamic theory and by Experiments done by many independent researchers. The results clearly show that light propagates instantaneously when it is created by a source, and reduces to approximately the speed of light in the farfield, about one wavelength from the source, and never becomes equal to exactly c. This corresponds the phase speed, group speed, and information speed. Any theory assuming the speed of light is a constant, such as Special Relativity and General Relativity are wrong, and it has implications to Quantum theories as well. So this fact about the speed of light affects all of Modern Physics. Often it is stated that Relativity has been verified by so many experiments, how can it be wrong. Well no experiment can prove a theory, and can only provide evidence that a theory is correct. But one experiment can absolutely disprove a theory, and the new speed of light experiments proving the speed of light is not a constant is such a proof. So what does it mean? Well a derivation of Relativity using instantaneous nearfield light yields Galilean Relativity. This can easily seen by inserting c=infinity into the Lorentz Transform, yielding the GalileanTransform, where time is the same in all inertial frames. So a moving object observed with instantaneous nearfield light will yield no Relativistic effects, whereas by changing the frequency of the light such that farfield light is used will observe Relativistic effects. But since time and space are real and independent of the frequency of light used to measure its effects, then one must conclude the effects of Relativity are just an optical illusion.

Since General Relativity is based on Special Relativity, then it has the same problem. A better theory of Gravity is Gravitoelectromagnetism which assumes gravity can be mathematically described by 4 Maxwell equations, similar to to those of electromagnetic theory. It is well known that General Relativity reduces to Gravitoelectromagnetism for weak fields, which is all that we observe. Using this theory, analysis of an oscillating mass yields a wave equation set equal to a source term. Analysis of this equation shows that the phase speed, group speed, and information speed are instantaneous in the nearfield and reduce to the speed of light in the farfield. This theory then accounts for all the observed gravitational effects including instantaneous nearfield and the speed of light farfield. The main difference is that this theory is a field theory, and not a geometrical theory like General Relativity. Because it is a field theory, Gravity can be then be quantized as the Graviton.

Lastly it should be mentioned that this research shows that the Pilot Wave interpretation of Quantum Mechanics can no longer be criticized for requiring instantaneous interaction of the pilot wave, thereby violating Relativity. It should also be noted that nearfield electromagnetic fields can be explained by quantum mechanics using the Pilot Wave interpretation of quantum mechanics and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (HUP), where Δx and Δp are interpreted as averages, and not the uncertainty in the values as in other interpretations of quantum mechanics. So in HUP: Δx Δp = h, where Δp=mΔv, and m is an effective mass due to momentum, thus HUP becomes: Δx Δv = h/m. In the nearfield where the field is created, Δx=0, therefore Δv=infinity. In the farfield, HUP: Δx Δp = h, where p = h/λ. HUP then becomes: Δx h/λ = h, or Δx=λ. Also in the farfield HUP becomes: λmΔv=h, thus Δv=h/(mλ). Since p=h/λ, then Δv=p/m. Also since p=mc, then Δv=c. So in summary, in the nearfield Δv=infinity, and in the farfield Δv=c, where Δv is the average velocity of the photon according to Pilot Wave theory. Consequently the Pilot wave interpretation should become the preferred interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. It should also be noted that this argument can be applied to all fields, including the graviton. Hence all fields should exhibit instantaneous nearfield and speed c farfield behavior, and this can explain the non-local effects observed in quantum entangled particles.

*More extensive paper for the above arguments: William D. Walker and Dag Stranneby, A New Interpretation of Relativity, 2023: http://vixra.org/abs/2309.0145

*Electromagnetic pulse experiment paper: https://www.techrxiv.org/doi/full/10.36227/techrxiv.170862178.82175798/v1

Dr. William Walker - PhD in physics from ETH Zurich, 1997

#### Questioner

If space in a mass field is shrunken/contracted the objects within it occupy a greater proportion of that space than the space external to the mass field. So to the external viewer who assumes uniform space distribution the objects could easily be interpreted to be swollen, stretched or expanded.

I think the moving muons distance is shorter because it travels the space contracted mass field it carries along with it.

Maas fields do create spatial [& temporal] shortcuts, the trouble being that shortcut is not 'straight' in the external frame of reference. That leads to piecemeal different directions which creates problems getting directly from point A to point B in external space.

#### Questioner

A 'shortcut' in time depends on how one means it.
Spending less of one's own time traveling is one sense.
Conversely jumping prior to one's arrival time would entail a back traversal or back jump of time.

#### knowitall

Einstein published a rebuttal:

The author unjustifiably stated a difference of Lorentz's view and that of mine concerning the physical facts. The question as to whether length contraction really exists or not is misleading. It doesn't "really" exist, in so far as it doesn't exist for a comoving observer; though it "really" exists, i.e. in such a way that it could be demonstrated in principle by physical means by a non-comoving observer.

— Albert Einstein, 1911... "Zum Ehrenfestschen Paradoxon. Eine Bemerkung zu V. Variĉaks Aufsatz". Physikalische Zeitschrift. 12: 509–510.

This being said, the situation is not as simple as it was long thought to be. The so-called "Bell Paradox" of 1976, basically published by Dewan and Beran first in 1959 (American Journal of Physics, 27, p 517) shows that length contraction, like time dilation, has a sort of absolute character which brings deeper questions as it seems to violate Galileo's Principle of Relativity at some extreme speeds (the basis of modern Relativity).
"Length contraction, like time dilation, has a sort of absolute character"

That's completely false. The effects of time dilation remain long after the relative motion has stopped. A space farer who has traveled at relativistic velocity will >be younger< physiologically than an earthbound counterpart upon return. In contrast any supposed length contraction pereceived by either of the above two observers will immediately vanish upon the space farer's return to Earth. The ship won't still be contracted when examined by the Earth observer, nor will the distance traveled by the space farer be any different than he appraised it to be before he left. The 'length contraction' concept only exists because time dilation >is< real. The space farer's shipboard clock >is< running slower, so to preserve the 'no preferred reference frame' postulate and light speed limit of SR, the relativistic traveler must say 'Hey, I can't have traveled the actual distance because much less time elapsed on my clock than would allow it to be possible. So the distance must be shorter.' It's a cheat and a falsehood. It only appears to contract while in motion.

billslugg

#### Questioner

My question is upon arrival after an extended near luminal transit the at 'rest' measure of distance traveled and the traveler's clock haven't they correlated, measured superluminal velocity?

The more extreme case imagine a virtual photon that is at rest then instantly is at virtual luminal speed. Then travels 2 light years and instantly stops.
By rest measure it's traveled 2LYs in virtually zero time by its clock which would be calculated to be insanely superluminal speed.

#### Questioner

On top of which if they used their Lorentz contracted yardstick to measure the distance in mid-flight the distance would be longer than 2LYs!

#### knowitall

My question is upon arrival after an extended near luminal transit the at 'rest' measure of distance traveled and the traveler's clock haven't they correlated, measured superluminal velocity?

The more extreme case imagine a virtual photon that is at rest then instantly is at virtual luminal speed. Then travels 2 light years and instantly stops.
By rest measure it's traveled 2LYs in virtually zero time by its clock which would be calculated to be insanely superluminal speed.
To the first paragraph, the word correlate isn't quite the right word to use. However, if you take the perceived distance at rest and match it with the clock time of the spacecraft during the interval of near luminal transit, then that data would indicate superluminal velocity. But remember, in SR you can't mix reference frames. You have to keep determinations of at rest times and distances together, just as the times and distances as measured in a reference frame moving at relativistic velocity have to be kept together.

As regards photons, virtual or otherwise, they are massless particles, so by definition, they always travel at c. Because of that, if there was a reference frame of a photon, >no time< elapses in that reference frame. That's from the instant of creation or emission to absorption, even if that occurs from the beginning of the universe to its end (if it does). In this context, it's unproductive and inappropriate to think of that interval as representing any velocity, because in the rf of the photon, the length contracted distance would be zero, as would the elapsed time. The equation for velocity delta d/delta t = 0/0, which is pretty meaningless. Again, remember you can't mix measurements of different reference frames.

#### Questioner

With light time and distance are interchangeable.

How would that be possible if light [relatively] slows down crossing a mass field? We would have to factor in all the slow spots, namely the mass fields into calculations. How long a physical distance and intense each was and total quantity of mass fields light crossed.

What a mess.

In the large frame light always makes the same geometric progress in the same amount of time.

How could that be possible if light [relatively] slows down traversing a mass field?

It only works if slowed time is proportional with reduced space.
Then in the large frame light always makes uniform geometric progress.

If light slowed down in a mass field and we watched a moving asteroid going behind the Sun's mass it would seem to slow down as the Sun's mass field slowed the light.

Inertia is the acid proof.
It always takes a straight, constant speed trajectory, PERIOD.
(think of an ice skater)

"then why does mass curve the moving path of an object?"

If the Earth's orbit around the Sun curved there would be centripetal effect to deal with. The Earth would need extra energy to maintain a curving trajectory.
Just like an ice skater needs a lot foot flashing effort to make a turn, a curve on ice.

Light bending around a mass body would require extra [centripetal] energy to curve, to change direction.

Why doesn't it?

Because it's not curving or changing direction.

Light is following a straight line.

It just appears to curve from our external frame of reference. Internally light is running a constant speed in a straight line.

Externally what looks like a curve is actually internally the straightest shortest geometry.

That's the effect of less space.

Gravity proximate to the Earth's surface reconciles the reduced space between the Earth['s center of mass] and other mass bodies at 32 feet per second per second.

Sigh,
mabey i have a brain aneurysm,
or maybe people haven't thought clearly and carefully enough about it,

or maybe both.

Atlan0001

#### Atlan0001

The mass field is going to appear denser with all growing distance from every local "here and now" everywhere situated whether that is true on the spot or not. It is going to naturally accumulate intervening mass density toward that end in the distant universe picture relative to every here and now, thus light-time will appear to be slower at the denser end of the universe picture accelerating in speed this way coming with all lessening of distance and density . . . though there be no real difference on the spot of the general localities. Length contraction moves into a separate superposition (including velocity) vis-a-vis actual position (including velocity) whatever it might be locally, generally, were a traveler to travel the universe to the locality. The picture of distance and density gets real high and low energy "quantum mechanical," as well as getting more "relativistic," one might say.

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#### Questioner

If mass were only time-dilation (slowing) light wouldn't seem to curve to the external viewer.

All that would happen is light would relatively slow down, but continue in a externally apparent straight line. The innermost lines would slow down the most, but that is all.

Externally apparent 'curvature' requires reduced space.

QED

#### Helio

SR is still a slippery rascal for me.

Notice that the muon example in the article involves length contraction to explain how it reaches the ground. But, the clock on the muon is running much slower relative to us, thus time dilation does allow it to reach the ground without length contraction. At least I think I'm correct.

If you ask someone to calculated how long it would take a spaceship traveling at, say v = 0.9c, to zoom past alpha Centauri, then they would, using the simple equation, tell you the travelers would only take a little over 2 years, though we would see them taking about 5 years, more if we are using telescopes instead of calculators.

They could also solve it by using length contraction to derive the same result. The equations are essentially the same.

Here's the kicker for me, -- you don't get to use both. The space travelers can't argue they will benefit from both contraction and time dilation. One of these must be chosen to calculate the results.

The only example I've heard about that argues length contraction is real and without time dilation as an equivalent answer, is the shape some particles have in an accelerator where their "flatness" explains the results. Perhaps even here time dilation could be used, but it's over my head.

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