# A Quantum Mechanical Interpretation of the Consequences of Special Relativity

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A Quantum Mechanical Interpretation of the Consequences of Special Relativity

Einstein's theory of Special Relativity

Einstein's theory of Special Relativity predicts that for objects travelling at a significant fraction of the speed of light time dilates. Experimental observations are in agreement with the predictions. For example ordinarily short lived particles such as Muons when at rest are observed by a stationary observer to exist for significantly longer periods when travelling at speeds approaching the speed of light.

Mathematically Speed = Distance/Time

As the speed of light is expected to be constant in any frame of reference (consequent to Maxwell’s equations) the mathematical conclusion for the increased lifespan of Muons traveling close to the speed of light would be that the values for distance and/or time have changed.

• In the Muon’s inertial frame of reference the distance travelled by the Muons has decreased.

• In the observer’s inertial frame of reference time has slowed down for the Muons allowing them to live longer.

The difficulty with understanding such mathematically derived conclusions is that they are counterintuitive (which is not to say that they are wrong). Copious experimental observations illustrate clearly and consistently that clocks slow down when in motion precisely as predicted by Special relativity. Thus for example we can confidently predict that an astronaut travelling at near light speed for a year will return to Earth biologically younger than his twin brother by around thirty years.

A typical explanation of Time Dilation is that time flows at a slower rate for the astronaut than for his twin brother on Earth.  The analogy of time flowing conjures up images of water moving along in a river. But as time does not appear in any real sense to be a tangible identifiable substance like water can it truly be said to be flowing at different rates? The passage of time can only be measured indirectly in terms of a perceived interval between events. The most accurate measurement of time is currently in terms of the interval between 2 quantum mechanical conditions of a Cesium 133 atom. But what really is it that we are measuring when we state that we are measuring time?

Does Time exist?

Physics defines Time as “that which is measured by clocks”; that is all. There is no evidence to substantiate that time exists as part of the fabric of the universe. It is probable that human beings dreamt up the notion of time as a convenient way of 2 or more people being in the same location to share a task. For example an agreement for 2 people to meet for a hunt at sunrise on the bank of a river next to a large rock is in effect a synchronisation of the event of sunrise with 2 people and a unique geographical point on the planet. The human notion of time serves the purpose of accurately synchronising events for a species that owes much of its success to organised cooperative behaviour.

Although today we would associate sunrise with a specific time indicated on a wristwatch (or more accurately an atomic clock) there is no "known" absolute benchmark of time in any inertial frame of reference. i.e. there is no "known" universal standard time anywhere in the universe with or without the relativistic effects of speed and gravity.  Significantly the sunrise over our spot on the river will never be precisely at the same local time from any one sunrise to any other sunrise as measured by an atomic clock situated by the rock.  This is due in part to perpetual changes in the orbit of the Earth and in part to the uncertainty of the location and velocity of quantum particles. Quantum observations suggest that it may be impossible to predict or measure the precise local time of any event in the universe. Without any direct evidence of its existence as part of the fabric of the universe it is perhaps more useful to think of time as being an imaginary interval between 2 events.

Can there be a more intuitive way of explaining the observations predicted by special relativity?

The observation that high speed Muons last longer than Muons at rest could be interpreted in one of the following two ways:

1. Muons decay at the same rate regardless of their speed. The speed of a Muon causes time to slow down in its inertial frame of reference so that for a stationary observer for whom time is running faster a high speed Muon appears to decay more slowly than a stationary Muon. “Proper time” is the time experienced by the Muon in its inertial frame of reference being less than the time measured by the stationary observer calculated as per the following expression.

1. Muons decay at a rate that reduces according to their speed relative to a stationary observer.  “Proper events” is the reduced number of decay events experienced by the Muons in their inertial frame of reference as compared with the higher number of decay events observed by the observer calculated as per the following expression.

The first interpretation founded on Special Relativity is based on the assumption that time is part of the fabric of the universe and that time literally flows at one rate for a stationary observer and at a reduced rate for the particles in motion relative to the stationary observer.

The second (alternative) interpretation assumes that time is merely a human notion and is not part of the fabric of the universe in any real sense. In this case time dilation is no longer a plausible explanation for the increased life span of high speed Muons.  Since time dilation can no longer be an explanation the inference is that the high speed Muons last longer than relatively stationary Muons as a direct consequence of their relative speed.

Whilst Particles such as Muons are observed to decay into different particles it is not understood what exactly triggers the change but it is typically characterised as the spontaneous process of one elementary particle transforming into other elementary particles without any apparent external cause. There would seem to be 2 plausible interpretations:

1. Quantum particles decay or transform spontaneously without any external influence.

1. Quantum particles decay or transform due to the influence of quantum events in their vicinity.

In the first interpretation the notion that a fundamental indivisible particle may transform itself with no external influence is both counter-intuitive and inconceivably difficult to conclude from experimental observation, which is not to say that it is necessarily incorrect.

In the second interpretation, from the assumption that particle decay is influenced by other quantum events in the vicinity it follows that the rate of decay would be governed by the frequency of such quantum events.

From the same assumption that particle decay is influenced by other quantum events in the vicinity it follows that the frequency of quantum events would be governed by the values of influential properties of the quantum particles such as angular momentum.

Based on observations of particle decay being retarded in a highly predictable way according to the speed of the particles relative to a stationary observer we can further infer that the values of influential properties of quantum particles in a given inertial frame reduce with respect to the speed of the quantum particles. By considering the wave properties of a quantum particle the inference would be that the energy of the wave is reduced through dissipation over a longer distance.

An atomic clock detects an arbitrarily prescribed number of changes between 2 quantum mechanical states of Cesium 133 atoms and registers this as one second of time. A moving atomic clock detects fewer changes than a relatively stationary clock. According to Special Relativity this is due to time slowing down in the inertial frame of reference of the moving clock. However in this alternative interpretation where time is no longer considered to be a real variable the conclusion is that there are fewer quantum events occurring in the inertial frame of reference of the moving clock as a consequence of its relative inertia.

In any given inertial frame of reference the relative frequency of different types of quantum events would be expected to remain constant such that any specific measurement carried out within an inertial frame of reference would be identical to the same measurement carried out within any other inertial frame of reference. Thus for example the same values would be recorded for the average half life of a Muon at rest measured within any inertial frame of reference.

Conclusion

Special Relativity states that relative motion causes time to dilate. The observational evidence is that relative motion causes clocks to slow down and also causes a reduction in the frequency of all events within a moving inertial frame of reference. Thus whilst time is defined as “that which is measured by clocks” the consequences of Special Relativity do not hold clocks to be special. Although these observations can be characterised as Time dilation there is no evidence to substantiate the material existence of time and that which does not exist cannot dilate.

This alternative interpretation is founded on the same set of observations that substantiate Special Relativity but without invoking the assumed variable of time and instead substituting a relative frequency of quantum events.

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13 minutes ago, jamesfairclear said:

Physics defines Time as “that which is measured by clocks”; that is all.

No.  Physics defines time is a dimension.

# Time in physics

Time in physics is defined by its measurement: time is what a clock reads.[
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Time dilation occurs with velocity because it is a dimension.

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2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

Conclusion

Special Relativity states that relative motion causes time to dilate. The observational evidence is that relative motion causes clocks to slow down and also causes a reduction in the frequency of all events within a moving inertial frame of reference. Thus whilst time is defined as “that which is measured by clocks” the consequences of Special Relativity do not hold clocks to be special. Although these observations can be characterised as Time dilation there is no evidence to substantiate the material existence of time and that which does not exist cannot dilate.

This alternative interpretation is founded on the same set of observations that substantiate Special Relativity but without invoking the assumed variable of time and instead substituting a relative frequency of quantum events.

Your summary of standard relativity physics started well.

But you then introduced circular arguments a couple of times.

2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

time is merely a human notion and is not part of the fabric of the universe in any real sense. In this case time dilation is no longer a plausible explanation for the increased life span of high speed Muons.

If time is merely a human notion then the concept of life span is equally meaningless, voiding your conclusion.

2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

This alternative interpretation is founded on the same set of observations that substantiate Special Relativity but without invoking the assumed variable of time and instead substituting a relative frequency of quantum events.

Once again if you reject time then you must also reject frequency as a form of time, voiding your alternative proposal.

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2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

In the second interpretation, from the assumption that particle decay is influenced by other quantum events in the vicinity it follows that the rate of decay would be governed by the frequency of such quantum events.

What are these quantum events? How can we detect them? Why does this change while in motion?

How does QM determine if you are moving? Is there a quantum state of absolute rest?

Quote

An atomic clock detects an arbitrarily prescribed number of changes between 2 quantum mechanical states of Cesium 133 atoms and registers this as one second of time. A moving atomic clock detects fewer changes than a relatively stationary clock. According to Special Relativity this is due to time slowing down in the inertial frame of reference of the moving clock. However in this alternative interpretation where time is no longer considered to be a real variable the conclusion is that there are fewer quantum events occurring in the inertial frame of reference of the moving clock as a consequence of its relative inertia.

Relative inertia? I thought this was a QM explanation, not one based on relativity.

Quote

Thus whilst time is defined as “that which is measured by clocks” the consequences of Special Relativity do not hold clocks to be special.

Physics doesn’t claim that clocks are special, but if you have something that can do measurements at a timing stability of, say, a part in 10^15 that doesn’t use a clock, I’d like to know about it.

Quote

Although these observations can be characterised as Time dilation there is no evidence to substantiate the material existence of time and that which does not exist cannot dilate.

Time is not claimed to be a substance. Neither is length, for that matter. But time is what gets people all confused.

How does QM cause length contraction is another problem to tackle

Quote

This alternative interpretation is founded on the same set of observations that substantiate Special Relativity but without invoking the assumed variable of time and instead substituting a relative frequency of quantum events.

Time is a classical notion; it was a variable long before QM came around.

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Frequency of certain quantum states has nothing to do with the frequency of certain quantum events. It's just another way of saying "energy."

I agree with Studiot that you gave a reasonably good account of some features of special relativity. But then you jumped somewhere I don't quite see.

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12 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

there is no evidence to substantiate the material existence of time

That’s a bit like saying “there is no evidence for the existence of light” while staring at your computer screen and seeing an image displayed there.
Without time there would be no relative velocity between frames, no Lorentz invariance, no tidal gravity, and no notion of energy or momentum. Since we know that all these things exist, your statement is evidently meaningless.

12 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

without invoking the assumed variable of time and instead substituting a relative frequency of quantum events

“Events” don’t exist without time.
”Frequency” does not exist without time.

None of this makes any sense without a notion of time. Now, it is legitimately debatable just how fundamental the notion of time is in the overall framework of nature’s laws, but on the macroscopic level of relativistic physics it is both real and required.

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6 hours ago, Markus Hanke said:

That’s a bit like saying “there is no evidence for the existence of light” while staring at your computer screen and seeing an image displayed there.
Without time there would be no relative velocity between frames, no Lorentz invariance, no tidal gravity, and no notion of energy or momentum. Since we know that all these things exist, your statement is evidently meaningless.

Time does exist, like temperature, pressure, the word time and so on, because we defined them. Space is real because we can move left-right, forward-backward and up-down. In "time" we can't move backward, so it's not as real as the space. Time has a meaning when it's about time intervals, like distances in space. Time as a dimension has less or no meaning.

19 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

Can there be a more intuitive way of explaining the observations predicted by special relativity?

Yes. You can find in this forum my alternative theory, based on dark matter. It is intuitive, it is in agreement with the experiments/facts and it offers new experiments, able to prove it.

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23 hours ago, Bufofrog said:

No.  Physics defines time is a dimension.

Physics defines time as "that which is measured by clocks".

3 hours ago, DanMP said:

Time does exist, like temperature, pressure, the word time and so on, because we defined them. Space is real because we can move left-right, forward-backward and up-down. In "time" we can't move backward, so it's not as real as the space. Time has a meaning when it's about time intervals, like distances in space. Time as a dimension has less or no meaning.

Yes. You can find in this forum my alternative theory, based on dark matter. It is intuitive, it is in agreement with the experiments/facts and it offers new experiments, able to prove it.

It doesn't follow that something exists simply because you define it, you need to be able to observe it. I can define a unicorn as a horse with a single horn but that doesn't substantiate its existence.

3 hours ago, DanMP said:

Time does exist, like temperature, pressure, the word time and so on, because we defined them. Space is real because we can move left-right, forward-backward and up-down. In "time" we can't move backward, so it's not as real as the space. Time has a meaning when it's about time intervals, like distances in space. Time as a dimension has less or no meaning.

Yes. You can find in this forum my alternative theory, based on dark matter. It is intuitive, it is in agreement with the experiments/facts and it offers new experiments, able to prove it.

23 hours ago, Bufofrog said:

Time dilation occurs with velocity because it is a dimension.

How do you conclude that time is a dimension or even that it exists without being able to observe it?

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17 minutes ago, jamesfairclear said:

Physics defines time as "that which is measured by clocks".

What a pointless diversion from your topic.

Physics and other Sciences observe a myriad of phenomena in the real world and use mathematics to describe them and that same mathmatics to predict the future course of these phenomena.
That mathematics uses a common parameter variable we call time.

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21 hours ago, studiot said:

Your summary of standard relativity physics started well.

But you then introduced circular arguments a couple of times.

If time is merely a human notion then the concept of life span is equally meaningless, voiding your conclusion.

Once again if you reject time then you must also reject frequency as a form of time, voiding your alternative proposal.

A "Lifespan" could be described using the notion of time as 100 years or in terms of a quantity of events as 100 Earth revolutions around the sun. Either way the lifespan occurs and does not void my conclusion.

4 minutes ago, studiot said:

What a pointless diversion from your topic.

Physics and other Sciences observe a myriad of phenomena in the real world and use mathematics to describe them and that same mathmatics to predict the future course of these phenomena.
That mathematics uses a common parameter variable we call time.

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6 minutes ago, jamesfairclear said:

Do you know what you are doing  Or are you just creating a smokescreen to avoid penetrating comment?

You have not linked anything to my post as you have only posted once (plus of course the quote I have just made)  following my post and that single post of yours carries no reference whatsoever to anything I said.

Must I wave the rules at you and complain that you refuse to discuss your outrageous proposition that time does not exist ?

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21 hours ago, swansont said:

What are these quantum events? How can we detect them? Why does this change while in motion?

How does QM determine if you are moving? Is there a quantum state of absolute rest?

Relative inertia? I thought this was a QM explanation, not one based on relativity.

Physics doesn’t claim that clocks are special, but if you have something that can do measurements at a timing stability of, say, a part in 10^15 that doesn’t use a clock, I’d like to know about it.

Time is not claimed to be a substance. Neither is length, for that matter. But time is what gets people all confused.

How does QM cause length contraction is another problem to tackle

Time is a classical notion; it was a variable long before QM came around.

By Quantum events I mean any change of state of quantum particles such as momentum, radioactive decay and other related events that might influence decay

We can detect some quantum events such as radioactive decay but to my knowledge not the events that give rise to decay

We know from observations that quantum events (e.g. decay) are influenced by motion but we don't yet know why. One could propose that kinetic energy of a macro object inhibits the kinetic energy of its constituent quantum particles within the quantum space.

The term I have used should be "Relative Speed" not "Relative Inertia"

My point about clocks not being special is simply that it is not just clocks that slow down as a consequence of relative motion but all events in the moving inertial frame of reference.

Length is a measurable property of one observable object with reference to another (ruler) whereas time is solely a notion that cannot be observed.

Although length contraction is a predicted consequence of SR to my knowledge it remains contentious and has not been directly measured and thus I have not yet attempted to address length contraction but if it is real then I would expect it to be a related effect of a reduction in quantum events.

21 hours ago, joigus said:

Frequency of certain quantum states has nothing to do with the frequency of certain quantum events. It's just another way of saying "energy."

I agree with Studiot that you gave a reasonably good account of some features of special relativity. But then you jumped somewhere I don't quite see.

I think terminology can get in the way of clarity.

My definition of a Quantum event includes literally anything that may occur in the quantum space to cause a change in the energy of the local system. I would view a change in state as an event.

On the assumption that for example radioactive decay of a quantum particle is influenced by the velocity of another quantum particle then we can predict that a reduction in the average velocity of quantum particles in a system will cause a reduction in the frequency of decay events. If we then  observe a  reduction in the frequency of decay events when we set an atomic clock in motion we can then propose  a connection between its speed and a reduction in the average velocity of its constituent quantum particles which in turn gives rise to a reduction in the frequency of decay events

1 hour ago, studiot said:

What a pointless diversion from your topic.

Physics and other Sciences observe a myriad of phenomena in the real world and use mathematics to describe them and that same mathmatics to predict the future course of these phenomena.
That mathematics uses a common parameter variable we call time.

As you say Time is a common parameter in Maths and Physics.

My point is that Time is not something that can be observed and is best thought of as an imaginary interval between events. 60 ticks of a clock is most succinctly described as 60 events but is more convenient to describe as a minute of time.

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On 1/3/2021 at 7:50 PM, jamesfairclear said:

Physics defines Time as “that which is measured by clocks”; that is all.

1 hour ago, jamesfairclear said:

My point is that Time is not something that can be observed

Why are these two statements not in direct opposition ?

First you say time is only something which is measured by clocks. then you say it is something which can't be observed, which of course measuring is ?

Note I haven't agreed with your opening gambit that the definition you attribute to Physics is correct.
Instead I have supplied a definition which more fully, though not necessarily completely,  describes the functions and properties of time.

Actually I think you will find that Physics (do I know him?) says that time difference is what is measured by clocks, not time itself.
There are, in fact, many such quantities that appear twice in the register, once as a difference and once as the quantity itself. Voltage is a classic one, height is another. Failure to make the distinction is the source of much misunderstanding.

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50 minutes ago, jamesfairclear said:

On the assumption that for example radioactive decay of a quantum particle is influenced by the velocity of another quantum particle then we can predict that a reduction in the average velocity of quantum particles in a system will cause a reduction in the frequency of decay events. If we then  observe a  reduction in the frequency of decay events when we set an atomic clock in motion we can then propose  a connection between its speed and a reduction in the average velocity of its constituent quantum particles which in turn gives rise to a reduction in the frequency of decay events

(My emphasis.)

This is precisely what the principle of relativity tells you is not possible. Nothing internal is affected by the system moving at a constant velocity, so no internal mechanism can "detect" that the particle is moving based on any phenomenon, including the decay of the particle. Time dilation and length contraction are the consequence of a symmetry principle, not of an internal mechanism of matter. In the last centuries, we've grown apart from trying to explain physical phenomena in terms of mechanical models, pieces that push, and pull, and swivel against each other; and we've learnt to look at physical theories more abstractly: Mathematical spaces, mathematical objects defined in those spaces, and principles of symmetry. And we've done so for very good reasons.

The velocity that you see is not an attribute of the object that's moving, it's a parameter that encapsulates your relation to it as an observer. The particle "doesn't know" it has a velocity, so when it decays, it doesn't do it as a consequence of that velocity.

3 hours ago, studiot said:

Physics and other Sciences observe a myriad of phenomena in the real world and use mathematics to describe them and that same mathematics to predict the future course of these phenomena.

This point by @studiot is very much what I meant by my "it's all in the mathematics, not in any mechanism."

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2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

I think terminology can get in the way of clarity.

Indeed so. Especially if it is misused.

2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

I think terminology can get in the way of clarity.

My definition of a Quantum event includes literally anything that may occur in the quantum space to cause a change in the energy of the local system. I would view a change in state as an event.

On the assumption that for example radioactive decay of a quantum particle is influenced by the velocity of another quantum particle then we can predict that a reduction in the average velocity of quantum particles in a system will cause a reduction in the frequency of decay events. If we then  observe a  reduction in the frequency of decay events when we set an atomic clock in motion we can then propose  a connection between its speed and a reduction in the average velocity of its constituent quantum particles which in turn gives rise to a reduction in the frequency of decay events

What do you think a 'quantum space' and a 'quantum particle' might be ?

Are they real or imaginary ?

Don't you think that 'quantum' is being overused ?

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3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

By Quantum events I mean any change of state of quantum particles such as momentum, radioactive decay and other related events that might influence decay

You don’t need these nearby to observe time dilation.

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

We can detect some quantum events such as radioactive decay but to my knowledge not the events that give rise to decay

No events giving rise to decay would be consistent with this.

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

We know from observations that quantum events (e.g. decay) are influenced by motion but we don't yet know why. One could propose that kinetic energy of a macro object inhibits the kinetic energy of its constituent quantum particles within the quantum space.

But we do: relativity

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

The term I have used should be "Relative Speed" not "Relative Inertia"

My objection is to the “relative” part, as you are dismissing relativity.

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

My point about clocks not being special is simply that it is not just clocks that slow down as a consequence of relative motion but all events in the moving inertial frame of reference.

Yes, this is what relativity says.

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

Length is a measurable property of one observable object with reference to another (ruler)

Does length exist without an observable object? Is there a length between two points in unoccupied space?

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

whereas time is solely a notion that cannot be observed.

It can be measured. Time is a measurable property of one observable duration with reference to another (clock)

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

Although length contraction is a predicted consequence of SR to my knowledge it remains contentious and has not been directly measured

Not contentious and has been directly measured.

3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

and thus I have not yet attempted to address length contraction but if it is real then I would expect it to be a related effect of a reduction in quantum events.

Again, the effect is there in empty space, so no quantum events nearby

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16 hours ago, DanMP said:

Time has a meaning when it's about time intervals, like distances in space

I don’t get your point, because that is precisely what we directly observe.
When you observe an elementary particle come into existence and then decay, you have observed an interval in time (and in most cases also in space). Whether you can freely move in that direction or not is immaterial, as that ability does not form part of what makes a dimension.
When you feel ordinary gravity holding you down, then this happens because of the principle of extremal ageing - objects tend to follow world lines that extremise proper time, so again this wouldn’t happen if time wasn’t part of spacetime.
When a photon gets frequency-shifted along a radial trajectory towards Earth, then this happens only because the spacetime manifold has a time dimension - this is as real as space, because without the time dimension, there would be no tidal gravity (the Weyl tensor vanishes identically in 1,2,3 dimensions).

And so on.

On a more direct level, we know from experiment and observation beyond any reasonable doubt that the world has local Lorentz invariance as a fundamental symmetry - which would of course not be possible if time wasn’t part of spacetime. So saying time is real, but denying that it is a geometric dimension within spacetime, is both physically and mathematically meaningless.

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10 hours ago, joigus said:

(My emphasis.)

This is precisely what the principle of relativity tells you is not possible. Nothing internal is affected by the system moving at a constant velocity, so no internal mechanism can "detect" that the particle is moving based on any phenomenon, including the decay of the particle. Time dilation and length contraction are the consequence of a symmetry principle, not of an internal mechanism of matter. In the last centuries, we've grown apart from trying to explain physical phenomena in terms of mechanical models, pieces that push, and pull, and swivel against each other; and we've learnt to look at physical theories more abstractly: Mathematical spaces, mathematical objects defined in those spaces, and principles of symmetry. And we've done so for very good reasons.

The velocity that you see is not an attribute of the object that's moving, it's a parameter that encapsulates your relation to it as an observer. The particle "doesn't know" it has a velocity, so when it decays, it doesn't do it as a consequence of that velocity.

This point by @studiot is very much what I meant by my "it's all in the mathematics, not in any mechanism."

In an experiment with 2 atomic clocks where 1 clock is in motion relative to the other we observe fewer events occurring in the moving clock.

We can interpret this observation as a slowing down of time for the moving clock. However the actual direct observation from countless experiments

is that fewer events have occurred for the moving clock.

Edited by jamesfairclear
typo
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13 minutes ago, jamesfairclear said:

In an experiment with 2 atomic clocks where 1 clock is in motion relative to the other we observe fewer events occurring in the moving clock.

We can interpret this observation as a slowing down of time for the moving clock. However the actual direct observation from countless experiments

is that fewer events have occurred for the moving clock.

(Emphasis mine)

Just curious: Without time, how do you relate the observations of number of events for two clocks? When comparing the number of events for each clock there has to be some concept of starting and ending the counting of events?

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1 hour ago, jamesfairclear said:

In an experiment with 2 atomic clocks where 1 clock is in motion relative to the other we observe fewer events occurring in the moving clock.

We can interpret this observation as a slowing down of time for the moving clock. However the actual direct observation from countless experiments

is that fewer events have occurred for the moving clock.

Since you have directly referred to time and the slowing of time, I take it you now accept the existence of time.

I know I said you made a fair summary of (special) relativity, but this statement shows a misunderstanding of the most fundamental point of SR.

There are at least two frames of reference involved, in this case one for each clock.

An observer with each clock would see the other clock slowing down.

This is because each clock designates its own frame (including time) in which it does not see itself as slowing down.

SR answers the question "How does each clock view circumstances for the other clock?"

This is probably the most difficult part of SR to grasp and has been responsible for countless misunderstandings and arguments over more than a century.

Perhaps Markus (+1) or swansont can explain it better than I can for you, if you will let them.

Edited by studiot
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2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

We can interpret this observation as a slowing down of time for the moving clock.

No. What actually happens is that the relationship between these frames in spacetime changes - clocks don’t “slow down”, and rulers don’t “shorten”, only the way they are related changes (in the case of SR, that’s mostly just a hyperbolic rotation in spacetime about some angle). All clocks always tick at “1 second per second”, and all rulers always measure “1 meter per meter”; its only when you compare two of these in relative motion, that you find that they no longer share the same concept of simultaneity, and thus that their frames are rotated with respect to one another. But because the laws of physics precisely are about relationships between events in spacetime, this has measurable physical consequences, which are quite real.

2 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

However the actual direct observation from countless experiments is that fewer events have occurred for the moving clock.

Also no. Experiment and observation tell us precisely the opposite, namely that Lorentz invariance is a fundamental local symmetry of the world; this has been so thoroughly tested (see above) that it is beyond any reasonable doubt. Given this, spacetime has to be locally Minkowskian, which implies that the metric is invariant. Therefore the “number of events” - which is the geometric length of the clock’s world line in spacetime -  is also invariant. It does not change and cannot change, and all observers agree on it - this is mathematical fact, and not subject to any “interpretations”. The only thing that changes with relative motion is the way two frames are related to one another.

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21 minutes ago, Markus Hanke said:

No. What actually happens is that the relationship between these frames in spacetime changes - clocks don’t “slow down”, and rulers don’t “shorten”, only the way they are related changes (in the case of SR, that’s mostly just a hyperbolic rotation in spacetime about some angle). All clocks always tick at “1 second per second”, and all rulers always measure “1 meter per meter”; its only when you compare two of these in relative motion, that you find that they no longer share the same concept of simultaneity, and thus that their frames are rotated with respect to one another. But because the laws of physics precisely are about relationships between events in spacetime, this has measurable physical consequences, which are quite real.

Also no. Experiment and observation tell us precisely the opposite, namely that Lorentz invariance is a fundamental local symmetry of the world; this has been so thoroughly tested (see above) that it is beyond any reasonable doubt. Given this, spacetime has to be locally Minkowskian, which implies that the metric is invariant. Therefore the “number of events” - which is the geometric length of the clock’s world line in spacetime -  is also invariant. It does not change and cannot change, and all observers agree on it - this is mathematical fact, and not subject to any “interpretations”. The only thing that changes with relative motion is the way two frames are related to one another.

Exactly so. Actually, the number of events --ticks of a clock-- is the only reference you have any hope for all observers to agree upon.

Those would be "classical events" or measurements. Quantum mechanical evolution is a different matter. We cannot directly measure the wave function, but even wave functions quantum amplitudes give consistent results if you assume they transform as a certain representation of the Lorentz transformations.

Time is real enough, and it is a dimension. In quantum mechanics you can tie it to just one event by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. The more energy a random fluctuation has, the shorter it will live, according to time-energy HUP:

$\Delta E \Delta t \geq \frac{\hbar}{2}$

There is no reference system in which you measure half an event, or no event at all. The events are the invariant reference. And if you measure time interval and spacial extension, and thereby calculate proper time, all observers agree on the time it takes.

Edited by joigus
choice of words
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3 hours ago, jamesfairclear said:

In an experiment with 2 atomic clocks where 1 clock is in motion relative to the other we observe fewer events occurring in the moving clock.

We can interpret this observation as a slowing down of time for the moving clock. However the actual direct observation from countless experiments

is that fewer events have occurred for the moving clock.

If the events are ticks of the clock, I don’t see your point. You get fewer ticks because time slowed down.

There’s no physical mechanism in play that could cause this. If you have an alternative model, you need to present it. Your “quantum events” description is far too nebulous to count as a model, and you have presented no evidence to support it.

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