Time

The combined speed of any object’s motion through space and its motion through time is always precisely equal to the speed of light. ~Brian Greene

I get a little breathy and tingly whenever I think about physics; it’s a nerd thing. Strangely enough this long-exposure shot of a fishing weir in Eastern Canada makes me think about physics. Long-exposure shots like this one create in me a strong appreciation for the passage of time in general and Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity specifically. In 1905 Einstein changed everything when he suggested that the previous giant in the field of physics, Sir Isaac Newton, was not entirely right about time. Newton held that movement through time and movement through space were two entirely unrelated events. Using ingenious thought experiments, Einstein figured out that this couldn’t be true; time and space are linked and what’s more, movement through one affects movement through the other. I mean, this is crazy right? When still, an object is only traveling through time but when it begins to move, some of the travel through time is slowed to compensate for its movement through space; this keeps observations of the speed of light constant ala Brian Greene’s quote above. So that’s what blows my mind–relative to stationary objects, time actually slows a teensy-weensy bit for objects in motion.

This brings me to my favorite experiment in the history of experiments. In 1971 a scientist named Hafele thought of a simple experiment to test Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity. After some hasty calculations he determined that the speed of a jet airplane ferrying an atomic clock would be sufficient to measure the relativistic effects of motion through space. So after meeting up with another scientist named Keating who worked for the Navy as an atomic clock expert, he finally got enough money to by a couple tickets around the world on Pan Am. He placed atomic clocks on the planes and set them off in opposite directions around the globe. In the end, you guessed it, when they checked the time on the atomic clocks that had been in motion and compared them to a stationary atomic clock in the lab, the moving clocks had slowed by exactly the amount that Einstein’s equations predicted. Coolest experiment ever right? Science frigging rocks!

On a related note, I’ve been told that time also slows to a painful degree for those subjected to my prattlings. Sorry about that.

 

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22 Comments

  1. Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:29 pm by k@ | Permalink

    I see you 4, your familly standing together in deep zen harmony. So peaceful*

  2. Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:19 am by yz | Permalink

    the stick family on a holiday :)
    excellent shot

  3. Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:17 am by Corinna | Permalink

    I don’t understand Relativity or how you made this image, but I’m thankful for both.

  4. Posted May 10, 2012 at 7:28 am by george | Permalink

    Physics never was my strong point, so I’ll stick to “Big Bang Theory” and the engaging Penny who copes with four anal nerds so delightfully…

    Meanwhile Chris, physics or not, an equally delightful photograph – effective simplicity that offers a feeling of great calm.

  5. Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:37 am by Brenda | Permalink

    Actually, I think this is the first time I slightly understood that whole relativity thing – prattling or not! So thanks for that.

    And for such a calm, serene and peaceful shot, composed in your usual minimal manner.

  6. Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm by sherri | Permalink

    i think i was holding my breath while i read the last paragraph because when i read your last line i breathed deeply with a smile. very interesting. i’ve always been fascinated by Einstein. some theorize he had asperber’s. a superb image.

  7. Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm by CrashRyan | Permalink

    bloody hell … one heck of a mist!!!!

  8. Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:57 pm by joshi daniel | Permalink

    very calm looking and artistic picture :)

  9. Posted May 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm by fabrizio | Permalink

    pleasamt study in long exposure presentation, i love this kind of photo, because before taking photo need to think a little… nice week end my frined

  10. Posted May 12, 2012 at 11:08 am by Phil Vaughn | Permalink

    I like your long exposure photo. The inclusion of the distant shore and sky gives good perspective. Nicely done! Your explanation about the theory of relativity is good. I do “not” understand how time slows for an object in motion, though. However, if that is true and it seems to be, then at my age, I’d better start moving more! I enjoyed your post, Chris.

  11. Posted May 13, 2012 at 1:19 am by Roland Theys | Permalink

    Wow, superb!

  12. Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:05 am by rian | Permalink

    physics aside, this sure makes for a good shot.. :)

  13. Posted May 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm by Doug Hickok | Permalink

    I like this style of long exposure. And I especially like the rhythm of the poles, ticking across the frame like time itself. As for reading your Being in Focus posts, I never get tired of that. They are enlightening and funny. Speaking of which, my favorite photo of Einstein is the one where he sticks his tongue out at the camera. That seems so immature for a grown man. Ha, I knew there was a reason I liked him so much :^)

  14. Posted May 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm by Frank | Permalink

    Lovely. Beautiful monochrome tones.

  15. Posted May 17, 2012 at 9:41 am by Michael | Permalink

    Gorgeous photo Christopher – and way to make me think. So, my hope is that I’m aging a teensy bit slower due to my constant rushing to and from work, school and all the activites in between.

    I find that I’m most drawn to your black and white work – especially some of the abstract images like this one. Have you considered an option for selling prints of your work?

  16. Posted May 17, 2012 at 11:50 am by Frida | Permalink

    I’m with george on this one…

    I love Sheldon Cooper

  17. Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:55 am by Marcie | Permalink

    Fantastic abstract!! Love the end result of this long exposure. Well done!

  18. Posted May 22, 2012 at 11:17 am by Kala | Permalink

    Gorgeous abstract image, Christopher.

  19. Posted June 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm by John Maslowski | Permalink

    An intriguing composition! Like the abstract feel to this image!

  20. Posted June 1, 2012 at 10:39 pm by Rue Du Lavoir | Permalink

    Un juste équilibre. Composer. Trouver la place des choses. Trouver sa place. Se sentir en harmonie. Se sentir apaisé. Ralentir le rythme. Profiter du temps présent. Une vraie prise de conscience…

  21. Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:04 am by Maurizio Riccio | Permalink

    I think we intuitively apply elements of physics whenever we try to compose a photograph. The weight of elements in relationship with each other within the frame, as illustrated by your photograph.

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