Ok, to understand where I’m coming from here, I’ve been thinking about this for years. I’ve heard a lot of other people’s explanations, read some web sites, and even a cliff’s notes on physics (I wasn’t about to buy a whole book when I can’t believe any of it.) So why do I ask here? Someone, somewhere has to understand my objections to current explanations of the twin paradox, and I believe that person is in the best position to make me understand it.
Either I’m wrong and there is no paradox, or it’s the rest of the world that is wrong and there is a paradox that for some reason most everyone isn’t capable of seeing. Normally, when it’s just you against the rest of the world, it’s a good idea to think that maybe the rest of the world understands something that you don’t. But I’ve never been able to do that. Supposedly, somewhere, science is being done in which this paradox would arise all the time, and supposedly it works out just fine, and if that’s the case then one must suppose that there really is no paradox, but look where I’m coming from:
When I was taking any science class in high school, we would do some experiments now and then. Although the school had the necissary chemicals for chemistry, and some things that could roll and fall for physics, we didn’t have anything that could preciesly measure mass, time, all we could accurately measure was distance and temperature. So, needless to say, all the experients came out wrong, for everyone, not just me. However, I was the only one who turned in work that blatently came to the wrong conclusions. (For instance, we once had some piece of metal, and we were supposed to identify it by calcuating it’s specific heat, the answer I came up with wasn’t a metal.) All the other students simply figured out by other means what the metal was, and then fudged with their numbers until they came to the correct answer. I never understood why. Coming to the wrong answer says nothing about wether or not you know how to do science. It just says that you don’t know how to keep track of signifigant digits, which was ultimately the problem. If I had said that the scale was accurate to one gram, which I strongly suspected since it was a flimsy piece of trash, it would have been obvious that my answer was useless, however the teacher said they were accurate to something like 0.01 grams, so that’s what everyone used.
Now some of those kids probably went on to college and became scientists, whereas I dropped out a year later and went on to deliver pizza, so simply put, I don’t have enough faith in what people say, regardless of how much smarter than me they theroetically are, to believe anything they say that I can’t understand myself. So my only hope is that someone can explain this in a way that makes sense to me, and I can stop getting so worked up over this that I want to beat someone in the head with a baseball bat. (I’m otherwise a very peaceful person.)
So, as if anyone doesn’t know what the question is, I’ll restate it again: Two twins, bob and tom, live on earth. On one day, bob takes off at a high rate of speed, then later comes back. When he does come back, one of the twins is now older than the other, but which one?
Some sort of relativity says that when an object is moving, it’s clocks run slower than something that is not moving. The problem, of course, is that from each perspective, it is the other that is moving, and each perspective’s time cannot be moving slower than the other’s, as that would be a silly idea.
Every explanation I’ve read on this cannot resolve the problem without taking into account that one of the observers had to change inertial frames at some point, as I would expect, since that is the only difference, and thus the only means by which any explanation could be offered. However, it’s irrelevant since the time dialation is based on speed, and has nothing to do with inertial frame change or acceleration. In particular, I read one explanation that said that the paradox was resolved when you consider that bob occupies two different inertial frames, thus there are three frames involved. However this doesn’t resolve anything, it still doesn’t explain how you know that bob’s two frames are slower than tom’s one frame. I could just as easily say that bob’s two frames remain constant, and it’s tom’s one frame that runs slow. So we’re right back where we started, just now we have a third inertial frame tossed into the problem.
An explanation that does not take into account a change of inertial frame seems like an impossibility, but that’s exactly the point of the paradox, that’s where the paradox comes from. The paradox is that the idea of one frame’s time being slower than another’s based upon the speed between the two doesn’t make sense since there’s no means to determine which frame gets the slower time, and if they both get it, then there really isn’t any change.
Now why the twin story was ever created I’m not sure, I think the above paragraph sums up the paradox much better than the twin story, but just in case a twin story is necessary to figuring this out, how’s about we create a new twin story, since everyone keeps getting hung up on the change of inertial frame in the current one, and quite often I don’t think they even realize that they are taking it into consideration. I call this new twin story “the ‘my brain is going numb trying to sort out why I can’t understand something everyone else thinks is obvious and at the same time no one else can understand something I think is obvious’ paradox.” An appropriate name, I think.
Two twins, bob and tom, were born into seperate inertial frames (don’t ask how). They remain in these seperate inertial frames forever. Now, accordingly, since they are moving at a speed relative to eachother, there must be a time dialation between them, however, with nothing around to use as a refrence (there’s nothing else in their universe, again, don’t ask) each thinks it is the other who is moving away, and thus they can’t resolve who’s clock should be running slower. So who’s clock is running slower, bob’s or tom’s?
(BTW, if anyone says that both of their clocks are running slow, and thus they both see the same time, I’m going to go buy a baseball bat. Remember, it’s the relative speed of one frame as seen from the other frame, and it’s that speed that determines the time dialation, and that dialation is one frame’s time relative to the other’s, thus there must be a difference. You can’t just pick your own third frame in the middle and declare the dialation relative to that.)
Unfortunately, I can psychically see in the future that I’ll be given an explanation that involves them looking at eachother’s clocks over the distance, and through some sort of nonsense involving the speed of light and the doppler effect (not that the speed of light or the doppler effect are nonsense, it’s just he explenation I’ll be given will be nonsense) the explanation will be that you can’t see the dialation until one of them goes back to the other so they can compare clocks at a close distance and similar speeds and thus there’s no paradox, so before you say this, let me append to the end of this new twin story something I don’t think should have to be there:
For some mysterious reason, after some great time, bob and tom cease to move away from eachother, and both are accelerated equally until each is moving towards eachother. Later, they are accelerated again, once again equally, so that they end up right next to eachother with no movement relative to eachother. Now they compare clocks. Who’s clock is behind?
Unfortunatly, once again, I can psychically see being told that when it all starts out, one twin has his clock slowed, and when they reverse direction, it’s the other twin’s clock that is slowed, and thus they end up the same in the end. So if you’re thinking this, let me ask one more question: How do you decide who’s clock slowed first?
And having hit preview, I see that this will be the longest text I’ve ever seen in this message board, so let me thank everyone who made it all the way to the bottom for wasting 15 minutes of your life just for me. Thanks everyone.