A Critical Thinking Analysis of the Empirical Data For “Time Dilation” – Part 4

For this article, the reader needs to be familiar with the high level conceptual framework for LAT that was discussed in the prior article in this series. When “LAT” is referenced below, think “the high level conceptual framework for LAT”.

The Empirical Data For Time Dilation/Clock Retardation

To date, the empirical data for velocity dependent Time Dilation/Clock Retardation effects can be sorted into two categories:

1) Some data is consistent with both Special Relativity (SR) AND our high level conceptual framework for LAT that included the physical, asymmetric clock retardation effect that is an alternative to SR’s symmetric time dilation effect.

2) Other data is in sharp disagreement with SR’s symmetric time dilation, but agrees with LAT’s physical, asymmetric clock retardation effect.

Detailed Analysis of Specific Empirical Data

The LAT physical, asymmetric clock retardation equation is

    \[ T = \frac{T_0}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}} \]

The SR symmetric time dilation equation is

    \[ T = \frac{T_0}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}} \]

As you can see, from just a pure math perspective, the two equations look identical. However, they have very different physical meanings. Instead of SR’s key construct of relative velocity, LAT uses the construct of absolute velocity (i.e., velocity measured with respect to a unique, preferred frame or, more accurately, to a unique physical entity (e.g., the aether, the local gravitational field)). In LAT, as a clock’s absolute velocity increases, its clock rate physically slows (i.e., it accumulates proper time at a slower rate). This phenomenon is called clock retardation. This and all other aspects of LAT directly describe what’s happening in the physical world. In LAT, if clock A is twice as fast as clock B, then clock B has a rate that is one half that of clock A – all such relationships between A and B are asymmetric. All users of our LAT, regardless of what frame they are in, have the same consistent view of what’s happening physically. Furthermore, there are no paradoxes or apparent contradictions. LAT gives a single, coherent, physical description of what’s happening physically.

Particle Accelerators

The earliest empirical data directly related to “time dilation” came from particle accelerators. These results seemed to confirm Einstein’s time dilation prediction. When unstable particles had “high velocity”, their half-lives were greatly increased – in other words, “high velocity” particles survived longer than “low velocity” particles before they decayed.

This empirical result was immediately interpreted as “proving” SR. However, while the data could be claimed to support SR, there were two problems with jumping to the “proving SR” conclusion. First, the data was also equally compatible with our LAT. We remember that the SR time dilation equation and the LAT clock retardation equation looked the same. The most precise velocity measurements for this effect were from particle accelerators like CERN where particle velocity was measured with respect to the Earth Centered Inertial (ECI) frame which has as its origin the center of the earth and the frame does NOT rotate with the earth. So the data would also support LAT clock retardation if the ECI frame was the unique, preferred frame of LAT – at least in the immediate vicinity of the earth.

Second, the empirical data was only gathered from a single frame, namely, the observer’s frame – in this case, the data was gathered from the rotating earth frame and transformed to the ECI frame. There was no data gathered from the observed’s frame (i.e., the particle’s frame(s)). Hence, the data did NOT distinguish between whether the alleged “time dilation” effect was symmetric and “just observed” or instead was asymmetric and physical. Thus, the data did NOT favor either SR or our LAT.

Muon Decay In The Atmosphere

The earthbound observer sees muons created in the upper atmosphere as byproducts of high energy cosmic ray impacts with atomic nuclei. Due to the thickness of the atmosphere and the very short half-life of the muon, very few such muons would be expected to reach the earth’s surface.

However, a great quantity of muons do reach the earth and even penetrate 100s of meters into the earth. This experimental result is interpreted as proof of SR’s (symmetric) time dilation. However, again, in physics academia, the data was interpreted in the context of confirming SR’s time dilation predictions and the lack of a critical analysis caused important physics points to be overlooked.

If academia looked at the data to see if it was also consistent with alternatives to SR such as our high level view of LAT, it would have been obvious that even at first glance, the data was equally consistent with our version of LAT. Further, a deeper analysis of the data would show that the data actually disproved SR.

Since this phenomenon of upper atmosphere muon decay involves a threshold event, namely, the decay or non-decay of the muon, the phenomenon cannot be explained away in terms of SR’s relative simultaneity – this is true of many velocity dependent effects that involve a threshold.

In the current case, either the muons are traveling at greater than the speed of light in the earth frame, which is not consistent with SR, or their half-life has been physically and asymmetrically extended between the event of being created in the upper atmosphere and the event of reaching the earth. The asymmetry is established NOT by the earth observer determining the time between the two events of muon creation and the muon reaching the earth and then concluding the muon’s clock is running slow. Instead, the asymmetric slowing is based on two absolute facts. We note that the atmosphere, in the earth frame, is approximately 20km thick and since, in SR, the maximum speed for the muon, in the earth frame, is at most c (299,792,458 meters per second), that means it would take approximately 700µs for the fastest muon to traverse the entire thickness of the atmosphere. However, the mean lifetime of a muon at rest in the earth frame is just 2.2µs so when we do the statistics for all muons, we find that the muons that reached the earth either traveled at a speed that was greater than the speed of light or there was, on average, physical slowing of the muons’ “clocks”.

Thus, the asymmetric, physical slowing is established by using two absolute facts, namely, the upper limit speed of c (according to SR) and the fact that a much larger proportion of the muons successfully survived their trip from the upper atmosphere to the surface of the earth and even beyond. This cannot be explained as a “just observed” phenomenon which is observer dependent. The survival of the muons and their reaching the surface of the earth is an absolute fact – an observer independent fact. The percentage of high atmosphere muons that reach the surface of the earth is an absolute fact – an observer independent fact. SR and its inherently symmetric time dilation construct cannot explain the empirical data for this phenomenon!

As an instructive aside, let’s look at another well accepted example of why SR’s equations can NOT be describing physical effects. Let’s look at SR’s length contraction which is often paired with SR’s time dilation. For any large body such as the sun, there is always an observer who would observe, interpreting SR as describing physical effects, that length contraction would cause a density for the sun that exceeded the density required to have the sun become a black hole. However, the sun is NOT physically a black hole. QED.

Thus, we see that muons created by cosmic ray collisions in the upper atmosphere reach the earth’s surface because there is an absolute, asymmetric, physical slowing of those muons’ clocks when compared to the clocks of muons that are moving slowly with respect to the ECI frame. This asymmetric, physical slowing of clocks as a function of velocity with respect to the ECI frame cannot be explained by SR’s constructs that are functions of (symmetric) relative velocity!

A Detailed Look At GPS & SR vs LAT

Our LAT model of using absolute velocity with respect to the unique preferred (ECI) frame precisely matches the high precision GPS data for every section of all 24 satellite orbits. As step one, the model says that the velocity effect will cause the satellite clock to be PHYSICALLY slowed relative to the earthbound clocks by a specific amount for each section of the orbit. For example, a modification is made in GPS since the orbits are not perfect circles and, hence, the satellite’s absolute velocity with respect to the ECI frame will vary during an orbit – GPS software accounts for these small differences in absolute velocity at specific points in an orbit to get higher precision. Hence, the LAT model fits the GPS data for each and every section of all 24 satellite orbits including where there are variations in satellite velocities.

In contrast, using the SR model and its construct of relative velocity between the satellite clocks and the earthbound clocks fails miserably! First, SR time dilation cannot be interpreted as describing physically slower clock rates as that would lead to an immediate logic contradiction. Second, even if we ignore that logic contradiction, as many relativists do, the empirical data is still at odds with the GPS data as the GPS data shows that the empirical data is inherently asymmetric and NOT symmetric as SR predicts. Hence, even using the “just observed” interpretation of SR time dilation, half of SR’s predictions are NOT even qualitatively consistent with the GPS data, but rather predict an opposite effect!

The hardcore relativist might claim that the above analysis is “invalid” because neither the satellite clocks nor the earthbound clocks were inertial. However, this is both a hypocritical and false argument. All the data claimed by relativists to support SR time dilation also are NOT based on inertial observers or on observed inertial clocks. Second, the data from particle accelerators clearly shows that the time dilation/clock retardation effect is NOT limited to inertial frames, but is a function of instantaneous velocity regardless of whether the observer or the observed is in an inertial frame or not.

As noted in Part 3, SR has each inertial observer simulate being in the unique, preferred frame of our LAT. Hence, the relativist can claim that if he chooses the ECI frame (the LAT preferred frame in the vicinity of the earth) and makes all calculations using velocity with respect to the ECI frame, he’ll get “correct numerical answers”. That’s half true – if one uses the LAT preferred frame as the base frame for SR predictions, then those predictions will seem to be valid. However, the implied physics model being used is NOT the SR model as will be discussed in detail below. Further, the converse prediction by SR regarding time dilation is in complete disagreement with the GPS data.

“Correct numerical answers” in one special case aside, the model used by GPS is inconsistent with the SR model! GPS actually uses our LAT model of absolute velocity as measured with respect to a single, unique, preferred frame and not the SR model which uses the relative velocity between the two clocks to be compared. Generally speaking, the two methods give different answers. GPS, using our LAT  model, first uses the velocity of the earth bound clocks relative to a single, preferred frame (the ECI frame) and computes how much that velocity would slow the earthbound clocks relative to a hypothetical clock at rest in the ECI frame. Second, GPS uses the velocity of the satellite clocks relative to the single, preferred (ECI) frame and computes how much that velocity would slow the satellite clocks relative to a hypothetical clock at rest in the ECI frame. Third, GPS uses those two ratios of the clocks relative to a clock at rest in the unique preferred (ECI) frame to compute the ratio of the satellite clock rate to the earth bound clock rate to determine the velocity effect. GPS does NOT use SR’s construct of the relative velocity between the two clocks to be compared.

Further, SR says that all inertial frames are equally valid to use. However, the result of the above described computation depends on which frame is selected to be the unique, preferred frame. For example,  using SR’s “all inertial frames are equal” assumption, consider three clocks A & B & C together at rest, but then A & B start moving in opposite directions at constant velocity v with respect to C. Using SR, both A & B would calculate clock time dilation slowing for the other clock. However, if we chose a frame that was at rest with respect to C (at rest in the original starting frame) and used the SR’s calculation method, then C would see both A and B moving away from itself with velocity v (albeit in opposite directions). So C would compute that both the A and B clocks slowed down with respect to the C clock by the same amount and, hence, would conclude that the two clocks, A & B, had the same rate – in disagreement with SR’s standard methodology of comparing two clocks in terms of their relative velocity!

Hence, trying to use SR would not only, in general, give the wrong answer for GPS, but it would also give multiple, contradictory answers depending on what set of clocks and relative velocities one chose to use. Also, if one chose another inertial frame, especially one that was moving rapidly with respect to the ECI frame, GPS would guide drivers into lakes, buildings and trees – the GPS methodology requires choosing the correct preferred frame.

The above is basic and irrefutable logic. The problem is not that relativists do not understand or disagree with that logic, it is instead that they choose to avoid that logic. Sometimes they simply ignore the logic. Sometimes they invoke erroneous logic such as “In SR, one cannot use the GPS satellite frame as that frame is non-inertial.” This ignores the fact that the asymmetric data can still not be explained by SR. It also implies that SR cannot be used in any real world situation including GPS and, hence, we come to the same conclusion, namely, that the asymmetric clock rate changes due to velocity cannot be explained in terms of SR.

Confirmations: The following are in agreement with the above assessment of GPS. The conclusions of those below and of the author were all derived independently of one another:

  • Ron Hatch (30+ GPS patents) knows the GPS design, algorithms and data in great detail. He has reviewed and agrees with the comments
  • Tom Van Flandern was a technical consultant on GPS. He wrote that GPS does not use the SR model for velocity effects, but instead uses our LAT model. above regarding GPS and SR.
  • Tom Phipps, in his book about SR wrote: “For anyone who respects experience, experience with the GPS can have a decisive bearing on the fundamental issues of relativism. Empirical data from multiple sources are now available showing timekeeping asymmetry to be an objective physical fact. … Hence it is in direct disagreement with fact to assert reciprocity, as SRT [Special Relativity] does, such that symmetry prevails between the earth clock which “sees” the satellite clock slowed and the satellite clock which “sees” the earth clock slowed. [Instead] The satellite clock must see and measure the earth clock not as slowed but as continuing to run fast. … To repeat there is an objective real asymmetry … In summary, the SRT tale of seeing or measuring time keeping symmetry is a myth. Manifestly, there is a real, measurable asymmetry of physical clock rates.

Dennis J. McCarthy writes in his paper “The Orbiting Clock Paradox: Should the Lorentzian View Be Preferred?” that “Experiments confirm that … The Lorentzian Relativity [i.e., our LAT model] analysis of this orbiting clock situation should be preferred to the Einsteinian explanation“.

Summary: Fortunately, GPS data shows not only that there is an asymmetric physical clock slowing effect, but also shows there is no symmetric “just observed” effect. The observations are also asymmetric! Hence, the GPS data is NOT consistent with either interpretation of SR’s time dilation equation, but instead the GPS data for velocity effects on clock rate indicates that our LAT model is correct – at least as far as it goes.

[Two caveat notes: First, to make it simpler to describe the basic logic for GPS, we have not described all the complexities. For example, to simplify the exposition, we have not discussed the effects of the difference in gravitational potential. However, those effects have been fully accounted for including by all the others mentioned above who confirm the above points. Also, the fact that the satellite clocks are adjusted so as to run at the same rate as the earthbound clock using the velocity dependent slowing effect does not change what has been described above. Basically, rather than having unadjusted clocks and then observing the resulting clock slowing effect due to velocity, the clock slowing effect due to velocity is assumed and used to adjust clock rates to “zero out” those effects and the resultant high precision operation of GPS confirms that assumption.

Separately, in the vicinity of the earth certain physical effects such as clock retardation seem to be primarily affected by the massive earth due to the clocks being so close to the massive earth. However, additional “external” effects due to, for example, the sun’s and the moon’s gravitational fields likely cause some additional, but smaller, effects that need to be analyzed in addition to what’s been described above for ever higher precision.]

Hafele-Keating Experiment

The Hafele-Keating experiment for determining clock slowing as a function of velocity (and difference in gravitational potential) is almost exactly like GPS except that its clocks in airplanes, rather than clocks in satellites, are compared to the earthbound clocks. Hence, all that has been said about the GPS clock rate data above applies equally to the Hafele-Keating experiment data.

All Clocks At Rest In A Specific Inertial Frame Have The Same Clock Rate

The data shows that for each specific frame, all identical clocks at rest in that frame (other things like gravitational potential being equal) have the same clock rate. The data, for example, from GPS, also tells us that different frames have different clock rates. Hence, there must be a hierarchy of frames which is ordered by clock rates. Further, the data from GPS and Hafele-Keating and other sources, indicate that that the hierarchy of frames ordered by clock rate are also ordered by absolute velocity with respect to a unique “preferred frame”. However, SR denies a unique “preferred frame” and hence, is at odds with this data about clock rates being the same (other things being equal) for clocks with the same absolute velocity.

Articles in the Series

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Nick Percival
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