**An alternative interpretation of the consequences of Special Relativity**

© 2012 by Jonathan Collins. All rights reserved.

__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 slows down and space shrinks. 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 appears to be constant in any frame of reference the mathematical conclusion must be that the value/s for distance and/or time have changed.

1. In the Muon’s frame of reference the distance travelled by the Muons has LITERALLY decreased.

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

The difficulty with understanding these predictions is that they are counter intuitive (which is not to say that they are wrong). 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 the anomaly 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 the 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 say we are measuring time?

__Does Time exist?__There is no direct evidence that time is actually 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 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.

__The observation that high speed Muons last longer than Muons at rest could be interpreted in 2 ways:__

**Can there be a more intuitive way of explaining the observations predicted by special relativity?**1. Muons decay at the same rate regardless of their speed. The speed of a Muon causes time to slow down in its 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.

2. Muons decay at a rate that is inversely proportional to their speed relative to a stationary observer

It is difficult to conceive of a way to conclusively prove either interpretation without having an absolute benchmark for time.

The first interpretation is based on the assumption that time is part of the fabric of the universe and that time literally flows. This is the currently accepted interpretation.

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 literally last longer than relatively stationary Muons as a direct consequence of the relative speed (or relative kinetic energy) of the fast moving closed system containing the Muons.

Whilst Particles such as Muons are observed to decay into different particles it is not understood what exactly triggers the change. Wikipedia defines particle decay as the spontaneous process of one elementary particle transforming into other elementary particles. Wiktionary defines the meaning of spontaneous as “Self generated; happening without any apparent external cause”. There would seem to be 2 possible interpretations:

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

2. Quantum particles decay (or transform) due to the influence of other 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.

On the assumption that particle decay is influenced by other quantum events in the vicinity it follows that the rate of decay will be influenced by the frequency of such quantum events.

For example no change can be expected in a Muon until a quantum event occurs close enough to affect it. Since a quantum particle requires another particle in its vicinity to precipitate an event it follows that the frequency of quantum events is governed by the velocity (or angular momentum) of quantum particles within the quantum space. From this it can be inferred that the velocity (or angular momentum) of all quantum particles within the quantum space is reduced in proportion to the speed of the closed system containing the quantum particles.

For example an atomic clock measures the interval between 2 quantum mechanical conditions of the Cesium 133 atom and registers this as a discrete interval of time. In the case of a fast moving atomic clock there will be an increased interval between the 2 quantum mechanical conditions and consequently the discrete interval of time registered will be greater than the discrete interval of time registered by a relatively stationary atomic clock.

Since all objects consist of quantum particles it follows that no observable change can occur in an object until there is a change in its constituent quantum particles. The interval between any 2 states of an object is subject to and proportional to the intervals between quantum events occurring amongst the constituent quantum particles of that object. It follows that the interval between any 2 observable states of a fast moving object increases in proportion to the speed of the object.

For example an astronaut setting out from an initial stationery position on Earth and then accelerating to near the speed of light will not observe any change in the interval between events occurring within his spacecraft at any stage of his journey. However a stationary observer on earth will notice a dramatic increase in the interval between events in the spacecraft. From the stationary observer’s point of view everything on board the spacecraft including the astronaut will appear to be moving in slow motion as the spacecraft approaches the speed of light. From the astronaut’s point of view though, as the interval between quantum states of the constituent quantum particles of everything in the spacecraft (including the astronaut) will have increased proportionately, no change in the interval between any events inside the spacecraft will be apparent.

__What happens to an object as it approaches the speed of light?__The closer an object gets to light speed the less predictable are the consequences of a reduction in the frequency of quantum events within the constituent quantum particles.

As an object approaches the speed of light the average velocity (or angular momentum) of its constituent quantum particles approaches zero which in turn reduces the frequency of quantum events within the object to near zero. As the quantum particles pack closer together and quantum events virtually cease to occur the object shrinks in size tending towards an infinitesimally small, infinitely dense region of space where the probability of any events occurring tends to zero.

On the assumption that the changes in quantum interactions brought about by the increasing speed of the object are precisely proportional and symmetrical in terms of the relative energy and positions of quantum particles within the quantum space it is conceivable that the characteristics of the object containing the quantum particles will remain unchanged in its frame of reference. It is more likely that changes in quantum interactions will not be precisely proportional or symmetrical in which case at near light speed the structure of the object will undergo fundamental change making it unrecognisable from its former characteristics. Such fundamental changes may preclude an astronaut from travelling at near light speeds.

The tendency towards infinite density for an object travelling at near light speed precludes it from attaining light speed as the extra acceleration required would require an infinite amount of energy. However since photons with a mass of zero are capable of being produced from quantum interactions it is conceivable that under certain conditions a specific finite quantity of energy applied to the object might cause some or all of the constituent quantum particles of the object to be converted to photons which would then be travelling at light speed.

__Time and the accurate measurement of time to synchronise events seems essential for the efficient functioning of human kind in its current stage of evolution. So even if time does not exist in any real sense it is entirely rational for human beings to continue to reference it.__

**The consequences of the non existence of time**It is counter intuitive for a human being to imagine either of the following conditions:

1. Total non existence, no space, no matter, no time

2. Infinite space, infinite matter, infinite time

Whilst either of these conditions might be possible the human brain seems predisposed to the assumption of finite conditions. This is probably because our sensory experiences are based on our experience of finite objects in a finite world and in particular the transition from life to death. The human brain is clearly capable of postulating that which is beyond its ability to coherently picture. This is evident in the case of postulations about extra (hidden) dimensions in the universe and of course with the notion of time and time dilation.

Reasoning would tell us that the condition of total non existence is not true since we can observe the universe. Even if the universe was one big illusion there would have to be something there for an illusion to exist and be perceived! The fact that total non existence is not true leads to the inevitable conclusion that something (space and/or matter) must always have been in existence. i.e. it is not rationally possible to move from conditions where nothing exists to conditions where something exists.

If reasoning tells us that something (space and/or matter) must have always existed then we start to run into trouble with time as we understand it. If something has always existed (i.e. for an infinite amount of time) how could the universe have arrived at a finite point in time without an infinite amount of time passing in between?

Since reasoning tells us that something must have always existed the problem must be one of the following:

1. Human reasoning itself is flawed

2. Time doesn’t actually exist in any real sense

Without an independent arbiter both situations must be considered to be equally plausible.

By assuming that time does not exist in any real sense we remove all the anomalies associated with time. The universe can be considered as quantum matter and energy in a permanent state of interaction resulting in observable events without the need for a time line.

__The Big Bang__Significant evidence exists that the observable universe is the result of a cosmic event (“the Big Bang”) that took place approximately 14 billion years in the past. It has been postulated that all space, matter and time came into being with this event but without any explanation as to how the singularity which caused the event could itself have existed without any time or space to exist within prior to the event.

It is certainly more intuitive to suggest that the Big Bang event gave rise to all the space and matter in the observable universe but without any reference to time.

The postulate that time began at the Big Bang event implies that the singularity had been present for an infinite amount of time prior to the big bang, which would have allowed for every conceivable event within the singularity to have occurred including the event that triggered the Big Bang itself.

Even by dispensing with the notion of time the Big Bang event must have been triggered by a finite sequence of events within the singularity. It follows (at least by using human reasoning) that there must have been events prior to the Big Bang and that the singularity cannot always have been a singularity.