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Let's do the time warp again
Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2007 11:40 AM
 
The core team of physicists, clockwise from back left: Gerald Gwinner, Sergei Karpuk, Christian Novotny, Sascha Reinhardt, and Guido Saathoff (not seen) taking the picture. Submitted photo.

Einstein was right. An international team of physicists led by University of Manitoba researcher Dr. Gerald Gwinner have made the most accurate measurements to date of time dilation, verifying Einstein's theory of relativity.

"We were able to determine the effect more precisely than ever before," says Gwinner. "We found the observed effect was in complete agreement with relativity."

Using a particle accelerator, the research team sped two beams of atoms around a ring-shaped course at high speed and measured differences between them using a high-precision lasers. They were able to make fine measurements, showing that time "slows down" for the atoms, relative to the outside world.

Einstein's theory of relativity suggests that a moving clock ticks more slowly than an identical clock at rest. And, if one of two identical twins was launched into space traveling at high speed, when he returned to Earth the spacefaring twin would actually be younger than his earthbound twin. Gwinner and his team used "twin" atoms in the accelerator ring for their measurements.

Gwinner says this experiment is the only one that tested time dilation more precisely than needed to confirm the theoretical underpinnings of the everyday use of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

He notes: "GPS uses satellites to measure the position of objects on the ground, but it needs to take into account the fact that the satellites themselves are in motion at high speeds as they orbit the Earth. Our test validates the theory used by the devices to compensate for the satellites' motion."

Results of the experiment were published in the scientific journal Nature: Physics.

For more information, contact Dr. Gerald Gwinner at: 204-474- 9856, or e-mail: gwinner@physics.umanitoba.ca

 
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Related Links (Internal):
  •Dr. Gerald Gwinner's wiki