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Tom Van Baak’s Family-Friendly Relativistic Time-Dilation Experiment

Tom Van Baak and his family-friendly relativistic time-dilation experiment

Image Credit: Tom Van Baak, Leapsecond.com

I was going through my e-mails for some information on atomic frequency standards, when I came across an e-mail that I had sent to Tom Van Baak in 2007 congratulating him for his family-friendly time dilation experiment.  If you are not familiar with his work,  I heartily recommend that you explore his precision-time-keeping webpage at LeapSecond.com.

Tom wanted to demonstrate Relativity to his children, so in September 2005 he  loaded the family’s minivan with portable power supplies, monitoring equipment, and three HP 5071 cesium clocks.  With his three kids and some camping gear in tow, he drove the winding roads spiraling up Washington’s Mt. Rainier and checked the family into a lodge 5,319 feet above sea level.

By keeping the clocks at altitude for a weekend they were able to detect and measure the effects of relativistic time dilation compared to atomic clocks they left at home. The amazing thing is that the experiment worked! The predicted and measured effect was just over 20 nanoseconds.

For more information, go to Tom’s excellent webpage “Project GREAT: General Relativity Einstein/Essen Anniversary Test – Clocks, Kids, and General Relativity on Mt Rainier”

Tom Van Baak's time dilation experimental results

Image Credit: Physics Today




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2 Comments  comments 

2 Responses

  1. John Kain

    Pie time’s diameter equals circumference. 1340 meters time’s 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 = 4209.7341558103229395399421335945 meters, kilometers 4.2097341558103229395399421335945
    4.2097341558103229395399421335945 / 24 = 0.17540558982543012248083092223311 kph a little over 10th mile per hour.

    I do not think what you measured was Relativistic time dilation.