November 30, 2021

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Physicists have achieved something incredible. They measured the difference in time flow by just one millimeter

Physicists managed to achieve something incredible. They were able to measure the difference in time at just a millimeter level. The portal drew attention to the topic ScienceAlert.

The twin paradox

One of the well-known thought experiments in the theory of special relativity, known as The twin paradoxHe says that if one twin traveled in a spacecraft at the speed of light while the other was waiting on Earth, the twin traveling at the speed of light would appear smaller than the one he left on Earth.

BarbaraALane / Pixabay

as he writes Quanta Magazine on your location, as well as speed and gravity affect the passage of time. According to the general theory of relativity, the Earth, a black hole, or any other massive object distorts spacetime in such a way that it slows down time.

When looking for difference in the passage of time, we don’t have to go very far and send someone into space at the speed of light. It is enough for one of the twins to live at sea level and the other at the top of Everest. Given that the Earth’s gravity on top of Everest is slightly weaker than at sea level, the twins that will live on top will age faster.

Although the difference will be small, it is large enough to measure. However, physicists were able to turn this difference into completely different dimensions.

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In a new study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, it has been posted to a prepress server arXiv, experts from JILA Laboratory, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the University of Colorado were able to measure the difference in time on a millimeter scale using a specially designed atomic clock.


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More precisely, they were able to measure the gravitational redshift, a phenomenon in which electromagnetic waves, photons arising from a gravitational well (a conceptual model of the gravitational field surrounding objects in space) lose energy. This energy loss corresponds to a decrease in wavelength and an increase in wavelength. The opposite effect, in which photons gain energy as they pass through a gravitational well, is known as gravitational blue shift.

The work represents a huge leap toward the study of physics at the “intersection” of general relativity and quantum mechanics, both valid but incompatible with each other.

As the gate writes science news, physicists used a special clock consisting of about 100,000 atoms of strontium. This millimeter-sized cloud of atoms was cooled to a very low temperature, making the atoms almost stationary.

Next, the researchers looked at the cloud of atoms through the camera and drew two imaginary squares around the upper and lower halves of the cloud. After 92 hours of observing these miniature clocks, they compared the frequency of the “chimes” of the upper and lower halves and found that the time at the top of the cloud is 0.00000000000000001% shorter than the time at the bottom. To date, this is the most accurate frequency comparison ever made.

Of course, in the measurement itself, the researchers made sure that no non-gravitational effects were included in the calculation.

Given that scientists were previously able to measure the gravitational redshift by a height difference of 33 cm, this is a huge leap forward. According to physicists, this measurement is in a way a step towards combining the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

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The authors should provide more detailed information only after their study has been reviewed and it will be published in the reviewed journal.