Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)
TITLE: Changing Times
By Clyde Blakely
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Spaceman Bob: Thank you for having me. I find space really exciting because you learn so much about our Creator. You are constantly discovering new aspects of His magnificent powers and intellect. Everyone thought Albert Einstein was smart. Seeing God’s wisdom in creation makes Einstein’s theories come alive and sometimes they seem simple.
SP: My head stopped spinning after I reviewed our last discussion but I’m still a little confused.
SB: Miss Parker, could I give you an example that might help?
SP: Okay, but we want to hear more of your exciting space adventures.
SB: Last week you mentioned that all my body functions cycle on 24 hours.
SP: I remember. It’s true, isn’t it?
SB: Yes, but how long is 24 hours?
SP: Oh boy, is my head going to be spinning after this one too?
SB: I hope not. Do you have a GPS in you vehicle?
SP: A global positioning system? Sure, why?
SB: Did you know that it runs on a 24 hour time frame but its 24 hours is actually different than the 24 hours here on earth?
SP: Those satellites aren’t millions of miles away from earth and they go around the same sun as we do. How can that be?
SB: Let me back up a little to give you a better picture. Remember back in the 20th century when they first built atomic clocks?
SP: Oh yes, they were the most accurate clocks ever built.
SB: To test Einstein’s theory that the faster one traveled the slower “time” would move, they put one atomic clock on a jet and flew as fast and as long as the jet could. They kept another one motionless on the ground, well, “motionless” compared to the earth’s surface. Do you know what they discovered?
SP: The faster clock had lost time compared the earth bound clock.
SB: That’s right; the jet’s clock ran slower than the earth’s clock making it appear to have lost time. Its internal functions ran slower, proving Einstein’s theory.
SP: So what does that have to do with my GPS?
SB: Scientists had to calculate the difference in the GPS satellite’s speed, 22,300 miles up in space, and the speed of the earth’s rotation because the GPS’s “clock” runs slower due to the speed difference. But the “gravity well” aspect plays a larger part.
SP: Gravity well?
SB: I used the “faster we go” analogy because most of us have heard about the correlation between speed and time. The term gravity well is even more important. Time actually speeds up the closer you are to a gravity’s origin, say going down a well to the center of the earth. The farther away one gets from the gravity pull or “well”, the slower time runs. Scientists in the 20th century had to program this fact into the GPS satellites also, so when you ask for directions to Chicago you don’t end up in Nevada or somewhere else.
SP: Okay, but how does that relate to space travels?
SB: Science for a long time thought that if they knew how fast light traveled in a vacuum and could measure the distance between earth and stars then they could accurately calculate the universe to be billions of years old.
SP: That’s obvious.
SB: But it’s wrong. Since most stars are much farther away from strongest “gravity well”, the center of the universe, than the earth is, their “clocks” run much slower. Earth’s “fast” clock makes it appear the universe is billions of years old but it’s really only thousands. Our 24 hours here can be compared to hundreds or thousands of years for distance stars’ “slow” clocks. But those thousands of years to the star seems only “24 hours”; the same for us if we were out there.
SP: That’s amazing. All that was built into my GPS! And God’s creation! Oh my, looking at our clock that’s all the time we have. See you next week Spaceman Bob?
SB: Yup, seven 24 hours from now!
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