Monday, August 13, 2012

Relativistic Time Dilation for Donkey Wallopers

Ever the optimist (yeah, right, that why I haven't posted anything for over a year, isn't it?) I decided today to try to explain the concept of relativistic time dilation and the "Twins Paradox" to the Grumblettes who are, well, twins. So there's a connection there, right?  Personally, I blame James May, who has been burbling blokeishly about Einstein on the TV here at Grumbler Towers.

So how does one get such an abstract theory across to a pair of youngsters with a terminal horse obsession, and as much interest in science as I have in dressage (clue, when dressage is on our telly, I stare at the wall it's mounted on in the desperate hope that the paint thereon hasn't finished drying yet).


"Kirsty, Katy, you're both on horses in a field at 11:30 in the morning. It must be at least ten minutes since you have last eaten.

Kirsty, you ride your horse around the edge of the field at a significant fraction of the speed of light.  Since its a big field (lets call it, I don't know, yes, thats it! Yorkshire!) it takes you about a minute, even at such a grand speed. When you get back, it's just a minute later according to your watch (which is in a drawer in your bedroom as we've never got round to having the strap shortened so it doesn't fall off) and the first words out of your mouth (after "Gamble's faster than Charlie") are, "I'm hungry, whats for lunch?"

To which Katy will reply "I got fed up with waiting for you to come back, and I had mine an hour ago.".

That's relativistic time dilation, that is."

By Jove, I do believe they got it!

Fortunately for me, as far as I know, none of the ladies' mounts are that feisty, so time dilation doesn't enter into it. But that doesn't quite explain the many Sunday evenings I've sat in the kitchen in the accumulating gloom, accompanied by a slowly congealing roast dinner wondering about the difference between their "home for seven-thirty" and my "having dinner ready for eight".

Could it, might it, possibly be, that they are better acquainted with old Albert than I am?