Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Length Of A Minute...

...depends on which side of the door you are.

Confusing no? We will come to that a little bit later. Before that lets grapple with the basis of this theory.

In High School and later at Technical/Pure Sciences courses in college, we are introduced to the Theory Of Relativity as theorized by the genius Albert Einstein. And if you are as challenged as me, I am sure you too must have gone nuts trying to figure out and understand this theory. The problem was not that the theory was complicated, but rather how our education system deals with it. Our text books are written by people who have this knack of making the simplest of concepts appear complex and let's not even get into the "methods" used to "educate" us in school. I leave that to the newspapers. Instead, here I will attempt at providing some real life insights and examples to the components of this special theory.

1. Length Contraction: This postulate states that objects are observed to be shortened in the direction that they are moving with respect to the observer.

The problem here is that to observe this effect happening will require you run around with a measuring tape trying to observe and measure at the same time. It might not lead to the proof but it will definitely lead you to a hospital.

Simple Real Life Example: Aare bhai, just observe two guys comparing the size of their hardware, where the length will increase dramatically with respect to the other guy. Here also the observer "notices" that the length of the other person's hardware keeps getting "shorter" as the conversation "moves" forward.

2. Relativity of Simultaneity: Two events that appear simultaneous to Observer A might not appear simultaneous to Observer B, if B is moving relative to A.

Here again, for a person to understand what the postulate means, his knowledge of the Queen's language will be severely tested. Also the examples given in text books will require the poor guy to move at speeds close to the speed of light and till that happens, we will continue producing confused people.

Simple Real Life Example: Aare bhai, just ask any 2 person to recount an incident where both were present. You will be surprised at how different the same episode turns out to be. Other classic examples would be our politicians and sport persons being "mis-quoted" in the press, although there might be audio and video tapes to prove otherwise.

3. Time Dilation: Moving clocks appear "slower" than an observer's stationary clock.

This essentially means that if you move at speeds close to the speed of light, the length of a minute for you will be slower than a person who is stationary. Again the physical improbability and hazards involved prevent a student from fully grasping its meaning.

Simple Real Life Example: Aare bhai, ever felt an urgent need to take a dump and you run to the nearest loo, only to find that it is already occupied? Sample conversation:
You (outside the loo): Abe ...., jaldi ker bhai! gaa*d phat rehin hain (Translation: come out fast man!)
Friend (inside the loo): Haan bhai.. bas ek minute (Translation: Almost done. Gimme a min)

X secs pass with you prancing outside the door muttering some nice expletives while your friend is enjoying his time in the loo. Finally he decides to come out..

You (near explosion): Abe madarch*d, ek ghanta lagta hain kya hugne ke liye? (Trans: $#@#, you took an hour)
Friend (innocently): What are you saying? I was inside for precisely 3 minutes, that too counting the 2 minutes prior to when you came!

So with the simple example above, you observe this classic postulate neatly explained. In this case your friend is the static observer (as he is sitting) while you are the moving subject (as you are literally prancing about, outside the door) and so he notices that your watch has been moving at a faster rate to his and therefore, his "1 minute" was equivalent to "1++ minutes" for you.

So if you were to reword this postulate, it would be:
"The length of a minute depends on which side of the door you are"


priyam said...

Einstein(with due respect to him) must be thinking..
Aare bhai, maine toh aise socha nahi tha...waise is chote se grave mein turn karna bhi kitna mushkil hai....

Divya said...

lol...Awesome post...I can't stop laughing especially after reading the third postulate

jerrymaguire said...

NO OFFENCES..A LOT OF POSTS IN MY INITIAL DAYS WERE SIMPLE COPIES..AND BACK THEN IT WASENT MY SOLE was a community blog for online bakar and lot was taken from online mags of different iits.when we moved to an intranet based blog system,i claimed the ownership..i think you are correct in pointing out the simple copies with name changed to IIT R. I will make sure to edit the changes or give credits to the orignal authors..anyway i havent been active on blogs eversince we moved our online mags to intranet..

F0RS@K3N said...

einstein must be turning in his grave ... all his efforts explained in such simle ways. :)

Beni Pegu said...

Someone call up NCERT!!

If only Suku came up with these explanations when I was in school... *sigh*

Jugal said...

Dude, seriously, you don't need to explain! Just the laws and the examples are enough... we know we're not from the IIT but that doesn't mean we're that dumb either :P

I guess we're both in different planes of motion and observing the same object differently :P

Anonymous said...

now that i notice, you do look like einstein when the age didnt take a toll on him.

Rahul said...

ha ha ha... (to infinity)

too good! :)...