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Tag Archives: Space & Time

Matters relating to length and duration in physics and transportation

Harmonic conversion of space and time

As noted here, there are two kinds of mean rates: the time mean and the space mean. If the denominators have a common time interval, the time mean is the arithmetic mean and the space mean is the harmonic mean. If the denominators have a common space interval (stance), the space mean is the arithmetic mean and the time mean is the harmonic mean.

For example, light reflected back from a mirror at known distance forms two successive trips whose mean rate is the space mean pace. Several measurements with the same apparatus have a time mean pace. The mean speed is the inverse of the mean pace.

The general principle is that quantities with independent time (such as velocity) and a common time interval use ordinary algebra but such quantities with a common space interval use harmonic algebra. Alternately, quantities with independent space (stance) such as lenticity and a common space interval use ordinary algebra but such quantities with a common time interval use harmonic algebra.

In other words, quantities over the same interval with independent variables use ordinary algebra but quantities with different independent variables use harmonic algebra to convert between them.

For example, addition of velocities with a common time interval use ordinary vector addition (e.g., u + v) but addition of velocities with a common space interval use harmonic vector addition (e.g., ((1/u) + (1/v))−1 ≡ ((u+v)/u·v)−1 with u, v, u·v, u+v0.

The relativity parameter γ is based on a (3+1) spatial frame. The parameter γ in a temporal frame with a common time interval (k ≡ 1/c and ≡ 1/v) is:

γ² = (1 − v·v/c²)−1 ⇒ (1 − ℓ·ℓ/k²)−1.

The parameter γ in a temporal frame with a common space interval (stance) is:

γ² = (1 − v·v/c²)−1 ⇒ H(1 − ℓ·ℓ/k²)−1 = ((1 − k²/ℓ·ℓ)−1)−1 = (1 − k²/ℓ·ℓ) ≡ (1 − v·v/c²) = 1/γ².

Interchanging space and time

The space-time exchange invariance, as stated by J. H. Field (see here) has an implicit second part. In addition to (1) the exchange (or interchange) of space and time coordinates, there is (2): the exchange of linear and harmonic algebra for ratios. Harmonic algebra is described here.

This is seen in the different averaging methods for velocities that differ spatially vs. velocities that differ temporally. If two vehicles take the same route, their average velocity is their arithmetic mean (u + v)/2, but if one vehicle has velocity u going and velocity v returning, then the average velocity is their harmonic mean 2/(1/u + 1/v). However, if one vehicle has pace u going and pace v returning, then the average pace is their arithmetic mean, but if two vehicles take the same route, their average pace is their harmonic mean.

Space and time are related to each other as covariant and contravariant components. If space is covariant, then time is contravariant, and if time is covariant, then space is contravariant.

The equations of space-time (3+1) and time-space (1+3) physics are symmetric to one another with the interchange of space and time dimensions. The equations of spacetime (4D) physics is self-symmetric. The interchange of space and time dimensions produces equivalent 4D equations.

To interchange the space and time coordinates, take these steps: For the equations of classical physics, (1) ensure either space or time is a parameter, (2) interchange one dimension with the parameter, and (3) expand the single dimension into three dimensions. For the equations of relativistic physics, (1) ensure there is a symmetry between space and time dimensions, (2) interchange one space and time dimension but leave dimensionless quantities unchanged, and (3) expand the single dimension into three dimensions.

These steps reflect the difference between Galileo’s and Einstein’s relativity. Galileo transforms one frame into another frame but does not combine frames as Einstein’s does. For example, Einstein requires all frames to have the same orientation, but Galileo accepts frame-specific orientations such as the right-hand rule.

The Galilean transformation represents the addition and subtraction of velocities as vectors. The dual Galilean transformation represents the addition and subtraction of lenticities as vectors. The Lorentz transformation represents the combination of Galilean and dual-Galilean transformations, as previously shown.

One and two-way transformations

The transformation of Galileo is a one-way transformation, i.e., it uses only the one-way speed of light, which for simplicity is assumed to be instantaneous. The transformation of Lorentz is a the two-way transformation, which uses the universal two-way speed of light. The following approach defines two different one-way transformations, which combine to equal the two-way Lorentz transformation. Note that β = v/c; 1/γ² = 1 − β²; and γ = 1/γ + β²γ.

Galilean transformation:  {x}' \mapsto x-vt;\; \; {t}' \mapsto t.

Dual Galilean transformation:  {x}' \mapsto x;\; \; {t}' \mapsto t-wx.

These could be combined with a selection factor κ of zero or one:

{x}' \mapsto x - \epsilon vt;\; \; {t}' \mapsto t-(1-\epsilon )wx.

Lorentz transformation (boost): {x}' \mapsto \gamma (x-vt);\; \; {t}' \mapsto \gamma (t-vx/c^{2}).

General Lorentz boost (see here): {x}' \mapsto \gamma (x-vt);\; \; {t}' \mapsto \gamma(t-k^{2}vx)

with \gamma =\left (1-\frac{v^{2}}{c^{2}} \right )^{-1}  and k = 1/c for the Lorentz boost.

General dual Lorentz boost:  {x}' \mapsto \gamma_{2} (x-kwt);\; \; {t}' \mapsto \gamma_{2} (t-wx)

with \gamma_{2} =\left(1-\frac{w^{2}}{k^{2}} \right)^{-1}and k = 1/c.

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Invariant intervals

Let’s begin with the space-time invariant interval r´² − ct´² = r² − ct². Then let us solve the equations:

r´ = Ar + Bt and t´ = Cr + Dt.

r´ = 0 = Ar + Btr = −tB/A = vt where v = −B/A {or} B = −Av

r´ = Ar + Bt = A(rvt)

A²(rvt)² − c²(Cr + Dt)² = r² − c²t²

A²r² − 2A²vrt + A²v²t² − C²c²r² − 2CDc²rtD²c²t² = r² − c²t²

⇒ (A² − C²c²)r² = r² {or} A² − c²C² = 1

⇒ (A²v² − D²c²)t² = −c²t² {or} D²c² − A²v² = c²

⇒ (2A²v + 2CDc²)rt = 0 {or} CDc² = −A²v

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2D light clock

The famous Michelson-Morley experiment used what could be described as a 2D light clock since their interferometer combined two light clocks at right angles. Their hypothesis was that this would show the Earth moving through the aether, but they failed to detect any motion. Einstein explained this failure as a feature of relativity. In other words, the expected difference between the two light clocks was “corrected” by relativity.

The reasoning of the Michelson-Morley experiment went like this:

Light is sent from the source and propagates with the speed of light c in the aether. It passes through the half-silvered mirror at the origin at T = 0. The reflecting mirror is at that moment at distance L (the length of the interferometer arm) and is moving with velocity v. The beam hits the mirror at time T1 and thus travels the distance cT1. At this time, the mirror has traveled the distance vT1. Thus cT1 = L + vT1 and consequently the travel time T1 = L / (cv). The same consideration applies to the backward journey, with the sign of v reversed, resulting in cT2 = LvT2 and so T2 = L / (c + v). The longitudinal travel time T|| = T1 + T2 is:

T longitudinal

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Lorentz in spacetime and timespace

This post builds on the previous posts here and here, and follows the approach of J.-M. Levy here.

First, consider the Lorentz transformation in spacetime along the x axis per Levy’s section III:

Let us now envision two frames in ‘standard configuration’ with having velocity v with respect to K and let x, t (resp. x´, t´) be the coordinates of event M in the two frames. Let O and be the spatial origins of the frames; O and cöıncide at time t = = 0.

Here comes the pretty argument: all we have to do is to express the relation

OM = OO´ + O´M (equation 5)

between vectors (which here reduce to oriented segments) in both frames.

In K, OM = x, OO´ = vt and O´M seen from K is /γ since is O′M as measured in . Hence a first relation is:

x = vt + /γ (equation 6)

In , OM = x/γ since x is OM as measured in K, OO′ = vt´ and O′M = . Hence a second relation:

x/γ = vt´+ x´ (equation 7)

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A clock-rod is a linear or planar clock with a parallel rod attached to it. A mechanical or electronic clock-rod might look like this:


Three clock-rods mutually perpendicular would measure length and duration in all directions.

A light clock-rod is conceptually like this:

light clock-rod

The clock and rod are parallel to each other so that parallel or perpendicular motion would change either the measurements of either the clock or the rod but not both. A complete harmonic cycle is not affected by motion:

light clock moving longitudinally

The +vt/2 increased distance of the first half-cycle is offset by the −vt/2 decreased distance of the second half-cycle. Likewise for the times +2d/v and −2d/v.

Kinematic proofs

Displacement with distime: displacement s, distime (time interval) t, velocities v1 and v, acceleration a:

To prove: v = v1 + at

a = (vv1) / t    by definition

at = (vv1)     multiply by t

v = v1 + at

To prove: s = v1t + ½ at2

vavg = s / t          by definition

vavg = (v1 + v) / 2        by definition

s / t = (v1 + v) / 2       combining these two

s = (v1 + v) t / 2         multiply by t

s = (v1 + (v1 + at)) t / 2       from above

s = (2v1 + at) t / 2

s = v1t + ½ at2

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Space as time and time as space

Galileo parabola

Galileo used the distance of uniform motion as a measure of the distime, i.e., time interval (Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences Tr. by Henry Crew and Alfonso de Salvio, 1914):

Accordingly we see that while the body moves from b to c with uniform speed, it also falls perpendicularly through the distance ci, and at the end of the time-interval bc finds itself at the point i. p.199

Without getting into the details of the Figure 108, notice the shift of language: “the body moves from b to c” [i.e., a distance], then “the distime bc“. Galileo uses a distance to measure a distime, which is justified since the motion is “with uniform speed” and so they are proportional.

The point to make here is that a distance and a distime can be interchanged if the motion is uniform. That is exactly the function of a clock: to provide a standard distime for a corresponding distance of motion. The change from distance to distime is basically a change of units. So, the line with a to e and beyond is a linear clock: it measures elapsed distime or “elapsed distance”.

Let there a ball be dropped out the window by a passenger on a train in uniform motion. Consider the following four scenarios, in which the distance or distime of a uniform motion is measured: (1) looking down above the moving ball, measuring the distance of fall; (2) looking down above the moving ball, measuring the (uniform) distime of fall; (3) looking from the side, measuring the distance of motion in two dimensions; and (4) looking from the side, measuring the (uniform) distime of motion in two dimensions.

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Metric postulates for time geometry

Geometry was developed by the ancient Greeks in the language of length, but it is an abstraction that may be applied to anything that conforms to its definitions and axioms. Here we apply it to duration. We will use Brossard’s “Metric Postulates for Space Geometry” [American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 74, No. 7, Aug.-Sep., 1967, pp. 777-788], which generalizes the plane metric geometry of Birkhoff to three dimensions. First, Brossard:

Primitive notions. Points are abstract undefined objects. Primitive terms are: point, distance, line, ray or half-line, half-bundle of rays, and angular measure. The set of all points will be denoted by the letter S and some subsets of S are called lines. The plane as well as the three-dimensional space shall not be taken as primitive terms but will be constructed.

Axioms on points, lines, and distance. The axioms on the points and on the lines are:

E1. There exist at least two points in S.

E2. A line contains at least two points.

E3. Through two distinct points there is one and only one line.

E4. There exist points not all on the same line.

A set of points is said to be collinear if this set is a subset of a line. Two sets are collinear if the union of these sets is collinear. The axioms on distance are:

D1. If A and B are points, then d(AB) is a nonnegative real number.

D2. For points A and B, d(AB) = 0 if and only if A = B.

D3. If A and B are points, then d(AB) = d(BA).

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