Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[help] Special relativity, reference frames and timekeeping

So I'm noodling a bit more of special relativity into my poor, ageing, liberal arts educated brain, via (among other things), posts such as this one. (The first few dozen comments are excellent, btw. After that the thread starts breaking down.)

What got me rattling down this track was the problem of timekeeping across astronomical distances. Since reference frame is a critical concept, is it reasonable to have your clock so far away that it stands outside significantly enlarges your reference frame?

For example, let us posit a pulsar 30,000 light years distant. Let us further posit that its periodicity is slowly lengthening, by a degree both measurable and predictable. Say that I know from a certain zero point, say, Earth on a given day and time, what the periodicity is. Then, some arbitrary amount of time later, having moved at relativistic or supraluminal speeds to an astronomical distance, I measure my beacon star's periodicity again. I then calculate backwards (or, potentially forwards) from my known zero point reference.

Have I in my new, arbitrary location now established the time at my zero point? Ie, have I synchronized my clocks?

I am absolutely certain there is at least one serious error here, but I can't see it yet. I'd appreciate comments that might correct this idea, or references to more successful examples of this kind of thinking.

Tags: help, science

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