Monday, June 2, 2008

Running and Einstein's Special theory of Relativity

I always knew that running made you live longer. Its health benefits have long been the subject of numerous medical studies. And there is abundant proof lying around. Today however, I realized that there is proof in Quantum Physics as well.

I've been reading "The Dancing Wu Li Masters - An overview of the New Physics" by a literary genius called Gary Zukav. One interesting chapter in that book explains Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. It is based on what Einstein calls an undeniable fact - the constancy of the speed of light. That is, the speed of light is the same irrespective of the speed of the source or the observer. Apparently this has been proved as far back as 1887 by the Michelson-Morely experiment.

Anyway, Einstein's theory, which embellished George FitzGerald's and Hendrik Lorentz's work on Michelson-Morely experiment, states that when an object is moving it contracts and the clock it uses to track its time changes rhythm.

Apparently this has been proven too.

"In 1972, four of the most accurate atomic clocks available were put aboard an aircraft and flown around the world. At the end of the trip, they were found to be slightly behind their stationary, earthbound counterparts with which they were synchronized before the flight."

Foot note: The clocks were flown around the world each way (east and west). Both general relativistic and special relativistic effects were noted. (J. C. Hafele and R. E. Keating, Science, vol. 177, 1972, p. 168ff.)

- From The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav p. 141

How does this apply to running? At this point, my conclusion is somewhat simplistic. But hey this is my blog and its my opinion. So let me pedantically state where I am going with this.

As we run our bodies are in motion. And as we move…..yes, our clocks tick slower than if we are at rest! So every mile we run, our clocks actually slow down and our aging process actually takes longer. Now if we were always in motion (as indeed we are - zipping around the sun on our mother ship earth and flying out of control in our solar system) it wouldn’t make a difference because we wouldn’t know that our clocks are ticking slowly. And the basic tenet of relativity says that time and speed are always relative to the observer and to his or her inertial frame of reference.

Now because we run and stop periodically, our clocks can be compared to other clocks, whereby the differences in time can be noted. For instance, in the 1972 experiment referred above, if the clocks on the plane were not compared with clocks on earth, the pilots in the plane would not have known that they are actually younger than the rest of the world by the difference in the times of their clocks and the earth clocks.

My conclusions in a nutshell:

a. The more you run, the slower you age.
b. You must stop running at times to compare with other clocks - to know that you are actually aging slower.
c. The faster you run, greater that savings. (My long distance runner friends - here's more credence to speed work!)
d. Try to run in an east-west direction. ( Ok that was just for effect)

I think I have been walking around under the eucalyptus trees too much. Feeling a little light headed - or is it because of reading some vague psycho babble?!

Until next time.

3 comments:

Srivatsan Gopinath said...

think even the mass increases with speed........ so watch out sandy!! running fast will make you heavier!!!
:P

Sandy - Rat Race Runner said...

I think you are right. Also its been proved. I have been steadily gaining weight the last couple of months. I think its because I'm getting faster.

Some of my friends are suggesting that my beer binges had something to do with it. Obviously they are the more intellectually challenged. ;-)

Free Running said...

your right, run makes us live longer