The other day we were driving along and I found out that a friend of mine’s father is a commercial airline pilot. We chatted about it for a while – apparently his mother was an air hostess and that’s how they met – and I mentioned that he must have time travelled quite a bit.
I wasn’t being facetious by any means. It has always been a fascination of mine that Einstein’s special relativity is something you experience on long plane trips. During my physics A-Level I learned that one of the verifications of relativity was that some researchers placed took two synchronised atomic clocks and placed one of a boeing jet. they flew it around the world a few times at regular commerical speeds and low and behold when it came back the travelling clock had experienced less time than the stationary one.
Like the astronauts in Planet of the Apes, the moving clock had experienced time dilation and lost a few nanoseconds compare to its Earthbound counterpart. I suggest that my friend’s father would had experienced his fare share of time dilation himself, albeit only on the order of nanoseconds.
So here’s a little form to let you figure out how much time you’ve saved in the past year:
Hours spent on a plane this year:
Hours spent driving cross-country this month:
Hours spent driving around town this week:
Average hours walking every day:
So there you are, have a go. See how many nanoseconds you can add to your life by flying endlessly around the world.