There is a powerful but simple truth in the statement time flies when you are having fun’. This is one simple concept of relative time since it is a fact that time is a scientific constant that neither speeds up nor slows down at least for us here at ground zero on planet earth. Now we can begin this discussion with some different perspectives after agreeing that while time is constant; time is also a relative matter that varies depending on circumstance.
Time does indeed appear to go faster when doing things we enjoy while the converse is also true during times of boredom, disliked activities and such. Perspective plays an important role in this understanding of relative time because each person thinks a little differently. “A watched pot never boils” for example is a nonsensical fallacy given the fact that sufficient heat required to boil a pot of water will eventually do so irrespective of whether or not an observer is present.
Moving onto a more intriguing aspect of relative time, what would happen if we were able to board a craft capable of traveling at precisely the same speed as the earth’s orbit? Once in motion time moves forward for we, the traveler, while to an observer below we would appear motionless in the air.
It gets better let’s increase our velocity to beyond the speed of light. Imagine taking off from your home at precisely 8am then orbiting the planet at a velocity twice the speed of light returning to your point of departure. This is getting quite difficult to deal with because it would seem when you arrive back that you have not yet departed, what happened to time? Obviously time for you, the traveler, would continue to advance yet an observer on the ground is likely to have some problems with what is happening.
Let’s put this a better way: Imagine you accelerate away from a clock yet you can see the face of the clock no matter how far away you travel. If your rate of acceleration were to be precisely the speed of light it would appear to you the clock has stopped while time for you would continue to advance. Increase your velocity and with the perpetual visual picture of our clock still in front of our eyes it would appear to be operating in reverse. Our return trip would be perhaps more than a little disconcerting when the clock hands suddenly begin to move forward at a frighteningly rapid pace depending of course on how long we decided to continue our outward journey.
From the simple to the most complex of time theories time is an interesting phenomena to ponder. It can only be a relative concept to an observer, a traveler, an object in motion and of course there is a complex relationship with the speed of light. Our scientific prowess in the 21st century precludes faster than light travel however what is science fiction at a given point in time quite often becomes science fact of the future. Only time’ will tell!