In the year 1905, Albert Einstein developed the theory that would change the mind of several physicists, and reeducate them about the issues of space and time. This new theory conflicted with what had been known to physicists as classical mechanics, developed by Sir Issac Newton centuries earlier. According to Newton, space and time were relative, but to absolute frames of reference, and could be compared to what he called “absolute space and time.” With Einstein’s new equation, however, physicists began to think otherwise.

Einstein’s special theory of relativity was a revelation in physics. According to his theory, light travelled at a constant speed, irrelevant to your point of reference, or whether you were moving or stationary. This conflicted with classical mechanics, which states that the total velocity of an object moving on a moving object is the sum of the two speeds. He was at first confused by this observation, but after a quick examination of what speed really is, he was able to solve his dilemma.

Speed is merely a measurement that people use. It is distance travelled divided by the time taken to travel that distance. Since light appears to move at a constant speed not dependent on how fast you were moving, space and time had to be distorted in order to make that possible. Because space and time are distorted based on the speed of a moving object, time and space are relative to the speed of a moving, nonaccelerating object.

Einstein even developed equations to represent the distortion. These equations show that as an object moves faster, the length of it decreases, and the amount of time that passes relative to the stationary world increases. For example, let’s say that I have a meter stick, and it and I are travelling at 2,000 miles per second. Although to me the meter stick looks like a meter, in actuality, the meter stick is equal to: L(sqrt (1-(v^2/c^2))), where v is the velocity of the object, c is the speed of light, and L is the length of the object. If I were to plug in the numbers, I would see that to the nonmoving world, the meter stick is really about 0.999884 meters.

The same thing is applicable for time. Time would seem to pass normally to the meter stick and I, but to a nonmoving observer outside, the time that really passes could be modeled by the equation: L(1/sqrt(1-(v^2/c^2))), where L is the length of time that I am measuring, v is the velocity of the object, and c is the speed of light. If I were to plug in the numbers, I would see that the actual length of time that passes was 1.000116 seconds.

To prove the special theory of relativity, in 1971, two planes were sent in the air with atomic clocks aboard each, along with an atomic clock on the ground, which would be used as a reference. One plane flew to the east, and the other flew west. When both planes landed, they compared the three clocks, and they discovered that the times did differ, which proved the time dilation described by Einstein in his theory.

Albert Einstein was an astonishing physicist, who proved once and for all that the absolute space and time described by classical mechanics was no good. With his equations and his theory, he was able to deduce that time and space were relative to the speed of the observer. Therefore, time is relative, it is not real.