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- What is time dilation really? 8 answers
So I've been doing a lot of reading about the twin paradox and have encountered several different explanations that strive to resolve it. First off let me start by saying general relativity is not an adequate explanation and in fact has nothing to do with resolving the paradox. (That much has been made clear to me from what I have read, as it has been pointed out that believing general resolves the paradox is a common misconception) To drive that point home let me propose a slight variation on the twin paradox that removes acceleration all together.
Some ancient race of aliens long ago set up an experiment for us without our knowledge to help us understand space time. The experiment contains two space craft with clocks on board separated by a very large distance. The first clock, clock A, was accelerated to .866 speed of light millions of years ago (Thus time runs at half speed) and is set on a trajectory to fly past earth. As it flies past earth it resets its clock to 0 and continues on its way. (The aliens also left behind a clock on Earth, clock C, that starts ticking the moment Clock A passes earth and resets itself to 0) The other clock, clock B, was also accelerated to .866 the speed of light long ago and is on the same trajectory as clock A but in the opposite direction so that it heads towards Earth. The two ships and their respective clocks pass each other at a distance of four light years away from earth at which point clock A transfers its time reading to Clock B. Clock B flies past earth and relays its time measurement so as to be compared to Clock C. The time reads half the time elapsed by Clock C, but how could this be possible if time dilation is always symmetrical?