Is there (or can there be) a device that could measure the speed and acceleration of time?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ the speed of time relative to what? $\endgroup$
    – lurscher
    Oct 19, 2012 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ To the observer. For example there is something unusual going on within a two meter radius from the center of a desk, you put some device there and step away five meters and watch. I don't know how this could possibly work, so I'm asking if something like this is even possible. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2012 at 16:32
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Repeating the words "such a device" does not improve the situation with respect to defining what the heck you are talking about. What do you mean by "the speed of time"? There is no notion like that in the physics that I am familiar with. Maybe I'm a provincial hick, but I'm going to have to act on my own understanding if you don't square me aware. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2012 at 16:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The maximum rate that things can happen for all intents and purposes (that we can tell) is the speed of light, but that's not so easy to measure either. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2012 at 2:41
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Such a device exists--- it is called a "clock". You might have one affixed to your arm. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Maimon
    Oct 20, 2012 at 3:08

2 Answers 2


The "speed of time" can only be measured by comparing two clocks. That needs Relativity (as noted in other answer). Light speed is fixed so the speed at which an oscillator (pendulum) relative to a differently accelerated observer gives us the "speed of time" for each. So their is no right or preferred speed of time.
Many devices require we measure the slowing of time due various aspects of relativity, this would include GPS. Certainly measuring atomic particles that would otherwise disintegrate unless time speed was slower for them makes the LHC and any accelerator a device that can measure and must take into account time dilation. Time is a really deep concept with much accessible reading. Scientific American February 2012 "A matter of Time" is a "collectors" special edition magazine collecting some great articles about this stuff. Assume it is still easily available.


In order to create such a clock a stationary point in the universe would have to be located, or at least we would need to know how we are (it is) moving in the universe in order to create it. Since we cannot find such a point or know such a thing, no such device can be created and we will have to make do with our current various chronometers.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.