Absolute Frame of Reference in Physics
See also: Relativity and the Twin Paradox in Absolute Terms
a more comprehensive overview
First, some items found on Wikipedia:
No twin paradox in an absolute frame of reference
Einstein's conclusion of an actual difference in registered
clock times (or aging) between reunited parties caused Paul
Langevin to embrace an actual, albeit experimentally
undetectable, absolute frame of reference:
Langevin wrote: "A uniform translation in the aether has no
experimental sense. But because of this it should not be
concluded, as has sometimes happened prematurely, that the
concept of aether must be abandoned, that the aether is
non-existent and inaccessible to experiment. Only a uniform
velocity relative to it cannot be detected, but any change
of velocity .. has an absolute sense." [ref 1]
In 1913 Poincare wrote: "Today some physicists want to adopt
a new convention. It is not that they are constrained to do
so; they consider this new convention more convenient; that
is all. And those who are not of this opinion can
legitimately retain the old one." [ref 2]
In the relativity of Poincare and Lorentz, which assumes an
absolute (though experimentally indiscernible) frame of
reference, no twin paradox arises due to the fact that
clock slowing (along with length contraction and velocity)
is regarded as an actuality, hence the actual time
differential between the reunited clocks.
That interpretation of relativity, which John A. Wheeler
calls "ether theory B (length contraction plus time
contraction)", did not gain as much traction as Einstein's,
which simply disregarded any deeper reality behind the
symmetrical measurements across inertial frames.
There is no physical test which distinguishes one
interpretation from the other. [ref 3]
More recently (in 2005), Robert B. Laughlin (Physics Nobel
Laureate, Stanford University), wrote about the nature of
"It is ironic that Einstein's most creative work, the
general theory of relativity, should boil down to
conceptualizing space as a medium when his original
premise [in special relativity] was that no such medium
existed . . . The word 'ether' has extremely negative
connotations in theoretical physics because of its past
association with opposition to relativity. This is
unfortunate because, stripped of these connotations, it
rather nicely captures the way most physicists actually
think about the vacuum. . . . Relativity actually says
nothing about the existence or nonexistence of matter
pervading the universe, only that any such matter must
have relativistic symmetry." (i.e., as measured) [ref 4]
A. P. French writes on page 150 of Special Relativity:
"Note, though, that we are appealing to the reality of A's
acceleration, and to the observability of the inertial
forces associated with it. Would such effects as the
twin paradox exist if the framework of fixed stars and
distant galaxies were not there? Most physicists would
say no. Our ultimate definition of an inertial frame may
indeed be that it is a frame having zero acceleration
with respect to the matter of the universe at large." [ref 5]
1. Paul Langevin, L’Évolution de l’espace
et du temps, Scientia 10: 31–54, 1911,
The Evolution of Space and Time p. 47
2. Poincare, Mathematics and science:
last essays. Dernières pensées
3. Wheeler and Taylor, Spacetime Physics,
p88 Macmillan, 1992
4. Laughlin, Robert B. (2005). A Different
Universe: Reinventing Physics from the
Bottom Down. NY, NY: Basic Books.
5. A. P. French, Special Relativity, p150,
W. W. Norton, 1968
All the measuring results as we know them in
relativity can be derived independent of Einstein's
clock synchronization. In fact, Einstein's clock s
synchronization can easily be diagrammed, and thus
seen for what it is, against an absolute frame of
In Relativity Trail, Einstein's special theory of
relativity is diagrammed against an absolute frame of
reference, more specifically - a system at rest with respect to the sum total of the cosmos. Such frame of
reference is of course not experimentally discernible.
Paragraph 2 of Relativity Trail:
"Any book about relativity that doesn't clearly state that
the slowing of clocks and contraction of rigid bodies is a
reality which goes beyond our mutual measurements of these
things is not only giving the reader half the story, it is
giving the reader a confusing story. Without a recognition
of this reality, such a book's author is also forcing
himself into a mathematically impossible task - that of
resolving a clock paradox of his own making. Such
impossibility generally does not keep him from trying, and
later in this book, we'll check and see how he's fared."
Postulates in an absolute frame of reference:
The speed of light is constant and is the maximum speed for any
phenomena, including the transmission of positioning information.
Experiments towards the end of the nineteenth
century pointed towards a transformational
relationship between matter and energy
Einstein's interpretation of Max Planck's solutions
for discreet energy levels introduced the notion of
light existing as a massless photon. Being massless,
the photon would necessarily possess constant and
Stability (synchronization) is required at the base of our
structures (specifically atomic functioning).
Basis: This simply parallels the Galilean Principle of Relativity.
All of Einstein's results stem from these two postulates. These two
postulates may look similar to Einstein's postulates, but are not his
A few details from Relativity Trail:
Symmetry of Measuring. Diagrams and equations
demonstrating the symmetry of clock rate and length
measures across inertial frames.
Twin Paradox Analysis. Diagrams and equations
demonstrating the symmetry of measures and time
differential regarding case 1 and case 2.
Other documents which are recommended
reading before reading the book:
Relativity in Absolute Terms. My most comprehensive online document. A concise overview of why special relativity must be diagrammed in absolute terms.
Twin Paradox Animation on youtube. Expanded textual content.
Twin Paradox Explained. A discussion of the failure of spacetime diagrams.
Twin Paradox Animation. Embedded youtube animation.
Free pdf file of the book:
Relativity Trail, free pdf format, with 192 pages, 65 diagrams
and 75 illustrations, will provide you with complete
detailed algebraic derivations of all the
kinematical effects of special relativity.
Everything is charted out in absolute terms against
a system at rest with respect to the totality of the universe for perfect clarity
as well as soundness of theoretical basis. It is
the totality of the universe that imparts the
inertial properties of clock rates and lengths
which generate the effects of relativity. This
is explained in detail in Relativity Trail.