Absolute Frame of Reference in Physics

See also: Relativity and the Twin Paradox in Absolute Terms
                 a more comprehensive overview

First, some items from 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 space:

"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. 
   pp. 120–121. 

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 reference.

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:

Postulate 1:

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 (radioactivity experiments).

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 maximum speed.

Postulate 2:

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 postulates.

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.

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