Over a century ago, Einstein’s theory of general relativity revolutionized humanity’s perception of the universe. Scientists have since discovered that time is not consistent, and this theory suggests that time passes faster at the top of every staircase globally than at the bottom, which is quite a haunting implication.
Gravity modifications phenomenon
This fascinating phenomenon occurs due to the fact that gravity has a stronger impact on objects when they are closer to Earth. According to the theory of general relativity, gravity is the result of the bending of space and time. Therefore, time travels slower at higher altitudes and further distances from Earth, where the effect of gravity is weaker. This leads to the question of whether people at higher altitudes age faster than those at sea level or if increased gravity slows down the aging process.
According to James Chin-wen Chou, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, objects farther away from Earth’s gravitational field experience time passing more slowly. This means that individuals living at higher altitudes age slightly slower than those at sea level. Chou explained that gravity causes us to age slower in comparison to someone not close to any massive object. The effect of gravity causes the world around us to evolve more slowly for that individual.
“These aren’t just calculations,” said Tobias Bothwell, a physicist at NIST and co-author of a 2022 paper published in the journal Nature describing the experiment. “We have seen the change in the ticking of a clock at a distance roughly the width of a human hair,” he told Live Science.
To comprehend why large objects bend the flow of time, it’s essential to grasp that “space-time” is a four-dimensional fabric woven from three space coordinates (up/down, right/left, and forward/back) and one time coordinate (past/future). In a relativistic approach, gravity refers to the distortion of this fabric caused by any massive object, curving space and time as a single entity.
“Anything that possesses mass affects space-time,” Andrew Norton, a professor of astrophysics at The Open University in the U.K., told Live Science in an email. In the vicinity of an object with mass, “space-time is distorted, resulting in the bending of space and the dilation of time.
“The effect is real and measurable but negligible in everyday situations,” Norton said.