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Can gravitational waves be "ridden" on? Can gravitational waves cause time dilation?
Question Date: 2007-06-19
Answer 1:

Gravitational waves would be experienced as tidal forces, i.e. being stretched, then compressed, then stretched, etc. I suppose that it would be possible to come up with some clever way to accelerate in a given direction using these forces, but they could not be ridden on in the same way that, for example, ocean waves could. Gravitational waves are more like sound waves, except that it is space itself that is stretching and compressing, not just the molecules in a substance.

They would cause both time dilation and time compression, but I doubt that the net effect would be significant.


Answer 2:

Not by normal matter.If gravitational waves exist, they travel at the speed of light, and it's impossible for matter to ever go that fast.

In theory gravitational forces can cause time dilation, but it would be so small an effect that we have no way to measure it. The time dilation would be smaller than you would get from standing on a stool! (Moving a little farther from Earth's center of gravity changes your "speed of time," but it's so small you never notice.) Gravity waves themselves are extremely difficult to detect--if they exist at all. We might have to wait until the LISA project gets launched into space.


Answer 3:

The simplest answer here is that because of the equivalence principle, gravity waves are time retardation effects -- they are two ways of viewing the same thing. Consider conventional gravity you see every day. You don't feel the pull of gravity, you feel the push of your feet from your resistance to be at rest -- i.e. you are continually accelerating just to remain still. Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity, and the rate of rate of position -- but your position is constant. The only way this could be true is that the time measuring the rates is itself non-constant. The 'force' of gravity is exactly the difference in rates of time due to the mass of the earth. You don't normally notice this difference because there is a large multiple (the speed of light) as a scale factor.


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