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John: Great. I’m richer now. Naomi: Yeah? How much? John: My supervisor at the restaurant where I work left a message on my cell phone today saying I’m getting an 8 percent raise. I’m going to start eating two meals a day instead of just one. Naomi: Uhhh . . John: Just kidding about the meals. So how’re you doing? Any success in understanding exploding stars? 27 28 Chapter 3 Naomi: A little. I have a wastebasket full of crumpled ideas. My plan is to throw away all my bad ideas, and eventually this will leave the good ideas.

Lincoln’s birth first; his death later. Pay taxes first; get refund later. Who would disagree? If we’re judging in the same reference frame, we can agree that all events line up on one line, in one dimension. Naomi: OK, that’s got to be the heart of it, but I think there’s more to the story. John: Like what? Naomi: We use time in so many of the formulas of physics, and these formulas—they’re actually scientific principles—are part of our best theories of the world. These theories have all sorts of practical consequences; they help us land on Mars and explain why radios work.

A. Here’s what I do. I buy the clock in Boulder, Colorado, where there’s a standard atomic clock that I can use to set my new clock. A. A. it didn’t drift out of synch by speeding up? Suppose I get worried about this so I transport it back to Boulder and find that the two clocks are in synch. Ah, wonderful. Peace of mind. But then I start to worry again. Just because they’re in synch when they’re together doesn’t mean they have to be in synch while they’re separated. A. and then slowed down by the same rate on the trip back, tricking me into thinking the two were in synch the whole time.

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