Time is Relative


Moshe Ben-Chaim



As Rabbi Chaim Ozer once explained: the universe must be literally millions of years old. But he didn’t stop there; he offered an irrefutable proof. I will offer an introduction first.

When we see a star, or anything, what we see is, in actuality, the light emitted from the object. (We do not see objects at all, but their reflected light) In a pitch-black room full of colorful flowers, all that is seen is blackness. When the light is turned on, the light shines on the flowers, bounces off in all directions, and if a person is standing there, some of that light enters his eye. The brain then immediately processes the perception and the person ‘understands’ that there are colorful flowers in front of him. We call this understanding “sight”. Remember: we do not truly “see the object” but rather, its emitted reflection. Just as when viewing a mirror, we do not see the true object, but its reflection, the case is the same when we look directly at any object: we do not see the object, but the light that bounces off of it. When we close our eyes and feel an object, then we perceive the real object. But this is not the case with regards to vision, or sound. In these latter two sensations, what we perceive is not the object, but either light, or air disturbance that our ears translate into sensations.

If we distance ourselves from a man using a hammer, the further away we move, the longer it takes until we hear, what our eyes see: he hits a nail, but we don’t hear it at that same moment…but a few seconds later. This is because sound travels slower than light. So our eyes perceive an event, faster than our ears hear it. But light too travels at a set speed. And the further away we are from a visual event, the longer it takes for us to see that event. Although we may see the sun right now, it actually takes eight minutes for sunlight to reach the Earth, and our eyes. So when we see sunrise, in actuality, the sun has already risen eight minutes ago. But being 93,000,000 miles from Earth, the sun’s rays need time to travel all that distance. Another example: if somehow the sun exploded, we would still see the sun completely whole for another eight minutes. This is because the event of that explosion created a light image, which is now traveling in all directions. Standing on the Earth, we first perceive that light eight minutes after the fact. Again, we do not see “object sand events”, but we see the light that travels from those events, and that is how we perceive visually. Now we arrive at Rabbi Chaim Ozer’s proof of the age of the universe.

A “light-year” is the measure of distance traveled by light in one year. Astronomers use light-years to measure distances of extremely distant stars and galaxies. This distance light travels in one year is quite far: about 6 trillion miles. If a start exploded, and that star was one light-year away from Earth, we would not see that explosion for an entire year subsequent to that explosion. Let’s say the star was 10,000,000 light years from Earth. Looking at the sky tonight, you may see stars that are no longer in true existence. But since their light takes 10,000,000 years to reach our eyes, we first see 10,000,000-year-old events on that star…tonight! We are truly looking back in time! But here’s the clincher: this proves that the universe must be at least 10,000,000 years old. How? For if that star’s light is reaching us, this means that 10,000,000 years transpired, so that its light could reach us. The every fact that we see stars this far away proves that the universe existed for this amount of time. But scientists actually place the age of the universe at about 15 billion years old.

As Dr. Gerald Schroeder explains in “Genesis and the Big Bang”, the discrepancy between our Jewish year 5767, and the 15 billion, is in fact…no contradiction. Tests performed using precision clocks proved that time is relative. This means that time does not pass at the same speed in all portions of the universe.

One experiment placed a cesium clock on an aircraft, and another identically precise clock on the ground. After the return of the aircraft, the clocks were compared, and less time had elapsed on the aircraft’s clock. Inertia – the force felt during acceleration – is equal to gravity. With greater gravity, time moves slower. Thus, the further the aircraft was from the Earth, the less was the Earth’s gravitational pull, since gravity weakens with distance. Additionally, the inertia of the aircraft added to the slower time passage relative to Earth.

Another lesson from Dr. Schroeder’s book concerning Einstein’s time relativity included a more theoretical, but equally compelling argument. Imagine a laboratory, and a high-speed spaceship. Now, standing in the lab is one individual, Adam. (Fig. 1) He has a twin brother Josh who is on the spaceship next to him. Adam is standing in “Position A” at one end of lab, a room 50 feet long. He is holding a flashlight turned off. He points the light at the ceiling where there is a mirror suspended 25 feet across from him, and 10 feet higher than him. If Adam shines the light at that mirror, the angle of the mirror will reflect the beam back down at the other end of the room to “Point B”, 50+ feet from Adam. The path of the light will be triangular, traveling over 25 feet up to the mirror, and another 25+ feet down to “Point B” at the other end of the lab. That’s over 50 feet of travel. Now, Josh who is also at “Point A” powers up the spaceship, and at the exact moment that Adam turns on the light, Josh and the spaceship thrust forward. Josh times his speed so that he arrives at “Point B” exactly when the light reaches “Point B”. From Adam’s perspective, the path of the light was triangular. From Josh’s perspective, he sees the light beam over his head going upwards at 90 degrees, and then coming back down at him, since he is moving with the light. As the light beam ascends higher and then returns downward, Josh stays directly underneath it every step of the way. Another illustration will help.

Imagine a man on a moving train. He drops his keys. To him, the keys fall downward, in a straight line to the floor. But to someone at the station watching as the train zooms by, the keys move on downwards on an angle.

Since Josh and the light beam were moving together, to Josh, the light moves in a straight line up and down. The distance traveled by the light from Josh’s perspective is only 20 feet, since the ceiling is 10 feet over his head. The light goes directly vertical up 10 feet to the mirror, and vertically down 10 feet, in a straight line.

Light speed is constant everywhere in the universe. This has been proven. If we ask Adam how far the light traveled, he tells us 50+ feet. If we ask Josh, he says 20 feet. Adam tells us the time that elapsed for the light to travel 50 feet from “Point A” to “Point B” is let’s say 50+ microseconds. If we ask Josh, he tells us the light traveled only 20 feet, and it took exactly 20 microseconds. Yet, the one event started and ended at the same moment for both individuals. Thus, we have two individuals, who see the light traveling two very different distances, and each recorded different amounts of elapsed time. For Josh, less time has passed, only 20 microseconds. Adam timed his event at 50+ microseconds. Thus, with increased inertia, or acceleration, time slows down, relative to other parts of the universe. Compared to Adam, Josh is now younger. Yet, only one event took place.

We can apply this truth to the two different ages of the universe. From the perspective of the Earth, moving at high speeds away from the rest of the universe, only 5767 years has elapsed. From the perspective of the universe, the Earth and the universe is truly 15,000,000,000 years old!

Remember, Rabbi Chaim Ozer already proved that the stars are millions, if not billions of years old. They have to be, since their light that reaches us took all those years to leave them, and reach Earth.

Amazing as this idea is, it must be true. But the only reason people might be skeptical, is because they have not studied the laws of the universe. People used to believe the Earth was flat. They thought it ridiculous that the Earth was a globe. Today, we feel the opposite; we are surprised if anyone doubts their senses, having seen pictures of a round Earth taken from space. Well, if our senses are what we trust, then we must admit the perceptions of Einstein and other’s who repeatedly found the same results. Time does not pass at the same speed in all portions of the universe.

What we should end with is a greater humility towards ideas we hear, which oppose our current beliefs. If the universe contains such amazing laws, which are true regardless of what we initially thought, and the Creator also created the Torah, we must be equally humble when assessing what value and truths the Torah contains. If we are irreligious, but accept science, we are in a contradiction. God created both: natural and Torah laws. We must recognize that our reluctance to observe the Torah does not come from any in-depth study that invalidated Torah ideals. We neglect Torah observance because our emotions do not desire restriction. But if we can be more objective and get past our emotional rejection, and take time to study Torah, we will all find a deeper appreciation for the Creator, whose intelligence never ceases to awe us. We will find the passage of time while studying Torah to appear as an instant, and the Torah, as illuminating as the sun and stars.