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| Space on Nov 28, 2009

Does time warp?

As strange as it may sound, both time and space do indeed warp around large celestial bodies.

Time can warp, but the idea behind it is complicated, and relates to Albert Einstein.

One of the revolutionary ideas Einstein introduced with his theory of general relativity is that time and space are tightly intertwined. According to Einstein’s theory, space can’t be altered in any way without affecting time.

What’s more, the shape of what you might think of as space – or space-time, according to Einstein – depends on gravity. A classic example of how a celestial body warps space-time is a black hole, where a star has collapsed to infinite density – and left behind a powerful gravitational field. A clock falling toward a black hole would appear to tick at an ever slower rate as it plunged ever deeper into the hole.

It’s hard to grasp the idea that matter – say, a collapsed star – can warp space-time. But Einstein showed that space, time, and matter are all bound together. When he was asked to explain the meaning of relativity, he said, “It was formerly believed that if all material things disappeared..time and space would be left. According to the relativity theory, however, time and space disappear together with the things.”