Relativity in an Absolute Frame of Reference

Symmetry of Measuring

postulates, diagrams and analysis

Cite the book, Relativity Trail
Luebeck, R. Relativity Trail. Mpls: L B Writ Publishing, (2008)

Cite this web page

See also: Relativity in Absolute Terms
It is a concise overview document.

Einstein's treatment of relativity employs a hopelessly circular definition of inertial frame, making the resolution of the twin paradox impossible within Einstein's treatment, despite any claims made by commentators which you may have encountered.

In Spacetime & Electromagnetism, Lucas and Hodgson, using the space-time paradigm, wrestle with the twin paradox for fifteen pages, and claim no resolution.

In a footnote on page 73, they write: "Is it fair to give the Earth-bound twin the vertical world line? Does not that beg the question in his favour? Why not draw another diagram with his world line set at an angle to the vertical, and his lines of simultaneity correspondingly inclined (but at a contrary angle) to the horizontal?" [J.R. Lucas & P.E. Hodgson, Spacetime & Electromagnetism, p 70-84.]

That alternative diagramming of the situation is identical to the consideration that one might just as well consider that it is the Earth, along with the entire cosmos, that changes inertial frames. That, in fact, is something we hear often from commentators on the twin paradox. Of course, that simply makes the twin paradox unresolvable, as either party can then lay equal claim to being the party that ages the least. This is demonstration that one must consider the entirety of the cosmos, the imparter of inertial properties, to be the judge of the matter regarding actual motion.

It has been known for 111 years that relativity developed in absolute terms is consistent with Einstein's purely relative treatment, yet the public remains largely misinformed.

John A. Wheeler, in his book "Spacetime Physics", states that there is no physical experiment which can distinguish Einstein's purely relative approach from an absolute approach. [Wheeler, J., Taylor, E. (1992). Spacetime Physics, second edition. W. H. Freeman: New York, p. 88.]

Although the absolute approach to Einstein's relativity is 111 years old, it remained essentially undeveloped in any sound manner until Relativity Trail appeared in 2008.

In Relativity Trail:

1. A natural and instinctive basis is provided for two
   postulates which parallel Einstein's postulates.

2. Clock functioning is defined in conjunction with
   the first postulate.

3. The process of measuring across inertial frames is diagrammed.
   This includes the diagramming of the measuring of the clock rate,
   length and speed of the object in the other inertial frame.

4. Einstein's clock synchronization is diagrammed in absolute terms.

None of those four things were done in Einstein's, Poincare's, Lorentz's, or anyone else's treatment.

Poincare and Lorentz, the most famous of the "absolutists", had merely argued from a "bottom line" mathematical premise. They had both postulated "actual clock slowing" without any basis, and they had both postulated "actual length contraction" without any basis. They did not define clock functioning, and they didn't diagram anything.

Nor did Einstein define clock functioning. Einstein also provided no basis for his postulates other than to say they were necessary in order to conform to the results of recently conducted experiments. Einstein merely assigned measures to the parties of each inertial frame so as to satisfy his postulates of measure. Einstein could provide no diagramming of the measuring process, due to his purely relative approach.

For a comprehensive and concise overview of the situation, click:

Relativity in Absolute Terms

For a free pdf file of the book Relativity Trail, see:

Luebeck, R. (2008, Sept 1). Relativity Trail.

Relativity Trail is a complete mathematical treatment of Einstein's special theory in absolute terms. In addition to being consistent with Einstein's treatment - it subsumes Einstein's treatment. It reveals precisely what is transpiring behind the scenes of Einstein's treatment. It incorporates an (experimentally indiscernible) frame of reference at rest with the sum total of the cosmos. The machian principle of the universe as the imparter of inertial properties is appealed to -- the very principle Einstein embraced in an on and off again manner.

Relativity Trail has 192 pages, with 65 diagrams, covering every aspect of Special Relativity.

The details - some basic diagrams and analyses:

Actual length contraction works in combination with actual time-keeping contraction to preserve the symmetry of measures across inertial frames.

This can all be charted out against an absolute frame of reference, which is simply a system at rest with respect to the sum total of the cosmos, or equivalently, the view from a higher dimension, where light rays and all other phenomena are charted in absolute terms.

From that vantage point, clock speeds and lengths of rigid bodies are seen in absolute terms and the time differential between reunited clocks is easily explained by virtue of actual differences in clock rates.

In this treatment of special relativity, incorporating an absolute frame of reference, clock functioning is seen to be dependent on the speed of light. Similarly, the postulated need for stability (synchronization) at the atomic scale (which parallels the Principle of Relativity) in combination with the constant speed of light and the notion that no transmission of information can exceed the speed of light, dictates length contraction for objects in motion relative to the absolute frame of reference.

(In fact, all processes -- chemical, biological, measuring apparatus functioning, human perception involving the eye and brain, the communication of force -- everything, is constrained by the speed of light. There is clock functioning at every level, dependent on light speed and the inherent delay at even the atomic level.)

Postulate 1:

  The speed of light is constant and is the 
  maximum speed for any phenomena, including 
  the transmission of positioning information.


  Experiments towards the end of the nineteenth
  century pointed towards a transformational 
  relationship between matter and energy 
  (radioactivity experiments).
  Einstein's interpretation of Max Planck's
  solutions for discreet energy levels 
  introduced the notion of light existing as 
  a massless photon.  Being massless, the photon
  would necessarily possess constant and maximum

Postulate 2:

  Stability (synchronization) is required 
  at the base of our structures (specifically
  atomic functioning).          


  This simply parallels the Galilean Principle 
  of Relativity.

All of Einstein's results stem from these two postulates. These two postulates may look similar to Einstein's postulates, but are not his postulates.


Here a few snippets from Relativity Trail, explaining clock rate contraction, length contraction, and the process of measuring across inertial frames.

Photons, being massless, necessarily move at the maximum possible speed and necessarily at a constant speed. They dictate clock functioning at every level:

8           R E L A T I V I T Y    T R A I L

We wish to make the point that communication within an atom can occur only at light speed, and that atomic processes are thus restrained by that absolute speed of light.

Regardless of the complexity of the regulating motions of these massless particles the atom's true time keepers they can be considered in terms of their vector components and reduced to a study in two dimensions.

In diagram 4, we compel clock B to move relative to our stationary reference frame (and relative to clock A). Clock B is moving at half the speed of light, according to the universal reference frame. We see the actual path of each clock's light beam against the universal reference frame.

We see that the photon of clock B cannot, while moving forward, complete a cycle in one second universal time, for to do so would require the photon to exceed the speed of light.

But completing one cycle is what generates one second of time, from the perspective of the clock. So clock B ages more slowly than clock A. What has happened is that we have traded some time for distance. After all, did we really think there was such a thing as a free lunch?

....  jump to length contraction:

30             R E L A T I V I T Y    T R A I L

So length, at the bottom of things, is about positioning. Electrons think they are positioned the same distance from the nucleus when in a parallel orientation with respect to a line of translatory motion as they are when in a perpendicular orientation.

We're saying that the need for stability trumps the need for maintaining equal distance, to the meaningless satisfaction of the onlooking universal reference frame.

Regardless of what precise communication processes actually govern electron positioning, the arithmetic will reduce to fundamentally the same argument we've just made; just as all time-keeping processes reduce to the fundamental equivalent of a photon clock.

These considerations apply even in the context of the quantum description of atoms, with a shifting of the standing waves of probability of electron distribution.

If one thinks of electrons as simply popping in and out of existence, rather than shifting about, then the relocation events would still be considered to be restrained by light speed.

Also more abstract, would be the use of wave forms. In that case, it is the spacing of peaks and valleys whose adjustments are constrained by light speed.

As mentioned earlier in this book, this length contraction, absolute in nature, leads members of all reference frames in uniform motion relative to each other to measure each other's length (and clock rates) as equally contracted.

44              R E L A T I V I T Y    T R A I L


One cannot take measure of the length of a rod in motion relative to oneself without first assessing the relative speed of the rod to be measured. This relative speed will of necessity be considered an absolute speed by the party taking the measurement, as he can make no considerations about his own state of motion.

A person who considers himself to be at rest must, of course, consider his length and time to be not contracted. These considerations are used in the process of taking stock of the "moving" rod.

We'll consider two spaceships, A and B, each with a rest length of 1 light second, as established by their laying out of rods. On board ship A are two clocks, CT1 and CT2.

The diagram on the opposite page shows ship A in motion relative to the universe U. Ship B is at rest with respect to U. A is moving at .6 c, thus contracted to .8 ls (light second) from its rest length of 1 ls.

CT2 sends a light ray towards CT1 as CT2 lines up with point Y of ship B. CT1 is triggered by the reception of this ray, and ship A must necessarily allow that 1 second was required to effect the triggering. CT1 then ticks off .67 second during the interval in which CT1 proceeds to point Y of ship B.

Thus A calculates B's velocity as follows:

     distance = velocity * time

       1      =   v    *  1.67     which implies  v = .6

(Remember, A considers its own length to be 1 ls.)

To calculate B's length, A uses the fact that CT2 has ticked off 1.33 during the interval in which CT2 travels from Y to X. (Ut during this interval is 1.67 seconds.) d = vt yields .6(1.33) = .8 ls.

U = universal frame     Ut = universal time

            EQUIVALENCE OF INERTIAL FRAMES             45

We can see from this same diagram that A will measure the rate of a clock which B has placed at point Y to have a rate of 0.8 times its own:

As clock Y passes from CT2 to CT1, where clock readings are exchanged, it registers a change of 1.33 seconds, the same as Ut. This is the interval during which A determines its own time passage to be 1.67 seconds.

So A regards B's clock to be slowed.

46          R E L A T I V I T Y    T R A I L

In diagram 17, we showed that even though A is in motion relative to U, A still measures B's length as contracted, and to the same extent as its own contracted length as seen by U.

In diagram 18 on the opposite page, we again have A in motion relative to U, with B at rest relative to U.

Now let's have B take stock of A.

As point X of ship A lines up with CT3, CT3 sends a light ray towards CT4. CT4 is triggered by the reception of this ray, and B considers 1 second to have passed. CT4 then ticks off .67 seconds during the interval in which point X travels from CT3 to CT4.

Thus B calculates A's velocity as follows:

           distance = velocity * time

                1      =   v    *  1.67     which implies  v = .6

To calculate A's length, B uses the fact that CT3 has ticked off 1.33 during the interval in which CT3 travels from X to Y. d = vt yields .6(1.33) = .8 ls.

In these calculations, we have been making use of the fact that the party doing clock triggering always regards his measuring rods (the very rods he uses to position his two clocks) to be non-contracted.

The reader can verify for himself or herself that these relationships hold even when both ships are assigned a non-zero speed.


We can see from this same diagram that B will measure the rate of a clock which A has placed at point X to have a rate of 0.8 times its own:

As clock X passes from CT3 to CT4, where clock readings are exchanged, it registers a change of 1.33 seconds, in keeping with its time contraction of .8 Ut. This is the interval during which B determines its own time passage to be 1.67 seconds.

So B regards A's clock to be slowed.

This establishes the mutuality of measured clock rate slowing.

In this analysis, it's a simple matter of an entity assuming that his ruler has not shrunk and that his time-keeping is not contracted.

There is no need to adjust our perceptions. We automatically regard our measuring apparatus as being true to its markings. All laboratory experiments carried out by scientists are subject to this condition. The communication between the various parts of any instrument is constrained by the speed of light. Even the combination of the human brain and eye is restrained in its perception by the speed of light, should one consider the theoretical direct observation of events occurring at relativistic speeds. (Identically, looking ahead to chapter nine, two colliding objects will crumple in accordance with this same restraint the communication of the crumpling force can be communicated only at light speed.)

To measure any velocity, we must use two clocks of some distance apart. We can synchronize them only by using light rays, the sending of which involves the passage of time. Our consideration of what is involved in synchronizing them will always be part of the equation. In other words, the fact that we that we "do nothing special" is part of the equation. While an awareness of special relativity will affect our interpretation of our measures, no level of contemplation regarding relativity can possibly affect the actual measuring paradigm of an entity, since he can make no considerations about the state of his own motion relative to the universe. (Of course, he could arbitrarily assign a particular motion to his frame of reference; but he would then be expected to apply his knowledge of relativity twice more to adjust his calculations, once for his frame and once for the entity he takes measure of. But why bother.)


Download the free pdf file of the book Relativity Trail to see the diagrams and math for other phenomena, such as round trips (twin paradox), mutually measured mass increase, the formal derivation of length contraction, and much more.

Other documents which are recommended reading before reading the book:

Relativity in Absolute Terms. My most comprehensive online document. A concise overview of why special relativity must be diagrammed in absolute terms.

Twin Paradox Animation on youtube. Contains textual description not found in the document below.

Twin Paradox Animation. Alternative text, and animation of the twin paradox. (Embedded youtube animation.)

Twin Paradox Analysis. Diagrams and equations demonstrating the symmetry of measures and time differential regarding case 1 and case 2.

Home page:

Relativity Trail, with 192 pages, 65 diagrams and 75 illustrations, will provide you with complete detailed algebraic derivations of all the kinematical effects of special relativity. Everything is charted out in absolute terms against a system at rest with respect to the totality of the universe for perfect clarity as well as soundness of theoretical basis. It is the totality of the universe that imparts the inertial properties of clock rates and lengths which generate the effects of relativity. This is explained in detail in Relativity Trail.

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