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The Elements of Relativity$
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David M. Wittman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658633

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199658633.001.0001

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Gravity Reframed

Gravity Reframed

(p.180) 14 Gravity Reframed
The Elements of Relativity

David M. Wittman

Oxford University Press

The effects of gravity disappear in freely falling laboratories.Within such a laboratory, a freely falling particle appears to have no forces on it—it is an inertial particle following the rules of special relativity. We therefore expect it to follow a worldline of maximum proper time. This chapter develops thinking tools for identifying paths of maximum proper time in the presence of gravity, where clocks have altitudedependent tick rates; these include graphical tools as well as a qualitative description of the geodesic equation. The reward: we find that altitude‐dependent time by itself explains all the trajectories we associate with everyday gravity. Gravity is not a force at all, it is a differential flow of time. This explains why freely falling particles feel no force. It also abolishes the need to explain how “the force of gravity” manages to accelerate all particles equally, regardless of their mass or other properties.

Keywords:   geodesic equation, freely falling, equivalence principle, general relativity, inertial trajectory, gravity

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