COLLOQUIUM: Traveling through time: From sticks & stones to atoms, lasers, and relativity

Speaker: Dr. Steven R Wilkinson

Topic: “Traveling through time: From sticks & stones to atoms, lasers, and relativity”

Time: 3-4 p.m., Friday, October 25, 2013

Place: P-148 (refreshments will be served at 2:45 in P-145A)


Throughout history as mankind has grown more sophisticated our need for accurate timing systems has continued to evolve. How did we get from first sundial to the Global Positioning System that provides precision navigation and timing that we have come to enjoy in the 21st century? This talk will address systems from the beginning and will discuss difficulties mariners had when trying to navigate the ocean in the early 1700’s. We will learn that the fundamental physical issues are the same today as they were in the 1700’s only the accuracies and technologies have changed. Our modern day systems are so precise that we must address relativistic issues even though we are traveling at non-relativistic velocities. Finally we discuss the ramifications of traveling at relativistic velocities and find some interesting engineering problems we must overcome.


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