On the Length of a Meter stick

By Johny Jagannath

In relativity, the length of a meter stick is shorter when it moves at speeds close to the speed of light. But if you are on the meter stick (moving at speeds close to light), the meter stick will not contract (or become shorter). Here we have a simple paradox, where a single meter stick is one meter for one observer and less than a meter for another observer.

In Lorentz' ether theory, which relativity is identical to, experimentally and mathematically, a moving meter stick is shorter for all observers. Thus no paradox in Lorentz' theory. But a paradox does exist in relativity. Relativists usually don't recognize paradoxes when it presents itself to them in full clarity. Like in the example I discussed above.

Can a single meter stick be one meter for Bob and less than a meter for Alice? According to relativity the answer is, yes. It's a textbook paradox and has no place in science. 


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