Home » News & Blogs » How To Prove Einstein’s Relativity In The Palm Of Your Hand
Bookmark and Share
Starts With a Bang!

How To Prove Einstein’s Relativity In The Palm Of Your Hand

31 Jul 2019, 14:01 UTC
How To Prove Einstein’s Relativity In The Palm Of Your Hand SIMON SWORDY (U. CHICAGO), NASA

When you hold out your palm and point it towards the sky, what is it that’s interacting with your hand? You might correctly surmise that there are ions, electrons and molecules all colliding with your hand, as the atmosphere is simply unavoidable here on Earth. You might also remember that photons, or particles of light, must be striking you, too.

But there’s something more striking your hand that, without relativity, simply wouldn’t be possible. Every second, approximately one muon — the unstable, heavy cousin of the electron — passes through your outstretched palm. These muons are made in the upper atmosphere, created by cosmic rays. With a mean lifetime of 2.2 microseconds, you might think the ~100+ km journey to your hand would be impossible. Yet relativity makes it so, and the palm of your hand can prove it. Here’s how.

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day

astronomy_pod