Table of Contents
.......The Elegant Universe
THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE, Brian Greene, 1999, 2003
```(annotated and with added bold highlights by Epsilon=One)
Chapter 3 - Of Warps and Ripples
The Warping of Time, Revisited
Illustrations such as those of Figures 3.2, 3.4, and 3.6 capture the essence of what "warped space" means. A warp distorts the shape of space. Physicists have invented analogous images to try to convey the meaning of "warped time," but they are significantly more difficult to decipher, so we will not introduce them here. Instead, let's follow up the example of Slim and Jim on the Tornado ride, and try to get a sense of the experience of gravitationally induced warped time.

To do so, we revisit George and Gracie, no longer in the deep darkness of empty space, but floating near the outskirts of the solar system. They are still each wearing large digital clocks on their space suits that are initially synchronized. To keep things simple, we ignore the effects of the planets and consider only the gravitational field of the sun. Let's further imagine that a spaceship hovering near George and Gracie has reeled out a long cable extending all the way down to the vicinity of the sun's surface. George uses this cable to slowly lower himself toward the sun. As he does so, he periodically stops so that he and Gracie can compare the rate at which time is elapsing on their clocks. The warping of time predicted by Einstein's general relativity implies that George's clock will run slower and slower compared with Gracie's as the gravitational field he experiences gets stronger and stronger. That is, the closer he gets to the sun the slower his clock will run. It is in this sense that gravity distorts time as well as space.

You should note that unlike the case in Chapter 2 in which George and Gracie were in empty space moving relative to each other with constant velocity, in the present setting there is no symmetry between them. George, unlike Gracie, feels the force of gravity getting stronger and stronger—he has to hold the cable tighter and tighter as he gets closer to the sun to avoid being pulled in. Each of them agrees that George's clock is running slow. There is no "equally valid perspective" that exchanges their roles and reverses this conclusion. This is, in fact, what we found in Chapter 2 when George experienced an acceleration by turning on his jet-pack to catch up with Gracie. The acceleration George felt resulted in his clock definitively running slow relative to Gracie's. Since we now know that feeling accelerated motion is the same as feeling a gravitational force, the present situation of George on the cable involves the same principle, and once again we see that George's clock, and everything else in his life, runs in slow motion compared with Gracie's.

In a gravitational field such as that at the surface of an ordinary star like the sun, the slowing of clocks is quite small. If Gracie stays put at a billion miles from the sun, then when George has climbed to within a few miles of its surface, the rate of ticking of his clock will be about 99.9998 percent of Gracie's. Slower, but not by much. 9 If, however, George lowered himself on a cable so that he hovered just above the surface of a neutron star whose mass, roughly equal to that of the sun, is crushed to a density some million billion times that of solar density, the larger gravitational field would cause his clock to tick at about 76 percent of the rate of Gracie's. Stronger gravitational fields, such as those just outside a black hole (as discussed below), cause the flow of time to slow even further; stronger gravitational fields cause a more severe warping of time.
Table of Contents
.......The Elegant Universe