Science loves nothing better than to find new ways to kick well-tested theories even harder and see if they can’t be made to bleed a little.
Take time dilation for instance – the idea that time depends on your relative speed and gravity’s pull. While it’s been tested using highly accurate caesium atomic clocks, physicists have now put it to the test using even more accurate strontium atomic clocks, and they’ve found that Einstein still stands victorious.
Researchers from the Paris Observatory in France set up a bunch of the latest-generation strontium atomic clocks around Europe to test if their different speeds as the Earth spins affects their relative times – just as Einstein’s special relativity predicts.
Given the number of times this theory has been tested, it’s unlikely anybody would expect a radical refutation of special relativity in a single blow; however, even a slight contrast on a tiny level could provide physicists with clues as to how how the powerful but incompatible theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics can be married together.
For anybody who’s a little confused, physicists use general relativity to predict how massive things like galaxies and stars behave, and quantum mechanics to predict how very tiny particles will interact.