ou heard me - time and space aren't what you've always thought of them. Time can be stretched and pressed together, the same can space (also called a position in space), which is definitely weird to work your head around the first time you hear about it. You'll get used to it eventually.
This idea of time and space is a unified thing - the so creatively called space-time
- was first proposed by Minkowski (a mathematician) in 1908 as a way to explain Einstein's special theory of relativity in other words. Sorry, enough with the historical facts.
The interesting thing about space-time is that you can look at what motion to a system does when looked at in different reference points. And why should that be interesting, well it might not be for everyone, but you will need it to understand the universe and help you to survive.
Now, as many things that we know in our everyday life, space-time can be elongated and pressed together - like a sponge or something different that is perhaps soft.
This has some funky effects for the people that are in the affected system. Like you! Things can look smaller, relative to you, and maybe it takes five years for you to travel to Mars, but the people on mars sees you travel much slower.
Hmm, strange yes.
What if I get elongated?!
Oh, don't worry silly! You won't even notice! And it isn't permanent - we think.
Well, to be honest, we don't know all that much about it yet, and the effects we have seen already are quite small. That may have to do with it being more visible the closer you get to the speed of light. Should've said that first. Nothing to worry about dear reader! You won't be pressed together looking like a tall stick figure!
Maybe if you open the door in space, something similar will happen though.
Distances and time
When travelling at fast speeds in space, it may seem like it should be the same as on earth or any planet, just faster. But in reality - Or special reality - distances and time really aren't what we are used to.
When "shooting for
" a specific planet or object in space, you have to consider that the space you are in will get bent and twisted as you go faster. If you don't, you might overshoot a couple of times before you succeed. You might even crash into the planet.
The time also changes, and that is even more difficult to work around than the distance problem. Time is hard to imagine being a dimension of itself, but if you do everything properly, nothing bad is going to happen. What changes the time for the people on a spaceship flying away from us on earth, is that they are accelerating. This will have an effect on the time that they perceive and what we perceive.
But this happens both ways when you accelerate up and accelerate down, so there is a beautiful symmetry in space-time.
Late for the Christmas dinner?
No need to worry! Don't haste too much or you might overlook a giant planet, and never make it to the Christmas dinner. Take your time, and watch out for planets, stars, and even rouge black holes.