Two spaceships are traveling together through the galaxy at close to the speed of light. Mounted on one ship is a laser that can fire pulses of light, and on the other, a mirror. The pilot of the first ship fires a pulse at the mirror, and watches as it is reflected back. A clock on board measures how long the round trip takes. But now suppose that he does this as the ships are passing an observer on a nearby asteroid. According to relativity theory, this observer sees the pulse moving through space at exactly the same speed that the pilot does  namely, the speed of light. But he also sees the pulse traveling a longer distance, because from his perspective, he must add the forward motion of the ships to the motion of the pulse between them. So he measures a longer time interval for the round trip than the pilot does, because he is watching the pulse go farther without going any faster. This effect is called time dilation: if one observer is moving with respect to another, each perceives that the other's time is flowing more slowly. National Science Foundation
Time Dilation  Albert Einstein and the Theory of RelativityTwo spaceships are traveling together through the galaxy at close to the speed of light. Mounted on one ship is a laser that can fire pulses of light, and on the other, a mirror. The pilot of the first ship fires a pulse at the mirror, and watches as it is reflected back. A clock on board measures how long the round trip takes.
But now suppose that he does this as the ships are passing an observer on a nearby asteroid. According to relativity theory, this observer sees the pulse moving through space at exactly the same speed that the pilot does  namely, the speed of light. But he also sees the pulse traveling a longer distance, because from his perspective, he must add the forward motion of the ships to the motion of the pulse between them. So he measures a longer time interval for the round trip than the pilot does, because he is watching the pulse go farther without going any faster. This effect is called time dilation: if one observer is moving with respect to another, each perceives that the other's time is flowing more slowly.
National Science Foundation
