Toronto, Ontario, Canada
© J.L. Gaasenbeek, B.Sc., P.Eng. 1990


Rossi and Hall's as well as Ives and Stilwell's experiments, which purportedly prove that time dilation exists, are discussed. An alternative explanation of the results is proposed.


It is an accepted principle in physics that a simple logical explanation for a physical phenomenon is to be preferred over a complex convoluted one. The only exception to this rule appears to be that if the complex explanation is well established a new simpler explanation does not only have to make better sense, but the newcomer must first show where the old proofs fell short before he or she is taken seriously.

As a case in point, my proposed helical particle wave theorem explains various relativistic phenomena in a straight forward manner, including some for which no explanation exists as of now such as the duality of light, yet my theorem has been repeatedly dismissed on the basis that time dilation is a proven experimental fact.

That is to say, rather than consider the fact that my proposed theorem does not have to resort to time dilation to explain certain physical phenomena a point in its favour, it is considered a drawback.

Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to examine the two foremost classical experiments which are most often quoted as proof that time dilation occurs, namely:

- B. Rossi and D.B Hall's

Time Dilation - An Experiment with Mu-Mesons(1)

- Ives and Stilwell

An Experimental Study of the Rate of a Moving Atomic Clock(2)


A classic experiment on the time dilation phenomenon was performed by B. Rossi and D.B. Hall in 1941(l), using the mu-mesons (muons) produced by cosmic rays which enter the earth's atmosphere from outer space at relativistic speeds. More recently a filmed version of the same experiment was made (3) (4) (5).

The mu-meson or muon for short, is a charged particle that decays into an electron, a neutrino and an antineutrino. At the 2000 meter level 563 muons per hour were recorded. If they travelled at approximately the speed of light, considering their half life etc., only about 25 muons per hours should survive when they reach sea level. However, measurements showed that in excess of 400 muons per hour reached sea level.

According to the measured decay rate of muons at rest a survival rate of 400 indicates that the muons did not age 6.5 it took them to reach sea level but only 0.7 .

From this it was concluded that the time dilation factor was about 6.5/.7 = 9 which corresponds to a speed of .994 C.

So where does the argument fall down?

In Rossi and Hall's experiment the half life of the muons within the selected energy range, was calculated by first slowing them down, after which a statistical record of the time intervals between arrival and decay for a large number of muons was compiled.

That is to say, Rossi and Hall assumed that the rate at which slowed down muons decay is the same as for muons that have not been slowed down.

However, if we accept the proposition that a muon is a helical wave electron (or positron) the rate at which it is slowed down makes all the difference to its survival since it will decay into a linear spinning electron once its speed is reduced to a fraction of the speed of light.

Consequently the reason why 400 muons, rather than 25 muons, reached sea level is that the atmosphere did not slow them down as quickly as a layer of iron or plastic would.

In other words it is not the age of a muon or helical wave electron which affects its decay but its speed. For example, in the vacuum of outer space, muons may survive indefinitely since there is very little there to slow them down. For that matter muons may well enter the atmosphere directly from outer space, as part of a solar wind for example, rather than indirectly as a result of cosmic rays that interact with the earth's atmosphere.

Similarly, muons in a particle accelerator also last longer than expected.

In summary, muons that travel through the atmosphere last longer than muons that have been stopped in a detector, so that their decay times at rest can be recorded, because muons are helical wave electrons which rapidly decay into ordinary electrons when they are slowed down to the point where they no longer travel at a relativistic speed. Consequently, fast moving particles do not age at a slower rate than particles that are at rest as Rossi and Hall would have us believe.


Basically what Ives and Stilwell set out to do was to show experimentally that moving clocks run slow(2). To this end they used "the newly discovered Doppler effect in canal rays involving velocities of the moving particles high enough to show the expected effect". Accordingly they constructed an experimental apparatus which allowed them to observe fast moving positive hydrogen ions "in two directions, with and against the motion of the particles; the observations being made simultaneously by the use of a mirror in the tube". "Under these conditions the displaced Doppler lines are observed corresponding to motion toward and away from the observer, and the effect to be observed is a shift of the centre of gravity of the displaced lines with respect to the undisplaced line. As shown in an earlier paper of this series this shift of the centre of gravity is expressed by the equation where V is the observed or measured velocity of the positive particles".

After some careful experimentation they conclude that: "These experiments showed at once that there is a shift of the center of the gravity of the displaced lines, that is, a change of frequency of the light emitted from the canal-ray particles" which "showed that this shift was of the order of magnitude to be expected from the theory, and that it was independent of the direction of the apparatus" and again: "The present experiment establishes this (change in the clock) rate as according to the relation (is) the frequency of the clock when stationary in the ether, (and) its frequency when in motion". After which they reach the final conclusion that: "The discussion of the consequences of this change in clock rate, the reality of which may be taken as established by this experiment, consists practically of the entire theory of the optics of moving bodies as developed by Larmor and Lorentz". In summary what Ives and Stilwell showed is that in the case of a moving radiation source and a stationary observer, the observed apparent wavelength of the signal is not equal to

i.e. the clock of the moving particles must run slow by a factor:

So where did Ives and Stilwell go wrong?

As expected, the reason Ives and Stilwell arrived at the wrong conclusion is similar to the reason Rossi and Hall concluded that time dilation exists. If one is not familiar with the helical particle wave concept the only other possible "explanation" is the concept of time dilation.

So how does the helical particle wave concept provide an alternative explanation for the fact that the light frequency emitted by the moving excited hydrogen ions was less than that of the "stationary" hydrogen ions?

Firstly it is impossible to call hydrogen ions at rest when they are excited by a low voltage arc to the point where they emit light.

Boyle's law together with Charles and Gay-Lussac's law can be summarized as follows(6):

PV/T = a constant for a fixed mass of gas.


P = the pressure of the gas,

V = volume of the gas, and

T = absolute temperature of the gas.

Since the pressure exerted by a volume of gas on the wall of the vessel depends on the average speed of the gas molecules it follows that the average speed of the molecules is proportional to the absolute temperature of the gas. In addition in order for the hydrogen ions to emit light they must spin.

In other words, the low voltage hydrogen arc produces hydrogen ions with a given average linear (Brownian) speed and spin frequency.

Consequently, if we apply an accelerating potential to such a gas, the kinetic energy of the ions is equal to:

as shown in my first paper: "Helical Particle Waves"(7).

Now, as discussed previously, at low velocities the peripheral velocity of the particle is zero as it still remains a linear wave spinning particle, i.e., the second term in formula [6] remains zero.

However once the hydrogen ions are accelerated to a relativistic speed they suddenly will begin to follow a helical path, as this is a quantum phenomenon, similar to the way in which helical wave particles suddenly decay when they are slowed down to a fraction of the speed of light.

The only way in which the emerging helical wave particle can acquire this sudden peripheral or orbital momentum is to convert some of its spin momentum into orbital momentum. As a result the light frequency the newly created helical wave ion emits is reduced.

Interestingly, in Rossi and Hall's experiment we deal with helical wave particles that decay into linear wave particles as they are slowed down from a relativistic speed. Whereas in Ives and Stilwell's experiment we deal with the opposite phenomenon i.e., linear wave particles are converted into helical wave particles as they are accelerated to a relativistic speed.

In summary, the light frequency of the moving hydrogen ions is lower than that of the stationary ions, not because their fast moving clocks run slower but because in their conversion from linear wave particles into helical wave particles they converted some of their spin momentum into orbital momentum.


The two key experiments which are quoted most often as proof that time dilation exists were examined and found wanting. The problem is that the helical particle wave theorem was required to show where past interpretations fell short since this is the reason why the old conclusions were wrong in the first place.

However, since my critics are reluctant to accept my theories, they may consider my proof that time dilation is a figment of man's imagination rather than a proven fact, inconclusive. This being the case they may contend that since I was unable to prove them wrong, my theories are not worth considering, at which point were have come full circle.

All I have to say to this is that I am sure that in the long run the truth will prevail. Meanwhile it is suggested that the scientific way to break the stalemate is to do further experiments. The advantage of this kind of experimentation is that potentially much progress can be made for a comparatively small outlay of money. Moreover it will open up a new area of research with many practical implications. Both conditions will provide a welcome change in contemporary particle research.


l. B. Rossi and D.B Hall, Phys. Rev., 59, 223 (l94l).

2. N.E. Ives and G.R. Stilwell, J. Opt. Soc. Am., 28, 215-226 (1938).

3. Film, Time Dilation - An Experiment with mu-Mesons by D.H. Frisch and J.H. Smith, Education Development Center, Newton Mass., (1963).

4. D.H. Frisch and J.H. Smith, Am. J. Phys., 31, 342-355 (1963).

5. A.P. French, Special Relativity, Time Dilation, Pages 97-104.

6. Halliday and Resnick, Fundamentals of Physics, Second Edition, Pages 375, 376.

7. J.L. Gaasenbeek, Helical Particle Waves.

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