“It is always due to human error”.

Theorists have relied on the Michelson-Morley experiment or the “light-clock” to investigate how a photon can take a longer double-diagonal path for a mirror- system in motion. I want to highlight how the conventional explanation of time dilation’s co-existence with length contraction seems self-contradictory.

Conventionally, the mirror problem is framed in terms of time and distance within the same question, which I call “the first question”.

The first question is “if the time and distance a photon travels is constant, then how can a photon travel a longerdistancein the sametime?” The answer is distance contracts and time expands. The magnitude of time’s expansion is equal to the gamma factor.

A second question is analogous to the first question, but the terms are, it seems, legitimately invertible. We ask “if the time and distance a photon travels is constant then how can a photon travel a longertimein the samedistance?” Surely the answer must be distance expands and time contracts.Again, the magnitude of the distance expansion is equal to the gamma factor.

These two questions cancel each other out because the answers are contradictory, leaving nothing to interpret. Hence, it is a falsehood to ask either of these questions without reference to the other.

So I propose two alternative questions:

Alternative question 1

If the distance between two mirrors is constant how can it take a longer distance for a photon to travel the double diagonal path?

Answer: The distance is longer from an external view. Therefore as viewed from the external viewdistance expands for the mirror system.

Alternative question 2

If the time between two mirrors is constant how can it take a longer time for a photon to travel the double diagonal path?

Answer: The time is longer from an external view. Therefore as viewed from the external viewtime expands for the mirror system.

Thus, when each question is framed independently – i.e. without trying to prise time and distance apart- we conclude time expansion is accompanied by distance expansion. The degree of this “spacetime expansion” is exactly equal to the gamma factor.

This conclusion leads me to question whether the first principles of conventional SR are correct.

So let us consider the evidence from experiments. The relativity of motion determines the importance of the electromagnetic field. When fields interact the evidence shows the results are consistent with the possibility of length contraction. However, if the paradigm of length contraction is replaced by the paradigm of isotropic spacetime expansion (which is of course consistent with the gamma factor) then the results may be equally explainable. This is because we cannot (I think) decide between a field that is contracted and a field that is expanded, if the stationary frame is always the opposite. I think the mathematics will be the same, just as “up” is to “down”, as “down” is to “up “depending on the chosen view.

I am not questioning the empirical evidence for time dilation. But I do question the idea the principles of SR ineluctably lead to length contraction. In its place, I suggest a spacetime sphere paradigm. I understand this opens a can of worms in terms of fitting in with other principles of SR. However, the logic of spacetime isotropy seems internally self-consistent, whereas spacetime anisotropy seems anti-logical.

If I made any human errors in this argument, could someone please point them out.

thanks in advance

-HOT