Around-the-World Relativistic Sagnac Experiment

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  05 Apr 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4695, pp. 69-70
DOI: 10.1126/science.228.4695.69


In 1971 Hafele and Keating carried portable atomic clocks east and then west around the world and verified the Sagnac effect, a special relativity effect attributable to the earth's rotation. In the study reported here observations of the effect were made by using electromagnetic signals instead of portable clocks to make clock comparisons. Global Positioning System satellites transmit signals that can be viewed simultaneously from remote stations on the earth; thus an around-the-world Sagnac experiment can be performed with electromagnetic signals. The effect is larger than that occurring when portable clocks are used. The average error over a 3-month experiment was only 5 nanoseconds.