I read a short story online about an astronaut who goes on a solo trip in a ship capable of near light speed. As time goes on, he gets more and more out of sync with Earth because of time dilation. Everyone is surprised, because in this timeline, the theory of relativity was not accepted.

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    This is a good overall description, a couple of things to add though: when did you read this? Where, was it in a collection, online, etc.? What point of view was the story from? How did the astronaut communicate with those on Earth? If you remember anything else to add in you can edit your question to include those details.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Oct 13, 2020 at 8:13
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    Seems to me as if this one has been asked before, but I couldn't find it just now when I did some searches on this site. In the case I'm remembering, the story (posted online somewhere) was basically a series of radio messages going back and forth between Earth and the pilot of the still-accelerating ship. It gradually became clear that the ship's clocks were seriously "falling behind" Earth's clocks. Someone did some research and said, "A crackpot named Albert Einstein had a theory about this once, but then he died young and it was never developed any further. Maybe he had a point!"
    – Lorendiac
    Oct 13, 2020 at 20:09
  • Yep, that's the one, and the accepted answer named it. For some reason it's a tough one to find!
    – Muk
    Oct 15, 2020 at 8:33

1 Answer 1


My memory was jogged by Lorendiac's comment, and "The Old Equations", a novelette by Jake Kerr, came to mind. It was published in 2011 in Lightspeed magazine, and is still available there.

The story deals with the plight of a married couple, where the husband goes of a space trip while the wife stays on Earth - a textbook example of the so-called "Twin Paradox". Unfortunately, in this alternate reality, Einstein died young before fully developing the theory of special relativity, and so the time dilation experienced by the husband comes as an unwelcome shock. The husband's trip will last 5 years of "proper time", but during the trip his wife will age 40 years.

The remark about Einstein was:

One of the physicists in Bern remembers a crackpot theoretical physicist from 200 years ago named Albert Einstein. He was an amateur who died during World War One after publishing a handful of theories that no one took seriously. The thing is that they kind of match what we’re seeing here. On the extremely off chance that this guy was actually right, we’re looking into it.

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    I can't speak for Muk, but that's definitely the story I was remembering yesterday in my comment. Though a quick search indicates it's never been identified on this site before, so it looks like I was wrong when I said I'd seen it mentioned on here. I must have run across a link to it somewhere else on the Web, sometime in the last couple of years.
    – Lorendiac
    Oct 14, 2020 at 16:02
  • This is it! Thank you!
    – Muk
    Oct 15, 2020 at 8:32

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