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Time dilation is a physical effect first theorized by Albert Einstein in the 20th century.


Essentially, when an object accelerates closer to the speed of light, the object experiences less time passing than an outside observer. Speeds that produce noticeable time dilation are referred to as relativistic speeds. In the 24th and 25th centuries, most Federation citizens never experienced the effect, which does not apply to any ship traveling at warp. (STO novel: The Needs of the Many)

The effect was described as part of Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity. (TOS - Star Trek: The Manga - Shinsei Shinsei comic: "Side Effects")


Space travel[]

In 2156, during the start of the Earth-Romulan War, the starship Columbia was the subject of a Romulan experimental attack. As a result, the ship's warp drive was disabled. Captain Erika Hernandez ordered the ship to travel toward the nearest inhabited planet at relativistic speeds, a journey which would take six months from the perspective of the crew, but years to the outside universe. (ST novel: Gods of Night)

In 2409, Charles Ryerson was discovered near Barnard's Star by the USS Zife, having been traveling in his small craft at relativistic speeds for twenty years. As a result, he had aged very little over that period of time. (STO novel: The Needs of the Many)

Black holes[]

In the 23rd century, Doctor Myznek took advantage of time dilation that occurs near the event horizon of a black hole in order to study a species-wide plague and test a variety of potential treatments involving genetic engineering and cybernetics. He maintained an outpost aboard a space station near a singularity, then used a wormhole to send laboratory starships into normal space-time, run experiments for several hundred years, and then retrieve the ships, with only days or weeks having elapsed for him near the black hole. (TOS - Star Trek: The Manga - Shinsei Shinsei comic: "Side Effects")



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