Twin Paradox Analyzed in Contact

The problem with the movie Contact at the end when Jodie Foster is experiencing the twin paradox in reality the people on Earth time would move much slower while Jodie time would be much faster so when she came back it wouldn't feel like seconds to the people on Earth. In the movie they showed 18 hours passed for Jodie Foster felt like seconds on Earth however special relativity would have that reversed so 18 hours passing on Earth would feel like seconds to Jodie Fosters character Dr. Arroway who was traveling close to the speed of light. To revise the script to fit closer to reality I would change the story so that when Dr. Arroway returns to what feels like 18 Hours for her its been months for the people on Earth who could not have predicted her return. I believe the filmmakers switched this concept around for cinematic effect and also create a storyline that made the people of Earth not believe that it was possible to find the aliens who sent them the radio messages.


  1. Careful. You actually have a couple things backwards yourself. "Dilated" time is always the longer time; that's why the word dilated is used. It means wider or larger. That's the time experienced by the observers on Earth. Ellie measures the shorter time. In other words, her clock ticks off less time. That's the proper time.

    I think you're right about why the movie's writers went with the ending they did. What I was hoping you could come up with was a compelling, dramatic ending that still got the physics correct. What happens in your script when Ellie returns?


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