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In physics, the twin paradox is a thought experiment in special relativity, in which a twin makes a journey into space in a high-speed rocket and returns home to find he has aged less than his identical twin who stayed on Earth. This result appears puzzling because each twin sees the other twin as traveling, and so, according to a naive application of time dilation, each should paradoxically find the other to have aged more slowly. In fact, the result is not a paradox in the true sense, since it can be resolved within the standard framework of special relativity. The effect has been verified experimentally using measurements of precise clocks flown in airplanes[1] and satellites.

Starting with Paul Langevin in 1911, there have been numerous explanations of this paradox, many based upon there being no contradiction because there is no symmetry—only one twin has undergone acceleration and deceleration, thus differentiating the two cases. One version of the asymmetry argument made by Max von Laue in 1913 is that the traveling twin uses two inertial frames: one on the way up and the other on the way down. So switching frames is the cause of the difference, not acceleration per se.[2]

Other explanations account for the effects of acceleration. Einstein, Born and Møller invoked gravitational time dilation to explain the aging based upon the effects of acceleration.[3] Both gravitational time dilation and special relativity can be used to explain the Hafele-Keating experiment on time dilation using precise measurements of clocks flown in airplanes.