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One hundred years ago, confronted with the experimentally confirmed fact that the speed of light always appears to be the same for different observers regardless of their relative states of motion, Albert Einstein reached the radical conclusion that "time" must have a different "rate of flow" for each different observer, thereby chattering classical mechanics and ushering a new era of controversy and debate that has not abated since. Interestingly, amidst all the controversy of the past century, it seems that the physics community has overlooked one critical fact: Einstein's conclusion is indeed the only conclusion that can be reached if we fail to recognize one very important problem, namely, the synchronization problem. By "synchronization problem", we mean how the "events" described by Einstein in his 1905 paper will be communicated between the different frames of reference. As we shall demonstrate, Einstein did in fact fail to recognize this important problem. (1) Even more interestingly, if we do take into account the synchronization problem, the mathematics of Special Relativity (SR) will not be altered, but, as we shall conclude, the radical physical principle that time has different "rates of flow" for different inertial observers will no longer be true! Instead, what will emerge is a very simple engineering problem that is totally solvable by classical mechanics (and the solution is indeed nothing but the Lorentz [gamma] factor).
In the following discussion, we shall adopt a rather simplified version of the problem that Einstein described in his 1905 paper, which we shall call the "Einstein scenario": let a …