The special theory of relativity describes the motion and dynamics of objects moving at significant fractions of the speed of light.

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Are length contraction and time dilation physical?

Are length contraction and time dilation real physical phenomena, or are they just a measurement issue?
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Why does Minkowski space provide an accurate description of flat spacetime?

What is the chain of reasoning (beginning, of course, from observations about the universe) that leads one to predict that Minkowski space provides an accurate description of space-time in the ...
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How can we show that the speed of light is really constant in all reference frames?

I had a debate with a friend who cannot believe that the speed of light is constant. He said something like: so what if in the Michelson-experiment the moving apparatus simply added a constant ...
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1answer
49 views

Is there experimental evidence of time order inversion for spacelike events?

The title sums up the question. Given two events separated by a spacelike interval, say one takes place after the other in an inertial frame, then by a suitable boost we may invert the time order of ...
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44 views

What is the factor that controls the speed of electrons accelerating in vacuum?Won't they accelerate infinitely? [duplicate]

We all know that speed of light can not be exceeded. So the question is if electric field accelerates electron in a vacuum tube with enormous length won't the electron accelerate till a point where it ...
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1answer
74 views

Is it correct that whenever energy change, mass also change?

Can I simply claim that, according to the mass-energy equation $E=mc^2$, whenever the energy of an physical object (not necessarily a microcosmic one) changes, its mass also change? Okay, I ...
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What is the relation between $\eta^{ab}x^2$ and $x^ax^b$?

What is the relation between $\eta^{ab}x^2$ and $x^ax^b$? Here $\eta$ is the Minkowski metric in $d=4$ and $x$ is a 4-vector. In particular, a tensor like $$x^a x^b x^c (\eta_{ab}x^2 - x_ax_b) ...
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How would an observer distinguish between space and time in a “Lineland” universe?

Note: "Lineland" here is borrowed from the Flatland novella. If you were placed as an observer inside a "Lineland" universe, i.e. a Minkowski spacetime that has one space dimension and one time ...
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Spin of vector boson in higher dimension

A vector boson $V^{\mu}, \mu = 0,...,3$ has spin 1. To my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) this is because it transforms as a 4-vector under Lorentz transformation $SO(1,3)$. So the $\mu = ...
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Is special theory of relativity compatible with quantum mechanics? [duplicate]

Is special theory of relativity compatible with quantum mechanics? If yes, which is a good starting book which deals with this ? "Bird is bird. Knife is knife. Death is death." So special theory of ...
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28 views

Faster than light travel at half speed [duplicate]

Peter and Susan are facing each other in outer space. Both of them ignite their their incredibly powerful jet pack thrusters and accelerated away from each other to just over half the speed of light. ...
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3answers
132 views

Does light itself experience time dilation?

This seems weird for me. Every time I see light, I will think, "Hey, that light travels from the past far away from us!" Correct me if there is misconception.
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Why can a particle have a nonzero amplitude outside its forward light-cone?

I'm having trouble grasping an idea that I think that is a very basic part of  quantum field theory. Many introductory QFT resources I have consulted often pose the following question: What is ...
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6answers
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What is “special” and what is “general” in Relativity?

Initially I thought in special relativity the velocity was constant, whereas general relativity allowed treatment of accelerated frames as well. But now I have heard that SR is only valid locally?
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1answer
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What are the differences between special and general relativity? [duplicate]

What are the differences between special relativity and general relativity? I am looking for a naive, non-mathematical explanation.
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2answers
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What would earth look like if traveling at 77% the speed of light?

I've been having a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around this. If I were in a ship going 77% the speed of light (enough to experience reasonable time dilation) would I see earth going in fast ...
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1answer
83 views

Four-vectors and metric tensor

I think it's safe to say that if $x^\mu=(x^0,x^1,x^2,x^3)$, then $x_\mu=(x^0,-x^1,-x^2,-x^3)$. But I don't really understand why one follows from the other. Could someone explain? Also, I've been ...
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1answer
98 views

Length contraction, front middle or back

I still don't have a solid understanding of Length contraction. Imagine we have a ruler of length $L$ that starts at rest upon a ground with markings on it, then accelerates until nearly the speed of ...
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Relativity Paradox involving two charged particles

Suppose there are two charged particles separated by some distance $d$ both with an equal positive charge of $q$. The particles also have equal masses of $m$. $m$ and $q$ are chosen so the ...
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2answers
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$? = mc^{1.9}$ makes me crazy [closed]

If energy equals mass times the speed of light squared, what is mass times just under the speed of light? It's not energy,,,yet. Michio Kaku said in a physics video that the faster mass goes, the ...
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What do physicists mean by “information”?

On the question why certain velocities (i.e. phase velocity) can be greater than the speed of light, people will say something like: since no matter or "information" is transferred, therefore the ...
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1answer
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If tachyons existed, would we notice them?

In special relativity the space-time can be seen as a static four-dimensional picture that contains the entire past and the future of a flat universe. And the patterns in it are subject to several ...
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Relativistic beamed photon propulsion

I am analysing the flight profiles possible with a lightsail powered by a photon beam, up into the relativistic regime. In an inertial frame, the sail acceleration is $A$. The onboard acceleration ...
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1answer
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What is the role of the spacetime algebra?

For Minkowski space $M^4=\mathbb{R}^{1,3}$ the Clifford algebra $Cl_{1,3}$ (Dirac algebra) with $\{\gamma^\mu, \gamma^\nu \}=2 g^{\mu \nu}$ is sometimes called "spacetime algebra". What is its ...
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Finding Casimir operators for the Poincare group $ISO(1,2)$

I was asked to write the generators for translations and Lorentz-transforms in 1+2 dimensions and then to find the Casimir operators. For the generators I can take the same ones as in 1+3 case ...
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What “is” energy in sub-atomic particles?

This question may be simple or not, I don't know but I can't find the answer anywhere. The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of light particles in different wavelengths and is supposed to be ...
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Measuring speed of an object relative to what? [duplicate]

I understand that everything in the universe is moving through spacetime and the spacetime vector is equal for all the objects. So if If something is moving at speed of light, the mass of it is zero ...
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Lorentz-Transformation in a closed loop (Sagnac)

I have a problem transforming from one system to another when the direction of motion is changed. To demonstrate the problem I'll set up an easy example with intuitive numbers: enlarge ↵ left: ...
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2answers
189 views

What does it mean to divide space and time?

Goldstein's mechanics book, on the chapter on relativistic mechanics says that "We cannot assume that all observers make the same division into time and space in the same way." What does it mean to ...
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1answer
298 views

What does v=c in the Lorentz transformation for time tell us?

For the simpler cases as boost in the x-direction, the time dilation formula following the Lorentz transformation for time is $$\Delta t'=\gamma(\Delta t-v\frac{\Delta x}{c^2})$$Now, we observe that ...
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If I am a light travel around Earth, what relativistic phenomenons do I have?

In school, or even in university, we are only taught Lorentz transformation in one direction. It is quite easy: $$\begin{align} t' &= \gamma \left( t - \frac{vx}{c^2} \right) \\ x' &= ...
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How would I relate $\Lambda=e^{-i\omega_{\mu\nu}J^{\mu\nu}/2}$ to the Lorentz boost matrix?

$\omega_{\mu\nu}$ contains infinitesimal parameters and $J^{\mu\nu}$ contains generators of boost and rotation. Any 4-vector transforms as $p^\mu=\Lambda^\mu_\nu p^\nu$. Starting from given ...
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Definition of a symbol $s_{NN}$ appearing in particle physics

What is the meaning of $s_{NN}$ in particle physics? See e.g. here http://www4.rcf.bnl.gov/brahms/WWW/thesis/karabowicz_phd_thesis.pdf page 18 in the pdf. What is its relation to energy? I ...
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1answer
75 views

What are the effects of increased mass on persons traveling at near light speed?

It's been a long time since I studied physics (and then only very superficially), so please bear with my gross naivete. This question's been running around in my head for about two weeks now, and I ...
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1answer
63 views

light falling on a completely reflecting friction less mirror

If you had a perfectly reflective mirror whose face was perpendicular to the ground and was kept on a friction less track on the ground, and you shined a flashlight on it, what would happen? Would ...
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2answers
553 views

How do I derive the transformation law of a Weyl spinor under a Lorentz transformation?

Let $\xi$ be a spinor. If $(\theta ,\phi)$ are the parameters of a rotation and pure Lorentz transformation, then how can we prove that the transformation rule for $\xi$ can be written as $$\xi ...
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Trying to understand relativistic action of a massive point particle

I got badly lost in derivation of relativistic formulas for energy and momentum. I stumbled upon relativistic action as follows (which should explain relativistic motion of a classical particle): $$ ...
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Spacelike to timelike four vectors

First at all, let me just say that I'm not a Physicist, I study mathematics. So, I have this question. If you have a spacelike four vector, is there any transformation that could change it to be a ...
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1answer
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Time dilation simple derivation

In a special theory of relativity we have a phenomenon known as time dilation. There is a simple explanation of this, with a thought experiment with a train and a flash light: We flash a light in a ...
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Causality and Simultaneity in special relativity

I am a little confused about the implications of special relativity on causality and simultaneity. Are the following two statements true? For two events A and B that are close enough in space and ...
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3answers
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Does time pass slowly in water?

In water the speed of light is slower than it is in vacuum. By special relativity the speed of light is constant. Typically, for the basic explanation of special relativity a clock which has a mirror ...
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1answer
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How Special Relativity causes magnetism

So my physics teacher assigned us an article about how special relativity causes magnetism in a wire with a current, even with the low drift velocities of electrons in a current. It seemed that the ...
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Time dilation: different clocks [duplicate]

The plane is flying with a speed u=300m/s. How much time Δt′ would have to pass for a passanger on that plane for time difference 1s to occur between the time Δt′ on the plane and the time Δt on the ...
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Why is my understanding of the second postulate of special relativity incorrect?

SR postulate 2 states that light propagates in free space at a defined velocity that is independent of the motion of the emitting source. Since velocity is a vector quantity, it is directional. In ...
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2answers
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Which is proper time $(t_0)$ and improper time $(t')$?

A lighthouse has two blinking spotlights 0.4 meters apart. The spotlight on the right blinks 5 seconds after the one on the left. How much time elapses between the blinkings of the spotlights as ...
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2answers
166 views

Beat Frequency for Police Radar with Special Relativity

"A radar speed trap operates on a frequency $v_o = 109 Hz$. What is the beat frequency between the transmitted signal and one received after reflection from a car moving at v = 30 m/s toward the ...
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Every Relativistic Field Satifies the Klein-Gordon Equation?

I've read that every relativistic scalar field (and in some sense, any field) satisfies the Klein-Gordon equation. Is the reasoning for this just based on the quantum mechanical substitution of $E\to ...
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What does the statement “the laws of physics are invariant” mean?

In the first paragraph of Wikipedia's article on special relativity, it states one of the assumptions of special relativity is the laws of physics are invariant (i.e., identical) in all inertial ...
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What happens when a photon hits a mirror?

When a photon of light hits a mirror does the exact same photon of light bounce back or is it absorbed then one with the same properties emitted? If the same one is bounced back does it's velocity ...
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1answer
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Electric field, special relativity, and charged particle

Given a uniform electric field in the $z$ direction and an observer moving at constant $v$ in the $y$ direction, how you would describe the motion of a charged particle that start at rest in the ...