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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If two ultra-relativistic billiard balls just miss, will they still form a black hole?

This forum seems to agree that a billiard ball accellerated to ultra-relativistic speeds does not turn into a black hole. (See recent question "If a 1kg mass was accelerated close to the speed of ...
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Is there a strong force analog to magnetic fields?

In special relativity, magnetism can be re-interpreted as an aspect of how electric charges interact when viewed from different inertial frames. Color charge is more complex than electric charge, but ...
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How to understand the emergent special relativity in the superfluid?

The superfluid vacuum theory was proposed to understand some features of the vacuum (aether) from the emergence point of view. Although made up of non-relativistic atoms, the low-energy excitations of ...
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Motivation for preservation of spacetime volume by Lorentz transformation?

My favorite way of deriving the Lorentz transformation is to start from symmetry principles (an approach originated in Ignatowsky 1911; cf. Pal 2003), and one of my steps is to prove a lemma stating ...
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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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Do particles have different spins in different frames of reference?

Let's say we have two photons, whose momentum vectors point to opposite directions. Also spin angular momentum vectors of the photons point to opposite directions. (Sum of spins is zero) Now we ...
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A simple pendulum moving at a relativistic speed - how does the period change?

I've been pondering the precise mechanism of time dilation for the example of a simple pendulum in two different situations: The observer and ground are at rest in one frame of reference; the ...
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What is the difference between the properties of Electron spin and Photon polarization/helicity?

What is the difference between a photon's polarization/helicity and an electrons spin half? I know that the photon is spin 1 but isn't its polarization analogous to spin half? This question stems ...
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Rotate a long bar in space and get close to (or even beyond) the speed of light $c$

Imagine a bar spinning like a helicopter propeller, At $\omega$ rad/s because the extremes of the bar goes at speed $$V = \omega * r$$ then we can reach near $c$ (speed of light) applying some ...
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How do photons travel at a speed that should be impossible to attain?

If it requires infinite amount of energy to travel at the speed of light then how photon attains this speed? Its source is never infinitely sourced.
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Center-of-mass frame for massless particles

Given a scattering event where a photon and electron go in and a photon and electron come out, what is the center of mass frame? I'd say, since the photon has no mass, it's the rest frame of the ...
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Validity of Maxwell's equations with no aether or relativity?

In From Paradox to Reality: Our Basic Concepts of the Physical World by Fritz Rohrlich page 55 it states that [...] just doing away with the ether would not have resolved all problems. The ...
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How large is the universe?

We know that the age of the universe (or, at least the time since the Big Bang) is roughly 13.75 billion years. I have heard that the size of the universe is much larger than what we can see, in other ...
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Why collide a moving particle with a particle at rest, rather than two moving particles?

I was just reading some lecture notes about relativistic and quantum mechanics, and in the later part of this page the author demonstrates that any relativistic particle collision in the "lab" ...
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What is the speed of light relative to?

Consider the scenario where you measure the time it takes for light to travel to the left 10 meters and to the right 10 meters. Both measurements will take the same time, even though we are moving ...
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Do all massless particles (e.g. photon, graviton, gluon) necessarily have the same speed $c$?

I suppose there was a discussion already on speed-of-gravity-and-speed-of-light. But I silly wonder whether all the massless mediators of four fundamental forces, i.e. Graviton: $g_{\mu\nu}$ ...
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What is a Lorentz boost and how to calculate it?

I know very little special relativity. I never leaned it properly, but every time I read someone saying: "if you boost in the x-direction, you get such and such" my mind goes blank! I tried ...
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The derivation of the Belinfante-Rosenfeld tensor

It seems me that there is a "difference" (at least apparently) in how the Belinfante-Rosenfeld tensor is thought of in section 7.4 of Volume 1 of Weinberg's QFT book and in section 2.5.1 of the ...
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Essential background for QFT study

The preface to Mark Srednicki's "Quantum Field Theory" says that to be prepared for the book, one must recognize and understand the following equations: $$\frac{d\sigma}{d\Omega} = ...
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Charge conjugation in Dirac equation

According to Dirac equation we can write, \begin{equation} \left(i\gamma^\mu( \partial_\mu +ie A_\mu)- m \right)\psi(x,t) = 0 \end{equation} We seek an equation where $e\rightarrow -e $ and which ...
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How fast can time flow? A question of time dilation

(I would describe myself as an illiterate physics enthusiast, so I hope you'll forgive me if my ignorance is borderline offensive.) If I've understood anything of the concept of time dilation, your ...
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Relativity of Simultaneity

Relativity of Simultaneity seems to be about OBSERVING two events simultaneously (please correct me if I am wrong). However, as long as the two events are separated by a distance (any distance) then ...
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What's wrong with this application of Thomas Precession to circular motion velocity measurements?

If you happen to have the Third Edition of Classical Electrodynamics by John David Jackson, turn to section 11.8, as that's where I'm getting all this from. If not, you should still be able to follow ...
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Can the CPT theorem be valid if Lorentz invariance is only spontaneously broken?

Earlier, I asked here whether one can have spontaneous breaking of the Lorentz symmetry and was shown a Lorentz invariant term that can drive the vacuum to not be Lorentz invariant. How relaxed are ...
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Minkowski Metric Signature

When I learned about the Minkowski Space and it's coordinates, it was explained such that the metric turns out to be $$ ds^{2} = -(cdx^{0})^{2} +(dx^{1})^{2} + (dx^{2})^{2} + (dx^{3})^{2} $$ where $ ...
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Lay explanation of the special theory of relativity? [closed]

What is Einstein's theory of Special relativity, in terms a lay person can follow?
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What happens when relativistic effects stop?

I'm currently learning special relativity in high school and we only primarily deal with what happens when an object is moving at constant relativistic speeds. But what if the object slowed back down ...
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How to derive addition of velocities without the Lorentz transformation?

Lorentz contraction and time dilatation can be deduced without Lorentz transformation. Can you deduce also the theorem of addition of velocities $$w~=~\dfrac{u+v}{1+uv/c^2}$$ without Lorentz ...
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Does the discreteness of spacetime in canonical approaches imply good bye to STR?

In all the canonical approaches to the problem of quantum gravity, (eg. loop variable) spacetime is thought to have a discrete structure. One question immediately comes naively to an outsider of this ...
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How does $E=mc^2$ put an upper limit to velocity of a body?

How does $E=mc^2$ put a upper limit to velocity of a body? I have read some articles on speed of light and they just tell me that it is the maximum velocity that can be acquired by any particle. How ...
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Boosts are non-unitary!

The boost transformations are not unitary unlike rotations, the boost generators are not Hermitian. When this induces transformations in the Hilbert space, will those transformation be unitary? I ...
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Why is pseudorapidity defined as $-\log \tan \theta/2$

Why the log? Is it there to make the growth of the function slower? As this is a common experimental observable, it doesn't seem reasonable to take the range from $[0,\infty)$ to $(-\infty,\infty)$ ...
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The Euler-Lagrange equation in special relativity

How can I derive the Euler-Lagrange equations valid in the field of special relativity? Specifically, consider a scalar field.
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Where's the energy in a boosted capacitor?

Suppose I look at a parallel plate capacitor in its rest frame and calculate the electrostatic energy, $E$. Next, I look at the same capacitor in a primed frame boosted in the direction perpendicular ...
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Is there a four-dimensional definition of entropy?

It seems odd that entropy is usually only defined for a system in a single 'slice' of time or spacelike region. Can one define the entropy of a system defined by a 4d region of spacetime, in such a ...
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Invariant spacetime - distance - Circular Motion

I understand that the closer something travels to the speed of light, that time will stretch by a factor, and distance will compress by the same factor. My question is, if something travels in a ...
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Maxwell's Equations using Differential Forms

Maxwell's Equations written with usual vector calculus are $$\nabla \cdot E=\rho/\epsilon_0 \qquad \nabla \cdot B=0$$ $$\nabla\times E=-\dfrac{\partial B}{\partial t} \qquad\nabla\times ...
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Understanding the “$\pi$” of a rotating disk

Let us say you are in an inertial reference frame with a circular planar disk. If you take your meter measuring rods (or perhaps tape measure) you can find the diameter and circumference of the disk. ...
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Clocks in special relativity

One book on special relativity says: Any observer at rest relative to his own timepiece will see that other clocks moving with respect to him run fast - the greater their speed, the faster they ...
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Conservation of phase space volume in Rindler space-time

Let us consider Rindler space-time, i.e. Minkowski space-time as seen by a constantly accelerating observer. My question is, does Liouville's theorem, i.e. the conservation of phase space volume in ...
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What are the consequences of relativistic angular velocities?

If I take a rod of some radius $r$ and length $L$, and I spin this rod with angular velocity $\omega$. How would the geometry of the rod appear to an observer as one converges to $c$? What are the ...
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Time dilation all messed up!

Okay! There is a problem with my logic and i cannot seem to point out where. There's a rocket ship travelling at close-to-c speed v without any acceleration (hypothetically), and there is an observer ...
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Is proper time a vector?

Proper time is identical with the spacetime interval of a timelike movement. A spacetime interval is the dot product of two vectors and thus a scalar. Proper time however is always pointing exactly ...
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Minkowski spacetime: Is there a signature (+,+,+,+)?

In history there was an attempt to reach (+, +, +, +) by replacing "ct" with "ict", still employed today in form of the "Wick rotation". Wick rotation supposes that time is imaginary. I wonder if ...
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How does Newtonian gravitation conflict with special relativity?

In the Wikipedia article Classical Field Theory (Gravitation), it says After Newtonian gravitation was found to be inconsistent with special relativity, . . . I don't see how Newtonian ...
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Do tachyons move faster than light?

I am trying to understand whether or not tachyons travel faster than light. The linked Wikipedia page shows some seemingly contradictory statements, and they are confusing. For instance, the first ...
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Why is the space-time interval squared?

The space-time interval equation is this: $$\Delta s^2=\Delta x^2+\Delta y^2+\Delta z^2-(c\Delta t)^2$$ Where, $\Delta x, \Delta y, \Delta z$ and $\Delta t$ represent the distances along various ...
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What does it mean when physical theories are inconsistent?

I am hoping that someone can explain in layman terms why Newtonian mechanics and Maxwell's equations are inconsistent. Wikipedia says that this inconsistency is what led to the development of ...
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Why is the ratio of velocity to the speed of light squared in the Lorentz factor?

Why is the ratio of velocity to the speed of light squared in the Lorentz factor? $${\left( {{v \over c}} \right)^2}$$ My only guess is the value must be positive.
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What was Albert Einstein's proof for $E=mc^2$?

Most people know the famous equation: $$E=mc^2$$ What were his steps of thinking for this equation that helped us discover so much about our world?