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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (5)

13
votes
5answers
1k views

The definition of an inertial reference frame in Einstein's relativity

I'm reading Sean Carroll's book on general relativity, and I have a question about the definition of an inertial reference frame. In the first chapter that's dedicated to special relativity, the ...
13
votes
2answers
519 views

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 ...
13
votes
1answer
481 views

Is it only the Higgs field that stops me from getting to $c$?

Is it only the higgs field that stops me from accelerating up to the speed of light or is there other restriction concerning the increase in mass? In other words if I had a Higgs field shield on my ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Why the vacuum polarization does not decrease the speed of light?

On one hand, in the classical electrodynamics polarization of transparent media yields in lowering the speed of light by the factor of $n=\sqrt{\epsilon_r \mu_r}$ (refractive index). On the other, in ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
12
votes
7answers
2k views

Quaternions and 4-vectors

I recently realised that quaternions could be used to write intervals or norms of vectors in special relativity: $$(t,ix,jy,kz)^2 = t^2 + (ix)^2 + (jy)^2 + (kz)^2 = t^2 - x^2 - y^2 - z^2$$ Is it ...
12
votes
8answers
2k views

The Four-Clock Special Relativity Conundrum

Two open-car trains approach each other at fixed velocities. Each has a radar to see how quickly the other train is approaching, but apart from that the trains have no a priori knowledge of each ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
12
votes
4answers
3k views

Einstein's special relativity beyond the speed of light

Could someone with access to this paper which claims to have new transformations between frames with relative motion faster than light which are supposedly consistent with special-relativity, say what ...
12
votes
2answers
9k views

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 ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

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 ...
12
votes
5answers
808 views

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 ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Do particles with exactly zero energy exist?

In my understanding, in Newtonian mechanics if something has no mass it cannot be said to "exist" since it cannot possibly have energy or momentum and thus cannot participate in interactions or be ...
12
votes
2answers
503 views

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 ...
12
votes
2answers
846 views

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
760 views

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 ...
12
votes
3answers
571 views

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 ...
12
votes
4answers
6k views

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
964 views

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 ...
11
votes
5answers
5k views

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.
11
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

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" ...
11
votes
6answers
542 views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
616 views

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} = ...
11
votes
2answers
395 views

Is there any theorem that suggests that QM+SR has to be an operator theory?

UPDATE To make my question more precise, I'll define what I mean by an operator theory: An operator theory is a theory in which the dynamical objects are operators, i.e., the equations of motion ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
321 views

Proving invariance of $ds^2$ from the invariance of the speed of light

I've started today the book of Landau and Lifshitz Vol.2: The Classical Theory of Fields $\S 2$. They start from the invariance of the speed of light, express it as the fact that $$c^2(\Delta ...
11
votes
2answers
313 views

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 ...
11
votes
3answers
546 views

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 ...
11
votes
1answer
395 views

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 ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What happens if light/particles exceeded the speed of light for a particular medium

While the speed of light in vacuum is a universal constant ($c$), the speed at which light propagates in other materials/mediums may be less than $c$. This is obviously suggested by the fact that ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

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 $ ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Potential energy in $E_f^2=(mc^2)^2+(pc)^2$?

Let's consider $$E_f^2=(mc^2)^2+(pc)^2$$ where the $mc^2$ is the rest energy due to the rest mass -- in Finnish "lepomassa". $$ \sqrt{(mc^2)^2+(pc)^2} - mc^2~=~(\gamma-1)mc^2$$ is the kinetic ...
10
votes
4answers
987 views

Lay explanation of the special theory of relativity? [closed]

What is Einstein's theory of Special relativity, in terms a lay person can follow?
10
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
10
votes
4answers
939 views

Is Minkowski space usually a vector space or an affine space?

When I visited Wikipedia's page on Minkowski space, it seemed to offer two definitions. The first defined Minkowski space a vector space. Then, in a later section, it says The section above ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
10
votes
7answers
930 views

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 ...
10
votes
4answers
608 views

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 ...
10
votes
6answers
375 views

Reconciling Minkowski and 3+1 view of special relativity

I am having some trouble reconciling the Minkowski (4-dimensional) and the pre-Minkowski (3+1-dimensional) approach to special relativity. Let me describe (how I interpret) the Lorentz transformations ...
10
votes
2answers
5k views

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?
10
votes
1answer
810 views

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 ...
10
votes
3answers
20k views

Why don't electromagnetic waves require a medium?

As I understand it, electromagnetic waves have two components which are the result of each other, i.e., when a moving electric charge creates a changing magnetic field at point X then a changing ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

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 $(-\infty,\infty)$ ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

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.
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Distance in relativistic circular motion in invariant spacetime

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 ...