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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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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Why is the speed of light arbitrarily the limit? [duplicate]

I know Einstein was great and all. Why is it that exactly at the speed of light is where infinite energy is required to accelerate any object with mass? Is it simply because the math of relativity ...
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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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Is there always a frame in which spatially separated events are simultaneous?

In relativity, if two events are simultaneous in a specified frame, they cannot be simultaneous in any other frame. My question is this: given any two events, is there always a frame in which these ...
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Do photons age in a medium?

According to special relativity, time starts to slow down as we increase our speed and eventually stops once we get to the speed of light. By that logic, photons don't age in a vacuum state as, to us, ...
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Is there a fourth component to the electric field and magnetic field?

The Question If the three vector electric and magnetic fields come from the four component four-potential, then is there a fourth component to the electric and magnetic field? Related Question I ...
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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 ...
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Are Classical Field Theory and Quantum Mechanics of a single particle (nonrelativistic or “classical”) limits of Quantum Field Theory?

Recently I talked about QFT with another physicist and mentioned that the Quantum Field Theory of a fermion is a quantisation of its one-particle quantum mechanical theory. He denied this and ...
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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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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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Does a muon detector on Earth's surface correctly measure the mean lifetime of a muon?

Just a simple question. Does a muon detector on Earth's surface correctly measure the mean lifetime of a muon? I would think the answer is no because most muons detected are created about 15 km above ...
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Tachyon and Photons

Is there a particle called "tachyons" that can travel faster than light? If so, would Einstein's relativity be wrong? According to Einstein no particle can travel faster than light.
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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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Can something travel faster than light if it has always been travelling faster than light?

I know there are zillions of questions about faster than light travel, but please hear me out. According to special relativity, it is impossible to accelerate something to the speed of light. However, ...
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Generators of Poincare Groups

How can I determine the generators of the Poincare Group, $P(1,3)$ explicitly? Here $P(1,3)$ means a matrix Lie group.
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Why isn't there a limit for a Euclidean rotation, as for a Minkowski rotation?

From invariance of the Minkowski scalar product, we get the Lorentz transformations. In addition, we get a constant $c$ preventing space-like and time-like intervals being rotated into one another. ...
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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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How can time be relative?

I don't understand how time can be relative to different observers, and I think my confusion is around how I understand what time is. I have always been told (and thought) that time is basically a ...
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Whether $m$ in $E=mc^{2}$ and $F=ma$ are both relativistic mass?

I know that $m$ in $E=mc^{2}$ is the relativistic mass, but can $m$ in $F=ma$ can also be relativistic? If the answer is yes, then can you tell me whether this equation is valid $E=\frac{F}{a}c^{2}$? ...
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“Relativistic Baseball”

On Randall Munroe’s new blog “what if”, he answers the question: “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?” http://what-if.xkcd.com/1/ He concludes: ...
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Special relativity and electromagnets

This Veritasium video explains how electromagnets can be explained by special relativity, and how the magnetic field surrounding a current-carrying wire can also be viewed as an electric field, if ...
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Is the commutation of all possible operators sufficient to identify a spacelike interval?

It has been claimed (e.g. here) and apparently already been established, that the interval $x - y$ being (called) "spacelike" implies that $\bigl[\hat O (x),\, \hat O' (y)\bigr]=0$ for any two (not ...
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Is acceleration relative?

A while back in my Dynamics & Relativity lectures my lecturer mentioned that an object need not be accelerating relative to anything - he said it makes sense for an object to just be accelerating. ...
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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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current in wire + special relativity = magnetism

Current in wire + moving charge next to wire creates magnetic force in the stationary reference frame OR electric force in the moving reference frame from special relativity due to change in charge ...
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Cancelling special & general relativistic effects

We know that for a GPS we need to make a correction for both general and special relativity: general relativity predicts that clocks go slower in a higher gravitational field (the clock aboard a GPS ...
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Is there a rest frame for the Higgs boson?

If there is a non-zero expectation value for the Higgs boson even in "vacuum", since the Higgs boson has a mass unlike photons, then I would expect it to have a rest frame. So why doesn't a non-zero ...
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Special Relativistic approximation to GR

Some time ago I was talking to a professor in college about some of the fundamental aspects and origin of General Relativity. I was surprised to learn, in fact, that a pretty good approximation to GR ...
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Trouble with the Lorentz law of force: Incompatibility with special relativity and momentum conservation?

In Physical Review Letters, there was a paper recently published: Masud Mansuripur, Trouble with the Lorentz Law of Force: Incompatibility with Special Relativity and Momentum Conservation, Phys. ...
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Can a black hole form due to Lorentz contraction? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: If a 1kg mass was accelerated close to the speed of light would it turn into a black hole? Imagine, a rod of length L is moving with velocity approaching the speed of ...
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Why Negative Energy States are Bad

The argument is often given that the early attempts of constructing a relativistic theory of quantum mechanics must not have gotten everything right because they led to the necessity of negative ...
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Vector spaces for the irreducible representations of the Lorentz Group

EDIT: The vector space for the $(\frac{1}{2},0)$ Representation is $\mathbb{C}^2$ as mentioned by Qmechanic in the comments to his answer below! The vector spaces for the other representations remain ...
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How do we measure the range of distant objects despite relativistic effects?

When we observe astronomical objects like distant galaxies there are several complicating factors for estimating the distance: Relativistic speed result in length contraction Relativistic speed ...
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Can a spinor be defined as any quantity which transforms linearly under Lorentz transformations?

Recently I’ve come across a few papers from China (e.g. Xiang-Yao Wu et al., arXiv:1212.4028v1 14 Dec 2012) that make the following statement: ...any quantity which transforms linearly under ...
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Is “Causality” the equivalent of a claim that the future is predictable based on the present and the past?

In classical (Newtonian) mechanics, every observer had the same past and the same future and if you had perfect knowledge about the current state of all particles in the universe, you could ...
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Is there a mathematical reason for the Lagrangian to be Lorentz invariant?

The Hamiltonian is the energy, which is just one component of a four-vector and therefore not Lorentz invariant. The Lagrangian is the Legendre transform of the Hamiltonian and I was wondering if ...
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What's wrong with this QFT thought experiment?

In quantum field theory, the propagator $D(x-y)$ doesn't vanish for space-like separation. In Zee's book, he claims that this means a particle can leak out of the light-cone. Feynman also gives this ...
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Relativistic center of mass

Recently I realized the concept of center of mass makes sense in special relativity. Maybe it's explained in the textbooks, but I missed it. However, there's a puzzle regarding the zero mass case ...
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Do the integral forms of Maxwell's Equations have limited applicability because of retardation?

In the usual bookwork treatment, it is easy to show that the differential and integral forms of Maxwell's equations are equivalent using Gauss's and Stokes's theorems. I have always thought that ...
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Why do we identify symmetric 2nd rank tensors with spin-2 particles in string theory?

I am going through Tong's lecture notes on String Theory and came across the following irrep decomposition (Chap 2, p.43) of the bosonic string first excited states: $$\text{traceless symmetric} ...
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What's the difference between space and time?

I'm having a hard time understanding how changing space means changing time. In books I've read people are saying "space and time" or "space-time" but never explain what the difference is between the ...
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Time Dilation - How does it know which Frame of Reference to age slower?

Okay, I'm asking a question similar to this one here: Time Dilation - what happens when you bring the observers back together?. Specifically, I am curious about a specific angle on the second part of ...
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Can one create mass from energy?

Due to $ E =m c^2 $, one can convert mass to energy. A classic example would be matter/anti-matter annihilation to produce energy (photons, etc.). Can one do the reverse? So could one do something to ...
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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 ...
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Is special relativity a special case of general relativity, qualitatively?

Since Einstein name his theory Special Relativity and General Relativity, there should be some expected relationship between them, particularly "Special Relativity" being a special case of the more ...
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The reference frame of $c$

I don't have a lot of knowledge of special relativity and associated topics; some of the few things I know are that "all motion is relative" (that is, there is no 'stationary reference frame'), and ...
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How to prove that proper orthochronous Lorentz transformations form a group?

Proper orthochronous Loentz transform are Lorentz transforms that satisfy the conditions (sign convention of Minkowskian metric $+---$) $$\det \Lambda=+1, \qquad \Lambda^0{}_0 \geq +1.$$ How to prove ...
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If a neutrino has a rest frame, why can't a photon have a rest frame as well?

Concerning Rest Frame Wikipedia states: For example, in the rest frame of a neutrino particle travelling from the Crab Nebula supernova to Earth the supernova occurred in the 11th Century AD ...
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How does wind speed affect the velocity of light?

As you know, there is a maximum speed things can go called $c$, the "speed of light." Light in a vacuum goes $c$. Light in the atmosphere, however, goes a little less than $c$. My question is: what ...
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How do I develop an intuitive model of spacetime?

I am your nightmare poster - a layman trying to learn special relativity. (I'm also a refugee from stackoverflow.com: trust me, it's only going to get worse). Apologies in advance if my question is ...