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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What if the binding energy becomes larger than the rest mass?

Looking at the equation for binding energy and mass defect, $$ B = m_{\text{free}} - m_{\text{bound}} \\ \Rightarrow m_{\text{bound}} = m_{\text{free}} - B, $$ my question is the following. Suppose ...
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What's the purpose of the arbitary additive constants in Einstein's Inertia of Energy Paper?

In Einstein's paper: Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy content? he introduces arbitary additive constants whose purpose I'm confused about. The paper has a frame $(x,y,z)$ where a ...
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191 views

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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Do velocity and acceleration time dilation factors add?

For a spinning space station such as in 2001, A Space Odyssey, what would be the time slowing in the perimeter of the spinning space station with respect to the center axis of the station? The ...
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222 views

Is there a relativity-compatible thermodynamics?

I am just wondering that laws in thermodynamics are not Lorentz invariant, it only involves the $T^{00}$ component. Tolman gave a formalism in his book. For example, the first law is replaced by the ...
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472 views

Classical vs. Quantum use of the spin 4-vector

I have a few basic questions about the Pauli-Lubanski spin 4-vector S. I've used it in quantum mechanical calculations as an operator, that is to say each of the components of S is a matrix operator ...
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454 views

Relativistic drift velocity of electrons in a superconductor?

Is there a formula for the effective speed of electron currents inside superconductors? The formula for normal conductors is: $$ V = \frac{I}{nAq}$$ I wonder if there are any changes to this ...
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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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Does the “Andromeda Paradox” (Rietdijk–Putnam-Penrose) imply a completely deterministic universe?

Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rietdijk–Putnam_argument Abstract of 1966 Rietdijk paper: A proof is given that there does not exist an event, that is not already in the past for ...
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Derive $\frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t}(\gamma m\mathbf{v}) = e\mathbf{E}$ from elementary principles?

It is experimentally known that the equation of motion for a charge $e$ moving in a static electric field $\mathbf{E}$ is given by: $$\frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t} (\gamma m\mathbf{v}) = ...
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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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Special Relativity and $E = mc^2$

I read somewhere that $E=mc^2$ shows that if something was to travel faster than the speed of light then they would have infinite mass and would have used infinite energy. How does the equation show ...
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Can special relativity distort the relative order in which events occur?

Pretend you are throwing darts at a dart board. You throw dart $d_1$ at time $t_1$. After you throw your first dart, you throw your second dart $d_2$ at time $t_2$. Given that $t_2 > t_1$ in a ...
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395 views

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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Why proper acceleration is $du/dt$ and not $du/d\tau$?

Wikipedia says: In relativity theory, proper acceleration[1] is the physical acceleration (i.e., measurable acceleration as by an accelerometer) experienced by an object. and says: In the ...
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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?
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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 ...
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Bound State of Only Massless Particles? Follows a Time-Like Trajectory?

Is there any way in which a bound state could consist only of massless particles? If yes, would this "atom" of massless particles travel on a light-like trajectory, or would the interaction energy ...
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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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Velocity Time Dilation

In Wikipedia article about time dilation, it says: "Hafele and Keating, in 1971, flew caesium atomic clocks east and west around the Earth in commercial airliners...the moving clocks were expected ...
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695 views

Why Lorentz Transformation in Special Relativity has to be like this?

Basically I think Albert Einstein (A.E.) was trying to find a transformation that: Always transform a constant-velocity movement into a constant-velocity movement. Always transform a ...
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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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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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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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Infinitesimal Lorentz transformation is antisymmetric

The Minkowski metric transforms under Lorentz transformations as \begin{align*}\eta_{\rho\sigma} = \eta_{\mu\nu}\Lambda^\mu_{\ \ \ \rho} \Lambda^\nu_{\ \ \ \sigma} \end{align*} I want to show that ...
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Why is the Dirac equation not used for calculations?

From what I understand the Dirac equation is supposed to be an improvement on the Schrödinger equation in that it is consistent with relativity theory. Yet all methods I have encountered for doing ...
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Would travelling at relativistic speeds have any impact on human biology?

If a person was sitting on a craft that has accelerated to near light speed speed from Earth (e.g. 99.999% of light speed) would there be any impact on his or her human biology due to relativistic ...
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544 views

Do we move at the speed of light relative to light?

My understanding of relativity isn't very sophisticated, but it seems to me that relative to a photon moving at the speed of light, we are moving at the speed of light. Is this the case?
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How is the speed of light constant in all directions for all observers?

Please imagine the following thought-experiment: Order of Events: Pulse - A single pulse of light is emitted from the light towards the mirror Reflect - The pulse hits the mirror and is ...
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The notion called aether

I am trying to learn relativity theory and going through an introductory text on special relativity. I stumbled on the Michelson-Morley experiment. The book claims (accounts) that the result of this ...
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Darwin term and Zitterbewegung

I've noticed that in the discussion of the fine structure of Hydrogen atom standard QM texts claim that the Darwin term, which corrects energy of $\ell=0$ (or $s$-) states only, is related to the ...
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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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Is there a relativistic generalization of the Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distribution?

The Maxwell-Boltzmann velocity distribution in 3D space is $$ f(v)dv = 4\pi \left(\frac{m}{2\pi k_B T}\right)^{3/2} v^2 \exp\left(-\frac{m v^2}{2k_B T}\right)dv$$ It gives the probability for a ...
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How can photons interact with anything?

I read photons do not age because they move at the speed of light. So when a photon interacts with my eyes, aren't they apart in space-time by the difference of the time in the frame of reference of ...
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What is the real meaning of length contraction?

Suppose one inertial observer measures a rod at rest w.r.t. him and another observer is moving w.r.t. rod. We then say that length will be shorter for moving observer but at the instants the first ...
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Meaning of spin

I'm pretty astounded that I did not hear about this sooner, but in my course on QFT our professor told us that the concept of spin can be used to mean three things: Mechanical spin (apparently a ...
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The Dual Cloud Chamber Paradox

2012-04-07 Addendum: The Dual Cloud Chamber Paradox Two 10m diameter spheres $A$ and $B$ of very cold, thin gas have average atomic separations of 1nm. Their atoms are neutral, but ionize easily and ...
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Help Me Gain an Intuitive Understanding of Lorentz Contraction

I'm having a hard time getting an intuitive understanding of Lorentz Contraction. I understand what it is by definition but I don't 'get it.' I'm not a physicist, just an amateur, so sorry if this ...
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486 views

Calculate the electric field of a moving infinite magnet, without boosting

Consider a rectangular slab of permanently magnetized material. The slab's dimensions are $L_x$, $L_y$, and $L_z$, and the slab is uniformly magnetized in the $\hat{x}$-direction. The slab is not ...
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Number of the Generators of Poincare Group

It is said that the Poincare group, $P(3,1)$ has $10$ generators. $6$ of them are the generators of the Lorentz group, $O(3,1)$ and the other $4$ generators are the generators of $4D$ translational ...
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Relativity and Current in Wire

If an observer is stationary relative to a current-carrying wire in which electrons are moving, why does the observer measure the density of moving electrons to be the same as the density of electrons ...
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Proof for $p=\gamma_Pmu$

As I'm reading about Relativistic Momentum, my book states the following: $$p=m \frac{\Delta x}{\Delta t}=m\frac{\Delta x}{\sqrt{(1-u^2/c^2)}\Delta t}=\frac{mu}{\sqrt{1-u^2/c^2}}=\gamma_Pmu$$ ...
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Entanglement and relativity

Two observers A and B measure a quantum entangled state and obtain correlated results, even if their separation is space-like (each is out of the light cone of the other). A possible interpretation is ...
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Why absoluteness of time implies galilean transformations?

In Landau course, vol.1 Mechanics, one finds the statement: ...the absoluteness of time necessarily implies that the ordinary law of composition of velocities is applicable to all phenomena. I ...
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351 views

Special relativity and massless particles

I met an approval that massless particle moves with fundamental speed c and this is the consequence of special relativity. Some authors (such as L. Okun) like to prove this approval by the next ...
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Can we write the electromagnetic potential covariantly in terms of the four-current?

In the Lorenz gauge, we have a beautiful relation between the four-current and the four-potential: $$\Box A^{\alpha} = \mu_0 J^{\alpha}$$ To get $A$ in terms of $J$, however, we have to use a ...
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Representations of the Poincare group

Which type of states carry the irreducible unitary representations of the Poincare group? Multi-particle states or Single-particle states?
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Why is the stress-energy tensor symmetric?

The relativistic stress-energy tensor $T$ is important in both special and general relativity. Why is it symmetric, with $T_{\mu\nu}=T_{\nu\mu}$? As a secondary question, how does this relate to the ...
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Open problems in special relativity, and non-inertial motion in flat-spacetime, or things that have been discovered recently

What classical open problems are there in special relativity, including questions about non-inertial motion in flat-spacetime, but excluding questions about quantum theories. Answers can include ...
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Does quantum mechanics allow faster than light (FTL) travel?

Let's suppose I initially have a particle with a nice and narrow wave function[1] (I will leave these unnormed): $$e^{-\frac{x^2}{a}}$$ where $a$ is some small number (to make it narrow). Let's also ...