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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A vertical variation of modern versions of Michelson-Morley

For almost a year now, I have been in the uncomfortable position of having an idea. However, there is one nice thing about this idea. It makes a concrete, exact and relatively easy to test physical ...
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What's so special about the speed of light? [duplicate]

What's so special about the speed of light? Why do many equations in physics include the speed of light in vacuum $c$? Why do so many thing depend upon it? Why can't it be the speed of sound? ...
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Recommended books for a “relativity for poets” class?

I teach physics at a community college and have developed a new course titled "Relativity for Poets," which I will be teaching for the first time in spring 2015. As implied by the title, it's a ...
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What would an observer see if he/she flew toward a clock at relativistic speeds?

If an observer approaches a clock at a significant fraction of the speed of light, would they see the clock's hands moving at a faster or slower than usual rate? I figure there are two competing ...
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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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When a body accelerates, it gains (relativistic) mass; after stopping, is the (relativistic) mass different from before it started accelerating?

When a body accelerates, it gains (relativistic) mass $m$ according to the relation $$m=\frac{m_0}{\sqrt{1-(v/c)^2}},$$ where $m_0$ is the (rest) mass. But after it stops is the gained (relativistic) ...
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Are events in this experiment simultaneous if observed in platform's frame?

In some contexts e.g. on Wikipedia it is defined as a matter of happening . In others(e.g. as defined by Einstein in his book "Relativity the special and general theory") it is defined as a matter of ...
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Precession of relativistic orbit in pure inverse-square force [closed]

PROBLEM: Show that Special Relativity predicts a precession of $\pi (GMm/cl)^2$ radians per orbit for any elliptic orbit under a pure inverse-square force. Where $G$ is gravitational ...
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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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Exactly how is the constant measured velocity of light deduced from Maxwell's equation?

For electromagnetic radiation the velocity of propagation is $c = 1/\sqrt{\mu_0 \epsilon_0}$. Since both $\mu_0$ and $\epsilon_0$ do not vary in any inertial frame, then $c$ must be constant in any ...
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Why should photons obey the rules of causality? [closed]

This may have a quick answer, but it has been on my mind so here it goes: why, if according to special relativity, do photons obey the rules of causality, if they are inherently timeless. According to ...
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What if photons are not the fastest particles?

Einstein originally thought that special relativity was about light and how it always travelled at the same speed. Nowadays, we think that special relativity is about the idea that there is some ...
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What conditions should be met to notice a Doppler effect on light?

What relativistic conditions should an observer meet to notice the Doppler effect on a sample light wave, and is it even possible for one?
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666 views

If something is not moving in space, is it moving on the time axis at the speed of light? [duplicate]

I heard this theory yesterday: If something is not moving in space, then it is moving on the time axis at the speed of light. I realize that in essence there is no object which can be considered as ...
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6answers
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Why are objects at rest in motion through spacetime at the speed of light?

I read that an object at rest has such a stupendous amount of energy, $E=mc^2$ because it's effectively in motion through space-time at the speed of light and it's traveling through the time dimension ...
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What problems with Electromagnetism led Einstein to the Special Theory of Relativity?

I have often heard it said that several problems in the theory of electromagnetism as described by Maxwell's equations led Einstein to his theory of Special Relativity. What exactly were these ...
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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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How can Lorentz contraction be “directly” measured?

If one is watching a relativistic object of e.g. spherical shape, which emits enough light to be detectable, it will, despite being Lorentz contracted, appear of its natural shape, although rotated. ...
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No length contraction!

Suppose a person standing on a platform were to observe and measure the length of a train passing by. Instead of the usual approach involving a clock and knowing the speed of the train, the person ...
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1answer
108 views

What wilI I observe when travelling at almost the speed of light? [duplicate]

If I and a group of friends are travelling at or just below the speed of light - can I see myself, can I see them, or they me? Would we see anything at all?
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How are light and time related?

So, from what I understand: Special Relativity says that light is always observed moving at the speed of light (c). If some object had a velocity of (3/4)c, and the object had some sort of clock ...
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Length contraction

I am trying to work out the length contraction using the Lorentz transformations. Here is how I stated the problem: Suppose a bar (whose proper length is $L$) is moving at speed $u$ (to the right) ...
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Is time not a universal parameter, really, in special relativity?

I want to check that I get it right. The way that I have it in my mind is that, in my frame of reference and from my point of view, SR associates only one time parameter for the whole space, and not ...
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What Did Nobelaureate Smoot Mean by “Modern Efforts to Find Violations of Special Relativity”

In George Smoot's 2006 Nobel Lecture, having won the Nobel prize for his research on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), he refers to the possibility of the CMB being a special frame stating ...
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Relativistic Doppler Effect and the Sagnac effect

What I think I know about the Sagnac effect can be found here. It occurs to me that the equations for calculating the time do not take the Doppler effect into account. I'm familiar with the very ...
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How can light have the same speed for all observers? [duplicate]

I'm a little confused on this. If you're travelling at, say, 10% of the speed of light then light is travelling at 3x10^8 ms^(-1) relative to you. If you're moving at 80% of the speed of light and ...
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Why does “closing speed” $>c$ not violate relativity's second postulate? [closed]

Why does closing speed $>c$ of a particle and photon or photon and photon not violate relativity's second postulate? Einstein expressed his Second Postulate in On the Electrodynamics of ...
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Two observers moving opposite to each other will see each other moving at speeds greater than light? [duplicate]

I read this question at another forum but the thread was already closed. Here's the description: Two observers A and B are both moving at a velocity of 0.9 times the speed of light with respect to a ...
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Breaking the speed of light…? [duplicate]

I know the speed of light can't be broken, but I cannot figure out why the following scenario is not possible. I'm not a physicist myself but I know the basic stuff. Assume you're in a car ...
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Clock synchronazation in special relativity using signal other than light

I'm reading Taylor & Wheeler "Spacetime Physics" and have a question about possibility of correct clock synch using signal other then light. For example, we choose reference clock(A) and at ...
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1answer
90 views

How does EM radition depend on the reference frame?

In special relativity, magnetism is electrostatics in a different reference frame. This is how we explain the magnetic field being produced by moving charges (aka currents). Charges that move produce ...
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1answer
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Doesn't the second postulate of special relativity imply the existence of “luminiferous ether”? [closed]

Einstein expressed his Second Postulate in On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies as: light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity $c$ which is independent of the state of ...
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Why is there no absolute maximum temperature?

If temperature makes particles vibrate faster, and movement is limited by the speed of light, then temperature must be limited as well I would assume. Why there is no limits?
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Lorentz transformations an EM fields

When deriving the Lorentz transformation equations in undergraduate physics classes, teachers typically analyze the behavior of an ideal clock and a rigid bar. Once the behavior of clocks and rods is ...
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Does the Doppler effect disprove the constancy of $c$? [closed]

Why doesn't the Doppler effect disprove the relativity postulate that $c$ is constant relative to all sources or observers? It seems it does because of the following example: Suppose a ship of ...
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1answer
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Does a moving object really shrink due to length contraction? [duplicate]

Is length contraction an optical illusion? Does object really shrink? Though measurements say yes, does it really happen? Or I have to say object is really measured to shrink?
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New Supersymmetry Algebra

We know that SUSY generators commute with translation $$ [P_\mu,Q_\alpha]=0 $$ I have some questions: What is this equation physical meaning? Is it possible to make "SUSY-like" generators that do ...
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1answer
63 views

A simple coordinate transformation

I'm currently taking my first shot at reading Einstein's 'On The Electrodynamics' (with plenty of mathematical background). With a few pictures, everything has been crystal clear to my intuition, up ...
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612 views

A thought experiment in special relativity theory

We have two sets: set No.1 and set No.2 as in this picture: The observer is fixed to set No.1 . He sees set No.1 motionless and observes set No. 2 approaching with velocity 100,000 m/s. Each set ...
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A question about special relativity theory

We have two sets: set No.1 and set No.2 as in this picture: The observer is fixed to set No.1 . He sees set No.1 motionless and observes set No. 2 approaching with velocity 100,000 m/s. Each set ...
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Change in line density of electrons

We're proving that electricity and magnetism are essentially two manifestations of the same underlying phenomenon by using the toy example of a positive charge moving parallel to an infinitely long ...
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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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1answer
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Special Relativity: Finding the Euler Lagrange of a massive particle

Knowing that $$\tag{1} L= -mc\sqrt{-\eta_{ab}\frac{d\xi^a}{d\lambda}\frac{d\xi^b}{d\lambda}}$$ we get $$\tag{2} p_a=\frac{\partial L}{\partial(d\xi^a/d\lambda)} = m\eta_{ab}u^b.$$ How come? If I ...
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If rest mass does not change with $v$ then why is infinite energy required to accelerate an object to the speed of light?

I know that as the velocity increases, the mass of the object also increases so it becomes tougher and tougher to move the object which ultimately leads to a requirement of infinite energy to ...
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2answers
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How would an electron bunch/beam look different in the rest and lab frames?

With respect to special relativity, I was wondering how the spatial dimensions would differ between the rest and LAB frame of an electron beam. System: Electron bunch/beam traveling in linear motion. ...
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1answer
371 views

Do photons have relativistic mass?

I am conducting research on photons and was wondering if they have relativistic mass. I already know that they they have zero rest mass. Any answers are welcome!
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Can time pass for a photon if it's moving in a medium? [duplicate]

If time does not pass for a photon traveling at the speed of light, which can only occur when traveling in a vacuum, what happens when it is slowed down by traveling through non vacuum space like ...
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Is the existence of electromagnetic standing waves dependent on the observers reference frame?

If I take two plane EM waves travelling in opposite direction e.g. $E = E_0 \sin(kx-\omega t)$ and $E=E_0 \sin (kx + \omega t)$, they sum to give a standing wave with a time-averaged Poynting vector ...