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 $v_{a \dot{b}}$ transforms like a four-vector, what does $v_{a}^{\dot{b}}$ describe?

The $( \frac{1}{2}, 0)$ representation of the Lorentz group acts on left-chiral spinors $\chi_a$, the $( 0,\frac{1}{2} )$ representation on right-chiral spinors $\chi^{\dot a}$. The $( \frac{1}{2}, ...
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Is reflection instantaneous?

I was wondering while reading "On the Electrodynamics of moving bodies" by Albert Einstein (1905) (Translated to English). In the paper, he describes the time as being: by definition that the ...
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377 views

How is the Photoelectric Effect affected by Blue-Shifting

I was thinking about the Photoelectric Effect and Blue-Shifting when I came up with a thought experiment that I couldn't think of an answer for. The thought experiment is as follows: A metal plate is ...
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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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Spontaneous breaking of Lorentz invariance

Is it possible to spontaneously break Lorentz invariance, i.e., have a Lagrangian that respects LI but a vacuum which does not? If it is possible, why isn't there even the slightest hint of the ...
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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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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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398 views

Why Lorentz group for fields and Poincaré group for particles?

Wigner treatment associates to particles the irreps of the universal covering of the Poincaré group $$\mathbb{R}(1,3)\rtimes SL(2,\mathbb{C}).$$ Why don't we consider finite dimensional ...
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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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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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Violation of Lorentz invariance (Lagrangian for particle)

I'm trying to get the relativistic action (or Lagrangian) for a free particle in the case of violation of Lorenz invariance. Suppose we have the modified dispersion relation: $$ ...
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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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Is there a maximum energy for a relativistic particle?

So I was told today that the Standard Model breaks down at really, really high energies. The lecturer mentioned particles such as electrons hypothetically having energies equivalent to that of entire ...
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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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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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Would it be possible to develop special relativity without knowing about light?

My understanding of special relativity is that it is fundamentally based on the constancy of the speed of electromagnetic radiation - that this speed is a physical law (or derivable from physical laws ...
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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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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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How to derive $E=mc^{2}$?

Is there some way to derive $E=mc^{2}$? I can understand that energy in something is proportional to its mass, but the $c^{2}$ part. I have no idea. It seems like the way the units are going it would ...
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Is Einstein's characterization of “time” as “the position of the little hand of my watch” definitive and binding in the RT?

In Einstein's very first publication dealing with the Theory of Relativity, effectively as a preamble to all subsequent thought-experimental considerations and descriptions, Einsteín put the ...
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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 (rest) mass conserved in special relativity?

I don't understand why it is said that the (rest) mass of a system is not conserved in relativity. I mean, the momentum of a system is conserved (i.e.: it remains constant in a frame of reference ...
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Is the speed of light in vacuum always the same value?

The escape velocity of different planets and stars vary. If they vary, the velocities of bodies escaping from the respective stars or planets should also vary. Like, if I want a ball to reach 10 ...
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A question about $E=pc$ for massless particles

Since photon has no (rest)mass and $$E^2=(pc)^2+(mc^2)^2$$ we derive that $E=pc$ for particle with no (rest)mass. However, if we transform the non-relativistic formula for kinetic energy ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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“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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Alongside a light ray (in another medium)

It is a said fact that the speed of light is insurmountable. But can the validity of this fact be questioned in another medium? If I pass a beam of light in, say water (here the light speed is ...
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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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Lorentz transformation of the Spinor Field

I'm reading chapter 3 of Peskin and Schroeder and am stuck on page 43 of P&S. They have defined the Lorentz generators in the spinor representation as: \begin{equation} S^{\mu \nu} = ...
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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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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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How does velocity cause time dilation?

I've been trying to learn about the speed of light and time dilation, but I'm at an impasse. The presented facts say that if I travel around the solar system at 50% the speed of light and then come ...
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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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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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Is spacetime absolute?

As I understand it Newton's Laws imply that space is relative, as the laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames and as such there is no way, even in principle, to distinguish a frame that is ...
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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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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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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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What is the kinematics of a particle with complex mass?

particles with real-mass have time-like kinematics ($ds^2 > 0$). particles with zero-mass have light-like kinematics ($ds^2 = 0$). particles with imaginary-mass have space-like kinematics ($ds^2 ...
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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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How can relativistic effects be the cause of magnetic forces when the normal speeds of carrier charges are so low?

I had read here that magnetism arises from a current because of the special relativistic effect associated with the speed of the moving charges in that current. However that speed is only on the ...
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Lorentz-Transformation in a closed loop (Sagnac)

I have a problem transforming from one system to another when the direction of motion is changed. To demonstrate the problem I'll set up an easy example with intuitive numbers: enlarge ↵ left: ...
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How to describe arbitrary accelerations in special relativity

Describing acceleration in special relativity is in principle straightforward, and for simple cases the resulting transformations are simple. Examples include circular motion and constant acceleration ...