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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Electric field, special relativity, and charged particle

Given a uniform electric field in the $z$ direction and an observer moving at constant $v$ in the $y$ direction, how you would describe the motion of a charged particle that start at rest in the ...
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Fermi's understanding of the Doppler effect

I am now reading the classic paper by Dicke, The Effect of Collisions upon the Doppler Width of Spectral Lines At the very beginning of the paper, Dicke said ''Quantum mechanically, the Doppler ...
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283 views

Relativistic beamed photon propulsion

I am analysing the flight profiles possible with a lightsail powered by a photon beam, up into the relativistic regime. In an inertial frame, the sail acceleration is $A$. The onboard acceleration ...
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58 views

Why is the Poincaré group non-abelian?

Based on what I've learned, I gather the Poincaré group is the group of isometries of Minkowski spacetime and it is a non-abelian Lie group. Why is it non-abelian? Or perhaps rather, does the fact ...
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Calculating length contraction at speed $c$ (not near it)

Is the Lorentz transform applicable to speeds that are lower than light only?Because I'm trying to calculate length contraction of objects moving at speed $c$ (not near it) and it turns always 0. Is ...
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128 views

Beat Frequency for Police Radar with Special Relativity

"A radar speed trap operates on a frequency $v_o = 109 Hz$. What is the beat frequency between the transmitted signal and one received after reflection from a car moving at v = 30 m/s toward the ...
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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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140 views

Explain the notion of light/electromagnetic waves/photons to a non-physicist

A non-physicist asked me about special relativity. My explanations naturally were based on gedankenexperiments involving light. This forced the question: "What is light? It is particles, isn't? Or is ...
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How does light actually behave?

Senario: I am walking 5 meters/second and have a laser pointer that I shoot a burst of light from perpendicular to to the path I am walking on. Would the light travel perpendicular to the path from ...
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Twin paradox - a further variant

I am still troubled by the "twin" paradox (thanks to those who have answered my previous question and suggested some reading which I will follow up). I have however thought of a variation on the ...
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189 views

Why do things slow down when you move faster, rather than speed up?

I've been trying to get to grips with SpaceTime. As I understand it, we move at a set rate through spacetime. Any increase in our rate of travel through space results in a decrease in our rate of ...
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What does memorylessness mean as a postulate of special relativity?

I was reading the wiki page on special relativity postulates. And wiki says, The two-postulate basis for special relativity is the one historically used by Einstein, and it remains the starting ...
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38 views

Forward and Behind Frames of Reference

It's my understanding that light travels at the same speed in all inertial frames of reference. Suppose there's a small train car 5 feet long (at our rest point of view) traveling at a constant speed ...
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Can photons “stop time”?

If traveling past the speed of light causes time to reverse than does traveling in time make time "stop"? If not then how do photons/mass-less particles experience time, if at all.
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Basic Relativistic Question - length measurement

A while ago we did an easy, introductory exercise on length measurement. Back then it seemed pretty straightforward but now when I look at it I have trouble understanding the assumption which led to ...
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131 views

Lorentz transformation paradox

I got to solve a simple exercise about special relativity when I kinda came to the conclusion it doesn't stroke with my intuition. The homework-problem The problem was about two people Sam and ...
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90 views

Energy for acceleration towards speed of light is relative?

This seems a very simple question - and I guess it will turn out to be so. It's a given that accelerating particles with mass towards the speed of light takes more and more energy (ultimately an an ...
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350 views

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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159 views

Metric tensor in SRT

I just read on this webpage that we have (click me) $g_{\alpha \beta} = g_{\alpha}^{\beta} = g^{\alpha \beta}.$ Now, although I understand that the first and the last one are equal, I don't think ...
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49 views

Why photons are having energy when they are massless? [duplicate]

As per the Einstein equation $E=mc^2$, the energy of the particle is depends on the mass of the particle. Or else in other terms the energy is proportional to the mass. If the photons are having zero ...
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39 views

Is anything without mass an EM wave?

For the longest time I thought the distinction between matter wave and other types of wave is the non-relativist mass of the "thing" under discussion. Photons are EM wave, electrons are matter waves. ...
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Times at relativistic speeds

Consider an observer $A$ moving in a spaceship at a speed close to $c$, relative to an observer $B$. The $B$ knows that the time on $A$ runs slower, but in the inertial frame of $A$, $B$ is moving ...
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Special Relativity - three body problem

I have a problem with solving three-body problem in special relativity. I know that in general this problem doesn't have good solution, but I have a specific case when it should be good answer. ...
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Space-like pion electromagnetic form factor

The 1986's publication "A measurement of the space-like pion electromagnetic form factor" (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0550-3213(86)90437-2) starts with: The pion form factor has been measured in ...
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Uniqueness of the equivalence class of inertial frames

Let us define an inertial frame as a frame of reference where the laws of physics take their usual form, as opposed to non intertial frames where one has to introduce pseudo-forces. We can further ...
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163 views

How can we show that the speed of light is really constant in all reference frames?

I had a debate with a friend who cannot believe that the speed of light is constant. He said something like: so what if in the Michelson-experiment the moving apparatus simply added a constant ...
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Basic Assumption in the Time Dilation Equation Derivation

I am familiar with the way the time dilation equation is derived since I was introduced to it in my sophomore college physics class. It's the standard derivation of a stationary observer watching a ...
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Time reversal in classical electrodynamics

It is known that classical electrodynamics is time reversal invariant if one assumes that the transformation laws under such operation are $$\mathbf E(t,\mathbf x)\mapsto\mathbf E(-t,\mathbf x)$$ ...
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Why does choosing a time break covariance?

I'm reading that in EM theory, in hamiltonian formalism, we choose a specific reference frame with a specific time, and that this breaks covariance. Why? Surely it's simple because it's just stated ...
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Special relativity - twin paradox explored

A thought experiment. A person on the Earth has a clock. Another person who also has a clock is in a rocket ship passing the Earth travelling at 50% the speed of light. They synchronise watches as ...
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Is there a general theorem stating why the restricted Lorentz group's exponential map is surjective?

The exponential map for the restricted Lorentz group is surjective. An outline of why is shown on the wiki page Representation Theory of the Lorentz Group. Is there a more general theorem that states ...
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Does spacetime have a “preferred” speed/metric? [duplicate]

I read recently that spacetime has a preferred speed, c, and that all observers would agree on the speed of anything moving at c. In particular, there is nothing unique about light when talking about ...
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227 views

Einstein's first postulate implies the second?

Einstein's two postulates of special relativity are as follows, 1. The principle of relativity: The laws of physics are the same in all inertial systems. There is no way to detect absolute ...
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Do GR and SR have to be considered together to determine time dilation? [duplicate]

In another related question: How to connect Einstein's Special Relativity(SR) with General Relativity(GR)? , John Rennie stated that SR is a subset (or rather can be derived from) GR, but not vice ...
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What is the relativistic mass of this spinning ball? [closed]

Relativistic Mass is: $$ m_r = \frac{m}{\sqrt{1 - v^2/c^2}} $$ So Einstein says that the faster an object moves, the more mass it gains (relativistic mass). So suppose you have a spherical ball ...
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Are some events simultaneous in all reference frames? (Einstein goes drinkin')

If simultaneity is not a universal characteristic (eg. events are not simultaneous in all reference frames), then why do some events seem to be simultaneous in all reference frames as in the following ...
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Recoil velocity and mass of particle after absorbing photon

I'm working a problem out of d'Inverno's "Introducing Einstein's Relativity", and I'm hitting a funny issue with my algebra. The problem states: An atom of rest mass $m_0$ is at rest in a ...
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Does Bell's theorem sort out local field theories?

For example the Maxwell's equations is a local theory. It's a set of differential equations that describe how should the state at a point change based on its neighbourhood. Counter example: Newtonian ...
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How is the special theory of relativity observed for these types of clocks?

I'm trying to understand Special Theory of Relativity through reading Feynman's lectures. In chapter 15 Feynman gives example of clock: rod of 1m length with mirrors at the ends. Light goes from ...
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62 views

How can we travel back to time if we go with a speed $>> c$? [duplicate]

I have read "If something attains the speed more than that of light then it can travel back to time." I want to know how it happens. Also, in relativity why can nothing acquire velocity beyond ...
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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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Proving property of lorentz transforms

I've been trying to learn relativity from Weinberg's Gravitation and Cosmology without very good knowledge of the mathematical background. I am developing it alongside, but there is one particular ...
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100 views

Conservation of relativistic momentum

I'm trying to prove that momentum, $\rho = m \, v \, \gamma(v)$, is conserved in all frames of reference. I'm having problems with the following situation that I made; momentum is not conserved to ...
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3answers
229 views

Confusion about proper time in special relativity

I have a problem understanding what proper time really means, well actually, it's the symmetry that confuses me... Suppose for convenience that particle A has a mean life-time of 10 seconds in its own ...
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192 views

Why does moving near light speed keep you young? [duplicate]

As was shown in the movie Interstellar, when you go close to a black hole or move near the speed of light in space, then your clock runs slower than a clock on Earth. In the movie, Matthew ...
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Mass in special relativity?

Is the mass of a object at rest defined by $$E=mc^2$$ where $m$ is the rest mass. I.e. does the rest mass include every thing from thermal to gravitational potential energy and every other possible ...
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In special relativity what is the energy of a macroscopic body?

Is the energy of a macroscopic body in special relativity still given by: $E=\gamma m c^2$? If so why do we not need to consider the motion of the individual particles that make it up? Is this because ...
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What is a homogeneous and isotropic frame of reference?

I have heard that inertial frames of reference in the context of special relativity are both isotropic and homogeneous. I know what isotropic and homogeneous mean in a general context, but what do ...
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240 views

The mas-energy equivalence for rest mass

It is clear that the kinetic energy can be derived as $(m-m_0)c^2$. However, why do we say that $m_0c^2$ is the rest mass energy? It seems that this mass-energy equivalence for rest mass is just a ...
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Pair production and energy conservation?

Consider the question whether a photon can decay, in the free space, into an electron and a positron - a pair production event. Such an event I don't think is possible, because both energy and ...