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 photons have no mass, how can they have momentum?

As an explanation of why a large gravitational field (such as a black hole) can bend light, I have heard that light has momentum. This is given as a solution to the problem of only massive objects ...
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Is it possible for information to be transmitted faster than light by using a rigid pole?

Is it possible for information (like 1 and 0s) to be transmitted faster than light? For instance, take a rigid pole of several AU in length. Now say you have a person on each end, and one of them ...
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Can Maxwell's equations be derived from Coulomb's Law and Special Relativity?

As an exercise I sat down and derived the magnetic field produced by moving charges for a few contrived situations. I started out with Coulomb's Law and Special Relativity. For example, I derived the ...
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Is temperature a Lorentz invariant in relativity?

If an observer starts moving at relativistic speeds will he observe the temperature of objects to change as compared to their rest temperatures? Suppose the rest temperature measured is $T$ and the ...
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If I am travelling on a car at around 60 km/h, and I shine a light, does that mean that the light is travelling faster than the speed of light?

The title says it all. If I was on a bus at 60 km/h, and I started walking on the bus at a steady pace of 5 km/h, then I'd technically be moving at 65 km/h, right? So my son posed me an interesting ...
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A list of inconveniences between quantum mechanics and (general) relativity?

It is well known that quantum mechanics and (general) relativity do not fit well. I am wondering whether it is possible to make a list of contradictions or problems between them? E.g. relativity ...
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Does time move slower at the equator?

While answering the question GPS Satellite - Special Relativity it occurred to me that time would run more slowly at the equator than at the North Pole, because the surface of the Earth is moving at ...
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What keeps mass from turning into energy?

I understand the energy and mass can change back and forth according to Einstein. It is fluid; it can go from one to the other. So, what keeps mass from just turning into energy? Is there some force ...
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How can a photon have no mass and still travel at the speed of light?

I've read a number of the helpful Q&As on photons that mention the mass/mass-less issue. Do I understand correctly that the idea of mass-less (a rest mass of 0) may be just a convention to make ...
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What conservation law corresponds to Lorentz boosts?

Noether's Theorem is used to related the invariance under certain continuous transformations to conserved currents. A common example is that translations in spacetime correspond to the conservation 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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Why are there no asteroids or meteoroids with relativistic speeds?

Cosmic rays can have energies going into the $10^{20}$ eV domain. Asteroids and meteoroids originating in the solar system are probably limited in their speed because they all started out from the ...
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Why does GPS depend on relativity?

I am reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and in it he mentions that without compensating for relativity, GPS devices would be out by miles. Why is this? (I am not sure which relativity ...
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Travelling faster than the speed of light

Let's say I fire a bus through space at (almost) the speed of light. If I'm inside the bus (sitting on the back seat) and I run up the aisle of the bus will I in fact be traveling faster than the ...
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How long would it take me to travel to a distant star?

Suppose I wanted to travel to one of the recently discovered potentially Earth-like planets such as Kepler 186f that is 490 light years away. Assuming I had a powerful rocket and enough fuel, how long ...
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Einstein's postulates $\leftrightarrow$ Minkowski space for a Layman

What's the cleanest/quickest way to go between Einstein's postulates [1] of Relativity: Physical laws are the same in all inertial reference frames. Constant speed of light: "... light is always ...
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Do photons gain mass when they travel through glass?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that photons slow down when travelling through glass. Does this mean they gain mass? Otherwise, what happens to extra kinetic energy? I understand now ...
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Idea of Covering Group

$SU(2)$ is the covering group of $SO(3)$. What does it mean and does it have a physical consequence? I heard that this fact is related to the description of bosons and fermions. But how does it ...
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Covariant Description of Light Scattering at a fastly rotating Cylinder

Let us consider the following Gedankenexperiment: A cylinder rotates symmetric around the $z$ axis with angular velocity $\Omega$ and a plane wave with $\mathbf{E}\text{, }\mathbf{B} \propto ...
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a priori validity of $W=\int Fdx$ in relativity?

There are lots of different ways of arriving at the relativistic relations involving mass, energy, and momentum such as $E=mc^2$ and $m^2=E^2-p^2$ (the latter with $c=1$). One that I've seen in some ...
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Phase space volume and relativity

Much of statistical mechanics is derived from Liouville's theorem, which can be stated as "the phase space volume occupied by an ensemble of isolated systems is conserved over time." (I'm mostly ...
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How do moving charges produce magnetic fields?

I'm tutoring high school students. I've always taught them that: A charged particle moving without acceleration produces an electric as well as a magnetic field. It produces an electric field ...
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Does the Pauli exclusion principle instantaneously affect distant electrons?

According to Brian Cox in his A night with the Stars lecture$^1$, the Pauli exclusion principle means that no electron in the universe can have the same energy state as any other electron in the ...
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Is the universe a quantum computer - is light speed barrier a computational constraint

There is currently a debate ongoing on leading maths blog Gödel’s Lost Letter, between Gil Kalai and Aram Harrow, with the former arguing that building a quantum computer may not be possible due to ...
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What happened to the idea of tachyonic or other superluminal neutrinos?

While hunting around for information about the recent OPERA measurement that hints at superluminal neutrinos, I discovered that this idea was actually considered back in the 1980s. Wikipedia lists as ...
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How is the classical twin paradox resolved?

I read a lot about the classical twin paradox recently. What confuses me is that some authors claim that it can be resolved within SRT, others say that you need GRT. Now, what is true (and why)?
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Why did Einstein get credit for formulating the theory of special relativity?

See The Principle of Relativity here: The Principles of Mathematical Physics. This was written by Poincaré in 1904, a year before Einstein published his theory of relativity. It appears from this and ...
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Relativistic Cellular Automata

Cellular automata provide interesting models of physics: Google Scholar gives more than 25,000 results when searching for "cellular automata" physics. Google Scholar still gives more than 2.000 ...
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Is there an official name for “Lorentz Pairs” like energy and momentum?

In learning about relativity I've noticed that in the construction of Lorentz invariants (specifically four-vectors) two physical quantities that were previously considered distinct are instead ...
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Is the “How to break the speed of light” minute physics video wrong?

I am referring to this video, on YouTube, by minutephysics, which has quite a lot of views. In the video it states that if you flick your wrist while pointing a laser that reaches the moon, that the ...
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What is the length of 1 second in meters

If time is treated as a fourth dimension of spacetime, what is relation between length and time units? Or in other words, how can I convert time units to length units, for instance seconds to meters? ...
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What does a sphere moving close to the speed of light look like?

What shape does the viewer in a reference frame with $v=0$ perceive? I suppose that since the sphere moves in one direction only (oX only, not oY) its section would change into an ellipse, where the ...
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Are gravitomagnetic monopoles hypothesized?

My understanding is that gravitomagnetism is essentially the same relativistic effect as magnetism. If so, why is it that I've heard so much about magnetic monopoles, but never gravitomagnetic ...
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How would we see a near-lightspeed object emitting light?

Consider an object travelling near the speed of light relative to us (let it be a spaceship or a star), which is emitting light (consider it monochromatic resulting from a two level electronic ...
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In relativity, can/should every measurement be reduced to measuring a scalar?

Different authors seem to attach different levels of importance to keeping track of the exact tensor valences of various physical quantities. In the strict-Catholic-school-nun camp, we have Burke ...
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What do you really see on a line of clocks as you pass by them at high speed?

According to my understanding of SR, if I travel at 0.8c relative to a line of clocks, I should see the clocks in front of me going 3 times faster than my own, and those behind me going 3 times slower ...
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Why do Maxwell's equations contain each of a scalar, vector, pseudovector and pseudoscalar equation?

Maxwell's equations, in differential form, are $$\left\{\begin{align} \vec\nabla\cdot\vec{E}&=~\rho/\epsilon_0,\\ \vec\nabla\times\vec B~&=~\mu_0\vec J+\epsilon_0\mu_0\frac{\partial\vec ...
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Symmetrical twin paradox

Take the following gedankenexperiment in which two astronauts meet each other again and again in a perfectly symmetrical setting - a hyperspherical (3-manifold) universe in which the 3 dimensions are ...
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Definitions: 'locality' vs 'causality'

I'm having trouble unambiguously interpreting many answers here due to the fact that the terms locality and causality are sometimes used interchangeably, while other times seem to mean very different ...
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Double light speed

Let's say we have $2$ participles facing each other and traveling at speed of light Let's say I'm sitting on #$1$ participle so in my point of view #$2$ participle's speed is $c+c=2c$, double light ...
14
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Limitations on how far one can travel in the universe

Someone once incorrectly told me that, given the speed of light is the speed limit of the universe, aliens would have to live for hundreds of years if they are to travel distances of hundreds of light ...
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Proving that interval preserving transformations are linear

In almost all proofs I've seen of the Lorentz transformations one starts on the assumption that the required transformations are linear. I'm wondering if there is a way to prove the linearity: Prove ...
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Electrons faster than speed of light

While looking at some exercises in my physics textbook, I came across the following problem which I thought was quite interesting: It is possible for the electron beam in a television picture tube ...
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What are some scenarios where FTL information transfer would violate causality?

I've always heard people saying, "Faster than light information transfer can't happen because it would violate causality! Effects can precede their causes!" However, I'm trying to think of a ...
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Does relativistic mass have weight?

If an object was sliding on an infinitely long friction-less floor on Earth with relativistic speeds (ignoring air resistance), would it exert more vertical weight force on the floor than when it's at ...
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Why isn't general relativity the obvious thing to try after special relativity?

To preface my question, I ask this as a mathematics student, so I don't have a very good sense of how physicists think. Here is the historical context I'm imagining (in particular taking into account ...
14
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Is period of rotation relative?

My question is inspired by the following answer by voix to another problem: "There is a real object with relativistic speed of surface - millisecond pulsar. The swiftest spinning pulsar currently ...
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Thought experiment regarding an object approaching a mirror

Here's a thought experiment I came up with in class today when my mind drifted (I however highly doubt I'm the first to think about this since it is pretty rudimentary) : Let's say superman ...
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Accelerating particles to speeds infinitesimally close to the speed of light?

I'm in a freshmen level physics class now, so I don't know much, but something I heard today intrigued me. My TA was talking about how at the research facility he worked at, they were able to ...
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How to explain (pedagogically) why there is 4 spacetime dimensions while we see only the 3 spatial dimesions?

I have been asked this question by a student, but I was able and in the same time incapable to give a good answer for this without equations, so do you have ideas how one can explain this in a simple ...