# The relativity of simultaneity

In his popular book on relativity, in chapter IX, "The relativity of simultaneity", Einstein describes an experiment in which a flash happens simultaneously on A and B, as defined by the fact that an observer at the middle point M can see the light coming from A and B at the same moment:

              --train-->
---embankment---A-------M-------B----


Then, he proceeds to say that an observer on the train "is hastening towards the beam of light coming from B, whilst he is riding on ahead of the beam of light coming from A. Hence the observer will see the beam of light emitted from B earlier than he will see that emitted from A".

But I find the opposite result, from the train point of view:

• the embankment moves to the left (in the diagram) at a speed of v.
• so, after dt, A moved by v*dt to the left, the light coming from A moved by c*dt to the right, and the distance between A and the light increased by (c+v)*dt.
• similarly, the distance between B and the light coming from B increased by (c-v)*dt.
• so, the light coming from A is going to reach the middle point M before the light coming from B, so the observer is going to see the light from A first (if he happens to be at M at the correct moment), which is the opposite of what is said in the book.

Another way to state about the same thing is: the light from both points go towards M, but M is moving to the left, so the light from A is going to reach M before the light from B does.

Where is the error in my reasoning?

• – Qmechanic Jul 22 '11 at 16:19
• In space-time (i.e. special relativity theory), there's no absolute reference frame. You are making the observer on the train the reference frame to analyze what happens at M. This isn't valid. – Diego Nov 7 '13 at 21:17