A question from the "Einstein's Postulates" section from Modern Physics by Tipler:

Suppose that $A', B',$ and $C'$ are at rest in frame $S'$, which moves with respect to $S$ at speed $v$ in the $+x$ direction. Let $B'$ be located exactly midway between $A'$ and $C'$. At $t' = 0$, a light flash occurs at $B'$ and expands outward as a spherical wave.

The question then goes on to ask for the difference in the arrival of the wave fronts at $A'$ and $C'$ according to an observer in $S$.

Of course, if we assume that $A'$ and $C'$ are equidistant to $B'$ according to an observer in $S$, then we can easily find the time it takes for the light to reach both points. However, how can one show that $B'$ is still their midpoint? That is my main question, and it is important because if $B'$ is not their midpoint according to an observer in $S$, then it complicates trying to find the difference in time. Moreover, I would like this to be shown without using the Lorentz transformation because this question was posed before this concept was introduced.

Thank you for your time.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What are you allowed to use? I'm assuming there are some base axioms you're given based on the section title $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 3 '17 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ Einstein's Postulates are 1. The laws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames. 2. The speed of light in a vacuum is equal to the value c, independent of the motion of the source. $\endgroup$ – Saudman97 Oct 3 '17 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ It seems to me as if the question presupposes that $v \ll c$. I'm not sure you can really do this problem without at least working out the Lorentz transformations from the postulates. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Oct 3 '17 at 16:08

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