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Questions tagged [special-relativity]

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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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 e^{\...
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How to compute the speed of sound in relativistic hydrodynamic?

In Weinberg: Gravitation and Cosmology chapter 2.10 (Relativistic Hydrodynamics) the speed of sound is derived as $v_s^2 = \left(\frac{\partial p}{\partial \rho}\right)$ and the equation of state ...
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Is the Planck length Lorentz invariant?

The planck length is defined as $l_P = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}}$. So it is a combination of the constants $c, h, G$ which I believe are all Lorentz invariants. So I think the Planck length should ...
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Newton's Bucket [duplicate]

Newton's Bucket This thought experiment is originally due to Sir Isaac Newton. We have a sphere of water floating freely in an opaque box in intergalactic space, held together by surface tension and ...
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Is causality a formalised concept in physics?

I have never seen a “causality operator” in physics. When people invoke the informal concept of causality aren’t they really talking about consistency (perhaps in a temporal context)? For example, if ...
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Does the discreteness of spacetime in canonical approaches imply good bye to STR?

In all the canonical approaches to the problem of quantum gravity, (eg. loop variable) spacetime is thought to have a discrete structure. One question immediately comes naively to an outsider of this ...
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The origin of the value of speed of light in vacuum

Meaning, why is it the exact number that it is? Why not 2x10^8 m/s instead of 3? Does it have something to do with the mass, size or behavior of a photon? To be clear, I'm not asking "how we ...
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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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How to mathematically formulate the Two Slit Experiment in Special Relativity?

How to mathematically formulate the Two Slit Experiment in a Lorentz invariant framework. Is there a paper about this?
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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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Special relativity version of Feynman's “Space-Time Approach to Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics”

I'm looking for an article that sets up the framework described by Feynman in Space-Time Approach to Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics, but in Special Relativity.
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If a mass moves close to the speed of light, does it turn into a black hole?

I'm a big fan of the podcast Astronomy Cast and a while back I was listening to a Q&A episode they did. A listener sent in a question that I found fascinating and have been wondering about ever ...
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Is relativity necessary for the existence of life?

If the universe didn't have the relativity principle, would it be able to support life? Life consists of very complicated organisms. The operation of these organisms depends on the laws of physics. ...
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Relativistic object impacts the earth

A familiar trope within science-fiction is that of a large relativistic object hitting a planet such as the earth. This is normally an interstellar spacecraft or a kinetic weapon with a mass in the ...
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Is there an explicit angular momentum in Maxwell equations?

Electromagnetism implies special relativity and then the universal constant "c". And if we set c=1, the coupling constant has units of angular momentum (so in relativistic quantum mechanics we divide ...
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What determines which frames are inertial frames?

I understand that you can (in principle) measure whether "free particles" (no forces) experience accelerations in order to tell whether a frame is inertial. But fundamentally, what determines which ...
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Derive $\frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t}(\gamma m\mathbf{v}) = e\mathbf{E}$ from elementary principles?

It is experimentally known that the equation of motion for a charge $e$ moving in a static electric field $\mathbf{E}$ is given by: $$\frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}t} (\gamma m\mathbf{v}) = e\mathbf{E}$...
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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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Rotate a long bar in space and get close to (or even beyond) the speed of light $c$

Imagine a bar spinning like a helicopter propeller, At $\omega$ rad/s because the extremes of the bar goes at speed $$V = \omega * r$$ then we can reach near $c$ (speed of light) applying some ...
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Why the vacuum polarization does not decrease the speed of light?

On one hand, in the classical electrodynamics polarization of transparent media yields in lowering the speed of light by the factor of $n=\sqrt{\epsilon_r \mu_r}$ (refractive index). On the other, in ...
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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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Mass of particle near light speed in a medium

I am trying to get a common understanding from these two previous questions: Why does the mass of an object increase when its speed approaches that of light? What happens if light/particles exceeded ...
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5answers
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Does it contradict special relativity that an electron beam in a television picture tube can move across the screen faster than the 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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Example of space-like intervals in spacetime

From wikipedia: When a space-like interval separates two events, not enough time passes between their occurrences for there to exist a causal relationship crossing the spatial distance ...
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Why and how is the speed of light in vacuum constant, i.e., independent of reference frame?

I was told that the Galilean relative velocity rule does not apply to the speed of light. No matter how fast two objects are moving, the speed of light will remain same for both of them. How and why ...
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8answers
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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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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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What is the difference between induced and motional emf?

At least from their names, it seems motional emf is induced, so what's the difference?
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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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13answers
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Why does the (relativistic) mass of an object increase when its speed approaches that of light?

I'm reading Nano: The Essentials by T. Pradeep and I came upon this statement in the section explaining the basics of scanning electron microscopy. However, the equation breaks down when the ...
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The Euler-Lagrange equation in special relativity

How can I derive the Euler-Lagrange equations valid in the field of special relativity? Specifically, consider a scalar field.
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Deriving the speed of the propagation of a change in the Electromagnetic Field from Maxwell's Equations

I've been told that, from Maxwell's equations, one can find that the propagation of change in the Electromagnetic Field travels at a speed $\frac{1}{\sqrt{\mu_0 \epsilon_0}}$ (the values of which can ...
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9answers
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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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Is kinetic energy a relative quantity? Will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? [duplicate]

If the velocity is a relative quantity, will it make inconsistent equations when applying it to the conservation of energy equations? For example: In the train moving at $V$ relative to ground, ...
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If the light velocity is a vector quantity, why vector addition cannot be applied to it?

If the light velocity is a vector quantity, why vector addition cannot be applied to it? Or the light velocity is not a vector quantity?
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2answers
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What happens if light/particles exceeded the speed of light for a particular medium

While the speed of light in vacuum is a universal constant ($c$), the speed at which light propagates in other materials/mediums may be less than $c$. This is obviously suggested by the fact that ...
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Can special relativity be deduced from $E=mc^2$?

So instead of assuming that the velocity $c$ is a maximal velocity, proving that while assuming $E=mc^2$.
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6answers
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Did Einstein prove $E=mc^2$ correctly? [closed]

In his book "Einstein's mistakes" H. C. Ohanian, the author, holds that Einstein delivered 7 proofs for $E=mc^2$ in his life that all were in some way incorrect. This despite the fact that correct ...
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3answers
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Why is it hopeless to view differential geometry as the limit of a discrete geometry?

This is a follow-up question to Introductions to discrete space-time: Why is this line of thought hopeless? Classical mechanics can be understood as the limit of relativistic mechanics $RM_c$ ...
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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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7answers
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Is there a four-dimensional definition of entropy?

It seems odd that entropy is usually only defined for a system in a single 'slice' of time or spacelike region. Can one define the entropy of a system defined by a 4d region of spacetime, in such a ...
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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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1answer
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Relativistic speed/energy relation. Is this correct?

The relativistic energy-momentum equation is: $$E^2 = (pc)^2 + (mc^2)^2.$$ Also, we have $pc = Ev/c$, so we get: $$E = mc^2/(1-v^2/c^2)^{1/2}.$$ Now, accelerating a proton to near the speed of light,...
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4answers
389 views

Chosing a reference frame in which the Earth is at rest and doesn't rotate

We may choose a non-rotating earth as our reference frame and ask ourselves: how about the planetary and stellar motions. A star at a distance of 10 million light years would turn around the earth in ...
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7answers
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Open problems in special relativity, and non-inertial motion in flat-spacetime, or things that have been discovered recently

What classical open problems are there in special relativity, including questions about non-inertial motion in flat-spacetime, but excluding questions about quantum theories. Answers can include ...
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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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Symmetrical twin paradox in a closed universe

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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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 ...