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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Why is pseudorapidity defined as $-\log \tan \theta/2$

Why the log? Is it there to make the growth of the function slower? As this is a common experimental observable, it doesn't seem reasonable to take the range from $[0,\infty)$ to $(-\infty,\infty)$ (...
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3answers
2k views

Speed of light, observed speed while travelling at the speed of light

I was watching Discovery channel the other night, they were telling that time slows down when you travel at a higher speed. This means there is a difference between the actual speed you travel at, and ...
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2answers
370 views

Is the assumption that space-time has to be a continuum just a matter of mathematical taste?

Is the assumption that space-time has to be a continuum just a matter of mathematical taste? Isn't there any physical significance associated with it?
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2answers
834 views

Where does the minus sign appear from in the metric tensor?

Trying to understand Schutz's AFCIGR, where does the minus sign appear from in the metric tensor? I understand that this expresses the invariance of the spacetime interval. Schutz says (I think) that ...
26
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6answers
5k views

(Almost) double light speed

Let's say we have $2$ particles facing each other and each traveling (almost) at speed of light. Let's say I'm sitting on #$1$ particle so in my point of view #$2$ particle's speed is (almost) $c+c=...
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1answer
3k views

Tachyons and Photons

Is there a particle called a "tachyon" that can travel faster than light? If so, would Einstein's relativity be wrong? According to Einstein no particle can travel faster than light.
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3answers
299 views

How is energy conserved when a moving charge has false ideas about positions of other charges

An electron is shot towards a target that is negatively charged. While the electron is traveling, the target makes an abrupt move towards the electron. While the information that the target moved is ...
12
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6answers
993 views

How large is the universe?

We know that the age of the universe (or, at least the time since the Big Bang) is roughly 13.75 billion years. I have heard that the size of the universe is much larger than what we can see, in other ...
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3answers
9k views

Difference between timelike and spacelike vectors

Other than one having a positive invariant scalar product and the other a negative one, what are the actual physical differences between these vectors?
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2answers
1k views

Why don't two observers' clocks measure the same time between the same events?

Person A in reference frame A watches person B travel from Star 1 to Star 2 (a distance of d). Of course, from person B's reference frame, he is at rest and is watching Star 2 traveling to him. ...
7
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2answers
15k views

Calculating threshold energy of particle reactions

{..everything that follows is in the domain of relativistic kinematics..} Say a particle A collides with a particle B at rest and produces particles C and D. What exactly is the definition of "...
11
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3answers
724 views

Spontaneous breaking of Lorentz invariance

Is it possible to spontaneously break Lorentz invariance, i.e., have a Lagrangian that respects LI but a vacuum which does not? If it is possible, why isn't there even the slightest hint of the ...
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2answers
1k views

Why is travelling around the speed of light a problem?

I don't fully understand what would happen if we could travel at the speed of light. But I saw somewhere here that it would mean events happen out of order. But why is this a problem. It is said that ...
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1answer
381 views

Could a universe with only massless particles develop life/intelligence? [closed]

Is it impossible for a universe that only contains particles/fields with no rest mass to develop life/intelligence? Assume there is no mechanism to generate a rest mass (Higgs, symmetry breaking, etc.)...
4
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2answers
340 views

Special Relativity and time [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Question about Time Dilation.. I have a question about special relativity which was bothering me for a while now. I know that as one approaches the speed of light, time moves ...
2
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2answers
338 views

Compactification of dimensions in string theory: Why our Universe has 3 large spatial dimensions?

Is the only way that string theory can respect the principles of quantum mechanics, and Einstein's special theory of relativity, is to formulate it in a hypothetical nine dimensional space? You could ...
2
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1answer
513 views

Paradox of the Relativistic Record Player [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Invariant spacetime - distance - Circular Motion This is a question that I thought up a few years ago when I was taking mechanics. I asked the professor but didn't really get ...
2
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1answer
399 views

Physical interpretation of equation for relativistic aberration

I'm working in a book on relativity. The author states that if $u$ and $u'$ are a velocity referred to two inertial frames with relative velocity $v$ confined to the $x$ axis, then the quantities $...
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4answers
4k views

Max rocket speed in interstellar space?

Interstellar space propulsion...if a spaceship were to get beyond our Sun's gravitational pull and since there is no atmosphere/wind/friction in space...does that mean, if an engine was constantly ...
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3answers
993 views

How will the Twin Paradox become, for Time Dilation, if no acceleration was ever involved?

I think one catch in Twin Paradox was about the big acceleration that can turn back the traveling twin from light speed outward bound, to become light speed inward bound. What if there is strictly no ...
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5answers
5k views

Maximum speed of a rocket with a potential of relativistic speeds

Ultimately, the factor limiting the maximum speed of a rocket is: the amount of fuel it carries the speed of ejection of the gases the mass of the rocket the length of the rocket ...
4
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1answer
327 views

Relativistic space-time geometry

What subject (suggest book titles, etc.) should I study to get a clear grasping of hypersurfaces, 2-surfaces, and integration on them, mostly in special relativity (I'm not messing with general ...
7
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2answers
348 views

Why absoluteness of time implies galilean transformations?

In Landau course, vol.1 Mechanics, one finds the statement: ...the absoluteness of time necessarily implies that the ordinary law of composition of velocities is applicable to all phenomena. I ...
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4answers
566 views

Is special relativity an exact description of reality?

In discussing relativity with a (somewhat mathematical) friend the other day, I ran into a problem showing why special and/or general relativity could be considered as exact descriptions of reality ...
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3answers
4k views

Distance in relativistic circular motion in invariant spacetime

I understand that the closer something travels to the speed of light, that time will stretch by a factor, and distance will compress by the same factor. My question is, if something travels in a ...
2
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1answer
253 views

A video conference between earth and a space shuttle

I have just started looking into special relativity and I have come up with an intriguing gedanke, as Einstein himself called such theoretical thought experiments. Imagine a space shuttle traveling ...
0
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1answer
976 views

Derivation of relativistic energy

The concept of relativistic energy comes from it's conservation in relativistic mechanics for an elastic collision. It seems to me that another possible derivation could equate the energy of a single ...
3
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2answers
472 views

Does throwing a watch into the air cause it to gain or lose time?

Suppose I'm on a non rotating planet. I have two identical, perfect watches. I synchronize them. Then I throw one of them into the air and catch it. Does the one I throw into the air gain or lose time ...
6
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1answer
746 views

How does a particle of light reach the max speed of light? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How can a photon have no mass and still travel at the speed of light? First of all I am not a professional physicist. I was curious as to how a particle of light can reach the ...
5
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2answers
763 views

Criticism of the Thomas precession literature

From an earlier version of the Wikipedia article on Thomas precession concerning TP and LP=Larmor precession, regarding the paper: G B Malykin, "Thomas precession: correct and incorrect solutions", ...
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1answer
633 views

Does change of coordinate system require acceleration?

This question came about from a side discussion that arose on this: Does GR provide a maximum electric field limit? Can we change our choice of coordinate system completely independent of physical ...
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2answers
2k views

How do I develop an intuitive model of spacetime?

I am your nightmare poster - a layman trying to learn special relativity. (I'm also a refugee from stackoverflow.com: trust me, it's only going to get worse). Apologies in advance if my question is ...
9
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4answers
867 views

Horizon and Unruh radiation for a finite period of acceleration

It's a well known fact that an observer that accelerates at a constant rate from $-c$ at past infinity to $+c$ at future infinity sees a horizon in flat Minkowski spacetime. This is easy to see from a ...
59
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7answers
10k views

If I run along the aisle of a bus traveling at (almost) the speed of light, can I travel faster than the speed of light?

Let's say I fire a bus through space at (almost) the speed of light in vacuum. If I'm inside the bus (sitting on the back seat) and I run up the aisle of the bus toward the front, does that mean I'm ...
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9answers
4k views

Quaternions and 4-vectors

I recently realised that quaternions could be used to write intervals or norms of vectors in special relativity: $$(t,ix,jy,kz)^2 = t^2 + (ix)^2 + (jy)^2 + (kz)^2 = t^2 - x^2 - y^2 - z^2$$ Is it ...
5
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3answers
212 views

Can D and H form an 'in materials' version of the electromagnetic tensor?

In analogy to the electromagnetic tensor, with the components defined as the electric field $E$ and magnetic field $B$ as such: $F^{ab} = \begin{bmatrix} 0 & -E_x/c & -E_y/c & -E_z/c \\ ...
8
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1answer
547 views

Is there a rest frame for the Higgs boson?

If there is a non-zero expectation value for the Higgs boson even in "vacuum", since the Higgs boson has a mass unlike photons, then I would expect it to have a rest frame. So why doesn't a non-zero ...
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6answers
14k views

What does it mean to say that mass “approaches infinity”?

What does it mean to say that mass "approaches infinity"? I have read that mass of a body increases with the speed and when the body reaches the speed of light, the mass becomes infinity. What ...
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2answers
13k views

How are light and time related?

So, from what I understand: Special Relativity says that light is always observed moving at the speed of light (c). If some object had a velocity of (3/4)c, and the object had some sort of clock ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the formula for the relativistic ellipse?

If an astronomer moves at relativistic speed, the stars and constellations are distorted. He sees the stars towards which he is moving blue shifted, while the ones he's moving away from are red ...
2
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1answer
1k views

What is the exponential form gamma matrix for a general rotation and boost?

It would be nice to have a cute method that uses Lorentz transformations of basis vectors by exponential transformation using gamma matrices. To avoid confusion, let's assume -+++ signature. Given $\...
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2answers
2k views

What is the effect of temperature on electrostatic-gravitational balance?

We have two identical massive metal spheres at the same temperature at rest in free space. Both have an identical charge and the Coulomb force [plus the black-body radiation pressure if the ...
17
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4answers
12k views

Acceleration in special relativity

I am currently studying the motion of relativistic charged particles in electromagnetic fields. More exactly, we first derived the equation of motion in the 4-vector formalism. I was a bit confused ...
3
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1answer
4k views

Relativistic charged particles in a constant uniform magnetic field

How can i derive the dynamic of a relativistic charged particle in a uniform magnetic field $B=(0,0,B)$?
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1answer
514 views

How much energy can be extracted from hydrogen?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-L says that the difference between baryon number and lepton number is conserved. Ordinary hydrogen has one of each, but turning it into helium releases only the binding ...
2
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4answers
696 views

Is This The Answer To Artificial Gravity?

Einstein teaches that as an object gets faster, its relativistic mass increases... Newton teaches that as an object's mass increases, so does it's gravitational pull... So... if you a tethered some ...
4
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2answers
166 views

Knotted token-ring network

Suppose we have a rigid token-ring network. An observer at any node can seemingly determine the angular momentum of the network by measuring the time it takes for a packet to travel around the ring ...
7
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2answers
915 views

Calculate the electric field of a moving infinite magnet, without boosting

Consider a rectangular slab of permanently magnetized material. The slab's dimensions are $L_x$, $L_y$, and $L_z$, and the slab is uniformly magnetized in the $\hat{x}$-direction. The slab is not ...