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(1879 1955) ,

Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921


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1905 .

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(1905 .)
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All the laws of physics are the same in all


inertial systems.* There is no way to
detect absolute motion, and no preferred
inertial system exists.
*Particular quantities (velocity, momentum, kinetic
energy, ) have different values in different inertial
reference frames, but the laws of physics
(conservation of energy and momentum, ) are
the same.
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-
:

Observers in all inertial systems measure the same value for the
speed of light in a vacuum. (c = 2.9979 x 108 m/s)
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(1905 .)
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Problem of Simultaneity

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1) SIMULTANEITY

Consider an observer in a room. Suppose there is a


flash bulb exactly in the middle of the room.
Suppose sensors on the walls record when the light
rays hit the walls.

Since speed of light is constant, light rays will hit


opposite walls at precisely the same time. Call these
events A and B.

Imagine performing same experiment in a room aboard a


moving spacecraft (observed by someone at rest).
The light rays will not strike the walls at the same time (since
the walls are moving!). Event A will happen before event B.

But astronaut in spacecraft thinks events are simultaneous.


Concept of events being simultaneous (i.e. simultaneity) is
different for different observers (Relativity of simultaneity).

,
,

Y

X
O
Z

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O
Z

O
Z

2)
One consequence: Time Changes
Equipment needed: a light clock and a fast space ship.

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Time Dilation
In Bobs reference frame the time between A & B is t0

Ending Event B

Bob

t0

Beginning Event A

Sally
on earth

2D
t0
c

In Sallys reference frame the time between A & B is t

Bob

Bob

Sally
on earth

t
B

Length of path for the light ray:

vt
2s 2 D L 2 D

2
2

and

2s
t
c

t0 = the time between A & B

t0
1 v / c
2

measured by Bob

t = the time between A & B


measured by Sally

v = the speed of one observer


relative to the other

If

t0 = 1s, v = .999 c then:

Time Dilation = Moving clocks slow down

1s
1 .999

500 s

The famous muon problem.

560 muons/hr
expect 25 muons/hr
found 414 muons/hr



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4.

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v = 0,99.

40 .
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. 7.7

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1% ,

(80,8 ).

20 + 80,8 = 100,8 .
,
1 0,99 2 0,141 ,
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80,80,141 = 11,4 ,

20 + 11,4 = 31,4 , 69,4

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The person on earth remained in an inertial reference system.


-------------------------------The space- traveler accelerated, and thus wasn't in an inertial reference
system.
------------------------------The special theory of relativity is valid for the person on earth, but not for the
space traveler because he was in a non-inertial reference system

Special Relativity:
Twin Paradox
One twin stays home.
One twin rockets away and then comes back.
Special relativity implies time dilation for moving objects, but each moved
only as seen by the other. Which twin is older?
1.
2.
3.

The twin who stayed home is older.


The twin who rocketed away and came back is older.
Symmetry demands they are the same age.

Special Relativity:
Twin Paradox
2. The twin who rocketed away & came back is younger.

The symmetry is broken because the leaving twin had to accelerate to come
back, whereas the staying twin experienced no acceleration.
Is this a way to travel into the future? Yes. Time travel this way is
permissible. There is no way to use the twin paradox to travel BACK in
time.
Play with an online twin paradox applet.
Play the Nova shockwave game.

What about the Twin Paradox?

(Where one twin takes a long space trip and comes


home to find himself younger than his twin who
stayed on Earth)

Length Contraction

Length is determined by measuring the positions


of two ends and taking the difference
Measurements must be carried out
simultaneously
But, observers in different inertial frames cannot
agree on simultaneity of events separated in
space!
Thus, lengths appear different in different inertial
frames

Proper Length, Lo - length of object at rest


For a stick moving with velocity v, the time interval between measurement
of the front and that for the back at a single marker is
t = Lo/v
In our non-moving frame (remember, the stick is moving), time dilation
gives a different time interval
t = t/
Thus, eventually we get L = Lo/ - Lorentz contraction
Length contraction is symmetric - a person in either reference frame will
observe lengths contracted in the other frame.

Note - only lengths in direction of motion are contracted

Length contraction leads to another seeming paradox!


Thought experiment - the Ladder Paradox. If a ladder travels horizontally it
will undergo a length contraction and will therefore fit into a garage that is
shorter than the ladder's length at rest. On the other hand, from the point of
view of an observer moving with the ladder, it is the garage that is moving
and the garage will be contracted. The garage will therefore need to be
larger than the length at rest of the ladder in order to contain it.

How is this so since if the ladder fits into the garage in one reference frame,
it must do so in all?

Special Relativity:
Ladder Paradox
Also called the "Barn and the Pole" paradox.

You hold a long ladder and run toward a short garage.


If you run fast, can you trap the ladder in the garage?

or

Special Relativity: Paradoxes


Ladder Paradox
Yes, you can trap the ladder in the gararge.

The information that the front end of the ladder has hit the back end of the
garage can only move along the ladder at v < c. As this information moves,
the back end of the ladder can pass into the garage and the garage door can
be closed. We then get to see if the ladder is stronger than the door.

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