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An object at rest, remains at rest.

An object
in motion, stays in motion.

UP

K E M

No change in speed or direction (non-accelerating


frame).
No gravitational force is felt (Earth cannot
be a true IRF, but is approximated as such)

1.2

Newtonian Relativity

Laws of mechanics are preserved in all IRFs.


This is familiar to you already, recall relative
velocities from Physics 71.

MEMBERSHIP ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT

Invalid for speeds near the speed of light.

Physics 73
1.3

2nd Long Exam Reviewer

1.3.1

Heavily based on Arciaga Notes

Special Relativity
First Postulate

All laws (their forms, not values of parameters)


of Physics are the same in every inertial reference
frame.

Preface
1.3.2
This handout is intended as a reviewer only and
should not be substituted for a complete lecture,
or used as a reference material. The goal of this
reviewer is to refresh the student on the concepts
and techniques in one reading. But this is more
than enough to replace your notes :)

Second Postulate

The speed of light in a vacuum is constant in


all inertial frame of reference and is independent
of the motion of the source.
Examples. Fixed quantities
Numerical value of the speed of light in a
vacuum

Principle of Relativity

Value of the charge on the electron

1.1

Reference Frames

Order of the elements in the Periodic Table


Newtons First Law of Motion

Definition (Reference frame). A reference frame


is simply a coordinate system attached to a particular observer.

Examples. Examples of variable quantities

Definition (Inertial frame of reference). An inertial frame of reference is a reference frame in


which Newtons 1st law is valid

Speed
Time between two events

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam

2.1

Kinetic energy

Invariance of the Interval

Force
Definition (Spacetime Interval). The interval between two events happening at some points (ta , xa )
and (tb , xb ). The interval, s, is defined by

Electric field
Magnetic field

s2 = t2 x2 = (t0 )2 (x0 )2

1.4

Natural Units

(1)

x = xb xa

To elegantly simplify particular algebraic expressions appearing in the laws of physics (particularly
relativity here), we deal with natural units.
Same unit for space and time

t = tb ta
With the 0 denoting an observation made in another frame of reference. Spacetime interval is invariant, i.e. observations in two different IRFs
has the same spacetime interval.

Conversion factor : c = 299 798 482 m/s

Table 2.1: Comparison of two spaces

In natural units, c = 1
vnat =

Flat spacetime

1X
Xnat
=
tnat
c t

Places

(t, x, y, z)

(x, y, z)

invariant interval

invariant distance

s2 = c2 t2 x2

Euclidean space

Events
tnat = ct
Speed is unitless

vs

d2 = x2 + y 2

Example. Convert 6.21 10 m/s to natural units


6.21 1017 m/s
= 0.207
3 108 m/s

2.2

Example. Convert 20 min to meters




60 s 
m
20 min
3 108
= 3.6 1011 m
1 min
s

Spacetime Diagrams

A spacetime diagram is a helpful visual representation of events in spacetime. Note the following:
In one spatial dimension, the vertical axis is
t while the horizontal is x.

Remark. From here on, all quantities will be


in natural units.

Events and Measurements

An event is a point, with coordinates (t, x).


A worldline is a curve on the diagram. This
represents the history of events (refer to figure 2.1).
Classifications of spacetime intervals:

Definition (Event). An event is an object that


has spacetime coordinates (t, x).

Timelike : t2 x2 > 0

Remark. In three spatial dimensions, it is (t, x, y, z)

Light-like : t2 x2 = 0

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Spacellike : t2 x2 < 0

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam
Example. Two firecrackers : one blows up 2
years after the other.

event

t
3
firecracker 2
2
worldline
1
firecracker 1

x
Figure 2.1: An example of a spacetime diagram

No particle can travel at and exceed the speed


of light light. That is:
v

<1
c
Denote this ratio . It is related to the inverse of the slope of the worldline in a spacetime diagram. (or the angle between the t
and t0 axis is tan1 )

Figure 2.3: Spacetime diagram for the two firecrackers


on a Lab frame. Note that in this reference frame, the two events happened at same
place, x = 0.

Example. Previous firecrackers on a rocket frame


whose speed with respect to laboratory is RL = 35

Particles should have timelike worldlines.


The locus of all event points for a given interval is a hyperbola (figure 2.2).

t0

2
5
3

t
1

x0

k
x

Figure 2.4: Plot of the two events on a Rocket frame moving to the left. Notice that in the lab frame,
the two firecrackers happened in one place.
While in this rocket frame, there is a positive
directed distance from x0 = 0.

Figure 2.2: Locus of events for an invariant interval = k2

One unit of time in the t and t0 axes are


connected by a horizontal parabola.
One unit of position in the x and x0 axes are
connected by a vertical parabola.

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam
Example. Previous firecrackers on a rocket frame
whose speed with respect to laboratory this time
is RL = + 53

the lab frame, RL . Note that RL = LR

2.3

Relativity of Simultaneity

Definition (Simultaneous events). Simultaneous


events are events having the same t-coordinate.

2
Events that are simultaneous in one IRF
may not be simultaneous in another IRF.

53
1

A special case is a set simultaneous events


having the same position. These will always
be simultaneous.

x0

Pairs of events occurring at the same place


(x = 0) should be timelike.

Figure 2.5: Similar to the previous example but this time


the rocket is moving to the right so the directed distance from the rocket to firecracker
2 is to the left.

Example. A proton initially at the origin moving


with velocity 4/5 wrt lab. Plot the worldline in
the labframe.

Pairs of events occurring at the same time


(t = 0) should be spacelike.

Example. Consider two simultaneous events, A


and B

t
A

(a) Lab frame

t
5
4

A
x0

x
(b) Rocket frame, RL < 0

t0

Figure 2.6: Worldline of the proton

The reason the slope is positive inverse for the


proton is that we were asked to plot in the lab
frame. In the two previous rockets, we plotted in
the rocket frame given its own relative speed to

A
x0

Remark. You may have noticed that in the proton example, the slope is equal to 1 while in the
two previous rocket examples, the slope is 1 .
Dont be confused.

B
(c) Rocket frame, RL > 0
Figure 2.7: Events A and B are simultaneous in the Lab
frame but not in the Rocket frame.

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam
Remark. Suppose youre in a Lab frame and your
friend is in a rocket frame similar to figure 2.7c.
Considering what he saw in the past (event C),
you just saw in the present, what defines past,
present, and future? The next subsection clarifies
the concept of causality.

2.4

Lightlike - on the surface of the cone (can


affect using light)

2.5

Lorentz Transformation

Weve studied so far the geometric nature of spacetime and the spacetime interval. Now we proceed
with the algebraic treatment.

Light Cones

A light cone is the path that a flash of light, emanating from a single event (localised to a single point in space and a single moment in time)
and traveling in all directions, would take through
spacetime.

Given (t0 , x0 , y 0 , z 0 ) on a rocket frame, (t, x, y, z)


on the lab frame is:
t = t0 + RL x0

(2)

x = x0 + RL t0

(3)

y = y0

(4)

future

z = z0

(5)

where
RL : speed of rocket wrt lab
A

sent
he pre

of t
plane
r
e
p
y
h

(6)

: Lorentz factor
1
=p
1 2

(7)

For velocities,

past

Figure 2.8: A light cone

Light cones plays an essential role in defining the


concept of causality, summarised below:
Event A can affect other events inside the
future light cone.
Event A can be affected by other events inside the past light cone
Timelike - inside the cones (can affect using
a particle)
Spacelike - outside the cones (not causally
related)

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vx =

vx0 +
1 + vx0

(8)

vy =

vy0
1 + vx0

(9)

vz =

vz0
1 + vx0

(10)

Again, use natural units for the equations


above.
The origin of both frames are coincident.
For the inverse Lorentz transformation, replace the primed variables with unprimed
and vice versa, and note RL = LR
At non-relativistic speeds, the transformation reduces to a Galilean transformation.

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam

2.6

Synchronisation of Clocks

Imagine spacetime to be a grid of clocks (and


rulers), measuring time (and position).

Definition (Proper time). The time as measured


by a clock following a world line. The proper time
interval between two events on a world line is the
(unsigned) change in proper time. The proper
time interval is defined by:
p
= t2 x2
(12)

With the proper time defined, the formula for time


dilation is:
tdilated = p

1 2

Figure 2.9: Spacetime as a grid of clocks [1]. In one frame


it is synchronised, in another it isnt

Synchronisation of clocks (the grid) in a reference


frame requires knowledge of the distance, D of the
clock from the reference clock, usually the clock
at the origin.
D
(11)
tset =
c
where

(13)

Example. A House and a Church is 43 L-min


away from each other. You are travelling at
= +0.866 from the House to the Church. Your
bestfriend is situated in the house and is observing
your watch using a telescope. How many minutes
has elapsed in your watch (as seen by your bestfriend) when his has elapsed 50 min?
Using equation (12)
p
= (50)2 (43.31)2
25 min
Using equation (13)

tset : time to set the clock

D : distance of the clock from the reference


=
c : speed of light

tdilated

50
1.9982

25 min

2.7

Time Dilation
2.8

Time dilation is a difference of elapsed time between two events as measured by observers moving relative to each other.
Clocks moving at relativistic speeds appear
to run slower than a stationary clock.

Lorentz Contraction

Lorentz contraction is the phenomenon of a decrease in length measured by the observer, of an


object which is traveling at any non-zero velocity
relative to the observer.

Time dilation is not limited to clocks. Ageing and other biological events dilate too!

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Objects moving at relativistic speeds appear


shorter along the direction of its motion
compared to its stationary state.

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam
Stressing this point again, the dimensions
perpendicular to the direction of motion are
not contracted.

t0
45
l
ig
ht

lin

Definition (Proper length). It is the distance between the two spacelike events, as measured in an
inertial frame of reference in which the events are
simultaneous. It is given by:
p
(14)
= x2 t2

x0

The formula for length contraction is then,


p

1 2

(a) RL > 0

(15)

lin
e

(16)

45
l
ig
ht

L =

Where L : contracted length.


Example. A 1 m sword is moving at = 0.866.
What is the contracted length as observed by a
stationary alien.
L =

1 2

p
= (1) 1 0.8662

x0

0.5 m

(b) RL < 0
Figure 2.10: Two-observer spacetime diagrams

2.9

Two-observer Spacetime diagrams

We construct the rocket frame axes superimposed


on the lab frame (figure 2.10).

frame, the velocity of the observer with respect to


lab is:
OR + RL
OL =
(17)
1 + OR RL
This is called the velocity-addition formula for relativistic speeds.

Draw the t0 axis with an angle = tan1


away from from the t axis.
Draw the x0 axis with an angle = tan1
away from from the x axis.
If < 0, these axes lie on the 2nd and 4th
quadrant respectively (same angle).

2.10.1

The Velocity Parameter (Rapidity)

Define the s in equation (17) in terms of the


hyperbolic tangent function,
tanh OR = OR
tanh RL = RL

2.10

Velocity Transformation

tanh OL = OL

Given an observer in a rocket frame (moving inside


that rocket) that is also moving relative to the lab

Equation (17) becomes

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tan OL =

tanh OR + tanh RL
1 + (tanh OR )(tanh RL )

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam
Note that fapproach > f0 , referred to as blue
shift.

Which is similar to the relation (from Math 17):


tanh(x + y) =

tanh(x) + tanh(y)
1 + tanh(x) tanh(y)

Also note that frecede < f0 , referred to as


red shift.

So we conclude that:
OL = OR + RL

Useful identities are

(18)

f02 = fapproach frecede

Where : velocity parameter (rapidity).


This greatly simplifies the math, as compared to
the velocity-addition formula by Equation (17).
By first getting the velocity parameters in each
reference frames, we just add the two and find
the inverse hyperbolic tangent to get the relative
velocity required.

=

cosh RL =
sinh RL = Rl

fapproach
f0

2
2

1
(24)
+1

Recall c = f

Other useful identities:

fapproach
f0

Relativistic Momentum

(19)
(20)

Remark. If you are interested, this is hyperbolic


stuff. Lol.

In all IRF,s the principle of conservation of momentum is valid.


The generalisation of momentum is:
p = m

3
3.1

(25)

m is rest mass.

Energy, Mass, Momentum

The above equation is applied only to objects with nonzero mass.

Relativistic Doppler Effect

dp
.
Generalising Newtons Second law, use
dt
Not F = ma

The apparent change in the frequency of a wave


when there is a relative motion between the source
(of the wave) and the observer.
Electromagnetic waves travel at c, so we must account for relativistic effects.

3.1.1

(23)

Source moving toward the observer

Relativistic energy

In all IRFs, the work energy principle and the


principle of conservation of energy are valid.
The generalisation of kinetic energy is:

s
fapproach = f0

3.1.2

1+
1

(21)

Source moving away from the observer


s
frecede = f0

1
1+

(22)

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K = ( 1)mc2

(26)

m is rest mass.
Applicable only to objects with nonzero
mass.
Lorentz factor should use the velocity of
the object.

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Physics 73 - 2nd Long Exam
If velocity of the object is zero, K = 0.
As the velocity approaches infinity, K .
The generalisation of the total energy is then:
E = K + mc2
= mc2

(27)

The total energy is related to the momentum by:


E 2 = (mc2 )2 + (pc)2

(28)

in natural units,
E 2 = m2 + p2

5.1

(29)

Invariance of Mass

From equation (29),


m2 = E 2 p2
This mass is invariant, so for any frame of reference, we have the equation
E 2 p2 = (E 0 )2 (p0 )2

(30)

References
[1] Tatsu Takechi. Synchronization of clocks. online.
[2] Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,
2004.
[3] H.D. Young, R.A. Freedman, and A.L. Ford.
Sears and Zemanskys University Physics:
With Modern Physics. Addison-Wesley, 2012.

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