Generalizing Galilean Relativity to Include Light: Special Relativity
We now come to Einstein’s major insight: the Theory of Special Relativity. It is deceptively
simple. Einstein first dusted off Galileo’s discussion of experiments below decks on a uniformly
moving ship, and restated it as :
The Laws of Physics are the same in all Inertial Frames.
Einstein then simply brought this up to date
, by pointing out that the Laws of Physics must now
include Maxwell’s equations describing electric and magnetic fields as well as Newton’s laws
describing motion of masses under gravity and other forces. (
Note for experts and the curious
:
we shall find that Maxwell’s equations are completely unaltered by special relativity, but, as will
become clear later, Newton’s Laws do need a bit of readjustment to include special relativistic
phenomena. The First Law is still o.k., the Second Law in the form
F
=
ma
is not, because we
shall find mass varies; we need to equate force to rate of change of momentum ( Newton
understood that, of course—that’s the way he stated the law!). The Third Law, stated as action
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 Fall '10
 DavidJudd
 Physics, Force, General Relativity, Special Relativity, Light, Speed of light, Theory of Special Relativity

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