Unformatted text preview: UCSD Physics 10 Special Relativity
Einstein messes with space and time UCSD Physics 10 How Fast Are You Moving Right Now? 0 m/s relative to your chair 400 m/s relative to earth center (rotation) 30,000 m/s relative to the sun (orbit) 220,000 m/s relative to the galaxy center (orbit) 370,000 m/s relative to the CMB cosmic wallpaper Relative to What?? This is part of the gist of special relativity it's the exploration of the physics of relative motion only relative velocities matter: no absolute frame very relevant comparative velocity is c = 300,000,000 m/s UCSD Physics 10 A world without ether For most of the 19th century, physicists thought that space was permeated by "luminiferous ether" this was thought to be necessary for light to propagate Michelson and Morley performed an experiment to measure earth's velocity through this substance first result in 1887 Michelson was first American to win Nobel Prize in physics Found that light waves don't bunch up in direction of earth motion shocked the physics world: no ether!! speed of light is not measured relative to fixed medium unlike sound waves, water waves, etc. UCSD Physics 10 Speed of light is constant: so what? Einstein pondered: what would be the consequences of a constant speed of light independent of state of motion (if at const. velocity) any observer traveling at constant velocity will see light behave "normally," and always at the same speed Mathematical consequences are very clear forced to give up Newtonian view of space and time as completely separate concepts provides rules to compute observable comparisons between observers with relative velocity thus "relativity": means relative state of motion UCSD Physics 10 Simultaneity is relative, not absolute
Observer riding in spaceship at constant velocity sees a flash of light situated in the center of the ship's chamber hit both ends at the same time But to a stationary observer (or any observer in relative motion), the condition that light travels each way at the same speed in their own frame means that the events will not be simultaneous. In the case pictured, the stationary observer sees the flash hit the back of the ship before the front UCSD Physics 10 One person's space is another's time If simultaneity is broken, no one can agree on a universal time that suits all the relative state of motion is important Because the speed of light is constant (and finite) for all observers, space and time are unavoidably mixed we've seen an aspect of this in that looking into the distance is the same as looking back in time Imagine a spaceship flying by with a strobe flashing once per second (as timed by the occupant) the occupant sees the strobe as stationary you see flashes in different positions, and disagree on the timing between flashes: space and time are mixed see description of light clock in text Space and time mixing promotes unified view of spacetime "events" are described by three spatial coordinates plus a time UCSD Physics 10 The Lorentz Transformation There is a prescription for transforming between observers in relative motion
ct' = (ct - vx/c); x' = (x - vt); y' = y; z' = z "primed" coordinates belong to observer moving at speed v along the x direction (relative to unprimed) note mixing of x and t into x' and t' time and space being nixed up multiplying t by c to put on same footing as x now it's a distance, with units of meters the (gamma) factor is a function of velocity: UCSD Physics 10 The gamma factor Gamma ( ) is a measure of how whacked-out relativistic you are When v = 0, = 1.0 and things are normal At v = 0.6c, = 1.25 a little whacky At v = 0.8c, = 1.67 getting to be funky As vc, UCSD Physics 10 What does do? Time dilation: clocks on a moving platform appear to tick slower by the factor at 0.6c, = 1.25, so moving clock seems to tick off 48 seconds per minute standing on platform, you see the clocks on a fast-moving train tick slowly: people age more slowly, though to them, all is normal Length contraction: moving objects appear to be "compressed" along the direction of travel by the factor at 0.6c, = 1.25, so fast meter stick will measure 0.8 m to stationary observer standing on a platform, you see a shorter train slip past, though the occupants see their train as normal length UCSD Physics 10 Why don't we see relativity every day? We're soooo slow (relative to c), that length contraction and time dilation don't amount to much 30 m/s freeway speed has v/c = 10-7 = 1.000000000000005 30,000 m/s earth around sun has v/c = 10-4 = 1.000000005 but precise measurements see this clearly UCSD Physics 10 Velocity Addition Also falling out of the requirement that the speed of light is constant for all observers is a new rule for adding velocities Galilean addition had that someone traveling at v1 throwing a ball forward at v2 would make the ball go at v1+v2 In relativity, reduces to Galilean addition for small velocities can never get more than c if v1 and v2 are both c if either v1 OR v2 is c, then vrel = c: light always goes at c UCSD Physics 10 Classic Paradoxes The twin paradox: one twin (age 30) sets off in rocket at high speed, returns to earth after long trip if v = 0.6c, 30 years will pass on earth while only 24 will pass in high speed rocket twin returns at age 54 to find sibling at 60 years old why not the other way around? Pole-vaulter into barn high-speed runner with 12 meter pole runs into 10 meter barn; barn door closes, and encompasses length-contracted 9.6 m pole (at 0.6c) but runner sees barn shrunken to 8 m, and is holding 12 m pole! can the barn door close before the pole crashes through the back? resolution in lack of simultaneity: "before" is nuanced UCSD Physics 10 If I'm in a car, traveling at the speed of light... If I turn on my headlights, do they work? Answer: of course--to you, all is normal you are in an un-accelerated (inertial) frame of reference all things operate normally in your frame To the "stationary" outsider, your lights look weird but then again, so do you (because you're going so fast) in fact, at the speed of light, all forward signals you send arrive at the same time you do And the outside, "stationary" world looks weird to you But I must inquire: how did you manage to get all the way up to the speed of light?! UCSD Physics 10 What would I experience at light speed? It is impossible to get a massive thing to travel truly at the speed of light energy required is mc2, where as vc so requires infinite energy to get all the way to c But if you are a massless photon... to the outside, your clock is stopped so you arrive at your destination in the same instant you leave your source (by your clock) across the universe in a perceived instant makes sense, if to you the outside world's clock has stopped: you see no "ticks" happen before you hit UCSD Physics 10 E = mc2 as a consequence of relativity Express 4-vector as (ct, x, y, z) describes an "event": time and place time coordinate plus three spatial coordinates factor of c in time dimension puts time on same footing as space (same units) We're always traveling through time our 4-velocity is (c, 0, 0, 0), when sitting still moving at speed of light through time dimension stationary 4-momentum is p = mv(mc, 0, 0, 0) for a moving particle, p = ( mc, px, py, pz) where px, etc. are the standard momenta in the x, y, and z directions the time-component times another factor of c is interpreted as energy conservation of 4-momentum gets energy and momentum conservation in one shot UCSD Physics 10 E = mc2, continued can be approximated as = 1 + v2/c2 + ...(small stuff at low velocities) so that the time component of the 4-momentum c is:
m c2 = mc2 + mv2 + ... the second part of which is the familiar kinetic energy Interpretation is that total energy, E = m c2 mc2 part is ever-present, and is called "rest mass energy" kinetic part adds to total energy if in motion since sticks to m in 4-momentum, can interpret this to mean mass is effectively increased by motion: m m gets harder and harder to accelerate as speed approaches c UCSD Physics 10 Experimental Confirmation We see time dilation in particle lifetimes in accelerators, particles live longer at high speed their clocks are running slowly as seen by us seen daily in particle accelerators worldwide cosmic rays make muons in the upper atmosphere these muons only live for about 2 microseconds if not experiencing time dilation, they would decay before reaching the ground, but they do reach the ground in abundance We see length contraction of the lunar orbit squished a bit in the direction of the earth's travel around the sun E = mc2 extensively confirmed nuclear power/bombs sun's energy conversion mechanism bread-and-butter of particle accelerators UCSD Physics 10 References Relativity Visualized by Lewis Carroll Epstein http://www.anu.edu.au/physics/Searle/ movie Assignments Q/O #3 due today by midnight Partial read of Chapters 9 & 10 (pages on assignment page) Read Chapters 35 & 36 on relativity HW5: 9.R.13, 9.E.9, 9.E.14, 9.E.43, 9.P.7, 10.E.16, 35.R.27, 35.E.6, 35.E.19, 35.E.20, 35.E.37, 35.P.3, 35.P.10, 36.R.7, 36.E.2, 36.E.6 ...
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