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Brief lecture on basic relativity concepts

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The 1st postulate: The laws of physics may be expressed in equations having the

same form in all frames of reference moving at constant velocity with respect to one

another.

The 2nd postulate: The speed of light in free spaces has the same value for all

observers, regardless of their state of motion.

Eg. (a) Phenomenon of relativity. (b) Classical phenomenon.

x ' = x vt

x = x'+vt '

y' = y

y = y'

and

.

z

'

=

z

z

=

z

'

t ' = t

t = t '

x' =

t' =

x vt

1 v / c

y' = y

z' = z

t vx / c 2

2

1 v2 / c2

x =

and

t =

x'+v' t '

1 v2 / c2

y = y'

.

z = z'

t '+v' x' / c 2

1 v2 / c2

Proof of Lorentz transformation: Suppose that a flare is set off at a common origin

of S and S at t=t=0, and the observers in each system proceed to measure the speed

light c at x and x, respectively. We have x=ct and x=ct.

x' = k ( x vt )

x = k ( x'+ vt ' )

y' = y

y = y'

Let

and

x=k[k(x-vt)+vt]=k2(x-vt)+kvt

z' = z

z = z'

t ' = f (t , x, v)

t = f 1 (t ' , x' , v' )

(1 k 2 ) x

(1 k 2 ) x

1 v / c

x=k(x-vt)=ct=c[kt+

] x=ct[

]=ct

kv

kv

1 + (1 1 / k 2 )c / v

1

1 v / c

=1 k=

. Lorentz transformation holds.

2

1 + (1 1 / k )c / v

1 v2 / c2

t=kt+

which ends to x1 and x2 in S. The length in S is

x 2 x1

L

L0=x1-x2=

=

, where L=x1-x2 in S L= L0( 1 v 2 / c 2 )<L0.

2

2

2

2

1 v / c

1 v / c

The length of an object in motion with respect to an observer is shorter than it is at

rest with respect to him.

Eg. A meter stick appear only 50cm long to an observer. What is its relative

velocity? How long does it take to pass the observer?

(Sol,) 0.5=1( 1 v 2 / c 2 ) v=

3

c, t=0.5/v=1.9210-9sec

2

Time dilation: A clock is at xin S. When an observer in S find the time is t1, after a

time interval t0, and the time is up to t2 (all in S). The observer in S find the time

t0

t 2 't1 '

interval is t=t2-t1=

=

>t0. A stationary clock measure a

2

2

2

2

1 v / c

1 v / c

longer time interval between events occurring in a moving frame of reference than a

clock does in the moving frame.

Eg. (Twin paradox) A woman leaves the earth in a spacecraft that makes a round

trip to a star, 4 light-year distant, at a speed of 0.9c. How many years younger is

she upon her return than his twin sister who remained behind?

(Sol.) 24c/0.9c-24c( 1 v 2 / c 2 )/0.9c=5.01years

(a):

(b):

(a) A light-pulse clock at rest as seen by observer in S, the time interval t0 is the light

pulse travel between mirrors. Therefore we have t0=2L0/c.

(b) A light-pulse clock in S as seen by observer in S, and hence we have

t0

(ct/2)2= L02+(vt/2) 2, L0=ct0/2 t=

1 v2 / c2

Simultaneity: Consider that a pair of time-bombs explodes at the same time t0 at x1

and x2 in S, respectively. But in S, t1=

t2-t1=

v( x1 x 2 ) / c 2

in S frame.

1 v2 / c2

t 0 vx1 / c 2

1 v2 / c2

, t2=

t 0 vx 2 / c 2

1 v2 / c2

Vy=dy/dt, Vz=dz/dt in S.

vdz '

dx'+vdt '

c 2 , we have

dx=

, dy=dy, dz=dz, dt=

1 v2 / c2

1 v2 / c2

dt '+

'

V

v

V v

+

dx dx + vdt '

Vx ' = x

=

= x

V x =

vdx'

vV '

vV

dt

dt '+ 2

1 + 2x

1 2x

c

c

c

2

2

Vy ' 1 v / c

Vy 1 v 2 / c 2

and V y ' =

.

Vy =

vV x '

vV x

1+ 2

1 2

c

c

2

2

V ' 1 v / c

V 1 v2 / c2

V z ' = z

Vz = z

vV '

vV

1 + 2x

1 2x

c

c

Eg. Spacecraft A has a velocity with respect to the earth of 0.9c. If spacecraft B is

to pass spacecraft A at a relative velocity 0.5c, what velocity must spacecraft B

have with respect to the earth?

(Sol.) Vx=

V x '+ v

0.5c + 0.9c

=0.9655c

=

'

0.5c 0.9c

vVx

1+

1+ 2

c2

c

(Proof) Vx=

V x 'v

cv

=c

=

'

cv

vVx

1 2

1 2

c

c

Suppose A and B collide at y=0.5Y, and VA=VB. The round-trip time T0 for A

measured in S is T0=Y/VA, which is identical T0=Y/VB in S.

mBY

mBY

=

mAVA=mBVB=mBY/T=

mA=mB 1 v 2 / c 2 .

Y

1

T0

2

2

1 v 2 / c 2 VA 1 v / c

Let mA=m0, mB=m m=

Momentum: p=mv=

m0

1 v2 / c2

m0 v

1 v2 / c2

Force: F=dp/dt=mdv/dt+vdm/dt

s

s d ( mv )

v

v

m0 v

Kinetic energy: T= Fds =

ds = vd (mv) = vd (

)

0

0

0

0

2

2

dt

1 v / c

=

m0 v 2

1 v2 / c2

vdv

1 v / c

-m0

m0 v 2

1 v2 / c2

+m0c2( 1 v 2 / c 2

v

0

)=mc2-m0c2.

Eg. An electron has a kinetic energy of 0.1MeV. Find its velocity according to

classical and relativistic mechanics.

(Sol.) Classical mechanics:

0.1MeV=0.11061.60210-19=1.60210-14J=9.10910-31v2/2 v=1.87108m/sec

Relativistic mechanics:

T=1.60210-14=mc2-m0c2=9.10910-31c2[

1

1 v / c

2

-1] =1.64108m/sec

Eg. Dynamite liberates 5.6106J/Kg when it explodes. What fraction of its total

energy contents in this?

(Sol.) Suppose that the dynamite is 1Kg.

E=mc2=91016, 5.6106/91016=610-11

Classical Doppler effect: f=f0(

1+ v / w

), where w is the velocity of wave, v is the

1V / w

1. v>0 if the observer moves toward the source; v<0 if the observer moves away from

the source.

2. V>0 if the source moves toward the observer; V<0 if the source moves away from

the observer.

Eg. The velocity of sound is 340m/sec. A train generates some noise as high as

3000Hz when its velocity is 50m/sec away from an observer who is standing at a

fixed position. What frequency does he hear?

(Sol.) f0=3000, w=340, v=0, V=-50, f=f0(

1+ v / w

)=2615.3Hz

1V / w

1 v2 / c2

), where is the angle between the

1 v cos / c

moving direction of the light source and the line from the source to an observer. And v

is the relative velocity of the source (v>0 if the source and the observer approaching

each other; v<0 if they move away from each other).

Doppler effect in relativity: f=f0(

1+ v / c

1 v / c

Eg. A spacecraft receding from the earth at 0.97c transmits data at the rate of

104pulse/sec. At what rate are they received?

(Sol.) v=-0.97c, f0=104, f=f0

1+ v / c

=1.234103pulse/sec

1 v / c

Eg. (Red shift) A distant galaxy in the constellation Hydra is receding from the

earth at 6.12107m/sec. By how much is a green spectral line of wavelength

500nm emitted by this galaxy shifted toward the red end of the spectrum?

(Sol.) v=-6.12107, 0=500, f=f0

1+ v / c

1 v / c

=0

=615nm

1 v / c

1+ v / c

The principle of equivalence: An

observer in a closed laboratory can not

distinguish between the effects

produced by a gravitational field and

those produced by an acceleration of

the laboratory.

Starlight passing near the sun is deflected by suns strong gravitational field: This

phenomenon has been proved by observing and measuring the precession of the

perihelion of Mercurys orbit.

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