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Ch 27: Relativity in Time and Space

About This Chapter

Watch online video lessons to learn about general relativity, time dilation, space contraction and more. Take the quizzes that follow each lesson to test your knowledge of relativity in time and space.

Relativity in Time and Space - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

E = mc^2 is a familiar enough equation, but do you know what it means? Use the lessons in this chapter to explore the relationship between mass, energy and the speed of light. Instructors help you examine Einstein's equation by first demonstrating why the classical theory of relativity breaks down when working with the high speeds and expansive distances experienced in space. They also show you how Einstein's efforts to account for the constant speed of light would result in the equation we're so familiar with today. Lessons in this chapter can introduce you to:

  • General relativity of time and distance
  • Special relativity and the speed of light
  • Space contraction and time dilation
  • The relativity of energy and mass

Video Objectives
Classical Relativity: Distance and Time Relation to the Observer Learn how this theory explains the relativity of distance and time for different observers.
Light and Relativity: Breakdown of Classical Relativity with Light Example Explore Einstein's theory of relativity as it relates to the constant speed of light.
Time Dilation: Description, Explanation & Examples Assess the effect of high speeds on time when observed from a stationary position.
Space Contraction: Shortening Distance for Fast Moving Objects Discover why an object's length shortens at high speeds when observed from a stationary position.
Mass and Energy: Description and Interchangeable Relationship Study Einstein's theory explaining why energy and mass are interchangeable.
General and Special Relativity: Theory and Examples Explore the effect of gravity on the acceleration and speed of light.

6 Lessons in Chapter 27: Relativity in Time and Space
Classical Relativity: Distance and Time Relation to the Observer

1. Classical Relativity: Distance and Time Relation to the Observer

It is not enough to ask how fast something is moving. We must ask how fast something is moving relative to something else. This lesson describes how classical relativity is used to explain how speed is relative to the state of motion of the object and the observer. Examples are used to help understand classical relativity.

General and Special Relativity: Theory and Examples

2. General and Special Relativity: Theory and Examples

Special relativity accounts for the constant speed of light in the absence of surrounding mass. General relativity utilizes the concept of space-time to explain the effect of gravity on the speed of light. This lesson compares special and general relativity and provides examples of how the speed of light is affected by gravity.

Light and Relativity: Breakdown of Classical Relativity with Light Example

3. Light and Relativity: Breakdown of Classical Relativity with Light Example

The speed of light is constant regardless of the source of the light or the position of the observer. However, the components of speed - distance and time - are relative to speed. This lesson uses examples to explain how the relativity of distance and time accounts for the constant speed of light.

Time Dilation: Description, Explanation & Examples

4. Time Dilation: Description, Explanation & Examples

Time slows down for objects in motion. While this effect is not noticeable in everyday experience, it becomes apparent at speeds approaching the speed of light. This lesson defines this phenomenon as time dilation. Examples are used to help explain how time is relative to speed.

Space Contraction: Shortening Distance for Fast Moving Objects

5. Space Contraction: Shortening Distance for Fast Moving Objects

The length of a moving object decreases in the same direction it travels. This phenomenon is referred to as space or length contraction. Scientists have proven that space contraction occurs and becomes more prominent at speeds close to the speed of light. This lesson uses examples to explain space contraction and describes how space contraction accounts, in part, for the constant speed of light.

Mass and Energy: Description and Interchangeable Relationship

6. Mass and Energy: Description and Interchangeable Relationship

Einstein used E = mc^2 to prove that mass and energy are relative to each other. This lesson describes how energy can be converted into mass and mass into energy. Experimental results from particle accelerators are used to demonstrate the relative nature of mass and energy.

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