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What happens to the length of an object as its speed approaches the speed of light?

Question:

What happens to the length of an object as its speed approaches the speed of light?

Lorentz Contraction

The mathematical expression which represents the relationship among the speed and length of an object moving with the relativistic speed with the speed of light is length contraction or Lorentz contraction expression.

Answer and Explanation:


The effect on the length of the object can be explained by Lorentz contraction or length contraction theory. The theory explains that if a body is moving with relativistic speed then its length is measured to be shorter than that of its actual length which is length measured in its own rest frame. The theory gives a mathematical expression for the final length as,

{eq}L = {L_0}\sqrt {1 - \dfrac{{{v^2}}}{{{c^2}}}} {/eq}

Here, the speed of light is vacuum is {eq}c {/eq}, the speed of the object is {eq}v {/eq}, the actual length of the object in its own rest frame is {eq}{L_0} {/eq}.


The above expression itself clarifies that as the speed of object approaches the speed of light, the final length of the object approaches to zero and finally diminishes at the speed of light.


Learn more about this topic:

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Theory of Relativity: Definition & Example

from Remedial Algebra I

Chapter 25 / Lesson 1
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